Saturday, January 30, 2010

Mama Dilemma

Please excuse me for the repetitive nature of my blog. I seem to be obsessed with the same topics and they to keep rearing their ugly head in my posts.

I continue to struggle with the going-back-to-work synopsis. I have started networking and interviewing and it is an exciting, frustrating, and scary process. As I consider the possibility of employment it becomes clear that I am looking for a very specific opportunity which isn't likely to appear out of nowhere. I need flexibility, I need work-life-balance, I need a location which doesn't require me to commute two hours a day at the nanny rate of at least $20/hour. All of these things adds up to the perception of a potential employer that this chick is a slacker. This chick isn't dedicated. This chick isn't willing to do what it takes.

Well true. Sort of.

I had an interview with an agency in the city last week. The appointment was mid morning, so I had time to drop the boys off at preschool and the babysitter and have a relatively leisurely trip to San Francisco. In fact I even had time to enjoy a mocha and the newspaper at Starbucks. (HEAVEN!). The events of that morning so perfectly illustrate my conflicting feelings.

The first order of business that morning was to get Evan to the babysitters. He had no idea what was in store for him. We got dressed and had breakfast as usual, only mommy emerged from her bedroom in business attire instead of the predictable jeans and sweatshirt. As we prepared to leave I handed Evan a lunch box, just like his brother which seemed to please him very much. He clutched his little package in his hand and cooed "yunch yox".

As we approached the baby sitter's home a realization seemed to slowly come over Evan. Wait a minute I have been here before, mommy left me here... Evan started whimpering as we walked up the steps to the door. Once inside the home, the full on panic set in. He dropped his precious yunch yox on the floor, forgotten. He ran toward me, screeching, his arms outstretched, and he stumbled and fell. The babysitter, a seasoned mother of three, immediately picked Evan up in her arms and looked at me knowingly. She informed me that it was best if I left now.

I walked out the front door and heard Evan's wails all the way to the car, I felt the sting of tears in my own eyes. My baby wanted me. The mornings are our special time. What was I doing?

After I dropped Zachary off at preschool I headed toward the BART, the memory of Evan sobbing still fresh in my mind. I sat on the train and worried. But about thirty minutes into my trip my mind started to switch gears. I was wearing a sassy interview outfit, had a newspaper in my hands and a little time to kill in San Francisco.

I got off at Montgomery Street. The area buzzed with energy. Business people in fancy suits jabbering on their blackberries rushing to their next meeting. Creatives sipping lattes in sleek coffee shops while typing away on laptops. I didn't feel so out of place. I hung out for a while at Starbucks and chated with a woman who was also interviewing that morning at a nearby law firm. She was young and pretty and told me that she thought that she would spend the rest of her day shopping in Union Square. Nice. I had to get home ASAP because in my case, time was money.

My interview was fine. Fun actually. I enjoyed talking shop with the Recruiter and I was confident in my abilities. She was enthusiastic and told me that she has a client in the city where she thinks that I would fit in beautifully. I got butterflies. It sounded exciting. Until we talked about salary. A small salary. Less than I made in Denver, and this is San Francisco. The position is full time. I would probably spend 1.5-2 hours a day commuting. It simply won't work. I would make next to nothing and never see my babies.

I got back on BART feeling a little disappointed. I want to wear my business clothes again. I want to be wear my business mind again. Sometimes. But not sixty hours a week and at the cost of missing out on being mommy.

I arrived at the sitter's house to find Evan eating his lunch straight from his yunch-yox and jabbering. As I walked in the door he cried "mama!" and gave me a smile that once again brought tears to my eyes. I hugged him. Sweet Evan.

I know I am not alone. So many women face a similar dilemma. I would love to hear your stories.....

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

FW: Post

For those of you who know me, it is clear that I am a Facebook addict. There are many things to love about the social networking phenomena, however one of my favorite perks is that Facebook has practically eliminated the unnecessary, complete waste of time email "forward".

