Another year

As 2015 draws to a close, I have become more aware than ever of how quickly time is moving.  I realize that I’ve been an absentee blogger for much of this year.  In fact, as I sat down to write this, I noticed that my last post was more than two months ago.  How did that happen?

I guess I sort of know the answer to that.  Or the answers (plural).  First, of course, I went back to work after a year-long maternity leave.  Being a working mom of two young boys has challenged me more than I could have known.  They are such good boys, but just managing the regular day-to-day tasks like daycare pick ups, making dinner, baths, laundry, packing lunch, etc. is enough to drain me.

Then there’s work itself.  I was promoted to manager while I was on mat leave and inherited an employee who I had never met before.  This employee is challenging in many ways and it has made the transition tougher than it should have been.  I was promoted again a couple of months ago and I now have five employees and a new area of responsibility.  This is a good thing but doesn’t leave me with any extra time.

And, as is to be expected, we enjoyed a few weeks of illness in our house, culminating in a miserable sinus infection for me right before the holidays.

So here we are now.  Christmas is over and it’s New Year’s Eve.  We’re at the farm with my family and the littles are napping.  The others are outside playing in the (tiny bit of) snow.  It’s too much for me to reflect on the whole of 2015, other than to say that it had its ups and downs.  It was a tough year for me in many ways, but a good year overall.  My boys are growing and developing and doing amazing things everyday.  We’re all healthy.  That’s all I really need.

I know I need to take some time to really think about this blog and whether or not there is a future for me here.  I did not intend to just drop off the face of the earth – I often wonder and worry about others when that happens – and I truly thought I could keep going.  But now I wonder if I really do have anything more to say.  And, more importantly, the time and desire to say it.

In the meantime, I’m still here in the background, following your celebrations and struggles, your losses and joys.  I’m still here reading about your kids and families, your recipes and fashion finds, your ups and your downs.  I don’t comment very often (I usually sneak in a quick read at the bus stop or on the elevator) but I am here.

Happy New Year… 2016 here we come!

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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!

TGIF (AKA buh-bye crappy week)

Somehow I haven’t managed to finish a post in the past couple of weeks.  In fact, I can barely finish a thought these days.  The transition from maternity leave to a working mom has been pretty challenging this time around.

And this week has been particularly challenging.  We kicked off the weekend with Bo barfing a few times on Saturday morning. The nasty stomach bug hit Littleman and I next.  We were finally all back to normal and then I threw my back out.  All of this went on while D was working, so I had to juggle illnesses/pain while taking care of the kids on my own (and with the help of my mom, thank goodness!)

Tonight, t-ball started.  I’m wondering how people manage to work all day, feed their kids and get to evening activities.  It’s like total chaos.

On top of it all we’ve been dealing with the stress of waiting to hear if Littleman got into the before/after school child care program at the school he’ll be attending this fall.  He starts kindergarten in September so he’ll no longer be at our current daycare.  Some of our friends and neighbours heard that their kids got in last week and we still didn’t have a spot this week.  I have more to say about the craziness of daycare waiting lists but we finally got the good news yesterday: we’re in!

I keep reminding myself that things will settle down eventually.  That we will get into a groove and figure this out.  I know that this week was not a normal one.  But, seriously, never has TGIF felt so true to me!

MIA and IOU

I realize that I appear to have totally dropped off the face of the earth and I owe you an update…

I’ve almost made it through three weeks of work and life feels like a total whirlwind.  If D is working, he’s gone before the rest of us wake up in the mornings.   On those days, I rush to get myself ready before the boys wake up.  I nurse Bo when he awakes and throw some clothes on him.  Then I pester Littleman to get dressed and rush him through his breakfast (he is sllloooowwww).  I bundle us all up (will be so happy when we can drop the winter clothes for good!) and strap Bo into the stroller.  We walk to daycare as quickly as Littleman will allow (again, so slow!).  It breaks my heart to leave them there so early, but I pretty much have to drop them right when the daycare opens if I want to get to work at a decent time.  By the time I’m on the bus, I feel like I’ve already worked an entire day and it’s only 7:45am.

On days that D isn’t working, we have a bit more flexibility.  I can leave whenever I’m ready and the boys can take their time getting ready for daycare.  These days are so much better.

Work itself is going ok.  I was promoted while I was on maternity leave so I’m trying to get my head around my new responsibilities and getting to know my new employee.  I also have a new boss, so figuring out all the “people stuff” (i.e. personalities, working styles, expectations, etc) is the biggest challenge.  The actual content of the work is fine – I’ve been doing this stuff for a long time.

After work, the evening craziness begins with the commute home.  The boys are always tired and hungry after daycare so I try to get them as early as I can.  Then it’s dinner prep and eating, baths and bedtime.  The thing I’m hating the most is the fact that we just don’t get much time to hang out and play together.  I miss that.

