Archive for July, 2010

Inside my head (it can be a strange place)

July 30, 2010

Since having a child, I have come up with some pretty bizarre scenarios for things that could go wrong. I’m beginning to wonder if I am really paranoid, really strange or really paranoid and really strange…

For it’s scenarios such as these that pepper my thoughts from time to time: when I have my daughter in a grocery cart and return to my car after exiting the grocery store, do I put the baby in the car first and then the groceries or the other way around? If I put her in first, and then I get hit by a car when returning the cart to the corral, will EMS know to look in my car for a baby if I am unconscious?

Another example, when my husband is out of town, my paranoia turns up full throttle. Before I had a baby, I used to lock our bedroom door at night when he would travel. But now I can’t lock the bedroom door if my sleeping daughter down the hall is completely exposed to potential burglars. Should I bring her into bed with me and lock us both in my bedroom knowing neither of us will sleep well but that we’ll be safer behind a locked door?

And finally, when we turn on our attic fan, we need the windows open so air can circulate. But what if by leaving my 16-month-old daughter’s bedroom window slightly open, she (who has never climbed out of her crib before) somehow scaled her crib railing, ran to the window, hoisted  herself up, knocked out the screen and base jumped down to the grass below?

I realize by revealing hypothetical scenarios such as these that you are getting a peek under the curtain at the odd goings-on in my head. I suspect, though, that  I am not alone in my worrying ways. Any other moms ever conjure up what-ifs like these?

Where I’ll be Wednesday at noon

July 26, 2010

On Facebook, a friend recently asked if anyone had advice for her as she returned to work following maternity leave. A slew of comments (including one from me) followed. Seems everyone has thoughts on this transitional time. One of the comments I particularly enjoyed was one that read “spend a lot of time with your work spouse.” I am not sure if I liked it because a.) it’s true or b.) I like the term “work spouse.” Either way, my comment to her was somewhat similar — spend a lot of time with other working parents.

This was one of the recommendations made to me when I was going back to work after 12 weeks off with Baby Blue. Go to lunch with other working moms. Share your ups and downs. And I have. And I do. And I will continue to do so — that is if I ever take a lunch again. Seems we in corporate America have gotten away from actually acknowledging the lunch hour. We almost need it forced on us as if we were second graders being herded to the cafeteria by our homeroom teachers. Otherwise, the temptation of doing e-mail or reviewing a report while eating a sandwich in front of our computers somehow trumps enjoying the beautiful sunny days that are way too few if you live in the Mitten. While I know it’s illogical to do the former, somehow I typically do, and that’s so not how I want to live my life!

So, I was glad to learn of a movement (again via Facebook) urging America to “Take Back Your Lunch.” In a nutshell, the movement encourages workers across America to actually take their full lunch hour every Wednesday this summer if on no other day during the week (although it’s an encouraged practice for every day). The idea is that by logging off, workers will come back from lunch more energized and ready to be more productive than if they had lunched at their desk.

So in typical corporate America fashion, I’ve blocked the Wednesday lunch hour off  on my Outlook calendar so I’ll be reminded to take back my lunch for at least one day this week. If you’re in the area (Birmingham, MI) and want to take back your lunch while I take back mine — let’s meet up. Weather permitting, I’ll be in Shain Park!

*#!% happens

July 21, 2010

The other day my husband turned to me and said, “Did you ever in your life think you’d be surrounded by so much poop?” Between our two big dogs (a full grown lab and golden retriever) and a young toddler, we see more than our fair share of the “big P” on a daily basis. It’s so much a part of our daily routine that I am not even phased by it anymore. As Forrest Gump and the bumper sticker so adequately communicate “shit happens.”

Hard to believe my relaxed attitude given that I literally threw up on my parents’ lawn when, around age seven or so, I took on the task of scooping up the dog messes in the yard at my parents’ request.

Today, I barely bat an eye as I change a third dirty diaper or scoop up 12 messes in the backyard as I do on just about any given weekend. While I would hardly call these tasks pleasant, they are part of the package, and I willingly take them for the hours of fun my canine pals provide and the sheer joy our little girl brings to our lives.

Would that all the world’s occupants experience the joy of so much sh%# in their life. Might make this world an even more wonderful place to be!

Be happy…

July 14, 2010

…Meghan says so!

Did I Tell You?

July 13, 2010

I found something the other day that I can’t stop looking at. For all of you moms with daughters going off to college or just leaving college–heck for any mom, this find makes a great gift for your little, or not so little, girl. It did when my mom presented it to me 10 years ago.

