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Calling all working moms: What are your rose-smelling secrets?

People keep asking me if I had a nice birthday. I don’t know what to say. I don’t want to lie, but I also don’t want to be that person—you know—the one who answers a positive question in an unexpectedly negative way and then causes an unnecessary, awkward silence. In my opinion, if I do that enough, I will lose friends…or at least acquaintances, who will do what they can to steer clear of the pessimism and uncomfortable situations I create. After all, who wants to talk to a big complainer anyway?

So, back to my 32nd birthday. It was okay, I guess. I spent the majority of the day at work planning an interesting project, then took my son to a pediatrics appointment that lasted way longer than it should have (hours), and afterward de-stressed at a kickboxing class in the evening. My husband bought me pink roses (my favorite) and a pint of the best hot fudge in the whole world (disgustingly enough, yes, I eat the hot fudge by itself—to me, that is a much better treat than a sundae…although I definitely enjoy a good sundae every once in a while too. And, no, in case you’re wondering, I don’t eat the whole pint at once…that would be disgusting.)

All in all, it was a fair day. And, I was accepting of its mediocrity at the day’s end, because I had taken off from work the next day (Friday, the day after my birthday) to celebrate with a three-day weekend and plans to spend some much needed quality time with my son, stepson, and husband…who I feel like I hardly ever see anymore between working every day, going to the gym, and just taking care of life’s miscellaneous, like grocery shopping and paying bills and keeping the house livable.

My first day off (Friday) ended up being pretty much like every other weekend or vacation day I take- somewhat stressful and less than fulfilling.  I spent too much of the day thinking about what I should be doing with my time (like the stuff I mentioned above, plus laundry, dishes, dusting, mopping, packing up clothes that don’t fit the boys anymore, etc). Although I did take care of some of those tasks, I didn’t achieve as much as I could have…because all I could think was, “this is my special day off, and I should be spending time on things I really want to do (like beading, drawing, blogging, shopping, or reading).” I didn’t do any of those things because I felt guilty that I should be doing housework.

Amid over-thinking what I should or shouldn’t be doing with my time and then disappointing myself with not accomplishing much of anything useful or fun, I spent a good amount of the day chasing a toddler around the house as he tried to climb the oven and all the safety gates in our home, pull our air conditioning units out of the windows, jump off the couch, and dive into the toilet.

Sidenote: as much as I’m bitching that I got nothing done, I did do the laundry, the dishes, and some organizing in my bedroom. I took my little guy on two walks in the beautiful weather, and I taught an aerobics class in the afternoon. I cooked two meals from scratch (which I never do), and I relaxed with a glass of pinot noir and an hour of Netflix with my husband before I hit the sack. Looking back on that, on top of the roses and hot fudge, I can’t say it was a bad day. Yet, I was far from satisfied with it. It felt like a busy, but mostly unproductive day, in both the ways of housework and of relaxation. Maybe my standards are too high?

Day 2 (Saturday) was much better. I stopped thinking so much and just got to doing, both necessary things—like paying bills and cleaning—and fun stuff—like going to the park and shopping (as a family). By today (Sunday, day 3 of my three-day birthday weekend), I finally feel satisfied. I can say honestly that the weekend was everything it should have been—productive and relaxing. I accomplished a good part of my to-do list, and I got plenty of playtime with my stepson and son, snuggle-time with my son and husband, and even a little me-time to exercise and blog.  I truly feel ready to start the workweek.

But…why do I do this to myself—why are days off such a stressful mix of worrying about the best ways to spend my time and of feeling guilty and unsatisfied about how I end up spending it? Two-day weekends just don’t seem to cut it for me anymore. They’re simply not long enough to prepare me mentally for the week to come. Unfortunately, I don’t see myself having anything more than those two days weekly away from work anytime soon. So, what’s the solution? Any suggestions from anyone out there? I think I asked a similar question the last time I took a vacation (and felt like I needed a vacation even more when I returned.) I got some good suggestions then about putting a little vacation into everyday life. Maybe I’ll compile and post a list about the working-moms juggle if I get some more ideas…how do other working moms make the most of the time when they’re not at work?

In the meantime, for the first time since I got them, days ago, I just noticed the amazing scent of my birthday roses, sitting on the table next to me. If that’s not a reminder of the importance of answering such questions as the one above, then nothing is. However, instead of spending the last couple hours of my precious weekend searching for an answer, I’m going to enjoy some chardonnay and a little cuddle time with my hubby before the cycle re-consumes me, starting tomorrow when I go back to work. Cheers.

Ear infections, nosebleeds, nightmares, coughs, and housework: Another lovely weekend

So…I could tell you that the title of this post pretty much sums up my weekend (you know, the one that I hoped would be relaxing?). And, it would be nothing too short of the truth.  Yes, my younger son (just over 14 months old) has suffered a bout of recurrent ear infections over the last several weeks…ear infections that have him tugging on his ears 24/7 and waking every half hour or so during naps and at night, that have fought and won against two different types of oral treatments, that persisted in spite of antibiotic shots in both of his legs, not once, but twice, and that he is getting checked out once again tomorrow to determine if he needs tubes in his ears. Ugh.

Sure, my nearly 8-year-old stepson had three bloody noses since yesterday morning, nosebleeds that were messy and prolonged and that he swears weren’t caused by him picking his nose or sticking anything else up his nostrils.

Of course, I can’t forget his running into our bedroom at 5 o’clock this morning after having a “terrible nightmare” and refusing to go back into his own bed (although he had no memory of what the dream was about…)

And, alright, both boys have terrible coughs—the kind that wake both them and me every couple of hours and that make them look at me and my husband with eyes that plead for us to make it stop. We even gave a cough drop to the older one, but he said it was gross and begged to spit it out.

You already know about all the housework on my weekend to-do list (of which I completed a good amount)…because I mentioned that in another post.

And, okay, it’s true I’m wide awake now, very close to my usual Sunday night bedtime, because I’ve had more caffeine than usual today, due to being tired all weekend after all of the crap I just mentioned.

But…

Still, it would be at least slightly short of the truth if I said I had a bad weekend.

I spent a good amount of it with my family, who I miss during the weekdays when I’m busy at work or at the gym.

I got to stay in bed and play with my toddler instead of leaving before he awoke.

I got to watch for two days and evenings as he explored his world with his little round belly leading the way. And, I got to see his smile when he discovered something that made his legs kick or bounce, or when he learned a new trick.

I was able to take some long walks with the family and just sit back and smile while big brother made faces at little brother and they blew raspberries back and forth until they were both giggling uncontrollably.

I taught big brother a concept in math (his toughest school subject) and witnessed as he picked it up and then raced through the problems on three worksheets from his school’s summer packet. I was able to see him get on scary carnival rides that went higher than he wanted but that he loved once he tried them, exclaiming that he was “the king of the world” after he got off. All of this was happening while little brother pointed at all the families and stuffed animals and balloons that passed us by.

We spent time running through sprinklers at the “splash pad” of the beach near our house and walking through sand with the sun warming our faces and breezes from the shore dancing through our hair.  And, after the kids were in bed, I experimented with some recipes (more on those to come).

The best word to describe my weekend is neither challenging nor annoying nor fun nor relaxing. Although each of these words describes some piece or pieces of the last two days, the best word to describe my weekend is full. My weekend was full…full of cleaning and crying and complaining and illness…but also full of love and laughter and memories that I’ll someday surely look back on longingly. That’s one thing I’ve learned about parenting—it truly is such an odd and unpredictable mix of joys and irritations, both which I imagine I will miss years down the road…