Monday, May 9, 2016

Unemployment Chronicles: Day 5

I'm beginning my first full week of unemployment today (I assume I won't magically have a new job by the end of the week). It's predictably weird.

Things I am struggling with:

Feeling like a failure: Ok, to be fair, I did sorta fail at that last job, but I'm 32. That was 9 months of work. And I didn't really do thing wrong there, it just wasn't a good fit. But I think before this I had the naive notion that I could do anything I put my mind to. I'm an over achiever and I'm reasonably smart and hard working, so it sort of seemed like if I thought I could do something, I would be able to. However... it's ridiculous for me to call myself a failure. I am so much more than this one job. I cannot let this one set-back define who I am. But that's easy to say and hard to internalize.

Letting myself be happy: I have a lot to be happy about in life. I've got big things and small moments that should all be bringing me a lot of joy. This feeling of failure is big. I am disappointed in myself. It's sort of consuming me. And the big problem is that right now, in this mental space, I don't really feel like I deserve to be happy. Which is crap, I know. This morning I was able to go for a walk to get a cup of coffee. I love walking! And the weather was overcast and cool, perfect t-shirt and morning walk weather. I walked through a charming neighborhood and got to get some fresh air. It was really beautiful and a way that I would normally love to spend part of my morning. I had moments of happy while it was happening, but then my brain would interject some conversation that happened at work, somewhere that I failed, and bring my soul back to heartache.

Taking this as an opportunity: I think this is the thing that will be easiest to come to terms with, but today it's still hard. I'm attempting to find the silver linings and bright sides to my situation. One of the benefits to unemployment is that I will finally have the opportunity to do all of the things that I never have time to do now. I can workout! I can cook again. I can organize my mess of a house. I can take donations to goodwill and sell things on craigslist. I can paint my bathroom (been on the list for 5 years)!! I can reconnect with friends! I can write again (on it!). I could take a class in something! I have to focus on finding a job, but I would like to focus on finding the RIGHT job this time, so I shouldn't rush into it, and I'm not emotionally ready to do that immediately anyway. However... the thing that I'm struggling with in this is trying to make sure I do this well. It could be really easy to throw myself into improving my house and become a hermit. I think it would be equally easy to spend so much time focused on my relationships with people that I never really "accomplish" anything and I get to just playing all the time (Ok, maybe not, I would feel like a huge failure I think). Right now I'm standing on the edge of opportunity and I'm worried about the decisions I will make, the balance I will strike. It's Monday at 9:30am and all I've done today is walk to get coffee and write a blog post. Can I even figure out what I want out of life?

Telling my parents: The last time I didn't have a job I was 15. There was one summer in college where I took summer school, but I tried to get a job then and my aunt just paid for my summer instead. So that was more by choice. I realize that I'm a grown adult, with savings that we put aside specifically for the case wherein either I or my husband lost our job, so I'm not asking anything from my parents. But I don't want to tell them. I don't want them to think I'm a failure: see point A.

It will all be ok. I know this. I will eventually figure out what to do with my free time to improve my life, and hopefully in there I will figure out what I want to do for work again. And hopefully it won't take me too long so that my savings will cover this period.

Friday, May 6, 2016

On Identity

Yesterday I lost my job. I wasn't really fired, I didn't exactly get laid off... I just wasn't a good fit.

This didn't come out of no where. For months I've been getting the feedback that I wasn't really performing my job at the job level I was hired at. I wasn't bad exactly, but they expected more out of me and I wasn't delivering. They could tell I was trying, and the stuff I was doing was being done well, but that wasn't enough. So I got let go.  I don't think I was treated badly, so please don't send me comments about how awful my former employer must be. I still want my coworkers and the projects to succeed. This piece of my story didn't end as I would have liked, but I'm trying to make it a peaceful end anyway. 

It's been about 24 hours since I cleaned out my office and handed in my badge. I've cried a lot. I've drank some. I have tried to think about it, and not think about it. Mostly I've just given myself the space to feel. I don't need answers right now, I don't need to plan. I just need to be ok with reacting to this however this reaction comes.

I'm a woman in technology who suffers from imposter syndrome. I constantly feel like I'm not good enough. I've spent basically all of the last 10 years of my career pretty sure I was going to get fired. Now it has actually happened, and for all the reasons I expected.

