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Archive for the ‘work’ Category

Well, I haven’t been blogging as much as I have in the past.  If you want to know why…it’s because I joined my best friend from law school, Julie, and started blogging with her.  We’ve got this great blog/website:

mommyesquire.com

“We’re Moms.  We’re Lawyers.  We’re Your In-house Counsel.”

Check us out and see what the fuss is all about.  It’s fun and informative.  We’re taking your issues and offering free advice.  We’re reviewing everything from lip balm to overnight diapers.

Why?  Because we can.

What makes us think we are experts?  We don’t know.  Does having six kids between us count?  How about two undergraduate degrees, two law degrees, and one pageant title?

Who are we?

Julie - Creator of mommyesquire.com

Julie - Creator of mommyesquire.com

This is Julie:

Creator of mommyesquire.com
Working mom
Mother of three
Likes: reading, jogging, cooking, traveling, hiding from her children
Dislikes: cleaning, incorrect grammar, people who dress their little girls like skanks
Dreamed of being a Court TV anchor after law school
Voted “Most Likely to Achieve”…or should have been

Likes…no, loves…wine

Kim: Co-creator of mommyesquire.com

Kim: Co-creator of mommyesquire.com

This is Kim:

Co-creator of mommyesquire.com
Stay at home mom
Mother of three boys
Likes: reading, sewing, shopping, making her kids push her on the tire swing
Dislikes: people who don’t write thank you notes, sassy children, the smell of Polo cologne
Dreamed of being a non-profit lawyer and “helping people”….(yeah, now I’m in-house counsel to three very indigent clients).
Voted most likely to wear pink to court.
Has a raging case of ADHD…and a vegetarian.

So, come visit us at mommyesquire.com and have a laugh…all at our expense.  Enjoy!

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My husband and I have had a very full social calendar lately.   Don’t immediately think that we are really into the “social scene.”  I mean that we’ve had soccer games, practices, church activities….and a few events that have NOT involved our children.

We’ve enjoyed our “adult outings” to various activities.  It requires me to get dressed in something other than gym shorts and yoga pants.  I have to wear makeup, etc.  We get a babysitter and generally have a good time.  However, I’ve noticed that the last three years as a stay-at-home mom have done a real number on my vocabulary and conversation skills.

For instance, this weekend I found myself involved in a conversation with another adult about art.  The artist was a very interesting person and great conversationalist.  I couldn’t believe it when asking him about his art, I actually asked him, “So where do you hang your… stuff?”  What I meant to ask was, “Where is your art on display?”  Definitely not… “Where do you hang your stuff?”

“Stuff?”  My goodness!  Could I not have said the word, “art”?  Or “paintings”?

Sunday evening at an Easter Egg Hunt, I found myself talking with a very interesting woman whose business is in finance and we were conversing about the state of Wall Street.  She said, “The state of our economy is really a concern for most people.  I think most people are really freaked out and don’t want to invest….blah, blah, blah.”  Suddenly, the woman’s voice sounded like the teacher in A Charlie Brown Christmas (you know…”mwah, mwah, mwah, mwah”).   Frankly, I was so busy watching my three boys out of the corner of my eye that I only heard the word, “freaked.”   I replied, “Yeah, I know what you mean about being freaked out.  The Yo Gabba Gabba guy really freaks me out.”

She walked away.

I couldn’t help it.  All I could concentrate on was the sight of  all three of my rowdy sons clinging to the  poor guy whose job it was to dress up like the Easter Bunny.  By the time I got Will and Jack off the Easter Bunny’s back and George off his leg, I realized that I had not responded very appropriately to the conversation that I was just “involved” in.  If that’s what you call it.

I certainly don’t have this “problem” with my friends.  Or maybe I’m not so self conscious while  in their company.  Actually, we talk about all kinds of interesting things.  I don’t censor myself when I’m with them or my family.  However, put me in a room with people who actually go to jobs every day and have a variety of hobbies and activities that don’t require schlepping kids in a minivan all day….and I’m utterly brain dead.

I think I’m suffering from “Mommy speak.”  Mommy speak is when you know all the words to “The Wheels on the Bus,”  but couldn’t carry on a conversation about the local music scene.  It is when you can tell someone about non-staining finger paints, but can’t remember who painted the The Last Supper (It’s Di Vinci, right?).   Mommy speak also enables you to translate on behalf of any toddler or baby.  I can tell you what my one year old is saying.  When he says, “Fyes!”  I know he is saying “Fries,”  as in french fries (this usually happens when we pass a McDonald’s).  I can tell you what any toddler is saying when they say “Poo,”  “Doo,” or “Wee Wee.” Because of this thing, Mommy speak, I am now in the habit of referring to the restroom as the “Potty.”  You know what I’m talking about….surely?  If you don’t have this problem….well, more power to you.

