Friday, November 16, 2012

Changes around the bend

A little over a month ago I looked at my fast-growing children, at my ever-messy house, at my piled and cluttered desk at the office and realized I wasn't making it work. On the surface it seemed like I was doing a great job at it all: I was complimented on my ability to "balance" working and motherhood but on the inside I was floundering and falling. Juggling Noah's visit to the neurologist with the unknown of the diagnosis (at that time) coupled with an expected raise not coming through made me stop in my tracks and re-evaluate what exactly I was doing.

What I was doing was barely treading water. And because this is my place to be my honest self, I'll tell you that I didn't spend eight weeks in actual therapy to not learn anything. I learned that I Cannot Do It All. I can't. No one can. And when you finally realize that you can't, you have to make changes. My kids needed me more than I was available. My house, our haven, was looking rough around the edges and poorly cared for. My work was suffering because I couldn't give it the full attention it deserved. Some of you can make it all work and work WELL and I deeply admire you for it. I am just not that person. I admit it and now I own it.

I am lucky though because I now have a choice. Three years ago I didn't have a choice: it was go back to work and help Tim support our family or risk losing too much. So I went back to my former job and it was fine and we made it work and Tim found an amazing new position. We had another cute baby and hired a nanny and chugged along. But it didn't feel good, it didn't feel right, it wasn't working the way I wanted it to work. Tim and I had many a conversation under the cover of night when the kids were quietly sleeping. Do I stay at work? I'm barely making enough to cover our childcare costs (remember: big city=big childcare costs). Do I WANT to work? Yes. All the time? No. Am I doing what I love? Eh. Not really. But it's a great company with a great staff and I wouldn't get the same thing at another company. I fought it and wrestled with it but the decision was made: I had to quit, the numbers just weren't making sense, and it was time to take a break to figure it out.

So I did just that. On Wednesday, October 10th, I quit my job. You would think it ends there, right? Oh no, no, no. My boss refused to accept my quitting at face value. He told me I wasn't allowed to quit, I was too valuable, they weren't letting me go without a fight. I believe I responded with "so...we're negotiating?" and his answer was "give me your best case scenario and let me see what I can do". Believe me when I tell you there is NOTHING like being told you are too valuable to lose to put some pep in your step.

Long story short(ish), I negotiated my way into a part-time position (Mondays and Wednesdays in office, Thursdays from home) and for a higher pay rate. Yes, I lose my health and vacation benefits (Tim's able to pick those up, yay!) but for what I give up I get back in more time at home with my kids. Plus this means I'll actually start to make money instead of throwing it all at our nanny. You guys, I'm really, really excited. THIS is what I have wanted for so long. THIS (hopeful) balance of work and home, me and us. THIS melding of all my responsibilities into something that works FOR me, not against me.

I acknowledge that we are incredibly lucky to be in a position to make this decision, that this is a choice and it's not a choice everyone gets to make. And on the eve of our thankful holiday, I am grateful, oh so grateful. I think these guys will be too.

Me in my fancy Blathering outfit...way outside of my comfort zone but I loved it so much (plus fake eyelashes! Who am I?!?)
Blathering recap to come soon.

Monday, October 22, 2012


Myoclonus Dystonia Disorder. Do you know what that is? It’s a mouthful. It’s also the syndrome with which Noah and Tim have been diagnosed. Tim has lived without an answer for forty years and now he has one. We are so relieved to have that answer.

Let me back up a few weeks. I brought Noah to the pediatrician because I was concerned about the frequency of the high fevers he had been having lately. They had been reaching 104 on a regular basis for a few months and I was worried there was something more going on than just “a virus”. When the doctor asked the weighty question “so what else is going on with him?” I launched into the list of strange movements and tics and jerks he’s been displaying. The involuntary jerking has been going on for a year or so but we always thought it was something he would outgrow. Much like how he slowly mastered running with fluidity, we thought his fine motor skills were just lagging his peers and he would catch up at some point.

But then we started noticing he was having trouble controlling his arms and hands when using a spoon or fork or holding a pencil. His arms and torso would jerk and twitch and cause him to spill or have wobbly letters. He began compensating by bringing his mouth to the spoon or fork instead of the food to his mouth...just so he wouldn’t have to use his arms as much. He began telling me he didn’t “like” to write or color because he couldn’t control the movements. Then his teacher asked us about his eye blinking. The eye blinking tic would start and stop depending on how tired or anxious he was at that time. The start of the new school and getting into that groove exacerbated the tic.

