Labor Day Weekend Adventures

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The epic balloon battle

The parts of Eastern Washington that aren’t still on fire, are filled with smoke, leaving the air quality (according to my mom) “very bad for kids, elderly, and asthmatics like me.” She asked that we change our Labor Day weekend plans to their house to something else, entirely. The conversation went something like this:

“We’d like to pay for a night at the Great Wolf Lodge for all of us.”

“Sounds fun. Crazy, but fun.”

To be fair, it was a little more in-depth, mostly around the discussion that Boof would not feel comfortable with us all sleeping in the same room, but that would work out great because he’d drive the 1.5 hours home to let the dog out, thus eliminating the need to get a dog-sitter for the weekend.

So, four adults and 1 child, set out on the Great Wolf Lodge adventure. And I’m happy we did it, despite the craziness of all the kids running around the lodge on their Shadow Quests and heading to the water park. If you haven’t checked out their whole clever practice, you should. For added packages kids get magic wands and can go on these quests throughout the lodge, unlocking secret things.

The thing Potamus loved the most? The free balloon sword in the lobby on Saturday night. I hate using gendered cliches, but give a boy a balloon sword…wait…give 10 boys balloon swords, and a balloon battle of “hiyas” will ensue. Seriously. We were just sitting there, and like five little boys in footed pajamas approached Potamus to engage in epic battles. It was hilarious. And adorable. And rambunctious. And made me glad I only have 1 kid. I know that’s going to change, but I’m hopeful the age difference will allow me a different sort of crazy than the Irish twins I saw running around.

My adventurous boy loved the water park as much as the balloon battle. Not only did he get adventurous and go down a (smallish) water slide by himself, he was obsessed with the wave pool. Even braving the depths in mama’s arms, to rock in the deep waves. Thankfully I’m 6’1 and could always touch, since it got kinda crazy out there. In grandparent focused moments, Boof and I were able to sneak away to ride the super fast tubular rides. I only managed to get a small concussion falling out of the speed tube slide and cracking my head against the wall, and feeling the shame as I had to slide down unaccompanied by my tube. I’m still nursing a bruise on my noggin, but got back up in the pony saddle the next day as I took my dad on the same ride. He’s a thrill seeker, too.

I couldn’t have asked for a better vacation. Sure it was tiring, but a 1 night stay was the perfect amount of time, and left the rest of the weekend for getting things done around the house. It’s back to work this week. So I’m glad to have had a little mini hurrah before the grind begins again…

Maxed Out…this American mom is on the brink…

“We were all living the lives we’d chosen. We had what we thought we wanted- wonderful children and a level of financial independence that our mothers never knew. And yet, most days, it felt as if our lives were being held together by Band-Aids and Elmer’s glue. None of us could make sense of the wretched state we found ourselves in. What were we doing wrong?”

After forwarding a powerful  article  on burned out mothers to a friend, we decided to buy the book mentioned in the article (Maxed Out: American Moms on the Brink), and have been sending rapid fire texts and quotes to each other ever since. Because this book has spoken to us. It speaks to my greatest fear, and how I’ve actually been feeling for a few weeks now. That everything is held together by Band-Aids and Elmer’s glue.

Katrina goes on to explain, “The last few months had been a carnival ride of constant motion that left me dizzy and sick to my stomach. I wanted off. I wanted someone to pull the brake. I wanted to make it stop, but I didn’t know how to make it stop. I  ddn’t even know what stopping meant.”

Um, who can relate? Whoa.

Her book is so honest and real in chronicling the trials and tribulations of working motherhood. It left me feeling validated, but most of the time I read it and vacillated between being completely freaked out about the future with a potential 2nd child and feeling like ‘I got this,’ because part of what she talked about what the magical aspect of working part-time. She called them “Magic Fridays” when she had a 4 day work week, which is a phrase I think I’m going to borrow. But…there was one piece that I’m still chewing on.

Because, when I take a step back, which is like a layman’s term for almost depersonalizing, I realize that there is actually nothing in my life right now that should be making me feel this crazy-carnival way. My husband and I have been in a really good place. Potamus is teething, but sleeping much more, and we’re down to one time nursing. My class is going pretty well and my advising schedule isn’t too crammed. Flexible job. Yoga class. Therapy. From the outside of my own mind, looking at my life, I’m actually in a really calm content place. And yet…..and yet…I’m not.

I know that everyone has different thresholds, but I’m actually not okay. I feel like I might start crying at any moment over any little thing. So I’m back on my meds. I got the prescription filled yesterday, and hopefully they’ll kick in next week. I felt like I was heading toward this cliff and I didn’t want to go there again. Because even my coworkers and students have noticed a change in my mood this last week especially. My irritation with things being out of place in the classroom is an all time high.

And part of me worries that if I am like this with one kid, what will happen if I have another? I know that’s a long way off from needing to think about, that I get to just enjoy the next several months and don’t even have to talk about it, and trying to project how I’m going to feel into the future isn’t really that great anyway, because it’s rarely true. Though, if I’m totally honest, thinking about it too much might send me into a panic attack.

