Stretched thin

A colleague of mine (single female with no children, I must point out) asked me why women are so bad at staying in touch with their girlfriends once they have kids. I realize she was making a generalization based on the fact that she was frustrated with one friend who hadn’t returned her calls, but I still felt the need to defend the friend a bit. 

As I thought about my own life and my relationships with my girlfriends since becoming a mom, I realized how tough it can be. 

Right now, I’m still trying to get settled into some sort of a routine as a working mom of two. In doing so, I’ve come to realize how many roles I have and how many different (and sometimes conflicting) expectations people have of me and, quite frankly, that I have of myself.  When I examine those roles and expectations, I discover that I’m doing a whole lot of things, but not really doing any of them terribly well. 

I’m trying the best I can to be a good mom to my kids, but often I feel like I’m rushing around and getting impatient with them. I’m trying to be a good employee and manager, but it feels like I’m always playing catch-up as my to-do list grows. I’m trying to be a good wife, but it feels like my husband and I barely get to say hello to each other, let alone have a real conversation or spend any meaningful time together. 

So, where does that leave girlfriends?  My two closest girlfriends are my best friend from high school and my roommate from university. They are both single. On the one hand, their schedules are a little more flexible and they are always willing to come to me for a visit. But I’m sure they’d prefer to spend time with me in a non-kid setting (and I would like that too!)

And then there are all the other people in my life that I wish I had more time for: extended family, family friends, work friends…

I feel like I’m being pulled in all different directions and getting stretched out of shape.  In an attempt to do everything, I feel like I manage to do nothing. 

I know the advice I would give someone else in my shoes: “go easy on yourself.”  “It will get better.” And, “you are doing a much better job than you think.”  So I’m trying to remind myself of that. 

Monday is a holiday here in Canada and I’m taking tomorrow off work to give myself an extra-long weekend. I know this will cause me some extra stress on the work front, but some family time is something I really need right now. Then, maybe, I can tackle the girlfriends!

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Party time

After years of small family gatherings, we finally took the plunge and threw an actual birthday party for Littleman.  And you know what?  My four-year-old’s first birthday party was a major success!

The day started out well with Bo giving me his own little gift…sleeping through the night!  And not the six-hours-is-considered-through-the-night bullshit, but 11 whole hours!  Straight!  (Don’t get me wrong.  Most nights I’d give my left arm for even six hours of straight sleep!)

Anyway, back to the party…

My sister and I are both coming to the end of maternity leave, so she decided to come visit with her daughter for the week.  It was good timing because she was able to help me with some of the party prep in advance of the big day.  She’s super crafty and even took an amateur cake decorating course in the past, so I’m always happy to have her help with these sorts of things.

I decided to go with a construction theme for the party because Littleman and his buddies are pretty into anything construction-related (also firetrucks and super heroes, obviously, but we had to narrow it down!)  I’m really happy with how everything turned out, considering my main goal was to keep it all VERY simple and inexpensive.

The venue was great.  We rented a play gym not far from our home.  It had a large playroom that was filled with padded things for the kids to climb and jump on, plus a second room with a kid-sized table and chairs for the meal.  The staff organized a few activities for the kids and then let them run around like maniacs for a while.  Then we moved to the second room where the kids sat down for pizza and cake.  We had pizza for the parents too.

I kept the decor low-key, with yellow plates, napkins and table cloth to match our construction vehicles.  The morning of his party, Littleman and I were talking about what would be there and after I mentioned cake and pizza, he said, “and I think there will be party hats.”  Shit.  I said, “no, I don’t think so.”  And he said, “yes, I think there will.”  Thank god for mothers.  My  mom ran out and found yellow ones to save the day.

The cake was an idea I found on Pinterest and it turned out great.  I made two 9×13 cakes and put them together.  We iced them with chocolate icing (a super easy and yummy recipe) and then decorated it with mini construction vehicles, chocolate covered raisins and Oreo cookie crumbs.

The party favours were rice krispie squares wrapped up with a little construction vehicle for each kid.  Not too expensive and the kids loved them.