We didn’t run right to the doctor because the symptoms Noah was displaying mirrored symptoms that Tim has had for years, decades. Tim has learned methods of compensating for his tics and twitches but still steadfastly refuses to write by hand unless forced. He spent his developmental years being shamed by teachers and peers for his terrible handwriting and became extremely self-conscious of what he deemed a “defect”. We saw the same symptoms in Noah and after observation decided it was time to bring it up with the pediatrician.

As luck would have it, he got another fever and we already had the appointment for Chloe’s one year well-baby visit. Our pediatrician didn’t seem concerned when I first described his symptoms because he wasn’t displaying them at the appointment...until he was asked to hold still so the doctor could listen to his heart and breathing. Concentrating on holding his body perfectly still caused his muscle jerks to increase tenfold. The doctor didn’t like what he saw and immediately called the children’s hospital for a phone consult with the head of neurology. We had an appointment a week and a half later in an office that can take months to get into. I thank the universe everyday that we have a proactive pediatrician (who also happens to live across the street!) who advocates for us when we need it the most.

Our appointment with the Neurologist was eye-opening. It was in that office that we found out Noah does not have epilepsy (we do have a family history) but has a rare genetic syndrome called Myoclonus Dystonia Disorder. M-D can be passed on by either parent but the children who receive the genetic mutation from the father are far more likely to display symptoms. From Disease characteristics. Myoclonus-dystonia (M-D) is a movement disorder characterized by a combination of rapid, brief muscle contractions (myoclonus) and/or sustained twisting and repetitive movements that result in abnormal postures (dystonia). The myoclonic jerks typical of M-D most often affect the neck, trunk, and upper limbs with less common involvement of the legs. Approximately 50% of affected individuals have additional focal or segmental dystonia, presenting as cervical dystonia and/or writer's cramp. Non-motor features may include obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), depression, anxiety, personality disorders, alcohol abuse, and panic attacks. Symptom onset is usually in childhood or early adolescence but ranges from age six months to 80 years. Most affected adults report a dramatic reduction in myoclonus in response to alcohol ingestion. M-D is compatible with an active life of normal span. Genetic counseling. Myoclonus-dystonia is inherited in an autosomal dominant manner. A proband with M-D may have inherited the disorder from a parent or have it as the result of a de novo mutation; the proportion of cases caused by de novo mutations is unknown. Each child of an individual with M-D has a 50% chance of inheriting the mutation. In general, maternally derived SGCE alleles are not expressed and paternally derived SGCE alleles are expressed. Thus, almost all children who inherit an SGCE mutation from their father develop symptoms, whereas close to 95% of children who inherit an SGCE mutation from their mother do not. Prenatal testing and preimplantation genetic diagnosis are possible for families in which the disease-causing mutation is known.

Whew. That’s a lot to digest. What we know: he’s ok. He’s FINE. This is an answer to a question that has been nagging us for a while and Tim for even longer. Noah’s symptoms are still very manageable and may (or may not) worsen as he gets older. Our plan is to monitor him, keep him well-rested (hello, earlier bed time!), well-nourished (more whole foods, less processed stuff...just healthier all around), well-exercised (healthier, developed muscles will give him better control) and partner with his teachers to get him whatever Occupational Therapies he may need to cope with it all. We’re not medicating him because we don’t yet need to...that may be a necessity down the road but until then we’re staying the course. His pediatrician and neurologist will keep tabs on him as well.

Tim has lived with this for decades and has managed his symptoms to the point where they’re nearly unnoticeable outside of those closest to him. I know we can help Noah manage his symptoms in the same manner. It is so important to me that we don’t let him know there is anything “wrong” with him. Not at four. His teachers have been wonderful and communicative and taking action to get Noah the OT he needs. We’ll have a 504 plan in place for him in the next few weeks and that plan is what will tell his teachers how to help him excel inside his “condition”. He will NOT be punished for poor handwriting. He will NOT be ostracized by his peers or made to feel less capable or accomplished. I will NOT allow it.

He’s brilliant, my boy. He’s funny, he’s smart, he has the best and most perfectly timed delivery. M-D will never define him. Ever.



