Times, they are a changin’

I have been thinking about this post for about six weeks, if not longer. I left my job….I just now wanted to type “stable” or “secure”, job, but it was neither of those things. For several months, I was terribly unhappy. The place has been described by many as toxic, and it fits. Still, it was a job where I earned a great living and where I had just spent the past thirteen plus years.

Of course, I didn’t leave it with nothing else to go to. I was offered a new job, across the state. It was a cut in pay. That was scary. The move from the amazing support system was terrifying. However, it was an opportunity to try something, still within a library, quite different than what I’d done. It was the chance to work in a setting that I’d been told was a great place to work. And I was confident in the support system we would be counting on now. I have told everyone that I could not have made the move if it had not been for the friends that surround us. In fact, we had two options of places to stay, and the place we chose has been really great. I am certain the other would have been as well. And the job and environment are much better, much healthier.

With all this, there has been stress. Our commute is long. We do not have most of our things. And the plan we had in place fell apart. An aunt was living in the house, taking care of the animals and making sure the house was ready for showings. She was until she received distressing news.  She needed to leave and take care of herself. This left me with not knowing what to do with my furbabies, on top of worrying about my aunt. A generous friend was able to take Zoe temporarily, but Zoe being Zoe, it became too much. Another friend found temp housing for the cats. I then needed to find a new temporary place for Zoe; I couldn’t leave her in the house all alone, despite having friends come visit her. Again, a friend agreed to take her. I wonder: how have I been so lucky? Even greater, she’ll be near to us, so we can visit her until she can be permanently reunited with us.

003Unfortunately, there has been sadness in all this time as well.  Well, on top of the news my aunt received, there was sadness. One of my cats has sneezed from the time I brought him home. It continually became worse. He began losing weight. I finally decided it was time to euthanize him. Oh my goodness. This was one of the hardest things I have ever done. Just talking to my mom about it a few weeks before, I cried. The moment the vet asked me at the office, I started crying. I didn’t stop until it was over. Karma was so concerned about me being sad, and we tried to explain it to her, but it is hard to know what she understood. Although, she did tell her cousin. I worry that my other cat will be a little lost without his brother. They’ve spent their entire lives together. I know what I did was best for him, but it certainly doesn’t make it better. He was a sweet boy.

Of course, the other sad part is slowly happening. I told Karma I was feeling a little sad about our house. She asked why. I told her it was the first house mommy bought. It was the house I brought her home in. The one she learned to crawl, walk, and talk in. It was our first home as this family. I love my house. I’m practicing not saying home; Karma was confused the first week about where “home” was; I was meaning the place where we’re staying. She was thinking our house, this house. I had to explain on a daily basis, but she does get it now. So, as we’re staying in our “house” this weekend, I am trying really hard not to call it home. But it is our home. I believe it will always be our home, our first home. I also know that wherever we end up, it will become our new home.

Posted in Calvin, change, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Transitions. Extroverting. Exhaustion.

It has been a busy summer. One full of change. And extroverting. All leading to exhaustion. Let’s break it down.

Flamingo

Transitions: My organization is in the midst of a restructuring. We have known about this for  several months. I did not find out where I would be until about a month before I was being moved. I still do not know the extent of my “new” responsibilities. I use the quotes because I have gone from a youth librarian to a branch manager to a ______ …..I don’t actually know. I was moved back to a branch where I worked for several years and thrived. I worked under a great leader. It is closer to home, closer to Karma’s new child care. I can’t complain. Right? Hold that thought.

The same week I started at the new/old location, Karma started at a new child care center. I never did get around to writing my Ode to Erin, but it was very bittersweet. She, no, WE, loved going to Erin’s. I have gushed about her many times, but she deserved the gush. Karma’s first friends were Erin’s children. She learned about being a friend. She can take that now to her new school, as we call it. And she has adapted very well! She is thrilled to see me at the end of the day, but she also has no problem saying good-bye in the morning. Erin summed it up: the girl is full of confidence. I have to thank Erin for some of that, too.

I wish I could take a lesson from Karma. I have adapted to being (back) at the new/old location. I have seen and talked to old patrons. I just feel stifled. I feel beat down. I feel exhausted, but more on exhaustion soon.