I apologize to any of my dear friends who once perpetuated the dreaded "Forward" trend. I have to be honest with you. I have always hated them. Those silly pictures of babies wearing grown-up clothes, corny and mean. The sappy flowery poems about "real friendship" (please forward this message on to all of the wonderful wise women in your world). The superstitious chain-letter (I usually don't forward these kind of things on, but right now I need all the luck I can get!). The email that lures you into opening up an attached photo of some "hunk" in a thong just as your VP of HR walks past your cubicle. The urban tale that spreads like wildfire across cyberspace (Did you know that the Swiffer Wet Jets cause erectile dysfunction?) I simply despise them.

It didn't happen over night, but slowly as my Facebook "wall" got filled up with my friend's random status updates, the forwards stopped coming. Now, I am very rarely tricked into thinking that a trusted acquaintance is forwarding on a piece of very important news only to open up a picture of cat in a santa hat.

Sure, there are some silly little games people play on Facebook, the ones where you are suppose to confuse everyone by entering the color of your bra in your status, but somehow I find these so much less offensive than their emailed counterpart.

So thank you good Facebook for providing us all with another way to connect. And thank you dear friends for refraining from sending me the hilarity of the newest "Forward".

Now...please forward this post to ten of your best friends, if you do something terrific will happen in five days. Please do it. If you don't you will screw it up for everyone. Oh and please enjoy the picture below.



Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Top 5 Random Thoughts of the Day

#1: Cheetos really are an under-rated snack food. Crunchy and delicious they leave a bright orange residue on everything they come in contact with. Natural goodness.

#2: The only thing worse than the sock monster is the goblin who steals all the lids to our sippy cups.

#3: Why is it that it the day to day tasks, like unloading the dishwasher are the ones I dread the most? Honestly I don't think I could dislike anything more than finding a place for all of my Tupperware, and sorting knifes and forks. Hell on earth.

#4: If The Cosby Show aired today, would it still be a Thursday night hit? Is good clean family fun really humorous?

#5: I wish I was more patient and that waiting didn't take so much out of me. Waiting at the stop light, tapping my feet furiously. Waiting in the dentist office-what is taking so long, don't these people know that I have to get back home so my husband can get to work? Waiting in line at the coffee shop-I am ready to jump behind the counter and make my own latte. Waiting to find out if I will be offered a job, please Mr. Hiring Manager, can't you please just let me know? My whole life might be turned upside down when you make your call. Waiting, waiting, waiting. I am just no good at waiting.

Stay tuned for more random thoughts.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

MOP Awards

Yes, it is time again for the annual MOP (Mother's of Preschoolers) awards. I am pretty excited because this year I have been nominated in several categories. My nominations include: Worst Four-Year-Old Birthday (Producer), with eight stitches and an ambulance ride my performance was a stand-out, Cinematographer and Director of a short film (for my work on the home video: Hanukkah Dance Party), Most Disorganized Mom, and finally the very prestigious award-Meanest Mommy of 2009. There is also talk that I could be given the honour of the Mean Mommy Life Time Achievement Award, but that is just a rumor.

It could be a clean sweep, although I have major competition in the worst birthday category from the mom who served sugar-free vegan birthday "cake" to forty disappointed preschool aged party-goers. I do have the utmost confidence in my ability to nab the Meanest Mommy of 2009 award. I have consistent recognition for my talent. Zachary tells me no less than 15 time a day how terribly mean I am. I earn the compliment for a variety of trespasses. Zachary could easily spend the entire day rattling off examples of my cruelty. I enforce limits on the amount of time spent in front of the television. I force him to change out of his pajamas before we leave the house. I have the audacity to reprimand him for hitting his brother in the head with his Lightning McQueen car. Mean, mean plain old meanie.

And while I am anxiously awaiting my trophy (or trophies), I am also spending time researching and preparing for future MOSAK (Mother of School Age Kids) awards. I just know I could be a favorite for the "Most Embarrassing Mom Ever" award.

Wish me luck.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Bye Bye Baby

"I did it!" He said it so clearly, raising his arms up with such joy. Three little words strung together never sounded so beautiful. I am not exactly sure what he did, but it had something to do with shoving some toys into a little Fischer Price medical bag and closing it, sort of. Truthfully, he didn't even really do it, the bag was so full of random shaped objects that one could not possibly latch it shut, but that isn't the point.