Thursday, October 18, 2012

Against my nature

In a past life I was crafty. I enjoyed making things and creating and getting covered in paint and fabric remnants. I have a “To-Do” list a mile long and most of the items read like a Jo-Ann Fabrics/Michaels Crafts/Home Depot shopping list:

Buy an old bench and paint it for the front hall! (a graphic stencil??? Yeah!)
Sew a pouf for Chloe’s room
Recover the old chair in the basement
Build shelves in the bathroom nook (aka TIM build shelves--I’ll paint)
Paint the laundry room
Make personalized stools for kids
Homemade thank you cards
Sew Halloween costumes
Install and paint board and batten in front hall--modern cottage style? maybe, hmmm.
Install hooks for coats and bags
Repair bathroom faucet
Paint hallway
Paint front porch columns and railings

And on and on and on. Until recently, I let that list collect dust. Yesterday I threw it away. Yes, there are things on there I still wish to accomplish (hello, front hall organization, I’M LOOKING AT YOU (for the fifth year)) but I realized I have limited time. And limited ability. I don’t like doing projects on the weeknights and at this point that’s all the quiet time I have available. Our weekends are generally busy with social obligations, birthday parties, work and family time (like everyone’s weekends...we are not unique, I know). That is time better spent on those endeavors and less on trying to pack in projects that cause Tim to reach nuclear meltdown.

I’m letting it go. Letting go of the wish to be super-productive and do it all. I can’t. I have time for work, I have time for my family, I have time to straighten up my house and now I have the (small) resources to pay someone else to lighten my load. That is SUCH a freeing feeling. That broken faucet in our bathroom that never had hot water and we lived like that for FIVE years because we thought it was going to be a ridiculous amount of money to have fixed/replaced? The handyman we hired fixed it in 20 minutes and for $50. Bam.

That old, rustic front-hall bench I have been searching for for years so I can paint it and make it look amazing with a stencil or something? I’m going to Ikea this weekend and picking up a basic white bench that will serve the perfect purpose (I might still stencil. I’m not DEAD inside.). Yes, it may not be unique but it’s EASY (minus the visit to Ikea on a Saturday...yikes). While I’m there I’m buying the hooks for the coats/bags and bringing that handyman back to put some wood up on my walls that I will then paint in one night. Voila, front hall organization.

I WANT to be creative and crafty and sew my little heart out but I can’t. And I won’t let myself feel guilty about it either. You all keep pinning on Pinterest and posting your craftiness and I’ll admire it and then write that check to the handyman for doing my bidding. Poor guy, he really didn’t see this coming.

Monday, October 1, 2012

A request for October

September kicked my ass. School started, school stopped (union strike...just super), school started again, work got nuts, work quieted down, work went crazy again, Chloe turned One (more on that later when I can gather my thoughts on Last Baby Turning One), minor breakdown about life and The Future and The Plan, and on and on. Life has been moving at a breakneck speed and taunting me to catch up. I need the month of October to be cool. So, hey, October? If you could just bring the calm and gentle I would be very appreciative.

I turn 31 in two days. Turning 30 didn't bother me or really mean that much...I had a 10 day old baby and a three year old who had just declared that he really wished his sister would go back to the hospital. Last year's birthday was a complete blur of non-stop nursing, sleeping in two hour increments and perhaps there was cake? I really couldn't tell you. My 30th year was bookended with a birth and a first birthday and some good and bad in between. It was a year in which I grew up even more and started to feel like maybe, just maybe, I was getting the hang of this adult business. 31 though...31 is feeling strange. It's not old (oh, I know this is true) nor is it young (say the wrinkles on my face) but it's there. This strange feeling that something is about to happen that will change our course.

What I hope is really nothing is Noah's visit to the children's neurologist on the 9th. We, and our pediatrician agreed, know that he has some conditions that require a visit to the neurologist and most likely an MRI. This is not out of left field and we're extremely grateful that our pediatrician didn't blow us off. While we wait and see what the diagnosis is (if there is one), we would appreciate your happy, healthy Noah thoughts any which way you choose to send them.

Again, October, I'm not asking for miracles or the lottery winnings or anything out of the ordinary...just give me a healthy boy and a some pumpkins from the patch. I don't really need or want more than that. Oh, except maybe an ice cream cake. That would be perfect.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

First day

He did it! My little guy is officially a pre-kindergartner and loved every second of his day. I didn't cry. Much. I think we're all really going to like it.