I am dealing with loss of identity. I am dealing with feelings of inadequacy. My self worth took a hit. I am now standing at the edge of what I use to call my life and realizing there is a big hole in the middle. I think I need to redefine what the meaning is in my life. I am never going to say this was a good thing, but being forced to reevaluate and potentially change the path my life is likely to be something I can look back on in the future as a good curve in the road.

I am fortunate in that I did have savings in case of something like this, and that I have a husband who is still employee and here to support me as I navigate unemployment and what's next. I do realize my privilege here.

This morning I was talking with my 5 year old about what he wanted to give to his friend this weekend for his birthday. We agreed a science kit would be fun. My 5 year old said "Science is my thing! And it's your thing too mommy!" I burst into tears as I realized that may not be true anymore. I couldn't explain to him why I was sad, but I was able to say that it's ok that I am sad and that I'm dealing with some big feelings that will likely be slow to change. I won't be ok tomorrow. I will be ok in the future.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

The first bully attack

This morning I had a very normal experience, but it was the first of its kind for me. It’s a pivotal moment for a parent, and helps clarify your parenting style, your child’s sensitivity level and your general feelings on human kind. This morning I held my child as he cried after a bullying attack.

The actual details of this event were rather mundane. The child that got attacked was 3.5 and in pre-school. He’s a very bright little boy that loves the color red and is all about Disney and Pixar. This morning he was wearing a shirt that I bought out of the girls section that had a background of two colors of purple stripes and Honey Lemon and GoGo on it from big hero six, wearing their super hero costumes. I don’t know exactly what was said to him as it happened while I was putting his belongings into his cubby. All I observed were two little boys talking to him (both wearing the traditional 3 year old boy attire of primary colored shirts with boy things on them), and pointing at his shirt. I observed my 3 year old point to his shirt and say “my mom put it on me,” as his bottom lip began to quiver and he looked over at me with tears in his eyes. My heart absolutely broke. I had been in the habit of trying to drop him off as quickly as possible because I have just started a new job and I want to keep up good impressions. But today was different. Today we walked to each other, sat down at a table and hugged. Then I asked him if he wanted to sit on my lap, he did, and I held him while he quietly cried into my shoulder for a good 5 minutes.

So many things went through my head in the 5 minutes we sat there. First I was angry at the little boys, and their parents. What could have possibly been said to these children to teach them at this young age that there is anything wrong with my boy wearing purple and liking the woman super heroes? I wondered what their parents like. Are they religious (something I don’t personally believe in)? Are they sports fanatics (again, professional sports are something I don’t believe in)? Are they teaching this next generation about gender norms and sexuality, even though these kids are still only mostly potty trained?

Then I got angry with Disney for their merchandising. Both of my boys love Big Hero 6, but it’s nearly impossible to find anything branded with the super hero team that has the entire team on it. My son accurately calls his pajamas with the characters “Big Hero 4”, because the girls are not featured on the garments. Neither are the bed sheets. In fact, to get them anything with the women on it, I have to buy it out of the girls section and it ONLY has the women on it. Good job making a movie with two strong and different female super hero characters, but why are they left off the merchandise with the rest of the team on it?

I wanted to tell my little sweet boy that it’s ok. I wanted to tell him that he can like anything he wants. I wanted to go yell at the little boys and mock whatever was on their shirts. I wanted to raise hell with the school. But I didn’t. I just held my son and tried to find out what had happened.  He never told me what they said, or why he was crying, but I’m pretty sure he will change forever today. I imagine he will come home today with a new favorite color, even though he has loved red since he figured out what red was. I’m pretty sure he will no longer wear his favorite Sophia the first pajamas or ask for his Elsa doll. I imagine the actions of two little boys this morning will change the nature of my relationship with my youngest son. And maybe I’m wrong, and over reacting, but can you blame me? Holding a sad child who has just had his spirit crushed for enjoying something that might have been “culturally acceptable” if he were a girl is life changing. I’ve been doing my best to keep my children fed, clean, slept, happy and stimulated since they were born. I’ve been fighting gender norms to let them just be who they are and like what they like. I’ve argued with my 5 year old when he says things like “Girls don’t like super heroes” or “Only a boy and a girl can get married”. I want my kids to be who they are, and be open minded, and accept others exactly as they come. Is this the norm? I’d like to believe so, but this morning taught me otherwise.