I also miss writing here.  So much has been swirling through my head in the past few weeks as I try to reconcile the fact that my baby is one, we just passed the two-year anniversary of our miscarriage, I’m now a working mom again and we’re quite certainly having no more children.  I’m hoping that I’ll find a better balance soon so that I can ensure I’m able to find time do the things I want to do (play, write, read) instead of just things I have to do (work, laundry, cook).

That being said, I’ve been reading my favourite blogs as much as possible (the upside of all that time spent on public transit?) While I haven’t had a chance to comment much, please know that I’ve been thinking of you all through your ups and downs, good news and bad, celebrations and losses.  You really do help keep me sane.

My bubble

Starting back at work after a year-long maternity leave is tough.  I survived the first week and am trying to wrap my head around the fact that this life is my new normal.  One thing I’m starting to realize is that maternity leave was a bit like a bubble.

At the beginning of maternity leave, it feels like you’re living inside a brand new, tiny bubble.  The walls of the bubble are thick and there isn’t much room in there.  It’s ok, though, because you don’t need much room.  It’s just you and your new baby, really.  Sometimes dad or older siblings make their way in, but for the most part, it’s just mom and baby.

As time goes on, your bubble grows.  You start leaving the house again and seeing friends and family.  More people fit inside your bubble and the walls get a little less blurry.  But still, you’re separated from real life by a pretty thick film.

The bubble grows some more as your baby gets older and more independent.  You may actually get to leave the house without the baby (gasp!) and you start doing more activities.  You go out for coffee with other moms and babies.   At this point, you start to notice the rest of the world carrying on with work, commuting and all the other regular things that real people do.  Still, though, you aren’t really doing it yourself.

Then, no matter how prepared you are, that bubble suddenly bursts.  Your baby is separated from you, at daycare or with another caregiver.  You find yourself standing on a subway platform waiting for your train.  You’re wearing make up.  And nylons.  You shuffle along in a sea of other people on their way to work, like the march of the penguins.  And then, there you are, sitting at a desk with a huge, blinding computer screen in front of you and a bunch of fresh pens.  An IT guy hands you a blackberry that you can’t remember how to use and mumbles something about remote login.

It goes without saying that returning to work after having a baby is hard.  It’s a different, bigger, louder world than what I am used to.  Everyone has been saying, “in a couple of weeks, it will feel like you never left.”  They are probably right.  But for now, I miss my bubble.Photo 2014-07-04, 11 48 11 AM

Nerves

It’s back to work for me tomorrow and the nerves are really starting to set in.

I’ve done everything I can do to get ready.  The freezer is stocked with meals.  The fridge and pantry are full of fresh food. My work friends have planned lunch for my first day, so I don’t need to worry about bringing something to eat.

Laundry is done.  I cleaned out my purse.  I packed a bag of shoes (for those who don’t live in a cold climate or take public transit, this is because I have to wear winter boots for my commute!)

Mom took me shopping for my birthday and bought me a new black suit, as well as a great dress.  Along with the few things I bought at the outlet mall in Florida, I’m feeling pretty good about my back-to-work wardrobe.  I tried on a few combinations so I know I can get through the first week without having to do much thinking about getting dressed.

I found a MAC gift card in my wallet (from who knows when?) and got myself a new lipstick.  My nails are painted.

So, that’s it.  There’s nothing more I can do.  Except worry, of course.  I worry about my boys.  Being away from them sucks.  I worry about having so little time together.  I hate knowing that our evenings are so short and that our time together will always feel rushed.  I worry about work.  I feel like I’ve lost some of my spark and I’m just not as sharp or quick on my feet as I used to be.  I worry that I’m not going to be able to keep up with the expectations that my new bosses will have.  I worry about not being able to keep the house organized.  Laundry, cleaning, cooking…

All of this, of course, is nothing new.  Moms go back to work after having children all the time.  I’ve done this before.  I know it will be hard and I also know that I will get through it.  I know that I will have moments where I suck at being a mom and I suck at doing my job.  But I also know that I need to go easy on myself at first because it will get easier.

Deep breaths.

That’s Manager Mommy to you!

So, last week I went into the office to meet with my new boss. He explained that there would be some changes to the team before I return from maternity leave next year. While I was happy to hear that, I also didn’t set my expectations very high. My colleagues and I have a manager that sucks and have been promised a lot in the past. Over the eight years that we’ve worked there, nothing has actually changed.

So, you can imagine my surprise when, less than a week after my visit to the office, I was contacted by HR because the new boss wanted to have a quick phone chat to update me on some changes.

Turns out he had two pretty big pieces of news: my crappy manager is gone and I got a promotion! Woohoo! I’m not gonna lie – I’m not sure which piece of news excites me more! Obviously it isn’t nice to be happy about someone losing their job, but holy shit, she sucked. And I’m pretty darn pleased about becoming a manager myself! Two of my other colleagues got promoted as well, and we will each have one employee reporting to us.

I’m glad that I still have many months before I have to return to work, but I think this will make it a bit easier when the time comes. I was seriously unsure about whether I would stay there much longer once my maternity leave was over, but this may be enough of a positive change to turn things around.

Now, I better get back to my current job. My boss needs his diaper changed!