Thursday, August 16, 2012


Noah starts Pre-K in three short weeks. He’s going to be at the Big Kid School just down the street for two and a half hours every morning. Just like a Big Kid. I spent some time on the phone this afternoon with his new teacher, Ms. C, and shot off handfuls of questions about the classroom, experiences, abilities, schedules, etc. Everything lined up with our expectations until she said one word: blended. Blended as in students on the standard track and students with Individual Education Plans (IEPs, formerly known as Special Education) learning in the same classroom.

If I’m honest, my first reaction was not one of acceptance and pleasure. I’m ashamed of that first reaction. I immediately went to a place of worry that MY kid would be held back, MY kid wouldn’t get individual attention because he doesn’t need an IEP. How horrible of me. That’s not the reaction I want my son to have when he walks into that classroom on Day One and meets sixteen new friends, five of whom might have some special educational needs. I’m deeply ashamed of myself.

Once I shut off those (highly) irrational fears I heard the enthusiasm in his teacher’s voice as she described a joyful classroom full of energy and liveliness. How the kids sit together at circle time and they talk about people being different and about acceptance and friendship and oh, is that not EVERYTHING you want your child to understand about the world? That there are millions of people who are different and special and amazing in their own ways. Of course it is. She described the silly dance parties they have and the group time for those who need some more advanced lessons. She told me the joy she feels when she sees a “regular track” kid befriending a kid with special needs and the two families setting up play dates.

Her excitement was contagious and I found myself nodding my head in agreement. How wonderful indeed. Noah’s little community has been rather homogenous thus far and the fact that we get this spectacular opportunity to diversify that community is pretty special. My initial negative reaction was quickly replaced by happy anticipation. Noah will get the benefit of knowing children from all backgrounds and abilities and it is my deepest hope that he carries these early experiences with him forever. Yes, Noah is very special and deserves only the best. And the best is exactly what he’ll get in Blended Pre-K Room 106. We’re so very excited.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012


And just like that, he turned four.

Noah, you're a big boy now. You tell me every morning when you wake up that Today I Am Four! Except you've been four for two weeks now but I don't tell you that. I let you tell me that you are newly four and newly big because, in truth, I don't want you to be big. I want to keep you small for always. But I know time is unkind and I won't get my way.

You accomplished so much this past year. One day last October you tossed aside those silly diapers and declared yourself ready for the potty. This past April you handed me your beloved DeDe (taggie blanket) and told me you were a big boy and didn't need it anymore. Then you promptly broke into tears when I actually took it and put it away for good. But you knew you didn't need it. You loved that DeDe with every cell in your small body but you also knew it was time to let it go. You did it with a grace and maturity unexpected of a three year old. You also stopped sucking your finger which was cause for much jubilation. You earned that visit to the toy store one hundred and ten percent.

Do you want to know your biggest and most important accomplishment? You learned how to read. Oh, Noah, that night you pointed out words to me and sounded them out and READ them, my heart leapt into my throat and my mouth smiled as wide as it could go. I couldn't have been more proud of you than I was in that moment. I swear I walked around with a goofy smile for days, wearing my pride on my face. I also learned how to read when I was three and to see you loving it as much as I did brings me such joy. Your father was pretty impressed too (understatement). Reading and books have been a shining light in my life and I want to share that with you. I will never, ever tell you to turn off the light if you're reading and learning and growing that brain of yours.

The doctor proclaimed you perfect at today's exam, but we already knew that. You're my best boy, my four year old buddy, and the sweetest big brother a little girl could ever have.

We love you to the moon and back, sweet boy. Happy Fourth Birthday.

Monday, August 6, 2012


I’ve been thinking quite a lot lately about how to build in time for the things I like to do outside of my family and work responsibilities. Let me back up. The notion that mothers have hobbies is not new. Take a look around your FB feed or LinkedIn or even Twitter and note that many women, who also happen to be mothers, make time for their interests. One of my friends is a community theater actress when she’s not working at her day job and mothering her two boys. She just finished the lead role in a show and although the rehearsals and shows took her away from her family more than she might have liked, she made the time to do it because it’s her “thing”. (And I wish I had made the time to go see her perform. Bad friend.)

Other women I know run marathons, are active photographers, write novels, volunteer at their children’s schools with regularity, make beautiful clothing and accessories for their children with their hands (and a trusty sewing machine). Most of these women also have full-time jobs. And husbands, and kids, and homes to manage. I want to know how they do it. They don’t have more time than I do; last time I checked there are still only 24 hours in a day. They don’t necessarily have more help than I have available to me. I think what they do have is a true, deep, and meaningful passion for their hobbies, for their “things”. Am I missing that passion? Is there really nothing in my life that I find important enough to make time for? I refuse to believe that to be true.

