Sunday, January 18, 2015

The Transition: Moving From Mommy To Mom

Sometimes I wonder if I am just not cut out for this mom of elementary age school kids thing.  I mean, I kind of had it figured out when they were toddler and preschool aged.  I liked what they liked. Story time. Sing-a-longs, park play dates with fellow mommies (and wine) on a sunny day.  I knew that giving a meal a special name ("sunshine carrots" "pizza cupcakes" ") or cutting sandwiches into dinosaur shapes could fool them into eating healthy foods. I knew that the promise of a sticker or a balloon could make a trip to Target, Safeway or the liquor store tolerable for everyone. Bedtime was at 7:30. They liked the bath. They let me dress them. I knew what the hell I was doing.

Kindergarten wasn't too bad.  Homework consisted of reading and an occasional worksheet. The after school activities were of our choosing and we picked based on convenience.

But shit started getting real once we entered first, second and now third grade and I just don't know if I can keep up.  My kids are no longer as easily bribed, or motivated by the dollar bin at Target. They have opinions about how they want their hair cut. They have hours of homework, fierce tempers, and so very many interests. Soccer, baseball, basketball, swimming-  I know this is practically sacrilegious to say but I don't want to spend my Friday night in a run down gym watching my six year old running basketball drills, or my Saturdays in back to back soccer games. It's a full time job trying to keep track of their social, school and extracurricular activities. How am I really supposed to remember that the third Saturday of the month is Evan's snack day for basketball (and one kid has a gluten allergy,) and Zack's snack day is the following Tuesday-no nuts!!  When they were younger, the kids did what we wanted for the most part, with a few easy adaptations, now however... we aren't running the show.

I guess I'm a little selfish.  But that isn't the only hurdle of parenting school-aged kids I have encountered.  There are others. I mentioned homework earlier.  Oh the damn homework.  It was one thing when we were doing simple addition flash cards and practicing writing the alphabet, but long division, who does long division anymore? Third graders that's who.  And it is embarrassing when I have to reach for me phone to find the answer to 463 divided by 18. And it's too much. The homework is too damn much. At the end of a long day the last thing the kids and I want to do after dinner is more work, and yet it needs to be done, often times with kicking and screaming.

Even Christmas and other gift-giving holidays have become harder.  The kids who were once overjoyed by a stuffy, a small set of legos or some Hot Wheels now had Iphones, Ipads, gaming systems, laptops and large sums of money on their wish list. Nothing shuts down the romance of Santa than getting NOTHING on your list. (Sorry son, the elves in the North Pole don't make I-anything!)

Finally, there is a whole new world to navigate.  A world where they meet kids at school who watch R-rated movies. A world where my nine year old has his own email account and knows how to navigate the dangerous world of the worldwide web. A world where I find my children joking about vaginas and talking about kissing. A world where they know how to turn on the TV and stumble on an episode of The Family Guy.  A world where one kid has more friends than the other. A world where my kids can actually do real damage to each other in a battle over a Nerf gun. A world where the boys start asking questions about drugs and the wine we are drinking.

A world when those babies are growing into people, people with their own ideas, desires, personality quirks, strengths and weaknesses.  It really is an amazing, and sometimes scary thing to watch. Once I held my baby in my womb, then later at my breast. The first few years that followed, those kids held my hand and looked to me for everything, and yet now I see them separating, a little more each day. And each day as I give them more room to be independent, I feel myself letting go of something. It isn't love or attachment, but it's something.  I'm not a Mommy anymore. I'm turning into Mom. Mom who administers homework and cheers from the sidelines. Mom who gets an occasional eye-roll and a smart mouth.  Mom who is no longer called upon to plan birthday parties with goody bags, but to book the event and stay out of site.  And in my head I know. I know that this is right and good.   But sometimes my heart aches a little as I see my youngest, my three year old, and I know that he is the last little hand I will hold to cross the street, the last little guy I will watch PBS with, the last one to ever utter the word "mommy" in my presence.