Evan is communicating, in multi-word sentences. Yes, this has to some extent been going on for several months, but now we can actually understand him. Another milestone. The little guy is growing up. Insert tears here.

He is at an absolutely charming stage. *Almost* everything he does is adorable. The way he points to every cat and exclaims "Wiggy!" (the name of our own beloved kitty), the way he bounces up in down in a pseudo dance move every time music is audible, the way he lights up when you enter a room after being away for a while, it is all so stinking cute. And I realize how fleeting this time is.

A few days ago while attending our first Music Together class since Evan was one, I got overwhelmingly nostalgic. As I held him in my arms, and spun him around while he waved a certainly teethed upon purple scarf I flashed back to Zachary. Zachary and I attended Music Together classes faithfully for at least two and a half years. I felt such pride as Zack took egg shakers in his chubby fists, and my heart would well up as he put the instruments away singing "bum bum!" tossing a tambourine or a rhythm stick into the community bucket. Now here with Evan I realize that I have done this all before, only my first baby is gone. There doesn't seem to be a trace of baby Zachary anywhere.

Yes, there is a child named Zachary running around our house gabbing loudly about shooting bad guys. There is a skinny proud kid who takes "big boy" swimming lessons without mommy. There is little monster who frequently tells me I am mean and that he hates me. There is an inquisitive 4.5 year old who now recognizes all of his letters and draws stick people. There is an energetic preschooler who barely glances in my direction when I arrive to pick him up from class. But there is no baby. Baby Zack is gone. I don't know when he left. It happened so fast.

Truth be told I love my little boy, but I miss my baby. And now as I rejoice in each new accomplishment that Evan achieves it is bittersweet.

Don't grow up so fast baby Evan. Mommy loves you.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

My blog sucks

My blog sucks. Boo. There are 10 million mommy blogs out there, many of them crafted by professional writers. They are creative, witty and charming. What business do I have writing a blog anyway?

This is the part where you interrupt me and assure me, no, no- your blog is excellent. You have never noticed any grammatical errors. You think I am so hilarious. But you can't because I am writing and you are not in the room with me. So that means I can go on.

There are so many excellent bloggers, the Internet is saturated with them. Really how much is there to say? Mommy is tired, mommy wants a glass of wine, kid's say the darnedest things, mommy hates laundry, yada, yada , yada. The common threads across mama cyber space. Some of you writing moms are just a little bit more creative in how you spin it. I suppose what they say is true, there is always going to be someone smarter, prettier, more clever, more succesful, and better at blogging than you.

But am I going to give up? Nope. I am going to put my head down and try and get my blog on. You're going to love me.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Stop and smell the ants. (or something like that)

I am a little frustrated. Big people, they are always in such a hurry. I used to buy into it, I thought maybe they knew something that I didn't. Perhaps we really were at risk for missing out on something big, like an all you can eat animal cracker buffet or lunch with Elmo, but I have been let down one too many times and I now know that this is simply not the case. It's a lot of hurry up for nothing.

Just today for example mommy was in such a rush to get home after we picked my brother up from "preschool". (I am not sure what preschool is, but I think it must be the greatest place on earth and it is quite unjust that I am not allowed to attend). In any case she kept shooing us to the car "come on boys! let's go!" she commanded, her voice getting more shrill with each passing minute. I was watching the ants crawling along the sidewalk, they were little and black and they must have been having a birthday party because there were so many of them. I was trying to figure out just what ants did at an insect party and mommy just pulled me up and forced me into the car seat. We speed home. And for what? A nap, that's what. She shoved me in my crib and and chirpped "night night!" Night Night? It's 2:00 in the afternoon. You can't fool me. I may be only 19 months but I am not stupid. Now I admit I enjoy a good nap as much as the next toddler, however I can take an nap any old time, but I ask you, how often does one get to attend an ant birthday party?

This afternoon there is talk of a playgroup at my favorite indoor play cafe. But I know how that goes. Just as I am getting comfortable and I have finally broken the ice with some of the group's attendees, mommy is going to announce that it is time to leave so we can go home and have dinner. I'll get two hours there tops. Really two hours? I'll just be getting started. It is never any use to argue. Zachary tries, bless him. He will attempt to bargain for "five more minutes" and mommy will and trick him by giving maybe two minutes.