I wake up at 5:45 in the morning, get the kids up, get myself dressed and presentable, get to work, work all day, go home, get dinner together, feed the people, bathe the people, read to the people, tuck in the people, and then collapse on the couch from exhaustion. You may have noticed but I haven’t written anything of substance here in months. MONTHS. This blog used to be one of my favorite spaces. It was an outlet for me to tell you my stories, post pictures of the precious babes, and spill the contents of my brain when they threatened to take over. At some point it became just another thing to cross off the list…I had lost my passion for writing. But is it possible that passion can be resurrected?

Twitter and Facebook and blogs sometimes feel like they move too fast for me. Like all the people behind them are living these spectacular lives with opportunities to be even more amazing (and if you didn’t just hear Electrolux Kelly Ripa in your head a little we can’t be friends). They have these wonderful hobbies and are doing pretty cool things in their little corners of the world while I sit prone on my couch with the iPad on my lap and toothpicks propping up my eyelids. Yes, I could be writing away at that non-fiction book I’ve been considering every evening but I’m also exhausted from thinking all day. Yes, I could be practicing yoga at a studio in my neighborhood but the thought of leaving the house after my shoes are off and the kids are in bed…that requires a store of energy I don’t have.

I begin to wonder if it’s just the fact that I have small children. If you were unaware, small children suck the energy out of you, molecule by small molecule (darling as they are). But then I look at these women I previously mentioned and guess what? They also have small children. They just have a better understanding of themselves (perhaps deeper pockets, too?) to make their hobbies a reality on a regular basis.

If I had to name my passion it would be writing; it’s putting words to paper (screen), exploring ideas and wandering the far reaches of my mind. I find comfort in the written word, as much reading it as writing it. I admire people who can weave a good story or communicate with clarity and truth through their words. In the course of writing this post, I began to feel the stirrings of excitement. This…energy (how novel! how foreign!) stemming from the possibility of a new discovery. Can I make time for writing? Is there room for me in the community? Can THIS be my passion?

Why not.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Small reminders

Noah walked around much of this weekend sighing contentedly and saying "Life is good." I'm choosing to hear his little voice, channel his peacefulness, remember that during the times when life doesn't seem so kind or all that simple that it really is so good. All because I have these people to come home to every day.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

I'm mobile!

It took me a million years but I finally downloaded the blogger app. Yes, I know. Welcome to 2009, Sara. But! This means more crappy iPhone pictures of my kids! Hurrah! Let's begin.

Noah hates t-ball but I am a mean mother who already paid for it so he has to go. He's actually pretty decent with the bat and loves running the bases. He also thoroughly enjoys watching the cars drive by and kicking dirt.

Chloe is now 7 months old! She's proficient at clapping and screaming at me. Oh, and rocking on her hands and knees while squealing like a demon. It's only a matter of time before she starts crawling and sends my anxiety through the roof. This one is going to be our daredevil launching herself from countertops. How lovely.

(I have no idea how to actually insert the photos in the proper spots in the post...why can nothing be intuitive. Unless it is and I'm the idiot. Very possible.)

I'll leave you with this discussion I had with my husband this morning:

Him: What are we doing this Sunday? I have work to get done.

Me: Uh, its Mother's Day.

Him: (in his head: shitdamnf@#*) yes! Great! I have it all worked out!

Me: Obviously.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Friday random

I just realized I haven't written Chloe's 6 month post. Or edited any pictures. Or thought about it pretty much at all. And guess what? OH WELL. I'm sorry Future Chloe. I really do love you as much as your oft-written about brother but adding you to the mix has made life busier. And me more tired. So so tired.

Let's see, what else is going on? Oh! We hired a new nanny/sitter/magician who is FANTASTIC. I kind of want her to move in with us and we can all raise the kids together. She's fabulous with the kids and knows how to handle me and does the laundry and the dishes and I HAVE NOT UNLOADED THE DISHWASHER IN TWO WEEKS. That right there is the best thing ever. She's taking the dog to the groomer next week and going to start experimenting with making Chloe baby purees. I KNOW. Are you totally dying of jealously right now? Too bad, you can't have her. She's miiiiinnneeee. Granted we pay for these services but when I walk in the door every day after work and don't have a pile of dishes staring me in the face or a million Legos all over the floor I send up mucho thanks to the powers that be (and a side eye to the Indian Hawk Guide). She makes being a working out of the home mother (to be PC about it) so much easier for me and it's worth every expensive penny. And she takes such good care of my babies. Obviously that is most important. But followed closely by the clean dishes.