Where is the line between intuition and anxiety? Because, in my mind’s eye, I can see us having another child. Feeling that completion feeling that I really do want. And I can also see myself having a nervous breakdown in the same picture. That just the stress of two kids, even a part-time job, and doing all the parenting things that are never ending, will kill me. That’s how it feels. I know the reality is one step at a time, but I do get terrified. Because:

“The line between ‘Everything’s okay’ and ‘I’m on the verge of total collapse’ is so thin.”

So true. And yet, when I finished the book, I felt really hopeful. Because, while I might feel on the edge a lot, I’m not alone. And I have supportive friends, partner, and am taking all the really good steps to beat back the anxiety and depression. And I’m learning more about myself, like going back on meds when I see the train-wreck coming, or choose to NOT go to yoga because I had been gone every night of the week and just wanted to relax (which feels different than just not going because I’m anxious/depressed), and taking sweet advantage of my Magic Friday today to rest while Potamus was resting.

Moms, I recommend this book. Working moms, I definitely recommend this book. Mom with anxiety, read this book. It’s so good.

What have you read lately that’s spoken to you? Inspired you? Made you feel less alone?

 

Daycare Drama

First day in his new big-boy classroom!

At every turn in my parenting adventure I am surprised with how laid back or relaxed I am about parenting the sweet Potamus. In so many ways there is this sweet understanding between the two of us, where I anticipate his needs and we have a great time. He cries and is demanding and tantrummy and I have said ‘shut up!’ before, but for the most part, I have surprised myself with my lack of severe black/white rigidity that I had anticipated as a parent. In that way, I am nothing like my mother. I have boundaries and we have a routine, but it’s loose and can change and is more about preserving love and happiness than simply doing something “because I said so damnit.”

But nowhere more does my mama guilt or feelings of inadquecy rise like dealing with daycare. Now, don’t get me wrong, I really like his daycare. The teachers, for the most part, have been really sweet and helpful and have taken good care of my sweet boy. But there are comments and issues that arise that have made me question my parenting skills, my child’s adjustment, labels and make me freaked out about the future, since it will only intensify as he begins school and the rest of his life, right?

Potamus is still struggling to eat at daycare. Since we’ve stopped sending yogurt he has gone hungry (though it’s been the equivalent of 3 days, so I’m not super worried…yet). He naps and seems happy when we get home and isn’t STARVING right away, so I’m sure he’s not lacking the nutrition he needs. But it makes me worried, because mamas want their kiddos to eat, and the daycare workers keep saying things like “he doesn’t eat. this is something he’ll have to practice at home.” I start to second guess myself, though MY KID EATS AT HOME! Tortellini, ravioli, broccoli, blueberries, mandarin oranges, cauliflower, peanut butter crackers/toast, rice/beans, french fries, pizza, chicken tenders, crackers, freeze dried bananas, yogurt, banana/egg pancakes are all things he will eat pretty consistently. Not sure why he won’t eat anything at daycare…sigh…

Last week they informed me that he will be moving up to his big-boy classroom (yay! out of the infant room! with kids his own age! less money!), and on Monday his teachers took him over there to get settled. He did AMAZING. He didn’t cry and he napped like a champ, and besides the not eating issue, he was so well adjusted. Today’s morning drop-off, though, was less than happy. Not knowing the routine yet, I had to fill out some paperwork and then we went back to the class, and I made a BIG mistake. He was crying, teacher scooped him up and distracted him, and it was all calm and so, before I left, I peeked my head back in the window and BAM eye contact and hysterical crying all over again. In the almost-6-months of daycare I haven’t made that mistake, but for some reason, today, I couldn’t help myself. I wanted to see him be fine, and I probably ruined it for him for awhile. Sad times.

I don’t knwo why I just feel so…off…in my parenting as it relates to the daycare. I feel like a terrible mom for forgetting shoes on Monday, though I didn’t know he was going to need them (since they don’t need them in the infant room) or a crib sheet (again, since they don’t use them in the infant room). These were things that I DIDN’T KNOW, and yet felt bad about. Or feeling bad that my kid will, probably, go hungry today and be labelled a “picky eater” at school and that might affect his development or peer relationships and then I start to spiral downward and think that my kid is going to end up in some freaking special education class drooling on himself because he doesn’t eat their oatmeal.

Boof says to stop worrying about it. He says that it is THEIR job to get him to eat at school and THEIR job to inform us of changes and policies. I get that. My logical brain says, “no sweat,” to dealing with daycare expectations. Talking with my other career-loving mom friends, daycare drop-offs are hard for them, too…and they too feel judged. One said, “it’s like they think they could parent better than me. sometimes I wish they would.” Preach it sista!

So, in theory I GET IT…but, let’s be honest, I still FEEL guilty. Maybe it’s not daycare, maybe it’s something else, so: how do YOU get rid of the mommy guilt?