I remember being nervous and a little afraid as I awaited the birth of my first born son.  Would I be able to nurse him? Would I drop him in the bath? What if he got sick?  Yet I mastered that. I figured it out with time, and now as we enter a whole new phase of parenthood, I have to trust that I will figure this out as well. We will get through the homework, and the crazy schedules.  We will guide our children into adolescence the same way that we navigated sleepless nights and potty training. Sure, there will be mistakes and there are things we will wish we would have done differently. But we will get through it, and I have a feeling that someday I will be sitting at a keyboard writing a similar post about sending my boys off to college. Perhaps I will write about missing their big shoes and their  sweaty gym socks cluttering the living room floor.  I am guessing that I will feel nostalgia for the back-to-school nights and a basement full of noisy little men.

There is one thing I am certain of, one constant that will stand the test of time:  I won't always be a mommy, but those boys, they will always, always be my babies.

Monday, January 12, 2015

And The Mother Of The Year Award Goes To....

I can admit to the fact I am not the most organized mom on the block.  Okay, that is actually being generous I might actually be the least organized mom in the whole school district.  It isn't that I don't try.  I go through periods where I attempt to get some sort of semblance of structure and planfulness. Just at the beginning of this school year I took Parenting Magazine's advice and put together what was supposed to be a "command center." I got a planner so we could write down important dates, I got a file holder to store homework and notices. I got a whiteboard because Parenting Magazine said I should.  Now I have an empty planner, the whiteboard went missing before I put it up and the file holder has basically become a wasteland of crap I don't know what else to do with.

I have an appointment reminder postcard from the kids dentist on my desk, from a date I missed months ago. I have misplaced the class directory, and I'm starting to develop panic attacks knowing that it's almost time to start summer camp registrations.

That said, my kids usually have clean clothes and a hot meal, we show up at birthday parties on time, they have their necessary immunizations and we made it to one of two of our kids parent-teacher conferences. 

But last week we really screwed up. No. Really. The kids had been off school for TWO WEEKS. That's right two weeks of  "I'm bored." "What can we do?" "Evan through a shoe at my head and now I bet I have a concussion" "I'm hungry" "I'm not hungry", "We have only been watching tv for 2.5 hours, can't we watch another show?" Anyways, by Sunday January 4 we were more than ready to send the rug rats back to school on Monday.

On Sunday the kids moaned and cried as we told them it was back to the normal bedtime since there was school tomorrow. Monday morning we packed up the backpacks and lunches in the usual frenzy of beat-the clock. At 8:35 we passed them off to our dear nanny who rushed them to school since they were late.  The husband then dropped me off at my office downtown and we were ready to start the day.

I glanced at my phone. A voicemail. From the school. It was the the secretary. Our children were in the office and today was an inservice day. No school. We had sent our kids to school and left them there when there was.... NO FREAKING SCHOOL.  The nanny had assumed that since she was late that all of the children were already in their classrooms, and hence she sent them in, unaware that (I'll say it again) the was NO FREAKING SCHOOL.

Had I utilized my family planner, perhaps I would have made a note of that. If I had synced the school calendar with my phone, perhaps I would have known that. Had I written it on a flipping whiteboard this may not have happened. Had I not been so totally and completely the opposite of organized, maybe, just maybe I would not have traumatized my sons by sending them to school on a day where there was NO FREAKING SCHOOL.

And the Parenting Of The Year Award goes to..... your's truly.

Time to get my act together.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

In My Life

2015. The New Year. A time to come up with resolutions, plans for a better year. But I think it is also time to give pause and reflect.  Nothing makes me more nostalgic than a Beatles song. I listened to it recently and tears formed in my eyes as memories of the past 12 months, and the past twenty years surfaced to overflowing.

It's amazing how people come and go in your life. They may fill your day to day for months, years or decades and then slowly fade, eventually  reduced to a Facebook status update and an old photograph. The memories once vivid and bright become hazy and muted.