Whatever the case, whatever the situation it is always rush, rush, rush. To the car, to the next appointment, to my crib, to the next meal. My question for all of you grown-ups is simple. What is the big emergency? Please slow down. Admire the ants, smell the graham crackers, enjoy the moment.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Believe it or not

My mom and stepfather are here visiting this weekend. It has been a great visit. My mom keeps looking around Berkeley in awe saying "I cannot believe you really live here." "Look at the lemon trees, I cannot believe you really live here". "Here we are on Pier 39 and I cannot believe you really live here" "The flowers are so beautiful, I cannot believe you really live here" You get the idea.

Mom's right. We live in a truly amazing part of the country. Where the air never gets too chilly, where there is greenery year round, and where we are miles away from ocean and wine producing paradise. How did we get here? Oh thank you Clorox.

It feels good here. I guess I would not go as far as to say it feels like home, but then again where is home? A month ago during a harried holiday visit to Denver, I swore Denver was where my heart was. Maybe that is still true, but it is with a bit of sadness that I can say that the feeling is already fading. I left Colorado with a heavy heart, in fact the day we pulled away from 3352 Bryant Street I walked through every room of our house sobbing. Sobbing. The house, the neighborhood, the city all filled with such vibrant memories. Yet today the colors of those images already seem a bit blurry.

There are people that I still miss of course, but it is surprising how many people have already ceased communication with me. People who I shared the past eight years with, but who haven't sent as much as an email since my departure. And I suppose it goes both ways, I have been busy with our new life and I guess it is natural to lose touch with friends of convenience and proximity. Don't get me wrong, I have some friends that can never be replaced, but they are the people who will remain close to my heart regardless of where I reside. I have easily filled my days with a cast of new characters, and quite frankly spent more time focused on my family which has been, well refreshing.

I don't know how long we will be here. Along with the beauty of the area comes the price tag. The expensive housing, the inconvenient parking, the problematic school system. We will have to cross those bridges when we come to them. But for now here we are, a place I never thought we would really be.

Yes, we really live here.


Wednesday, January 13, 2010

What do you want to be?

What do you want to be when you grow up?

At age 8: Didn't most girls want to be a teacher or a veterinarian? Something gentle and helpful . During this time I also considered becoming a psychologist, a librarian and Laura Inglles Wilder.

At Age 12: This is when I started to dream bigger, start to wish for fame and fortune. I listened to Madonna, Cindy Lauper, The Bangles and I practiced my dance moves in front of the mirror. Lip syncing was huge in the middle school talent show circuit, and I was going to be the next big star, if only I could carry a tune.

At Age 17: Facing the end of high school and the date that I would officially become an "adult", reality set in, a sort of adolescent angst induced reality perhaps, but reality none the less. Okay, so maybe I wasn't going to be staring on Broadway anytime soon, but I was going to college, and I was going to get drunk if it killed me. Freedom was on the horizon.

At Age 22: Now out of college it was time to start making some decisions. There was no more what are you going to be when you grow up, because well on paper I was in fact grown up. Time to decide what I was. What was I? I returned to my 8 year old values. A social worker of course, because I am nice like that. I landed my first job. A job coach for a local non-profit organization. I earned $17,000 a year driving developmentally disabled clients around Minneapolis in the used Volvo that my parents gave me as a gift. I totaled the car (with a client in tow) about a year into the gig and decided that it was time to find another profession... enter the world of temporary staffing.

At Age 23: I didn't care what the hell I was if it wasn't marry. I demanded a ring. I got one.

In my late 20's: On top of the world. DINKS. My husband and I had arrived. Two incomes, no kids, the world was our oyster. I worked to be better at my job. I fretted about missed promotions, I lost sleep over my *super important* job as corporate recruiter (what would happen if I didn't have a candidate to present to my hiring manager by the end of the week, oh woe is me!). I had a career path in mind. I was going to find my way to management.

At age 30: The big 3-0. A time for reflection right? Nah, more like a year of partying like a rock star (well as much as my self-imposed 10pm curfew self can party), because kids had to be in the near future. That's what people do. That's what I was going to be, a mommy.

