Today is a good place to be.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Full Time Mom

Working has always been something I enjoyed. I blame my Dad. He had me working in his office back when I was 11 or 12, making copies, answering phones, replacing pages in the ever changing tax pages of tax law books. He helped to get me and my sister Amy a paper route one year when I was about 13. He helped get us a job working for one of his clients assembling joysticks and flight control simulators for Thrustmaster from ages 15-17. He instilled a strong work ethic, even though it may not have seemed like it at the time(I was a bit flaky at the joystick place- I called in sick a lot-- and I mean a lot, rarely working a full work week, I was butt of a lot of jokes). Anyway, I loved climbing that corporate ladder-- making myself better-- impressing the higher ups. I didn't always like my actual job, but I enjoyed having a task at hand, being able to complete it, and completing it to the best of my ability. I enjoy lists and checking off lists. I like delegating and meetings. I like brainstorming and working with others to make things happen and get things moving. I like to-do piles, waiting on other people piles, and this can wait for another time piles. This kind of work has always felt comfortable.

Well, all that changed, as I knew it would, the day my first baby was born. Ms. Leila Estelle Conser rocked my world. I knew she would, but I was not prepared as to how much. I loved my nieces and nephews sooooooo very much that it was going to be just like that, except I could call her my own and didn't have to give her back. Right? Well, the love was surely there, but I had no idea that my own child would give me such an incredibly deep and unconditional love. Amazing I could feel that much love for another person so instantly. And then my second baby was born. Oh dear, could I ever love him as much as I love Leila? Mr. Nathan Frederick Conser popped out and was placed in my arms and WOW. Yes I could love him as much as his sister. No question.

Now, back to work... I really hated these moms that would sit around and tell me that they loved their children sooooo much that they just couldn't imagine going back to work. It trivialized my situation. I am sure they didn't do it on purpose(Some of them anyway- there are those who I am sure were making digs), but it filled me with doubt and feelings of inadequacy and a lot of jelousy. It made me feel like I must not love my kids enough because I wasn't finding a way to stay at home with them, even though every night I stretched my brain to find a way to stay home. I never wanted to be a working mother, but our financial situation didn't leave us much choice. I had great benefits at a minimal cost(The pregnancy and birth of both kids only cost us one $15 co-pay each), and Jeremy had so-so insurance and an astronomical cost, so high that I would need to get a part time job to help pay for it. So we did what we could- Jeremy and I worked opposite shifts. He worked a swing shift, and I worked a very early shift(6-2:30).

When I first went back to work with Leila, I didn't work on Mondays, which allowed the three of us a wonderful three day weekend together. Actually I was still going to school and had some Saturday classes thrown in there, but we felt very satisfied with Monday Mornings together. We enjoyed so many wonderful things. We took a "Your Growing Baby" class together on Monday mornings before Jeremy had to go into work. We experienced Leila's first laugh together. Her rolling over, sitting up, all those cute baby things. Tuesday-Thursday I would get home in time to kiss Jeremy before he left. Fridays my wonderful mother would watch Leila as Jeremy had to go in a little early on those days. Mom was a great sitter, and cheap. I paid her in diet coke and beef jerky for a bonus. My mom and I would spend good time together on Friday evenings, and I treasure that time together. My Mom and Leila still seem to have a very special bond from that time together. I see a very special gentleness between them, and Leila is very interested in all my Mom does, and my Mother is very interested in everything Leila does. I missed Jeremy in the evenings. Leila was harder to deal with at night and hated bedtime(Still does!). But it worked for a while. We tried to maximize our weekends, although we ended up being out of sinq a bit and our relationship suffered.

Then... we went to the beach when Leila was about 6 months old, thanks to a bonus from my job, and when she was 7 months old... we found out she was going to be a big sister! EEEEK! This was not my plan. Funny how things like this happen and we learn a little lesson: Gods plan for us is not always our plan for us. I knew I did not want to work after my second baby was born. It was hard enough with one, I couldn't imagine going back to work with two babies at home. I couldn't imagine having two alone in the evenings if we kept up this schedule. I tried to talk my mom into retiring and we would PAY HER to watch our children so Jeremy could move to day shift, but of course she wasn't ready to do that. So, I stressed and stressed about it for the next 9 months. Again listening to moms tell me I must not love my kids enough to stay at home. I didn't fit into their crowd since work hung over me like a dark cloud, and I didn't quite fit into the working mothers crowd either since I didn't really want to be at work. Thankfully I had very sweet friends(two in particular, and you two know who you are) at work who understood, or least simply listened to me while my heart broke on a regular basis as I looked at photos of my angels at home, so far away from me.