Random segue but I read somewhere that the half ages are the terrible ones. It's like a wave where the trough is the full year age and the peak is the half year age and they're certifiably NUTS at the peak. Like little tiny maniacs. I believe this to be true with Noah. We just came out of a half year peak at 3.5 in Jan/Feb when he was a devil. He was defiant, mean, nasty, sassy, and an all around unpleasant little person. Not all the time but enough of the time to make me consider gypsies and front yard for sale signs. And then POOF! Almost overnight he became the sweet, kind, loving boy he used to be at 3. He's polite again, tells me I look pretty in my dress and is eager to please. I am going to ride this all the way until January when the evil half age version comes out again and I have to stop myself from posting him on Craigslist.

Another random segue...we signed up with last week. I've heard mixed reviews but I was having a hard time sticking to our budget and couldn't figure out why. Well, now I know. It's FOOD. Holy hell do we spend a lot of money on food. With both Tim and I working downtown aka Land of Ridiculously Expensive Lunch Options we have been spending far too much on lunch. I also found out that Tim has a penchant for breakfast sandwiches/muffin thingies with large Diet Cokes in the morning and he has been put on notice. AND as much as I claim to hate grocery shopping I sure do spend a lot of time and money at Trader Joe's/Marianos/Whole Foods. Oh, and eating out on the weekends is a big chunk of that money. In summary, I am overhauling our food budget and attempting to get back into basic couponing and meal planning. Want to see our meal plan for this coming week? (It's just thrilling for you to come here, isn't it?)

Monday: Stuffed Shells
Tuesday: Coconut Curry Shrimp over Rice
Wednesday: Slow Cooker Salsa Verde Chicken Tacos
Thursday: Chinese Chicken and Broccoli over Rice
Friday: Pepperoni Pizza made at home
Saturday: eat out...maybe.

Now that I have sufficiently bored you to death, I am going to go eat this muffin that WORK paid for. Go team!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Easter 2012

Or, everyone looking like goobers.

For the record, I dyed those eggs ALONE on Saturday night because SOMEONE was so "sweepy" and couldn't stay awake long enough to help. That probably worked out in my favor since it was much less messy and I could drink lots of wine while dying them. I also experimented with white and brown eggs to get different colors and shades and YOU TOTALLY WISH YOU HAD MY LIFE. Scintillating stuff, I tell you.

Monday, April 9, 2012


I ran into an old friend from college today while waiting on the train platform and I realized it had been almost eight years since I had seen him. We chatted about his new baby girl born in October, how they like the neighborhood since they moved here late last summer, our favorite coffee shops in the area and how we’ve been in the neighborhood since 2007. He was shocked to learn that Chloe was our second and that we’ve been in our house for almost five years. It became obvious, quickly, that time was rushing by and we had been out of touch for a while.

What I noticed even more than the lack of familiarity were the small lines forming around his eyes, the specks of gray touching his temples. The beginning signs of aging, growing older, most likely wiser. Coming away from our brief encounter I was surprised to find myself confused…wasn’t he just 22? Wasn’t I? When did we stop talking about last weekend’s adventures in the urban jungle and start talking about which restaurants allowed strollers? About how family-friendly our neighborhood is and how that coffee place has really great crepes? About how much we love our little girls?

Somewhere I have a picture of him and me, with a couple other friends, holding paint brushes and laughing because we had just painted their room in the fraternity house. I can see the photo in my mind’s eye and we look so…childish. Now we’re grown up, mostly, and it took me by surprise. I’m sure he noticed the lines around my eyes and the weariness that comes from sleepless nights holding the baby. I wonder if he thought the same thing…when did we get so old?

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Working 9 to 5

Or 8 to 4, in my case. Lately I’ve been thinking about my job and the work I do and why I’ve chosen this path versus another more exciting or perhaps lucrative career. Part of this was inspired by Pseudostoops’ pondering about her recent job change and what it has meant for her and her family and the other part because our recent childcare woes caused us to really dig deep down and evaluate the importance of me working.