Littleman had an absolute ball playing with his friends.  Bo was a bit overwhelmed by the whole event, however we did discover that he loves pizza (of course he does, who doesn’t??)

All in all, things went very well.  I’m so glad that we decided not to try hosting the party at our house.  There is nothing better than walking out at the end of the night and not having to clean up!

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Home again

Bo and I arrived home after a couple of days out of town visiting my sister and my university roommate. Turns out, Bo was a champion road-tripper.

My best friend and I hit the road, with Bo in tow, and had a wonderful time. Some highlights of our time away include:

– cuddling with my adorable niece
– spending time with the girls
– visiting the beach
– chocolate dipped butter tarts (yes, that’s right!)
– time in the car without having to listen to a Bubble Guppies DVD
– chocolate covered Double Stuff Oreos
– sleeping by myself in a king-sized bed

My best friend and I have been friends for 22 years. She is a huge part of my children’s lives but lately it seems that everything we do revolves around them. I know she loves them (and she is so amazingly helpful) but I wish we could spend more time together in a kid-free environment. Although we had Bo with us for this little getaway, we were still able to talk, catch up and just enjoy each other’s company without answering “why?” every two seconds.

All in all, it was a lovely time. I missed Littleman and D, but I really needed something for myself.

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Road trip

This morning, Bo and I are hitting the road. My best friend and I are taking him on a little road trip.

First stop: my sister’s house, two-hours away. We’ll spend some time with my sister and my niece. It will be nice to hang out with them without all the craziness of having a three-year-old around.

Then, we’ll carry on to our other girlfriend’s cottage. It’s in a little town that we’ve never been to and it should be nice to spend some time by the lake.

Although Bo is coming with us, I’m still really looking forward to some time away with the girls. Any time that I spend with my sister or my girlfriends is usually dominated by my kids (I’m so lucky that they all love my kids so much) so I’m grateful for the chance to get away and (hopefully!) squeeze in a couple glasses of wine, some delicious food and some adult conversation.

Littleman will be staying with my mom while I’m away because D has to work. I’m guessing he’ll barely notice I’m gone because he’ll be so excited to spend time with Nana.

So far we’ve had no issues with the car, so hopefully Bo will be a good passenger and enjoy his first road trip.

My kids’ friends or my friends’ kids?

When Littleman was a baby, I never really thought about who he would play with. When I wanted to socialize, we’d often spend time with friends who had kids that were a similar age. He was too young to choose his own friends, so we chose for him.

Now that he’s three years old, things are starting to change. He’s in daycare during the week and it’s so interesting to hear him talk about who he plays with.

Recently, his daycare teachers approached D and I to say that there is one little boy in particular, Jackson, who Littleman is great friends with. We were told that they play really well together and are best buds. They do everything together.  The teachers suggested that we consider arranging a play date outside of school.

This sounds fine in theory, but it’s kind of weird in practice. First, I don’t know this kid. I had to ask the teachers to point him out to me. Second, I don’t know his parents. I’m certainly not going to send my three-year-old to their house alone for a play date and I imagine they feel the same. So that automatically means that we, as the parents, have to choose to hang out together if we want our kids to play together.

With a newborn baby at home, I didn’t get my act together to reach out to Jackson’s parents. Turns out that they were getting the same message from the teachers and left us a note in Littleman’s cubby with their contact information.

So, I bit the bullet and texted Jackson’s mom to invite them to our place last weekend. D was working so I figured it would be a good activity to keep Littleman busy. I thought that Jackson’s mom (who, incidentally, is expecting her second baby in September) and I could chat and hang out with Bo while the kiddies played.

I’m not gonna lie – I was kind of dreading it.  I hate trying to make small talk with people I don’t know and it felt weird to invite strangers to my house.  But, since Littleman is usually forced to spend time with my friends’ kids, the least I could do is spend time with the parents of his friends, right?

On the day of the play date, Jackson arrived with both of his parents.  They had offered to bring lunch for the boys, but ended up bringing enough for us adults too.  They turned out to be very nice and normal people.  And the boys had an absolute ball.  They really do get along amazingly well.  It was one of the first times I’ve noticed Littleman play with another kid his age where they actually interact consistently with each other as opposed to just playing beside each other.  They clearly really like each other and had so much fun.