Extroverting: As any introvert knows, too much extroverting leads to exhaustion. However, I do not have complaints about the extroversion. It’s all been worth it. For about three weeks straight, we were constantly on the go. It included a trip, for me, to Las Vegas. I have never been to Vegas. I had the opportunity to go, so I took it! Is this a place for introverts? In summer? Not really, but it is a place everyone should experience at least once. Once was enough for me, although I would go back for the right reason.

Felt MansionThe next largest event that forced me into playing an extrovert (but not really) was a friend’s wedding. The wedding was at an old mansion in a small lakeshore town. Friends and I decided to make a weekend of it. It was wonderful! Quality time with amazing friends? Check. A beautiful, fun, laid-back, perfect for this couple wedding?  Check. Time with other friends, people I do not know well, but who I enjoy any time I see them? Check. And simply celebrating this couple, who deserved this day? It was a beautiful way to spend a day, a weekend. On my drive home the day after the wedding, I actually looked forward to having a bit of time before I had to pick up Karma. After about a month of extroverting, I was exhausted!

Exhaustion: I am always tired. I have accepted that until Karma is able to do more for herself or leaves the nest, I will always be tired. It is an exhaustion I have learned to live with. But I am not only an exhausted parent, I am both very satisfied with my life but also emotionally exhausted. My location is understaffed and very busy; there have been days when getting a break is a major feat. I mentioned I thrived at my previous location. Taking the leap to branch managership seemed like a great next step. As the years went by, I began to feel stifled. I did not feel as if I had a strong leader. Autonomy was lost. Having an opinion, asking questions, not being the yes-man has played to my DISadvantage. It is exhausting taking three steps forward and five back. I don’t feel fresh or creative. I feel defeated. Deflated.

There is, of course, the physical exhaustion. From the physicality of work. From lack of sleep, which is often my own fault. From chasing a toddler. From arguing with a toddler! I must constantly remind myself arguing with a two year old is futile. On top of all that, I have had issues with my neck, driving twenty-five minutes each way several times a month for about two months. And constantly go, go, going makes it hard to wind down. restore, refresh. So, although this post may be rambling, it is giving me an outlet. It allows me time to think, put words together, try to form a cohesive thought or two.

I must end with some brags and a realization I had about Karma. My friend who took her Karma and mefor the entire weekend I was at the wedding has a photographer friend who has been dying to photograph her. I’ve seen two shots. I cannot wait to see the rest. A friend of the bride, after I mentioned Karma, looked at me and declared, “You’re Karma’s mom! I always hear about how cute and awesome Karma is.” She’s famous. Patrons who knew me from my time before have asked about her. And one day I did have this realization. As exhausting as this girl can be, both emotionally and physically, she is truly amazing. To me. She makes me laugh daily. She is incredibly smart. Her musical prowess stuns me (she sings along with songs, even if she hasn’t heard the song in months, she names artists!). Her capacity for love is astounding. She recognizes and names people who love and adore her but who do not always see her as often as we’d all like. She has a memory like a trap! I look at her and think about her and cannot believe I am the lucky person that gets to be her mom. So, despite all the exhaustion of all types, I am reminded that I am also one of the luckiest people I know.

Posted in change, friends, karma | 2 Comments

The meaning of beautiful

I need to thank a friend for sharing this blog post. I’ve discussed this topic before, but today, I specifically mean what the dad in this other post was saying. Somewhere along the way, the word “beautiful” seems to have become a negative. When I think of describing something as beautiful, I think of art, music, books!  My description of my most favorite book has always been that it is simply beautiful.

Karma beachI do tell Karma all the time I think she is beautiful. She is. But like the dad in that other post, I express how strong her legs are for jumping and running fast, what good eyes she has for seeing all sorts of (beautiful!) things, how long her fingers are and how great they are at picking up tiny rocks (she really does have killer fine motor skills).  And you should see her flex her muscles now! It is funny and adorable. And beautiful.

From dictionary.reference.com, here is the definition (bold emphasis added by me):

beau·ti·ful

 [byoo-tuh-fuhl]  Show IPA

adjective

1. having beautypossessing qualities that give great pleasure or satisfaction to see,    hear think about,etc.; delighting the senses or mind:   a beautiful dress; a beautiful speech.
2. excellent of its kind: 
a beautiful putt on the seventh hole; The chef served us a beautiful roast of beef.
3.wonderful; very pleasing or satisfying.