When you’re young and inexperienced you look for a job that pays the bills, allows you to have fun on the side and perhaps one that has the potential to grow into a more stable career over time. I started with my company in 2004 when I was just 22 years old. It was a young trust company that needed an administrative assistant and I was less than a year out of college without any real idea what I wanted to be when I grew up. I knew I was organized, detail-oriented and fit the job description if a little over-qualified with a business degree from a respected university. However I was living in the big city and needed a job to pay rent and put money in the bank. Those martinis weren’t paying for themselves and most of the 22 year old guys we were hanging out with rarely understood the importance of buying a woman a drink (I hope they’ve since seen the light).

From 2004-2006, I saw my company through a quick growth period and myself move from an administrative assistant to a trust associate responsible (with a mentor) for the administration of client accounts. But it was still just a job. By this time I had met Tim and was planning our wedding during most of my work days while zooming through my usual work load. Priorities, you know. I invited my entire office at the time, all 8 of them, to our wedding and one still talks about the delicious lamb chops we served as an appetizer. He’s one of my favorites.

From 2006-2008, my company saw me through newlywed-ville, buying our first house and then pregnancy. They ooooohed and aaahhhhed over my growing belly, threw me a wonderful baby shower, and understood when I said I wanted to stay home and raise my baby. They were sad to see me go and told me to come back and visit with the baby any time. They meant it and I did. I spent two years at home with Noah and those are some of the best years of my life. But then we all know what happened in 2008…the economy tanked and my poor husband spent the next three years struggling to make his technology business successful while I worried and fretted and blogged (go ahead, go back and see how much better I was at posting often. As you do when you have one cute baby and nothing else to do with your time.)

By June of 2010 I knew it was time for me to go back to work; partly because I missed working but mostly out of necessity for a steady paycheck and cheaper health insurance. Going back was a one of the most difficult and adult decisions I (we) have ever made. I knew what I was giving up: time with my son, time watching him grow and learn and turn into a little boy. It broke my heart but we found him a wonderful preschool center that, to this day, has cared for him better than anyone else. He’s thrived there and I am eternally grateful to them for making our lives as dual working parents easier.

When I approached my former boss for a recommendation or referral during my job search he offered me my job back on the spot. I was flabbergasted and very flattered. I accepted, asked for more money (as you do) and started within the month. I’ve been back ever since. Over the past two years I’ve earned myself a decent raise, a promotion and the support of management to keep growing in my role with the hope that I can one day be sitting in their cushy seats. The trust business is a dry, ancient business built on the law and tax code. It’s not (usually) exciting or all that thrilling. We don’t reinvent the law, we don’t hop on the latest technology bandwagon, we don’t have break rooms with ping pong tables or on-site laundry or Google-caliber guest speakers. But what I have recently come to find is that we do have good values. You see, I work for a company that values family above all else. When I needed it the most, my company pulled through for me and has supported me tremendously.

We recently had to pull Chloe from her daycare due to concerns about her safety and well-being (and that is saying it VERY nicely). It’s been a really terrible experience and one I do not wish to ever relive. All that matters is that she’s fine, we’re fine, and we’ll be fine at the end of this disaster. Through this entire experience my company has supported me. They have allowed me (PAID!) time off to be with my daughter, with my family. They didn’t expect me to be available by email or phone. They left me alone. I needed that time and I appreciate it immensely. We now have a better care plan in place for our kids. We can move forward without worrying about how we’re going to pay the bills or where my standing is having missed weeks of work.

When I sit back and think about changing jobs or what my company lacks in the 2012 marketplace (hello gourmet lunches and chair massages) I remind myself about what we do have. We have people that pull strings to make sure their employees are taken care of. We have people who send kind notes of encouragement when others have hit rough spots. We have people who understand that family comes first no matter what. NO MATTER WHAT. I don’t need all those perks that some companies throw at their employees to keep them happy. I don’t need a company that is innovating and revolutionizing. I don’t need ridiculous bonuses earned for working equally ridiculous hours. I just need the understanding that I am first a mother and second an employee. They get that so they get me…hopefully for the long run. I know I’m lucky to have landed here and I appreciate that they appreciate me. 

What about you? Are you happy with your job? (and hey SAHMS! this includes YOU...taking care of your kids is one of the hardest jobs out there) What do you do (if you can share)?