At age 31: Baby Zack is born. One month after returning back to work full time, I demanded a reduced work schedule, I threatened to leave if I didn't get one. I needed more time to feel like a real mom.

At age 34: Enter baby Evan. I quit my job all together. No goals are as important as spending time with one's offspring and raising good boys, right? I am not sure but it felt right, well sort of.

At age 35.5 (Today): WHAT DO YOU WANT TO BE WHEN YOU GROW UP? The question is still hanging out there. A constant nag, and I still don't know. Torn and conflicted. Do I continue to stay in the mommy zone, the world of peanut butter and jelly, organized play dates and story time? Do I head back to goal setting, value added, metrics driven corporate America?

Is it Berkeley that has gotten to me-giving me the sudden urge to find myself? Perhaps I already have and I just don't know it yet.

Monday, January 11, 2010

A misunderstood tot.

Who's hot? Come on now, think of one of the best looking boys you know. Think. Think a little harder. I will give you a hint. Wavy blond hair. Deep blue eyes. A smile that lights up the universe around him. A pudgy little belly, a funny waddle, and a body that always carries a faint air of diaper cream. Ringing a bell? Hello! It's none other than yours truly... Evan Arthur Kargas.

I am no less than a lady killer. I know it. I get stopped constantly. The compliments are non-stop, and mostly expressed by total strangers. "What a beautiful boy!" "He is certainly a charmer!" "He is GORGEOUS!" (A personal favorite).

At the risk of appearing a wee bit conceited, I must simply admit that it is utterly the honest to God truth. I am a looker with serious fashion sense. When it comes to toddler style, I know what I am doing.

Sweaters-I have them custom made by a designer in Wisconsin. Hand knit. As for casual wear, I know how to rock the pin-striped overalls. I am also known to never shy away from any outfits adorned with cute animal emblems. (Paul Frank's Monkey's are killer this season).

Given my keen fashion sense, I just cannot understand my mother's need to impose her styling upon me. She always wants the last say. I can handle an occasional attempt to tame my wild (yet beautiful) mane of hair, or the necessary diaper change, however there is a point when I really must draw the line.

I have tried in no uncertain terms to communicate to mommy that I am a trend setter. I know what the next best thing is even before Parenthood, Family Circle or Fit Pregnancy. I am in touch with what is hip. So I have selected to be a one shoe-tot. They are doing it in Milan. No really they are. One shoe. One sock. It's on the runway, or will be soon. Yet every single time I remove the shoe, she is there, Johnny-On-The-Spot, trying to shove the bugger back on. It is a back and forth battle. I have even attempted on several occasions to hide the offending garment in various locations throughout our home. Unfortunately my older brother appears to be siding with mother on this issue and keeps locating the damn thing for her. It figures, he is so last year.
So if you see my by chance with both shoes on. Cry for me. Cry. My creativity is being suffocated. So very misunderstood am I.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

The Interview

It was the first resume I submitted since setting foot in Berkeley. I have been toying with the idea of getting some gainful employment and I was sitting at the dining room table trolling Monster. There are almost never any good jobs listed on Monster. Most of the jobs I have been offered in recent years have come via networking-it's all about who you know. Well out here in California I am at a bit of a disadvantage in that area, so I was on....Monster. I sat at the table a glass of wine by my side, dressed in my pj's and clicked on a posting for an Executive Recruiter with an agency. What the heck? I thought and pressed the submit resume button. Who knows. I can do the job and the downtown Berkeley location means a minimal commute. Will see what happens.

The next morning I received an email requesting a phone call. When was I available? Heck I don't know. Is this a real phone interview, or just a quick five minute call? Do I need to find a babysitter so there is no extraneous kid noise in the background when we have this conversation? Who could I get on short notice? Eventually we settled upon a time, scheduled the call and I warned my interviewer that I have small children and that I would be calling from home with the kids (am I trying to sabotage myself?)

The phone interview was twenty minutes and I was on my game. I know how to interview. Because that's what I do. I interview. The end result- I have an in-person interview next week.

Of course I can't take the kids with me to the interview. That is one of the disadvantages of being a stay at home parent. You cannot call in sick. You cannot say that you'll be in a couple of hours late. You cannot make up a story, so you have to figure something else out. I negotiated with the husband and he is able to cover me. I just have to hope that the interview doesn't go long, because he needs to get back to the office by lunch.