So, thank you, Claire, for sharing. I feel no shame in showering Karma with compliments of beauty. My goal in sharing these statements with her is that she will grow up seeing the beauty not necessarily in how she and others look but the beauty in which she and others hold inside and DO and share.
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Mommy wars

Here’s another post that has been playing and writing itself in my head many times over the past several weeks. Mostly because the biggest lesson I have learned since becoming a mom has very little to do with actual mothering and everything to do with moms. What is the lesson? Moms. Are. Mean. To each other.

The catalyst for writing this post came this week after reading an article trashing Alicia Silverstone’s newest book. Now, as a professional/librarian, I do not always enjoy celebrities thinking they will write the next great book on whatever subject, but I choose not to read the book. This author of the article hadn’t even bothered to read this book before judging it and Silverstone. And the topics she focused on were odd. For instance, she talked about how Silverstone writes of giving up refined sugar. Moms in the comments threads are angry over this! Not over the author but Silverstone because sugar “helps” them! Well, that is fine; if it helps them, they should continue consuming it. Most people know and understand that refined sugar is not a healthy option; whether a person decides to cut it out of their diet or not is their decision. I personally say kudos to Silverstone! I would love to give up refined sugar, and I actually really want to try (as I sit here and eat a delicious cookie). I have not read the book. I don’t want to read the book. I have no idea if Silverstone is as judgmental in her delivery as these commenters, but I do commend anyone who has the willpower to give unhealthy things up. From what I know of Silverstone and the book, she is choosing a way to parent that is becoming more and more common. This is what works for her, her husband, and her child. It is their family, their decision. No one elses. Also, I know better than to read the comments, but they always suck me in.

Anyway, I thought I’d share a few of my parenting thoughts. Things  I’d love for anyone reading to keep in mind: I found out, literally, six days before that I was going to be a mother. Six days. I had no time to mentally or physically prepare or nest. If I had had some time, I would have researched some things and perhaps made different decisions. I believe every (or at least most) mothers (and fathers) do what they believe to be best for their child/ren. No one should pass judgment on a decision a family has made because no one knows what led them to that decision.

Formula vs Breastfeeding: At my daughter’s first appointment, I was asked if I was breastfeeding. My gut response was, “No. I didn’t carry her; I am unable to.” The PA explained I could induce lactation. I never had thought about that and in my still reeling mind, it was not something I wanted to do. Had I carried a baby, I certainly would have tried breastfeeding. My body would have been prepared for trying. My body has been through a lot already, and it still had more to endure.  The thought of inducing milk production was not something I wanted to subject it to. Along with this, I knew there were mothers who donated milk. However, since, as I mentioned, I was only given six days (and really not even that as most of those days I was not certain she would be coming home with me), I did not do research on this. My daughter was formula fed from the beginning. She is and always has been extremely healthy. She grew “normally”. She’s smart. She reached milestones on target. She has not suffered from being formula fed.

971032_10151821883739359_314296801_nI realize a huge aspect of breastfeeing is the bonding time. My response to that is I used feeding time to bond still, and I continue to this day. She is 2.5 years old, and I know she should have her milk in a cup at the dinner table, but because our work week time is so precious and valuable to me, we cuddle on the couch and read books while she drinks her milk. Don’t worry. It’s from a cup. The bottle was gone around 18 months. I soak up every drop of that milk, and we continue to bond.

Food and Eating: One area where I did talk to other moms about and did some research on was jar baby food vs making our own baby food. As a shower gift, I was given baby food. I loved that. I appreciated that, and I bought some jars myself. But I did make the decision to make the majority of her food. It was not a difficult task. I receive bi-weekly fruit and veggie orders from an organic company so I often had lots to spare. What better use than making food for her! Yes, it could be time consuming, but I spent time on one of my days off while she was napping to complete it. No time was taken away from her. I found she would try anything, and she preferred the stuff I made over the jars. We did use all the jars, though!