Those nights of my being pregnant and being alone with Leila in the evening were some of the most challenging for me, both physically and mentally. When I was first pregnant I was sick and tired. All of my pregnancy symptoms seemed to be magnified because I believe I was simply not getting enough rest. I would come home from work and my sweet little Leila would play with her toys next to me, while I would take a short nap on the floor. I felt like I missed out on some of her growing years, by doing this, but I had to do what I had to do. When she was still eating baby food, my meals weren't much better. I would have soup or left overs and then a big bowl of popcorn after she went to bed. I found I really liked kettle corn. I would sometimes go to my parents and eat with them. We would often go over to the Dollar tree just to get out of the house and give Leila stuff to look at. I figured how much could I really spend? As I got bigger and bigger and much more uncomfortable, putting her in her crib was harder and fighting her the bedtime battle routine was harder. I remember going to sleep in my bed hearing her crying, because I didn't know what else to do. I was exhausted, knowing I had to get up at 4:30 for work, and she wouldn't go down any other way. There were nights I would cry with her, I felt so very alone, yet at the same time so very thankful I really wasn't a single mom. Funny how when I look back on it, it doesn't seem so bad, but when I really sit and think about it, those were really hard days. Some of the hardest I've had.

After Nathan was born I had three months off. We enjoyed our time together as a family of four. I didn't worry about a schedule for him like I did with Leila. I just enjoyed being a mommy because I knew I had to go back to work. I was going to hold my baby every chance I got! That is how much I loved him(I sure showed all those stay at home moms! They probably put their babies in cribs to sleep)! I had a few weeks of pain with a gallbladder surgery, which I endured several attacks during my pregnancy. All that lead to was a very uneventful staying around home LOA, which is what I wanted anyway. Jeremy's schedule changed a bit and we had to find day care for two hours a day to cover our overlap between shifts. I was also back to work 5 days a week and my mom could no longer watch on Fridays. A good friend of ours in our church was able to watch the kids, and I know she loved them. She was happy to have a baby in her home, but I worried. I imagined an earthquake or tornado ripping thru the area and my kids being scared out of their minds. She wouldn't have enough arms to comfort my kids as well as her own four. Maybe she would, but I worried about it. It took me about 35 minutes to get home from work and that would be a long drive in the event of a natural disaster.

And then, a miracle happened. We refinance our house in May after Nathan was born. Jeremy got a new job in August. Now the benefits were still so-so, but much more affordable. I was still concerned to switch since our Doctor was not on the plan. Nathan had some health problems and was on several medications for asthma and allergies. I was determined to keep him with Dr. Darling thru his 1 year appointment in December, and his benefits didn't kick in until November anyway. The refinance and job felt like answers to my daily prayers, or rather daily pleading and crying, to be home with my children. My job was going crazy-- my company had been bought out by another company and we were going thru internal audits, the Sarbanes Oxley Act had just been put into action and we were being externally audited. Upper management had a revolving door on it and we never knew who we were going to be reporting to. I had one boss come to ask me for things, and then his boss would tell me not to do that and do something different, oh but she didn't tell my boss and he would get upset when I didn't do what he wanted me to do and then get mad when I told him she told me not to do it... Very uncomfortable. I was glad to finally hang up my working mom hat in February 2006 and switch to my stay-at-home mommy hat. To supplement my income I would be helping my Dad and sister Amy with taxes. I think I will blog on that a bit later...

The adjustment to Stay At Home Mommy Life was brutal. Thank goodness my sister Amy was home and I could talk to her on the phone almost every day and she could totally relate and tell me I was normal for all of these feelings. I was not used to living in a world where piles didn't stay neat, lists got chewed up or colored on. How many ways could I brainstorm laundry or meal lists. Why did I feel like such a failure when I could only come up with so many ways to cook with chicken or ground beef. I couldn't really delegate jobs to my baby and toddler-- not yet anyway. I didn't like that I could clean a room and not have it be clean at the end of the day. My husband had a very different idea of what a SAHM should be too. He was constantly disappointed when he came home to messes(Whether they had been there all day, or just the five minutes before he walked in the door I will never divulge to him- and still won't). He also didn't understand my need to run upstairs the minute he walked in the door for some much needed time alone. In fact the whole idea that I need time alone and to myself was an odd idea- for both of us. This has gotten better over time, he is much more supportive and understanding. I still fight the feelings of guilt to run away from the family at my first chance of a break. I still have to work on my alone time. But it is getting better.