Next-what is a gal to wear? I know, I know a suit. But my only suit is looking a bit, shall we say dated. Yet, I am not ready to invest in a new one. So, I could either go out on a limb and wear a more fashion forward business casual outfit, or be conservative and wear my old sad suit. Seeing as this is executive search, I am opting it is.

Then I look at my nails. Seems silly, but this profession is somewhat superficial. A lot about presentation. I am not all that presentable these days. My nails-short stubby messes. But to get them done would require a sitter, and more money. So I'll try to file them up and hope they will not be too offensive. ( I pray that my interviewers do not have perfectly lacquered acrylic nails, but they more than likely will, I know the game.)

I'll polish off the look with my most expensive jewelry and hope that the glimmer of diamonds can blind the panel of judgment, even just a little.

So how about the meat? The actual interview? I should worry about what I am going to say right? The thing is, because interviewing is at the heart of my profession, I am extremely comfortable with the process. Perhaps too comfortable. I usually (knock on wood, spit three times etc, etc) am a great interview. I have sort of mastered the art. It is too bad that I cannot make millions by simply being interviewed. I do worry that while I am on the other side of the table, I may slip back into the role of interviewer, and thus come across as controlling. It's a reasonable concern. I may also appear over confident. Who knows.

The real question is what am I doing? Do I really want to be successful and "win" a job? Perhaps, if it pays about $100/hour and requires only part time employment... unlikely, but it's okay to dream.

I'll keep you posted....

Thursday, January 7, 2010

The Real Housewives of Alemeda County

So, I am completely obsessed with The Real Housewives of Orange County (also New Jersey, New York or whatever). I cannot stop myself. Every time I watch an episode however, my blood boils, I get so angry, so jealous so disgusted all at the same time. I never feel happy or good after a viewing, but it's like a traffic accident, I simply cannot pry my eyes of the scene. A recent episode-one wife whisks her husband away on a surprise vacation to a beach resort to renew their vows. They have an amazing suite, a private concierge, the best of everything. She gives him a 2 carrot diamond band. Another wife who is recovering from a face lift, with a body that matches that of her 15 year old hottie daughter hits the gym. Another "housewife" (she isn't married) parades around with her playboy body in a half shirt at a fancy-pants boutique with her Coach pocketbook wide open. And finally one godly housewife with a recent boob job needs the nanny to accompany the family to church.

This inspired me to write an episode of the Real Housewives of Alameda County.

Housewife Rachel:

Housewife Rachel is 35 years old has two boys and a loving husband. It's 1:30 in the afternoon. Rachel picks up her eldest son Zachary from preschool. Dressed in navy bleach stained-stretched out yoga pants and a miss-matched black hoodie with a ketchup stain leftover from her younger son's lunch. Zachary has a melt down as Rachel tries to buckle him in the car seat. The cell phone rings. She answers it. It's the dentists office confirming tomorrow's appointment. Let the good times roll.

Housewife Ann: Housewife Ann is 44 with twin 2 year old boys and a mortgage that she cannot afford because they are still paying the bills for the fertility clinic. Bliss has it's price. It is 1:30 and she is cleaning out the cat box. She is punching out the numbers in her head to try and determine if there is enough money to hire a babysitter so that she and her husband can celebrate their wedding anniversary.

Housewife Susan: It's 7pm, and her husband is at happy hour. She has been with her three kids all day and is ready to strangle them to death. She keeps her cool and throws the kids in front of sponge bob for 30 minutes while she updates her status on Facebook.

Housewife Julie: Is standing in front of the mirror looking at her Buddha belly and her cellulite and hating the Real Housewives of Orange County because they can all afford plastic surgery and she cannot.


Wednesday, January 6, 2010


Raise your hand if you need a vacation. A real vacation. The kind that does not involve a diaper bag, a children's museum, or fast food. You know what I am talking about, you have an outfit for every occassion but mostly just wear the same old swimsuit on the beach with a Corona every day. Sleeping in past 10:00 am. Breakfast buffets. Naps at 3pm. Cocktails at 7 and seafood dinner at 10. Maybe a massage, and lots of time to bond with the hubby. That's what I am talking about. Not the vacations we are now accustomed to. Flights to visit relatives, carrying suitcases full of board books and cheerios. Staying in vacation rentals so that you can prepare mac & cheese every night and maybe squeeze in some HBO in the spare room after the kids hit the hay.