Her child care provider has always been so excellent with diet. The family had begun adjusting their diet to cut out most processed foods so my daughter, three days/week, was exposed to all this wonderful, home cooked, fresh, organic food. I joke she eats better at Miss Erin’s than she does at home! I hope that between the two of us, we have started her on a path of healthy choices. I will admit that we do “slip” and have foods that I don’t like giving to her, but there are times when it was that or nothing (due to situations and not money; thankfully money has never been an issue for us. I am extremely lucky there). I limit those types of foods, and it is part of that me wanting to give up refined sugar and other things goal as well.

Disposable vs Cloth Diapers: Again, because I was given a weeks notice of my pending motherhood, I did no research on cloth diapers. In my mind, they were those rectangular things with pins and plastic covers. I jumped into disposables with no questions asked. When talking with Erin about child care, she offered to do cloth since she was doing cloth with her youngest at the time. Since I didn’t know, I told her no. A few months later, I found out about the “new” cloth diapers, and I was in love! I talked to others, joined a co-op, asked Erin if she was still willing to use them if I switched, and I slowly began buying them. I have no regrets. They’re cute!

But, I also still do disposables. Why? First, I have various family and friends that babysit her on a regular basis. I gave them the option to do cloth or disposable. They all said they’d do whatever, but I discovered, it is a lot of extra work (especially if the poos are not so formed!), and I did not want to put that on them. So with those people, I send disposables. Secondly, she pees a lot at night. A. Lot. She has leaked in a disposable diaper. We do have some cloth diapers that are excellent for night, but quite frankly, they smell really bad, and I can’t imagine how they must feel. And we only had 3, now 2. I use those for naps.

Nanny vs Child Care Center: I worked in child care. I respect the work child care workers do. I have nothing against them. But my work day is 9 hours. The thought of having her in child care for close to 10 hours a day made me uncomfortable. As I was beginning to think about what I would do, I posted that the nanny search was about to begin. As an aside, I chose the word “nanny” because my expectations for a nanny vs a babysitter are different. I expect a nanny to act as not only a child care provider but someone who would help teach my daughter, take her on outings, share experiences with her, invest in her and us, really. Anyway, my friend Josh emailed and said his wife might be interested, and he shared her email with me. Upon meeting her, I knew. It was that gut reaction. My mom was with me, and I told her I didn’t want to even look, but I would, to cover all the bases. As the search started, my sister and I interviewed wonderful candidates. As the fates would have it, none of them worked out. The woman I was going to choose was offered a full time job elsewhere. Karma again? Her name has always been so appropriate! Thankfully, when I contacted Erin, she was still willing and able, and I have never been so happy and confident in a parenting decision. I am tearing up as I type this because I could never have asked for a better person and home for my daughter to grow up in over the past 2 years. And we’re soon parting. But it’s all good, and I know the new experience will be excellent for Karma, and I know that the relationships we’ve formed won’t end; still sad. My next post is already in my head, “Ode to Erin”.

So, I guess the point of this is having seen and read threads and comments on many of these topics as well as others (don’t even get me started on the comment some random mom made about “don’t even think about adopting if you are a working mom because they will not let you! They’re not going to allow you to adopt just so you can stick your kid in child care and have someone else raise it!”. I kid you not. I usually choose to keep quiet. I could NOT keep quiet on that one.), I made the choices I made because they were what worked for me and us. Moms, and I say moms because I can’t recall ever seeing a dad make the mean comments, should respect their cohorts. There is no one way to raise a child or to parent or even to parent each of your own children. Be nice.

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Feminism…or simply human issues

I have wanted to write about this issue for quite some time. It’s the issue on the war against women. I have to admit to not really liking this term, but I understand why it is used. In the past several years, it does seem like there is a war against women and the rights each one has to her own body (and how to take care of it).

Let me back up. I know this post could be polarizing to some. I know some may completely disagree with parts of it and wonder how I can feel this way given my situations. I will try my hardest to explain myself because to me, what I am about to say just makes sense. For me. It will be far from eloquent, bordering on anger and frustration and confusion (for the reader!), but I’ll try my best. I just get so passionate about some of these issues.

Michigan this week singed into law the Michigan Rape Insurance Law. I am not going to pretend I’ve read it or if I had, understood it all, as I’m sure it is full of legalese. What I do know about it, though, is pretty disturbing. If a woman chooses to get an abortion for any reason, including because the pregnancy was due to rape and including if the pregnancy can put the mothers life in danger, insurance will not cover it.