I think I will probably hold each of my boys for a little longer this week. I think I will probably pay a little more attention to their questions and try a little harder to teach them to be the next generation I want to see for a while. But then this morning will fade away in the overwhelming grind that is my life. That’s always how it works. But for now, I still have a lump in my throat about this morning and it’s all I can do to not cry over it myself.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

No Make-up March

In years past I've banned together with Catholics everywhere and practiced Lent. I've given up chocolate, candy, caffeine, alcohol (I think?), and done projects over the 40 days.

This year, I've been busy in self discovery as is, so I decided not to participate. After all, I'm not religious. But then I started to get the itch for some personal growth. I wanted to challenge myself. So what did I come up with? No Make-up March.

Say what? Why on earth would I do No Make-up March? I'm a grown ass woman, who cares if I wear make-up?!

Truth be told, I don't exactly wear a lot of make-up. In fact, 90% of the time I only wear eyeliner. But man, I love my eyeliner. I actually feel weird without it. I actually feel uncomfortable about my own face. That's right, I'm 31 years old and I am more comfortable when my eyes are lined with some dark color.

So here we go, no make-up march. This is a discovery process for me. Am I going to get more comfortable as the days go on, seeing my unadorned face every day? Or am I going to hit the wall and freak out because I'm not pretty enough?

Oh, another goal this month! Take better pictures. Make happy faces, let my face have lines and wrinkles in photos! I had a friend show me a picture of a new girl he is dating a couple days ago and while I did think "hey, she's really pretty!" what I mostly noticed (and commented on) was that she looked like she was truly enjoying herself. She had unadulterated joy and excitement going on in her facial expression. I'm sure she could have posed in a more "modely" and therefore "beautiful" way, but she was vivacious with her open mouthed, squinty eyed, joyful grin!

This month I will stop putting my mask on and instead let it all out. Be excited, stop retaking pictures because I look flawed, enjoy my uniqueness. 

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

In case of Emergency

We are living in an era where it's trendy to think about the apocalypse. Planning what you'd do against zombies, figuring out how much water you might need in the event of a major earthquake, honing basic survival skills... all of it is something I've talked about with someone or other over the last year.

Know what's hard? Filling out the "In Case of Emergency" card for my toddlers. There is no one in my city that could really claim my children from daycare in the event of an appocalypse. Everyone is far away (farther away than I typically am at work), no one has car seats for them, and they aren't anyone else's top priority. We've had this damn card sitting on the counter for a month, trying desperately to figure out who we could possibly call on in the event of an emergency to retrieve and care for our little children.

Do you know that (in California?) you have to have kids in car seats, or booster seats, until they are 8 years old. Legally anyway. That means that unless we knew someone who had easy access to two spare car seats, and had space in their car for them, we are SOL.

Having children when isolated from our own family is really really taxing. And not just in that "I don't have an easy and free babysitter" sense. For things like this too. There is no one else in my city authorized to pick up my children. No one to call in case of emergency.

Ok, so maybe you are going to argue with me and tell me that in an emergency, we can ignore the laws and let someone without carseats pick the kids up. But who? Who is out there that is capable of watching two little kids that doesn't have their own to deal with? Friend networks are great for being my "created family" in most ways, but not really in the child care thing. There is no village for my kids. I don't know how to ask that of anyone and I don't know anyone who has felt like stepping up.

This is the crap that I worry about that never gets resolved. That keeps me up at night. That makes parenthood the hardest job there is.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

What needs to get done

This is going to deviate a little from my normal style of posting about my family. It is time for serious recording of what parenthood means to me in the early years of it. There have been a lot of great articles floating around about how difficult raising small children is. About how the early years are "The blur". A lot of articles and blogs that make it more ok to admit that parenthood isn't all that it was advertised to be. That make it ok for you to admit you need and want help.

But for me, I think the crux of it is that reality doesn't match up with my expectations or my visions.