So, I guess this is something I’m going to have to get used to as the boys get older: my kids having their own friends instead of always playing with my friends’ kids.  As difficult as it is for me to reach out to people I don’t know, it’s important to me that I get to know the kids that Littleman spends most of his time with.  And, I suppose it doesn’t hurt for me to meet new people.  Maybe someday they’ll actually become my friends too.

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Visiting the office

It seems that I have a knack for having babies just in time to avoid major changes at my workplace.  During my last maternity leave, my company merged with another company.  When I returned to work, my office was in a different building and my team had doubled in size.  It made the back-to-work adjustment a bit harder because I had to get used to a new place and new people.  But, I was quite happy to have missed the majority of the stress and drama that went on during the transition.

This time, it appears that there will some changes once again.  My VP got a new job and left the company.  We’re getting a new boss, who is moving over from a different department within the company.  A couple of weeks ago, a rep from HR contacted me to let me know (of course, I’d already heard through the office grapevine!) and said that our new boss would like to chat with me if I was up for it.  He offered a phone call but said I could come in person if I’d prefer.

I decided that it would be a good idea to go in person.  I’ve never worked with him before and figured it would be better to meet him face-to-face.

So, today, I dragged Bo and D downtown with me to the office.  While I had my meeting with my new boss, D walked around the shopping mall attached to my office with Bo in the stroller.  Then, the three of us went to visit my colleagues.

It felt pretty weird to be there.  The meeting with the new boss was fine… he told me that he’d heard good things about me and wanted me to know that there would always be a place for me on our team.  He also made it clear that there would be some changes and that he saw this as an opportunity for a “restart” of our team.  Not sure what that means for sure, but I expect a bit of restructuring and perhaps some changes in personnel.  We’ll see.  Happily, I don’t go back to work until next February so I will be able to watch from the sidelines as things shake out.

It was nice to see my friends, though.  Bo cooperated and was happy to give some snuggles to my colleagues.

In the end, I’m glad I decided to go to the meeting in person.  It reminded me how lucky I am to have this time away from work with my boys!

One highlight of my day was the couple of times I fed Bo while we were there.  My office is attached to a major downtown shopping mall, where D and Bo hung out during my meeting.  Before and after the meeting, I nursed Bo in the mall’s nursing room.  Wow, I was totally impressed!  It was a huge room with two big, comfy leather chairs.  There was a long counter with a great change area.  And, attached to the room was a family washroom, so I could bring the stroller with me when I had to pee.  You had to use an intercom to ask security to open the room, so I didn’t have any random people walking in while I was nursing.   I was very pleasantly surprised and actually snapped a pic to show my friends!

 

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Escaped!

We achieved a major milestone last night. Mommy went out! That’s right, you heard me correctly: Girls. Night. Out.

A bunch of the girls from our street decided to go out for drinks at a local restaurant (after the kids’ bedtime, of course) so I figured it was a good time to try leaving the boys with D.

I’m happy to report that it was very successful! I nursed Bo and got him settled to sleep in his chair before I left, allowing D to focus on getting Littleman to bed. I made sure there was a bottle of pumped breastmilk all ready to go (haha, my autocorrect wanted to call it “pimped!”).

I wasn’t the only one with a baby at home, so no one judged me when I checked my phone frequently. In fact, one of the other moms got called home because her January-born baby was screaming. Bo, however, did great. He woke up and took his bottle like a champ and then went back to sleep, which is what he was doing when I returned.

As tired as I was (I sacrificed my first shift of sleep to go out) it felt so nice to spend some time away from the kids. I enjoyed a glass of wine and felt a bit better about myself when I learned that I wasn’t the only one there who was still wearing maternity jeans! (Getting dressed to go out was a bit of a fiasco and I almost ended up in tears. I finally gave up and tried not to care too much).

Anyways, I feel mentally refreshed after enjoying some adult company and I’m glad to know that they boys can survive on their own. I love to be home with them but I appreciate them even more after a little break.