OK. This was passed by legislatures. Government. Representatives from a certain side of the aisle. The side that keeps saying there should be LESS government, but this side of the aisle is often the side creating bills and laws and whatever else that shoves government into our faces. I’ll step off THAT soapbox now.

Back to this law. I am extremely lucky in that I have never been in any type of situation that has forced me to make the decision to continue a pregnancy or end one. I have, however, always been pro-choice. This is not to say I think it should be used as a form of birth control. I don’t think any pro-choice humans believe that. I just firmly believe it is a woman’s choice, especially if the woman WAS raped or if her life IS in danger. Ask yourself, would you want to carry a child conceived out of hate and control and violence and violation? I can honestly say I do not know, god forbid, had I ever been pregnant when I was not expecting it, I would have had an abortion. I am pretty certain, in fact, that I probably would NOT have chosen that option. But it would have been MY choice. Not some old man telling me I could not, even though it is my body.

This, I understand is where some of you might say things like, but if Karma’s birth mom had chosen abortion, you wouldn’t have her. I realize that. And I thank god every day she made the choice to carry her, loved her enough to know she wasn’t the best mother for her, and sacrificed knowing this amazing human in person (she knows her through me and what I share with her). I will never be able to thank her enough for trusting me with her baby. Ever. I am the luckiest person in the world. But it was her choice to make. No one else’s.

The other issue is about birth control itself, the actual use of birth control. And how many politicians, again the ones demanding LESS government, are opposed to it being covered under insurance or companies being “forced” to have it covered even if they disagree with it. OK, first of all, my employer has no right to tell me what kind of medication I can and cannot take or what type of birth control I can use/practice. The ACA does not state that because companies have to offer it that the employers have to force their employees to use it or that the employees have to use it. There are services in my insurance that I do not use! Imagine that!

Anyway, so many have ranted about how if we make or keep birth control insurable, women will go wild and have copious amounts of sex! They’ll be sluts! They won’t get pregnant (because no one on birth control ever got pregnant!) so they can just walk up to any stranger and bang him right there on the spot! Because, let’s face, that’s why women take birth control. So, they can have sex with every man they meet….wait. Who are they having sex with again? Certainly not other women because, well, that would also be immoral. With men? Hmmm…and this is ok with the man? I mean, the men can go around having copious amounts of sex, and it is ok? He’s not a slut? I’m confused…

OK, really I am not. Obviously. Unless you don’t know my sarcasm. On to my point. If a woman wants to take birth control for, well, birth control. Who cares. Be thankful. She will feel good. Healthy. Alive. She’ll have. Fun. You know, folks, sex is fun for women, too. Sluts.

But I further digress, this is the topic I am all floopy on because I am extremely passionate about it. Birth control is a huge issue for me. And not for birth control purposes. I was not a “slut”. FAR from it. I do not believe that women who have many partners are sluts. Go. Have. Sex. Enjoy! I wish I was having some myself! When I was diagnosed with endometriosis, I was immediately put on birth control. Why? Because, aside from being pregnant, birth control is about the only other way to treat it. For the first few years, my surgeon provided me pills. For absolutely free. She knew I was a college student, with no insurance, and no money. She gave me free pills for my health. Literally. After she stopped, I paid every month. Not a fun monthly expense to have. I often went to places similar to Planned Parenthood to get them for free or cheaper. When I finally had good insurance, I had to send a letter from my doctor to my carrier stating why I was using them. Yes. I really had to do that. After that, I did only have to make the co-pay. I eventually switched to shots, and they too were partially covered. But over the years, I spent hundreds if not thousands on some type of birth control. Because I had to or risk more cysts and surgeries. Pregnancy from 21 on was not much of an option. Or a desire.

After my hysterectomy, I developed a bleeding cyst. I had insisted we keep the ovaries due to the risks of taking them. Within three months post op, this cyst developed, and when I say it was painful, I am not exaggerating. At times, it was excruciating. I had to go back on a pill. When these politicians say birth control is affordable, they have no idea what they are talking about. Yes. It can be affordable, but I was a woman who had a hysterectomy who had to go back on birth control. The cost? With my insurance it was $40/month. THAT WAS WITH MY INSURANCE. AND IT WAS THE GENERIC!!! So, tell me how this is affordable for a woman who makes minimum wage, with no insurance? Again I was lucky. I had a job that paid me enough to pay this.

