Wading in the deep end of the pool

I’m really incredibly glad that dd appears to be enjoying much of her time at camp. She’s a bit thrown off by the differences between camp and day care (like the fact that they nap on mats instead of on cots), but otherwise she’s been okay. Probably the most unintentionally amusing part of camp is how she’s been coming home in her spare outfit. When I queried her about it this afternoon (“Did your clothes get wet or dirty?”), she just shrugged and moved on. Turns out that she thought having “a change of clothes” meant that she was expected TO change her clothes. So, like the diva-in-training she can sometimes be, she was going through her second wardrobe change of the day (her first being into her swimwear). HIGHLY AMUSING, but since it’s draining her supply of underwear and shorts, we’re asking her to cut it out unless she needs to swap out some clothing.

Where things are less amusing is in the area of time. With a single day care drop-off for the two kids, it was easy enough to drop them off at 7-ish in the morning and pick them up at 5-ish in the evening and hear only mild amounts of complaining. I’ve tried explaining that both dh and I work, and this makes it impossible for us to do late drop-off and early pick-up on a daily basis, but trying to explain this to a 2yo and 5yo is like trying to have a conversation about it with our fish: blank stares if you’re lucky and off to the next interesting thing if you’re not.

Now, we have two drop-offs and two pick-ups. Thankfully, the camp is only a few minutes away from day care, but since camp hours are shorter than day care’s, I’ve been dropping dd off before ds and dh has been picking dd up before picking up ds. This has the dual effect of putting dd into camp when most of the other kids aren’t there (we had to pay extra for before and after care, since regular camp hours are 9:00am-4:00pm, and before/after expands that to 7:00am-6:00pm) and requiring her to go into her former day care to pick up her brother. To hear dh tell it, she’s not responding well to picking up her brother; she’s done with day care and wants to move on. I get that – I really do – but since much of a parent’s life is about controlling and managing the logistics of day-to-day life, as much as I sympathize with her discomfort, I can only tell her to get over it.

This doesn’t mean that I don’t feel awful having either kiddo hanging out there waiting on us to come and get them.

I have some vague memories of being like that when I was younger, too. By the time my mom showed up to pick me up from my babysitter’s house, all I wanted to do was go home. And I was awful. I’d hang on her. I’d pull on her skirt. I’d bug the ever-living crap out of her when all she wanted to do was have a pleasant, adult conversation with my babysitter – her friend (and a woman I truly do consider my second mom). It’s not until you’re a mom and your own children are pulling this same crap on you that you realize how much you have to answer for.

And it’s funny, because I could do something about this. I could work fewer hours and take the commensurate pay and benefits cuts. Or so could dh. But neither of us is interested in entertaining this right now. It wouldn’t buy us enough to do it, and the loss in total compensation could be more problematic than it’s worth. But that doesn’t mean I don’t feel guilty.

And, to top it all off, dinner has been late both nights this week – the shift in schedule for pick-ups from camp and day care has really messed with our timing. So the kids are exhausted AND out-of-sorts AND hungry-cranky AND AND AND…

I won’t say I’m a bad mom. A bad mom wouldn’t care. It’s just frustrating that there are so few ways to be better at it without making life even more difficult. So I need to figure out how to let go of my stress at coming to work for 8:30am instead of 8:00am. And I need to find a way to make dinners in 20 minutes total instead of 30 minutes total. And I need to just let some stuff go and stop worrying about every little thing. But the nagging little guilt will still be there. There’s a part of me that thinks it’s always there, for every parent, whether they work in or out of the home, whether they send or don’t send their kiddo(s) to camp or day care…it’s just the constant bug in your ear that tells you that you need to be doing a better job. And I’m glad I still care. Now I just need to figure out how to do what I would consider “a better job” and that should help me get some of that stress right out. I hope.

*glub glub*

Decades – looking back

The other day, I was talking with another parent from our day care about how crazy life used to be before kids. It’s not that life isn’t crazy now, but the form of crazy is so completely different. Before kids, “crazy” meant “I’m really busy running around from thing to thing, traveling, drinking, and generally partying a lot when I’m not at work or asleep”. With kids, “crazy” is more like “I’m never going to have this house vacuumed as much as I want and why are there toys everywhere and where was I supposed to be 15 minutes ago? Oh crap…”

So, with that in mind, a brief look back. Sitting at a mere 39, on the cusp of turning 40 a mere 6 months from now (eek!), where was I when I was…

9: heading into 5th grade. My middle school had a pool, and we had swimming class as our gym class during winter months. One year, my fraternal grandparents (who went to Florida every winter back then) gave me a pair of neon-colored bikinis, one in hot pink and one in fluorescent yellow. I never had the body for a bikini, but back then I was only somewhat chubby, so I wore one to swim class the one day. NOT MY BRIGHTEST MOMENT. I jumped into the pool like the other kids, and the force of impact with the water made the top go up and the bottom go down. I recovered the pieces quickly enough and I don’t think anybody saw enough to make headlines, but that was the LAST TIME those suits came out of the dresser drawer.