I found out how lonely it is to stay at home. Even on those really busy days at work when I was chained to my desk working numbers and dealing with irate customers and collecting my million dollar accounts, I could still walk to the restroom and peek over a cubical wall and smile at a friend and get some sort of positive feedback. These days I only get yelled at, I get my achievements(OK , so its only PBJ or micro-waved hotdogs) tossed back in face, when I go in to break a fight and I end up being laughed at and ganged up on by BOTH of the ones fighting. I am simply not gaurenteed adult conversation like I was at work. Granted sometimes it didn't feel like I was talking to adults when I went off to work, I could find some equal socialization somewhere in that building.

I don't say this to complain, but its a much different way a life at home. I have to say its harder to be at home and validating my existence when I had years and years of wages and bonuses, I was president of a professional organization to educate people in my career field, I spent a lot of time training and overseeing coworkers, heading up mini-teams to resolve issues and implement new processes. It was a major adjustment to be home. One I am glad I made. But it has made me realize that all of us who have children work or don't work for any number of reasons. We might work because we NEED to. We might work because we WANT to. We might stay home because we LOVE it. We might stay home because we THINK we SHOULD. No matter what, we love our children. We want what is best for them. We are all full-time mothers, no matter what we have going on in the background. The only person who can truly judge if we are doing our jobs is ourselves, and we are ultimately too hard on ourselves to be a fair judge.

Sept. 4, 2003- The day I went in to have Leila.

Sept. 5, 2003. Here is that bump-- well worth it!

Dec. 5, 2004- The day before I went in to have Nathan.
Dec. 6th--- Ahhhh its over. Bump #2 is successfully here.
Dec 6th- Bump #1 meets Bump #2-- she isn't so sure about that....
What a Happy Family!!!!

I love my babies daddy

I love Jeremy. He is a good Dad.

He gets tired of the constant fighting between the two little darlings. He gets tired of thiner messes. He tries to make them take responsibility to things that are way over thiner heads... but he loves them.

I am heading off to work. Its tax season and I use my Saturdays, my non-kid days, to go to My Dads to get as much work as possible. I am upstairs getting ready and I hear him reading yet another book to my little sweethearts. There are times I think he lets them watch too much TV, or plays too many video games in front of them, or cleans over playing with them, but then there are mornings like these when he made us all pancakes and he is on the floor with the kids reading and playing.

I apologize for giving him soo much parenting advice. Most of the advice I give him is advice I need to take myself. And luckily I realize this and do take it. Together we are figuring these kids out and hopefully will raise up children who will add to society-- make it a little bit better for the entire world, not just our home.Picture from last week on our bed-- I heard a ruckus and then Daddy called out: Mommy, get the camera!

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Not a CAT person

I am NOT a cat person. But I love Ali.

My sister Marella has had cats who have had kittens, one who was named HPK (Hurt Paw Kitty- she was born with a paw defect), well she had a few litters and had Sweet Pea, who my other sister Bethany adopted. Sweet Pea had several litters, all of whom Leila adored. She loves cats and kittens. She loved seeing the tiny babies. Sweet Pea had a litter in August 2007 of 7 kittens and Leila fell in love with the "pure black" one, who wasn't pure black, she has white paws, a white chest, and when she was a baby she looked kind of brown.