I know you want it too. Listen we are all tired of being super-parents who are oh-so-excited to watch the kids having fun in the urine infested baby-pool. We want some ME time. Some no-responsibility time. Am I right?

Yes, yes, I know this is what I signed up for. It didn't happen on accident. Not only did I plan for it, I worked for it. I sought out doctors to help me get in this predicament. And the funny thing is, sometimes I even consider digging myself deeper into this hole by adding another munchkin to the brood. Sometimes.

This all came up because I was watching the Real Housewives of Orange County. Real my rear-end. These rich women never took care of their children for a nano-second. They are off globe trotting around with their fake breasts looking like a million bucks, drinking mojitos and shopping in Italy. I'm the real housewife. The kind that gets up at the crack of down to fix breakfast for crabby kids and looks around her1200 square foot home thinking "Damn. How did this place to to look like such pig sty?" The kind who doesn't get to go on sunset cruises wearing designer party dresses.

Before you hand me the line about the world's smallest violin, hear me out. I know I am lucky. I know I am blessed. I know I'll look back at this time with misty eyes and wish I could have it back. But this week I'm on a roll. The venting just keeps coming.

I guess....I need a vacation.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

A bit of healthy whining

If I were the type of person who made new year's resolutions I might have decided that in 2010 I would avoid "sweating the small stuff", I would let things roll of my back, I would focus on the positive. However, since I am most definitely not that type of girl, no resolutions have been made and therefor, I'm still sweating.

My latest beef-the downtown Berkeley parking garage at the YMCA. I joined the YMCA about a month ago, thinking it might be a good idea to get this old body to the gym every now and then. They have child care available, swim lessons for the kids, a "baby gym". Great. I forked over my monthly fee of $62 and now I have a membership card with all it's privileges. What I didn't realize is that there is no free place to park by the gym. Duh. Why would there be? This is Berkeley after all. Everything costs something. There is a parking garage conveniently located right next door,the cost $5. That's a lot if your a gym rat, which I am not, so no big deal. Beyond the expense the parking garage has suited me just fine, until yesterday.

Yesterday Zachary had his very first swim lesson at 5:00. It was fabulous. He loved it, the whole thing went off without a hitch. Proud mommy watching behind the glass window as Zack splashed and laughed and followed directions. The heavens sing. The class is 30 minutes long. By the time we change and get back to the car it is 5:45. "I'm hungry" announces Zack. No problem, we will be home in less than 15 minutes and I have dinner all ready. We buckle up and back out of our spot on the fourth floor of the garage. I drive around the corner to find traffic stopped at floor 3.5. Stopped. Not moving. I wait patiently. Drum my fingers on the steering wheel. How long could this possibly go on? It will speed up. Ten minutes go by. I have moved about 4 feet. From the back seat "I'M HUNGRY MOMMY!! Why aren't we moving?". I have no freaking idea.

35 minutes later (longer than the actual swimming class mind you), I arrive at the parking attendant-livid. It seems criminal to me. Trapped in a parking garage. What if my child had been throwing up or I had to pick up a kid from daycare? I informed the attendant that I had to wait for 35 minutes and he merely shrugged his shoulders and informed me that it was busy. So this is NORMAL???? I have seven more pre-paid 5pm swim classes to attend. Are we going to have to go through this each time? Isn't there some way they could speed up this process? Open up another exit? Have a cash only express lane...something? I asked a friend about alternative parking and she looked at me sadly and said "that's just life in the East Bay".

So that's it. Life in the East Bay has it's share of hassles. I guess unless I am willing to move to a suburban community with convenient strip malls and plenty of free parking, I need to shut my mouth, and stop sweating. But thats just not my style.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Just call me June

I am 35 years old and today I baked my first cake...from scratch. Scratch!!! No Betty Crocker for this gal- just some flour, eggs, vanilla, milk and sugar. Homemade frosting too-of the chocolate variety. Do I rock or what? Don't say what. Do-not.