When I got pregnant, I started to plan, as most parents do. I started to think about cool things I could do and give to my children. I made a playlist of music that I was litening to during my pregnancy to give to my child on his/her 16th birthday. I started thinking about awesome things the Easter Bunny could do. I looked up recipies for home made play dough. I researched strollers. I planned near and far term things that would just make childhood awesome.

Then I actually had a baby. A baby who woke up throughout the night and never let me get a full night of sleep. A baby who had blow outs at costco. A baby who cried when strangers would hold him. This baby grew into a little toddler who doesn't like to eat vegetables. A toddler who liked to dump a bin of toys out onto the floor and not play with any of them. A toddler who likes to run things, anything, along the walls.

Somewhere in the middle of that I decided to have another child... a playmate... again to make childhood awesome. To give my son a best friend, a best man for his wedding. New baby, pretty much just like the older one, except this one also liked to climb things and fall down a lot, and he loves fabric, so no laundry is ever safe.

Life stopped being about what I could do to make childhood awesome and started being about "what NEEDS to get done". I need to make sure there is food in the house. To try and make healthy dinners (that my kids refuse to eat most of the time). I need to make sure there are clean dishes to eat the food on. I need to make sure that diapers are changed and potty training continues to be successful. I need to make sure teeth are brushed. I need to make sure that bath time happens. I need to make sure there are clean clothes for everyone.

My kids fight taking a bath and brushing their teeth. Every. Single. Time. They fight naptime. They fight going to bed. They fight eating meals. They fight getting dropped off at daycare. They fight leaving daycare. They fight riding in the cart at the grocery store. They fight with me a lot. They fight with each other too.

I need to maintain a calm and happy attitude despite all the fighting. I need to acknowledge their feelings and make sure they know they are being heard, even though I'm not giving in to what they want. I need to teach them not to hit and not to scream. I need to show them love and compassion and joy. I need to teach them to show love and compassion and joy to each other.

But my expectations were all about the big stuff, the fun stuff, the playtime, the holidays. All of those things are still on my mind, but actually executing any of it with an almost 2 year old and a 3 year old is basiclaly impossible.

We are on the verge of Christmas again. Scratch that, Thanksgiving is tomorrow. I am trying to manage my expectation of Thanksgiving and the fact that they probably won't want to eat anything that we're cooking. They're both in a "NO" phase for food, and getting them to eat anything unfamiliar is a tall order. So I have to get through Thanksgiving with some tears, and food thrown on the floor, and jumping up every couple of minutes to try and convince my two tiny people to eat something new, or eat something at all.

Then Christmas. I want to be that awesome mom that has the whole month of activities, baking cookies, seeing lights, caroling... but I don't think my kids are old enough for it. Rather, I don't think I can fight with them every night for a month to try and get them to have experiences. I just don't have it in me.

That's what it comes down to. They fight new things. And I don't have the energy for the fights that aren't needed. So I can't be that cool mom yet. I'm sure someday my kids will get dressed all by themselves, and brush their own teeth, and take showers. Maybe then. Maybe then I can be the fun mom. But for now, I just need to be the mom that loves her kids and trys to teach them healthy habits and doesn't scream (often). For now it needs to be enough. Someday my vision of family life will come to pass, but the early years are about getting through the days and getting the needs met.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Why I need a Time Turner

Sometimes parenting is hard not because of the actual job of parenting, but because of what you give up to do it. I am in one of those places currently. My major source of social life is a group of great friends who don't have kids (yet?). They all do amazing things together and it's SO VERY HARD to be left out. It's not that I'm not invited, but I end up being necessarily left out as I choose to parent instead of going out day after day, weekend after weekend. They are currently in the middle of comic con and while I ditched my family for an entire 27 hours to go attend one day of the convention, that's all I get to do and I'm heart sick with all the fun they're having without me. Small children are a joy and super cute and are funny, but they aren't exactly the most thrilling thing. I am struggling right now because I chose to have kids at a relatively young (in modern days among educated people) age. They called me tonight to see if I could try and get them tickets for something that just got announced for tomorrow because I AM THE ONLY ONE THEY KNOW THAT'S HOME tonight. Will I try? Of course, but seriously, F That. I don't want to be the only one home. I don't want to parent tonight. I don't want to parent this summer, year, maybe ever.