So, now I step away from that soapbox that kept popping up under my feet.  The bottom line is no one has any right to tell a woman she cannot have an abortion. No one has the right to tell a woman her birth control will not be covered under her insurance. No one needs to know the reasons for her choosing either of these options either, except the people she chooses to tell.

Posted in Feminism, Uncategorized | 1 Comment

It’s been a long, cold winter

That is a metaphorical as well as literal statement. I cannot remember a winter as long, cold, and snowy as this. I’m sure I have experienced one. I do recall my last winter at college. It was cold. Bitter. But not like this. And I don’t do cold well.

It has also been cold in other ways. In particular, the past few weeks have been down right frigid. It began on a Thursday when I found out a staff member was being laid off. Two short days later, I found out another friend, whose wife is also my friend (he was my friend through her) died. A few more days later, I learned a total of 18 people in my organization were being laid off. Finally, the next week, I learned my current job was being modified and not in a way I am pleased about (and not in a way I wish to continue). I have other options within the organization which I am pursuing. This is the small light at the end of this dark tunnel that I am grasping, stretching towards.

The one aspect of all this is I have somehow found the strength to speak up about things.  When I learned about the death, I was reminded life is extremely short. Much to short to hang on to anger and fear. I reached out to someone with some success. I wasn’t needing full disclosure or recovery, just to let this person know how I felt. On a dating site, one man had sent me a message the day I found out about my friend dying. I did not answer him. I didn’t even check this account for several days. I then received another email from him with a very, as I put it to him, jackass statement. I told him I had just had a really rotten week. He replied again in a jackass way. So, I spelled out to him why I hadn’t jumped at his email. I realized none of this was his business, but I couldn’t take his apathy and judgment and told him so in that email. He apologized. While in a meeting about the layoffs, I *may* have been outspoken. Not hugely outspoken, and I don’t believe it was in a negative way, just in a shocked, sad, need to try and understand kind of way. The next day I further explained myself, and the world didn’t end.

I don’t know that a year ago or five years ago I would have spoken up on any of thes issues. I think I would have sat quietly, accepted everything that was thrown at me and then later wondered “what if…”. So there is another light I am clinging to, this new found courage. And I realize many others are having a worse year than I. But life is short, and I do like that I am attempting to live it more openly.

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Happy New Year

It is almost 10 pm on New Year’s Eve, and I am already in my pajamas, mostly ready for bed. Reading my facebook posts, it doesn’t seem I am entirely alone; quite a few friends/family seem to be staying in. I had an offer to hang out with one of my sisters and her family. I have been telling her for almost a week that I didn’t really care, that I’d probably just stay home. Up until this evening, I still was uncertain, but after running to the store and watching the snow fall, I decided I did not want to leave the house again.

I will admit part of the reason is because I have just been feeling a little sad.  I enjoyed my holidays with my family. It is always slightly chaotic but always fun, and I love spending the time with them. This year, I just left feeling a little down, wishing I was not alone. Of course, I LOVE sharing them with Karma, more than anyone, but the idea of having our own little family, traditional family, is really something I’ve discovered I want.

A friend posted on her facebook asking to tell her the best three things that happened throughout the year.  For me, one was finally being a tourist in NYC. I cannot wait to go back and see even more. Another was continuing to be amazed by Karma. Every day there is something new she says or does. I am in awe of her and her personality and stubbornness and silliness even her naughtiness! She truly is the love of my life, but the third was about falling in love. I choose to focus on the good part of falling rather than the part where it wasn’t returned and was short lived. It IS what made me realize I do desire a (somewhat) traditional family.

I don’t generally make new years resolutions. I try to set goals for myself instead or continue to work on something I have already been focusing on. I realize this sounds like the same thing, but I really don’t look at it that way. I haven’t yet figured out what I want to work on in the new year. I’ve had many happy moments this year, and I do want to hold onto those moments and expand on them. Even as I sit here typing this, I cannot commit to any goals. My main goal in life is to ensure Karma is happy and healthy so maintaining those happy moments is extremely important.  So, I guess I figured out what I need to do for 2014.

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