 Sometimes recalling old friends overwhelms me with sadness. The loss I feel that I no longer hear their voice every day, that I no longer acknowledge their birthday, that I can no longer share the day to day minutia of my life makes me feel lonely.

Life is fluid and if I think about it, each person who has touched me with their friendship, shared their lives with me, laughed with me, cried with me, has left a mark.  They have changed me. They have made me who I am. I remember your laugh, your heartache made me softer, your triumphs inspired me, your love touched me.  So I thank each and everyone of you. Even though we may no longer share our stories and our lives you will always be a part of my history. I carry you in my dreams when you pop  up unexpected exactly as you were ten years ago. I hear you through a song, I recall you when I smell your perfume or when I think of a silly inside joke.

In my life I've loved them all.

Happy New Year. Thank you for being a part of my life!

There are places I remember
All my life though some have changed
Some forever not for better
Some have gone and some remain
All these places have their moments
With lovers and friends I still can recall
Some are dead and some are living
In my life I've loved them all

But of all these friends and lovers
There is no one compares with you
And these memories lose their meaning
When I think of love as something new
Though I know I'll never lose affection
For people and things that went before
I know I'll often stop and think about them
In my life I love you more

Though I know I'll never lose affection
For people and things that went before
I know I'll often stop and think about them
In my life I love you more

In my life I love you more

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Advice from a Recruiter. And some cute cat pics.

Don't forget pants. 

I don't write much about my job on this blog. In fact I don't believe I have revealed who my current employer is, and for all kinds of reasons I am guessing it's probably not appropriate to share in this forum. I can tell you that I love my new company and even though I am a recruiter and only have been onboard for the past two months, I can honestly say I am excited about bringing people into the organization.

But generically, I am a recruiter for a software company and I hire sales people.Previously I have recruited for all kinds of companies, from Kelly Services, to Coors Brewing Company and major PR agencies. I have been doing this work for around sixteen years now. It's hard to believe.

Nobody goes to school to become a recruiter, right? When you ask kids what they want to do when they grow up you may hear firefighter, veterinarian, doctor, teacher or (in my case) even therapist, but you don't hear recruiter. Yet it is the perfect occupation for me. It's all about networking, listening, communicating, and talking to people from all walks of life. Yes. I have stories. Lots and lots of stories.

As a recruiter I have the privilege of sitting across the table from people who are sharing their life story with me. They are telling me about their education, there life decisions, what they have learned from various experiences, their passions, kids, mistakes, even divorces and tragedies. And often times as the gate keeper it is up to me to decide if they will be considered for an opportunity with my employer. It's a lot of responsibility really, in some ways you are holding people's "lives" in your hands.  Employment is a big deal. Without it, one can't pay their bills. Sometimes this is an individual's dream job, and I know they are laying awake at night tossing and turning and waiting for my call. I know that there are plenty of days that my call either makes or breaks someone's entire week. Making the congratulations calls are the best part of my day... and making the decline calls are the worst, unless on the rare occasion I am dealing with someone who has been a complete ass during the interview process, then it's not so hard.

So anyways, I thought perhaps I would share some of my recruiting knowledge and crazy stories, on the off chance it may actually help a few people land their dream job.

Applicants, your "To-Do" list:

  1. You have found a great job and you want to apply: While you should go ahead and apply online as directed, it can't hurt to reach out to your network for an extra "in." Check out your LinkedIn, remember that? It isn't just a waste land of bad profile photos and worthless endorsements, it's also a wealth of information and a great asset to your job search.  There you can find out who the hiring manager is and reach out to them directly. Unlike recruiters, they are not inundated with tons of applicant emails and he/she may pay more attention to your note and application. In addition you can search for other connections who may have a relationship with the company and ask for an introduction/recommendation.
  2. Speaking of LinkedIn profiles- your picture should not include anyone but you. Not your blushing bride, your new baby or even your dog. Just you. This should not be a picture of you at a club, holding a pina-colada in the air and revealing your midriff. It should be professional.
  3. Phone interview? Be prepared. It makes a terrible impression if the recruiter is trying talk to you while you sit on a park bench in front of a noisy construction site,  soothing your crying toddler. Find a quite place with no distractions. 
  4. When the topic of compensation comes up, don't avoid it. It is important to know upfront if this job is the right fit for you. If the company is paying $20K less than what you need, do you really want to dry clean your suit, blow dry your hair and do your nails, lie to your current boss and cross town for an interview?  Recruiters inquire about salary for a reason. It's to make the process more efficient and effective for all parties.  
  5. Do your research. Learn about the company and your interviewer. Come with well thought out questions. While I'm thinking of it, if you write a cover letter with your application, be sure to get the company name right. Nothing is worse for a recruiter than reading about how much their applicant wants to work at a different company, in a different state. 
  6. Send a thank you note. Handwritten or email. But something. Demonstrate that you are interested and that yeah, you are grateful for everyone's time. Please note: spell check all of your written communication with the potential employer. I can't count how many times applicants have done more harm than good by writing a sloppy note of appreciation and you would be surprised by how many people misspell detail when describing how detail oriented they are. *sigh*
Because I am hoping cute cat pictures will drive more traffic to my blog
Applicant No-Nos: 

  1. Don't be too pushy it's annoying.  You know the fifth time in a day where you leave a voicemail inquiring about the status of your application? Yeah, now you are a stalker. Lay-off. 
  2. Do not take a cell phone call in the middle of an interview. Yes. It happens.
  3.  Do not spend your whole interview asking about compensation, advancement and work-life balance. Yes, these are all important concerns, and should be addressed throughout the conversation, but too much focus on these issues upfront can lead your potential employer to feel you are only in it for you.
  4. Do not bad mouth all of your former employers. Sure it's okay to address reasons why you left an organization, but too much negativity will leave your interviewer feeling like they are talking to Debbie Downer or Wendy Whiner.  
  5. Do not send professional communication on stationary that has kittens, hearts or unicorns on it. Seriously. No Seriously.  

Thus concludes my first ever blog post about recruiting. If it gets good response, perhaps there will be more.  Until then, for those in the market: Happy job hunting! Be nice to your recruiter! :)
I would hire Neil Patrick Harris. Just saying. 

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

People I Want To Punch In The Face: Winter

Welcome to my latest "People I Want To Punch In The Face" post.  This week's target? That son-of-a-bitch Winter.  But since winter is not a person, I came up with the following list of humans I want to punch in the face due to this brutal winter.

1) Anyone, and I mean anyone who utters the following words: "Your from Wisconsin. You should be used to sub zero temperatures."  Really? I should get used to snot freezing on the inside of my nose? I should get used to my fingers and toes feeling as if they are being stabbed relentlessly with pins and needles? Let me ask you this, do you think anyone could get used to having a fork poked in their eye repeatedly? No? Then No. No. I am not "used" to freezing my tush off.

2) People who insist on keeping their house below 67 degrees. That is great that you are saving energy! I understand you run "hot." But my lips are turning blue and I want to leave.

3) My children who bitch and moan about wearing proper winter attire. The sweaters are too itchy, the socks are too tight, the gloves always fall off and yes, yes, I understand that you think shorts are so much more comfortable than jeans. But it's negative eleven out there and social services is going to have my ass picked up if I let you outside in flip flops and a t-shirt, and mommy is too pretty for jail!

4) Anyone who says that the cold temperatures are "refreshing" or "not that bad." Okay refreshing is a glass of lemonade on a hot summers day, refreshing is not losing feeling in your fingers and toes.  As for not that bad?  Maybe it's not as bad as being mauled by a rabid grizzly bear, but it's pretty freaking bad.

And finally.....