“Did I Tell You?” by Elizabeth Knapp is a short booklet of what one mom hopes for her daughters. She shared it with the world so that people like my mom would find it and give it to daughters like me. This week I’ve found myself looking at it repeatedly at various times, and I feel that even at age 32, ten years out of college and in the work force, it still offers valuable guidance for me as a daughter, a mother and a woman.

It starts,

“Now that you are almost grown, I look back and ask myself, ‘Did I tell you’?” Did I tell you all that I meant to tell you, all that I felt was important. Did I tell you, or was it lost in the shuffle of our everyday lives, the busy full days when we taught and didn’t know it. What did we teach? Was it strong? Was it good? Will it root you in something real that will allow you to grow with a firm and sound foundation? Did I tell you…”

Ms. Knapp goes on to share her hopes and advice for her daughters on love, on thoughtfulness and on courtesy. For example, she writes:

“Did I tell you to be courteous not to display empty manners with no meaning but to live the courtesy born of caring. And to express this caring through the small formalities and customs born of the years.”

She continues to share her thoughts on being bold, on being cautious, on service, on maintaining a sense of the past and on nature. On this she writes,

“Did I tell you to find a part of nature that speaks to you then know it intimately and well. For some it is a mountain peak, for some a windswept beach. Find your own and in it find your restoration.”

She concludes by sharing her hopes for her daughters on laughing, on dancing, on singing, on creativity and on the joy and challenge of being a woman.

This last point is worth sharing in its entirety:

“And did I tell you the joy and challenge of being a woman. The joy and challenge of having a child…knowing and sharing a new life. The joy of making a home…the center but not the limit for the lives of those you love. The joy of exploring a third dimension…a world of your own discovering and fulfilling your own capabilities.”

I love the phrase “the joy of exploring a third dimension.” I’m not sure exactly what Ms. Knapp was getting at, but that’s precisely what I like about it. I think the third dimension just might be that part of us that is separate from our roles as mom, daughter, wife or friend. It might be that part of us that still wants ice cream simply because it tastes great.  It’s that part of us that still holds dreams for where our life might go. It’s that part of us that gazes in wonder at nature’s beauty. It’s that part of us that finds a booklet from her mom and hopes that she’s living a life that makes her proud.

A naptime discovery

July 1, 2010

During my daughter’s record three-and-a-half hour nap on Sunday, I organized four kitchen drawers and two kitchen cabinets. I packaged up old bottles and pacifiers in a bin for storage in the basement. I staked our eight tomato plants. I pulled weeds from between the cracks of the bricks in our garden. I folded two loads of laundry. I called my mom. I sent an e-mail. I cleaned the kitchen. I straightened up the upstairs bath and bedrooms.

And after all that, I still had time to look through old journals that I had stumbled upon in our guest room. I love the little treat of reading a journal entry logged when I was in the fourth grade and then turning to another journal and reading an entry from when I was in my early 20s, single and living in the city. Frighteningly, my handwriting had not changed much.

While thumbing through a journal from the latter period of my life, out fell about 20 pieces of loose paper covered with my chicken scratch and lots of dates. I knew at once what the words on these pages were meant to communicate — the five things I was grateful for on each of the dates listed. As I thought back, I recalled what — or rather who — got me started with this ritual — Oprah. During an episode of her show back in the day, she had explained that each night, she recorded five things that she was grateful for that day into a journal at her bedside. Even on her not so good days, she’d make a point to jot down even five seemingly minor or mundane things that made her happy or made her day that much better. She said this ritual had changed her life.

So I tried it. And I even stuck with it for close to a year. The sheets of paper I now held were entertaining, and at times moving, to review these nine years later.

On the entertaining front, I smiled as I came across these entries: on April 3, 2001, I was grateful for a scone my co-worker Leslie gave me. On December 4th, I was grateful to be recognized by name by the manager at Cosi. On November 17th, I was grateful for beers with Jamie and Filip. On April 15th, I was thankful for the nice lady at Radio Shack. And on March 28th, I was thankful for some guy smiling at me at the gym.

On the more moving front, on November 11th, 12th, 13th and 14th, 2001, I was grateful for hope. On March 15th, I was grateful for a chat with my grandma. On February 20th, I was grateful for the support of my friends. On January 10th, I was grateful for a healthy newborn nephew. And on the list pretty much every day that I recorded my “five things,” I was thankful for my mom and dad and some gesture they made on my behalf.

In reviewing these entries on Sunday, and again later as I drafted this post, I was overwhelmed by the support of friends, family and kind strangers played out in these pages. What a great little ritual. I wonder why I ever stopped. So, I bet you can guess what I’ve been doing since Sunday in a half full journal I found in my desk.

I don’t know if this daily ritual will change my life as it did Oprah’s, but what if it does?