And when I do leave, when I do schedule things, I feel guilty the whole time I'm gone. I want so badly to be a great, involved, patient and happy mom, but I want to have a life too. I don't want to give up half my 20's to them. But I don't want to miss their childhoods either. I want to be there for all their firsts and all their joy and all their laughter. Scott danced around tonight singing two songs with his little toy guitar tonight and it was SO GREAT! I got them on video and everything. It was a great moment that I loved watching and am super glad I was home for.

I want it all.

That's not possible.

And I am rarely happy with my decisions anymore because I want it all but can't have it. I don't want to miss out on anything. I need to be able to be in two places at once. And maybe a 3rd so I could actually attempt to have a clean house. And maybe a 4th so I could get some sleep.


Monday, June 24, 2013

An open letter to my boys

A letter to my boys:

Hello boys. I am writing to you from age 29.5. Since we are in the twilight months of either of your parents being in their 20's, I thought it an appropriate time to put some of my current insights into life down on paper (ok, I'm writing this on a blog, one that I started about pregnancy). By the time you are in your 20's, your dad and I will be in our mid-40's and we'll be useless as far as you are concerned. At least, that's often the way it works.

Here are the important things I want you to think about in your teen years and into your 20's (I say from the far side of those decades).

  • Have a physical hobby. Play a sport, be into ultimate Frisbee, just lift weights... whatever. Endorphins are really worthwhile. 
  • Do something with music. Play it, dance to it, just listen to a lot of it. Music is really great for creativity and emotional expression.
  • Try and read something every day. Read a comic book, read a news article, read part of a book. Just make reading a habit. Start this as young as possible and never stop. 
  • Take girls (or boys) on dates to do interesting things. You don't necessarily have to pay for it, but do be the one to suggest it.
  • Don't let any one aspect of yourself define your self worth. You are more than your intelligence, your appearance, your athletic or musical ability... there is a whole lot to who you are.
  • When you are trying to decide what to do in college, try and figure out what you would do with that when you graduate. Do pick a major that will allow you to life the kind of lifestyle you want to have in the future. 
  • Be good to each other and other family. As my mom told me "Be nice to your brother, someday he will be the only person who you can talk to about how weird your parents were."
  • When you are talking to someone, make eye contact. Keep your phone (or other electronic device) out of the conversation. It's probably old-school, but this is a life skill that you need to have. 
  • Never insult anyone's mother, either to her face or behind her back. Being a mother is incredibly demanding and sometimes makes us act in ways that are hard to explain. Just cut every mom some slack and be kind. 
    • This includes your own. 
  • When I was in high school, history was boring and dry. If that's still true, go figure out what about the past interests you and try and find out stuff about that. College can be great for that. Don't let any middle or high school class define your opinion on a subject. 
  • Money is important. I hope I've taught you how to manage what you have. If you have questions, please ask me or your dad. 
  • When you are somewhere in the 16-21 region, you will think you know everything. You don't, but you will know more that Dad and I are willing to give you credit for. We also know more than you are willing to give us credit for. Try and remember to be humble and present your side of things clearly and respectfully. It'll go better. 

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Body Image

I have 2 small kids. I had them very close together. I was also not a tiny person before I had kids. I'm a fairly average sized American woman (slightly smaller than average). I am at my pre-pregnancy weight and size, but it wasn't a comfortable place for me to be.

I am also very strong and have a lot of muscle on my body. I have a lot more muscle tone than I did before having kids. That's not to say I don't also have a solid layer of fat, but I'm not exactly "fat".

I am the largest of my group of friends. I am also the only one with kids. I see myself in pictures with my friends and all I can think is "I'm the fat girl". I don't know if it's harder to be so much bigger than my very tiny friends (sizes like 2-6 mostly), or if it's harder to be bigger than I think I am.

In any case, struggling with body image today.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Sleep Terrorists

My kinds continue to find new ways to torture my sleep.

Two nights ago, Jeremy probably a dozen times over the 12 hours he was asleep. Throw in 2 cries from Scott and it was a long night.

Last night Jeremy only woke up once... but it was for an entire hour. He was a fussy squirmy baby in bed with me and cried bloody murder in his crib.

I'm tired.