After much discussion between Jeremy and I, and after weeks and weeks of discussion with Leila and talking to her about what it takes to be a responsible pet owner, we decided she could in fact have her very own little kitten. My mom started to socialize our little black kitty like crazy, holding her and loving her every chance she could. We went to the store and bought the appropriate items for our new kitten, including a few treats and toys(which the kids ended up breaking before we even had the cat come to live with us). We decided on the name Ali at the suggestion of our friend. Right now Leila called her Ali kitten, but someday she will be Ali Cat.
Grandma and Grandpa brought little Ali over to our house on the Friday before Halloween, 2007. She was so small she could hide under our entertainment cabnit! She would climb into Nathans toy Garage! We had to be very careful with her as she was so very fragile. Mommy(that is me) was very on edge and nervous that the cat would not survive. I wasn't sure how I would explain all of that to the kids. I kept telling Beth to keep one kitten on hand, "just in case!" But Ali has learned to hide, defend and ultimately be loved without too many problems. It was great, she came to us box trained, eating food, and happy to be in a family.
She doesn't like other animals. We took her "home" for thanksgiving to see her mom and one sister that stayed. They didn't get along. Maybe she was jealous, maybe she forgot she was a cat, maybe she felt like they sent her off to live in the worst place imaginable! Who knows what their minds think.
She does love the children though. Leila would hold her all day long if I let her. Ali is the first think Leila thinks of in the morning and usually the last thing she thinks of at night. If we are out, Leila goes on a kitty hunt the second she takes her shoes off once we get home. Leila would dress her and bathe her and treat her just like a baby if she could. Ali doesn't really appreciate this. Nathan likes Ali too, but he plays with her a bit, and then leaves her alone. Ali likes this, and gravitates towards Nathan a bit more than Leila. When either child goes to time out, she likes to be close to them. She doesn't like them being upset. She likes to check on them at night, if she hears them coughing, she will leave my side if I am reading or watching TV and she will go check on them. I have even found her sleeping with them.
She is very sweet. She jumps up on the bed and comes and licks my face, which I do not like at all. She enjoys being around us and seems very social. At the vet they told us she was very well behaved and one of the sweetest cats they have ever treated, and they told us they weren't just telling us that.
Its hard to believe a little animal like a Kitten can bring so much into our lives.

Friday, March 21, 2008

1st Entry- Happy Birthday to Me!

Its time I start my blog... many of my friends are doing it-- why aren't I? Of course, I would NOT jump off the bridge if they did. I would try to get them to NOT jump off the bridge so I would probably be out there with them and you might think I would jump too, and I wouldn't, but thats besides the point.

My 32nd birthday was yesterday and I had the pleasure of sleeping in! My sweet little Nathan(3 yo) woke me at 8:30, hours later than usual. Wow-- what a boy! Did he know it was my birthday? No, because he still threw several tantrums before we headed out the door for my WW meeting at 10, but I still enjoyed the extra sleep. So why am I up at 4 this morning? Leila(4yo) got up with a bad dream and wanted to sleep on my floor, Nathan was already in our bed between Jeremy and I, so after I made Leila a bed and removed a few cars from under my back I had to think about my bedroom and the three other people (and kitty) inside. I love them so much, and am so very grateful to have them in my life.

All week long Leila has been counting down to my birthday. This whole year I have been very impressed with her awareness of holidays and special occasions. "Balentimes Day" was huge for her and she was counting down to that for weeks, St. Patricks Day they had a Lepracuan come to class, they didn't see him, but he knocked over chairs, left green foot prints, and left a few other things "awry". Its been a pleasure to watch her enjoy all of these events. So today she was excited that it was finally my birthday. She sang to me and wanted to wear a dress to celebrate! I was lucky enough to be assigned today to be the day of the month that I was the "Parent Helper" in her classroom. She told her teacher that it was my birthday, and her entire class sang to me, Mrs. Conser! How fun.

We took it easy this afternoon. I had a few friends stop by with birthday wishes, how sweet of them to think of me. I got some chocolate,which the kids and I shared. And then Jeremy came home and it was time to go see a movie, my birthday wish.
Seeing a movie with a toddler is an exciting and interesting experience. They laugh and are excited and never seem to get full of popcorn. Thank goodness this cinema has refills on their popcorn for only $.50. They talk lough because I think they truly believe they are the only ones in this huge dark room with the music blasting at a million decibels. We went and saw Horton Hears a Who. The kids loved it-- I loved watching them watch it. How special to be able to spend time with them and share my birthday with them. It was late, but I was hungry, the popcorn didn't fill me up so much, so we went to Panera bread for a bowl of soup. Yum. Leila had a jelly sandwich and both kids had some yogurt. We came home and bedtime was crazy as usual. But what a blessing to have such a loving family.

So, this morning I laid in bed after making Leila her little bed on the floor and listening to her fall asleep again and thought about what I have in these four walls... its priceless. Its everything I have ever wanted-- even the kitty(though I am not a cat person). How lucky am I that I can take a day, a time out, from a very stressful time in my life to just sit back and enjoy.