5) People who seem to be "above" shoveling their sidewalks. Perhaps they think the shoveling fairy is going to come out and do it for them. Perhaps they assume people prefer walking over snow and ice when passing by their home. Or maybe they believe that slipping and falling and breaking a tailbone is no big deal and that everyone should quit whining.  Or MAYBE just MAYBE, they are lazy bastards who more than likely keep their house at 64 degrees and don't even deserve a sidewalk!
Shoveled, Shoveled, Lazy Bastard! 

Monday, December 29, 2014

Holidays By The Numbers

We survived The Holidays.

Okay. Perhaps that is a tad bit premature since we have not yet reached the New Year, but Hanukkah and Christmas are behind us. The money has been spent, limited crafting and almost zero baking has been done, the tree was put up and taken down and we are all still summarize I give you the Kargas Family's Holidays by the numbers:

24 Hanukkah gifts for 3 kids
Only 1 ornament broken in the annual "mom-I didn't mean to do it" tradition
7 cousins 9 and under gathered on Christmas Eve
1 Christmas meltdown by an overtired 6 year old.
 6 bottles of wine consumed over 2 days.
Zero latkes made, Zero latkes consumed
22 times reading How The Grinch Stole Christmas
1 time reading Curious George Celebrates Hanukkah
20 Million times I have sung  the two lines I actually know of Wham's "Last Christmas" over and over again in my head.
1 gift broken before it was even opened by a whimpering 3 year old
6 hours spent wrapping gifts
11 minutes spent unwrapping gifts
3 hours spent cleaning up after unwrapping gifts
1 trip made to the somewhat creepy "North Pole" in Colorado Springs.
45 minutes standing in line at the "North Pole" for a hot dog and a cup of instant hot apple cider
Zero returns or
exchanges made!

Zero visits to see a bored questionable old man sweating in a hot red suit and a phony beard at the mall.
1 container of the obligatory eggnog consumed
3 Pajama-Jamma-Jammy Parties ( 9 and under only!) 
1 adults-only holiday party 
2 hangovers the next day
1 (my first ever!) Kate Spade handbag received on Christmas morning.
1 viewing of The Nutcracker with all of my boys
1 3 year old pooping his pants in the middle of that Nutcracker performance
2 Parents who forgot a change of clothes for the 3 year old at that Nutcracker performance
1 half naked kid carried back to the car in the snow by 2 sheepish parents after that Nutcracker performance.
1 giant vat of Christmas Glug prepared
153 photographs taken.
Not 1 picture captured where all children were actually looking at the camera at the same time
6 Lego sets
8 books
3 chemistry sets
3 sleds
1 Mario Kart Wii game
1 500 piece jigsaw puzzle
3 packages of colored pencils
1 Nerf Gun
1 Basketball Hoop
3 Kids whining "there is nothing to do!"
1 Mama happy to say a fond "Adios" to Christmas/Hanukkah 2014
1 Family of 5 feeling lucky and blessed as we welcome 2015!


Sunday, December 28, 2014

Hello Again

Hello old friend. I have returned, brushing off the metaphorical dust of your homepage, checking back in via a keyboard and peering  through shuttered windows to catch a glimpse of a place that was once full of light and creativity. 

I have abandoned you old friend. My enthusiasm for you has waned. I have lost my inspiration and it saddens me. I once took pride in calling myself a "blogger" and had dreams of making something of this online diary. I used to turn around ideas in my head as I lay sleepless at 2am, now I reach for my phone and stare blankly at the big stories listed on Yahoo "News."

I want to return to you dear blog. I want to tap back into my enthusiasm and creativity, but I worry that as I stare at the blank screen nothing will come to me, or that all my thoughts will be dull and dreary.

But I have yet to fully leave you. I have not written the self-reflective goodbye piece or removed "blogger" from my Twitter profile. So old friend. What I am trying to say is maybe. Just maybe we can try again. See if we still hit it off. 

What do you say?
Are you ready to give me another shot? 

With Limited Hope,