19: heading into my junior year of college. I was so excited to be moving up to State College from Altoona. A campus of 40K+ vs a campus of about 1,500. Plus, it should’ve been less backwater. I seem to recall spending much of this summer working during the day and going out with friends in the evening. I’m pretty sure that was the summer I saw Squeeze in Baltimore after winning tickets off WHFS. I went backstage to meet the band and ended up swooning over and crushing pretty hard for the DJ, Pat Ferrise. Squeeze was made of awesome, as always.

29: just moved into the house with my boyfriend. We had season tickets to the Revolution and often traveled at least a couple of times a year to an away game, plus MLS Cup. We’d gone to LA right after we moved in so that we could be at Grauman’s Chinese Theater for opening day of “Episode II”. I was gearing up to get into a Masters program (Finance) and heard by the middle of the summer that I had gotten in. The weekend before Labor Day, my boyfriend and I go on a random jaunt around the Boston area, as we were wont to do in those days. We ended up going in search of the wind turbine out on the tippy tip end of Hull, a narrow strip of land jutting out into the water. It’s less a peninsula and more like a sandbar with housing on top of it. We found the turbine and start walking around on the rocks set around the turbine’s base. I was walking away from him when he mad some comment reminding me about how he’d once said he didn’t want to live with someone again unless they were family. I asked if he means that he wanted his best friend to move in with us. As I turn around, there he is, holding out a blue box with a diamond ring. FTW

39: training for walking marathon #2 and prepping for dd’s first week of camp. She finished day care yesterday, after 5 years, 4 months and 10 days. It’s crazy. And this summer, we’ve already been to DC so dd could walk her first 5K, we’re taking both kids to see The Wiggles in concert (the first concert for our ds!), and I’m heading down to NYC at the beginning of August to spend some QT with my girls at BlogHer12. I don’t get out to many shows these days (although I try to get out to at least a couple of movies every year), and we haven’t been to a soccer game in a donkey’s age. It’s hard to justify going when babysitters are expensive and kickoff is usually coinciding with the kids’ bedtime.

Much like when I was younger, the weekends are still packed. Whether they were packed with homework, clubbing, homework, or kid activities, they just fill up. The weeks have been filled with school, work, work, work…but it’s all good. Working is far preferable to not working. And I like where I am and what I do and who I do it with. All pluses.

I wonder what I’ll write when I’m 49?

{interlude} Time to post

At tonight’s dinner party for family, an interesting conversation broke out (as one often does) – this time, one the subject of this blog. My mother, sitting across from me, commented that she wanted the cookbooks that were used in the generation of the meal, and I explained that one recipe was a mish-mash mod that I will be posting (next post I PROMISE) and the other did come 100% from a cookbook. I then commented a bit about how infrequently I’ve been posting lately. It is, after all, fairly hard to post frequently about all the lovely recipes I’m creating when much of our routine is built on…well, routine, and that means that we tend to cycle through a number of the same recipes every month because that’s what keeps our schedule from flying completely off the rails.

My sweet BIL then commented about how that’s actually fine. That’s my M.O., basically. My sister then chided me to remain true to my brand (tee hee), and thus that means dealing with the balancing act that my life is so much of the time. Really, creating new recipes daily just isn’t for me; I simply don’t have the time. I whined a bit about how I wish I could post as frequently as some of my other friends, and then I was swiftly reminded by dh that most of the frequent posters I know are people either A) work from home/stay at home, B) have no children, or C) both. Good point. Working outside of the home and having a husband who does the same, plus having two kids, it’s sometimes a wonder that I get out of the house with underwear on and my teeth brushed. (Trust me, on the days when you can’t have it all, best to go with the underwear; mints cover many evils.)

And thus we have this reminder: I may not post a ton, but I’ll post when I have something to say. Hopefully you’ll find it worth reading. If I ranted every time I got ticked off at the rampant attacks on women, I’d be posting every five minutes. If I posted only every time I create or discover a new recipe, IT MAY BE A WHILE. Thus, balance. You get some rant, you get some recipe. Sometimes, you get some parenting stuff as I discover things like how incredibly frakking smart dd is (she read everyone’s fortunes to them after our Chinese dinner the other night…which would be unremarkable if she weren’t still < 5-1/2 and waiting to enter Kindergarten). I will also note that I don’t post recipes that fall flat. If I don’t think I’d want to eat it again and/or if it needs significant adjustment, it won’t get posted until said adjustment(s) have been made. No point in posting something that’s only half-baked (no pun intended); when I fish around for recipes online, I’m assuming that they don’t suck. I just try to return the favor by posting recipes that I think absolutely are worth having again and again.

So, there you have it. And, as for the dinner party that we had tonight…there WILL be a recipe posted soon for the main dish: a crock pot Carolina-style BBQ pulled chicken. I can truly vouch for that recipe NOT SUCKING. And that’s what makes for a post, at least for me.