Okay, so I did not actually plan on making a home-baked cake, but it happened. How? Guilt. Simple guilt. My husband turned 36 yesterday, and we celebrated in our usual fashion-we hired a sitter and hit the town sans kiddos. Cocktails anyone? But as David and I were preparing for our much anticipated evening out, Zachary asked innocently... why are you guys leaving us? We explained that we were going out for grown up time to celebrate Daddy's birthday. Zachary responded that he wanted to celebrate Daddy's birthday too. We back-peddled and told him that we had already in fact had daddy's special day because we went on a family hike. Zachary simply said "But we didn't even have cake."'

Thus...the cake.

Golden layer cake with chocolate butter cream frosting. Zack helped stir and pour and it was a great mommy-son bonding moment. The kicker-it didn't taste half bad. Pretty tasty. Okay, so it cost twice as much as a mix cake, and took three times as long to make, but I am now one step closer to fufilling my dream of being an all-star stay-at-home-mommy. Just call me June Cleaver.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

The Next Big Holiday

Zachary is always thinking about what is next. I am sure he gets this from me. We both seem to have a difficult time focusing on the moment. A typical conversation might go something like this:

Zack: What are we doing after quiet time?
Me: We are going to a play date.
Zack: What are we going to do after the play date?
Me: We will have dinner.
Zack: What are we going to do after dinner?
Me: You will take a bath.
Zack: Yeah, but what are we going to do after that?

Recently this trend has moved on to the entire year. Zachary likes to review the upcoming holidays and family birthdays. Which one is next? What about after that?

A couple of days ago we had the following conversation while driving home from a playgroup.

Zachary: Mommy, what holiday is next?
Me: New Years.
Zachary: Then what?
Me: Daddy's birthday.`
Zachary: Then what?
Me: Valentines Day.
Zachary: But you forgot Luther King Day.
Me: Your absolutely right!!
Zachary: What do we do for Luther King Day?
Me: Well... you won't have preschool.
Zachary: Will we have cake?
Me: Um... no.
Zachary: Do I get presents?
Me: No.
Zachary: Why not?
Me: Well, it's just not that type of holiday.
Zachary: Is there a party?
Me: No. Really it is just a day to remember Martin Luther King because he was a very good person. He wanted to make sure everyone was treated fairly.
Zachary: I HATE Luther King Day! He is mean!

Oh sweet Jesus. I suddenly envision being at the grocery store or the playground and Zachary screaming at the top of his lungs "Martin Luther King is STUPID. I Hate him!"

So I embarked on a campaign to educate Zack about Martin Luther King four year old terms. I stressed how hard he worked to make sure that everyone was nice and fair to everyone else. He didn't quite get it, and I didn't know how else to explain it. I thought I lucked out when I discovered an MLK book display at Barnes and Noble (they are merchandising geniuses!). I picked out a board book and pulled Zack up on my lap. The story was pretty weak.

"Martin Luther King was the son of a preacher". (Mommy what's a preacher??) "When he was a child he got very mad because he couldn't go to the best school, and there were some restaurants that wouldn't serve him. He also had to drink from special water fountains for black people" "When he grew up he became a preacher and told a lot of people about a dream that he had where all people were equal, and where his children could go to the best schools." "Martin Luther King made that dream come true. The end".

Huh????? I may have embellished a little bit, but that was pretty much the entire "story" yet it was still out of reach for Zachary. In his four year old world we really haven't approached the topics of inequality and racism. He doesn't know that there was a time in this world where black people were forced to ride at the back of the bus. Granted I know that someday it will be very important for him to learn this sad part of our American history, I feel that it just too early.

A few days ago I wrote about Zack's questions regarding airport security. I didn't want to answer those inquiries either. For better or for worse, I want Zack to stay in the dreamy, magical world of childhood for as long as possible. His biggest problems should be sharing his toys with his brother, and his thoughts should be focused on superheros and robots. He has the rest of his life to worry about reality.

So for the time being I have dropped the topic. I am keeping my fingers crossed that there will be no public mentioning of hating "Luther King", and wondering what the kid will say next.