I mean it.

Really.

Mommy speak can sneak up on you.  It can impair your ability to carry on a full conversation.  It impairs your memory and comprehension skills.  I am definitely sure of this.  Some of this is due, in part, to “Momnesia”…or also known as “Mommy Brain.”  I do believe that when you have children, most of us lose precious brain cells…by the butt load.  Don’t even get me started on what happens to your attention span.  Since having children, I am convinced that my three year old has a longer attention span than I do.

I know this won’t last forever.  One day, I will be able to carry on a brilliant conversation.

I’m just scared it will only be after my children leave for college.

Yo gabba gabba

I said to her, "Yeah, the Yo Gabba Gabba guy really freaks me out."

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Did June ever say No?

Did June ever say "No"?

I just can’t say “NO.”  I guess I’m just easy.

Well, that sounds really bad.  What I mean is that I feel compelled to say “Yes” when someone asks me to do something. Whether it is volunteering for a silent auction  or making 32 sugar cookies shaped like hearts for my other son’s Valentines Day party at school…I can’t help myself.  I always say “Yes.”

Deep down I know I feel like I need to have my calendar as busy as possible so that no one can say that I am lazy.  With three little boys, all age five and under, who could possibly say that I am lazy, right?  Well, I was raised to believe that women who stayed at home instead of working forty hour work weeks were “ladies of leisure.”  My mother worked full time and was engaged in full combat battle of the “mommy wars.”  There was no word so dirty as “housewife” in my household.  June Cleaver, Donna Reed and Carol Brady were considered a bad influence on a generation of women.

And here I am…no longer a practicing attorney….now I am the dreaded…

h-o-u-s-e-w-i-f-e

Call me a stay-at-home mom, domestic engineer, housewife…whatever.  We can spruce up the title, but it is what it is.

So, to compensate for my new title since leaving the workplace, I try to stay as “involved” as possible.  This is what I had planned, right?  I wanted to be the mom who makes homemade cupcakes from scratch for school parties instead of store bought cupcakes.  I was determined to make my sons’ Halloween costumes, go to story time at the library, take trips to the children’s museum.  I wanted to be busy and involved.  What I wasn’t prepared for was the onslaught of requests…from everyone.  I didn’t know that when people got wind that I was a stay-at-home mom, they thought that I would have all this time on my hands.  I became a volunteer magnet.

Can you substitute for the preschool?  Are you available to teach choir?  Can you sew my child’s Halloween costume?  Will you make a paper mache volcano for the project?  Do you mind making 42 chocolate covered strawberries for the class party?  Do you mind babysitting my sick child?  Can you make our meeting?  Will you smock my daughter’s Easter dress?  Will you facilitate our group?  Can you fill in for me?  Will you chair this event? Can you do the Thursday morning group?  Will you return this to the store for me?  Blah, blah, blah!

The requests do not seem to end.

I am not a martyr.  I admit that I like to stay busy, so I usually don’t mind doing most of what I am asked.  However, I do think that most people assume way too much about stay-at-home moms.  It is assumed that because I am at home, that I couldn’t possibly be as busy as I would be if I worked outside the home.  Let me clarify:  Because I am not working outside the home does not mean that I am not working.  Period.   I work very hard, thank you.   Even if I didn’t volunteer my time for a variety of things, I would still be extremely busy.  Here are a few reasons why I am busy…at home:

I have a three year old that is struggling with potty training.  That alone takes most of my patience.  I hold my breath when we go out the door and into the van while he is in his “big boy underwear.”  Things were so much simpler when he wore a pull-up.  Now, we may have two pit stops from our door to his preschool….a mere five miles down the road. The ten minute car ride now takes thirty minutes.  Don’t get me started on how he feels the need to use the bathroom in the great outdoors.

I have a nineteen month old that is no longer content to be “strapped in”…to a stroller, a car seat, etc.  He wants to run free.  This isn’t happening while we are out and about.  At least not while I’ve got to keep an eye on my two oldest children.  Therefore, I (and everyone within a five mile radius) must endure screaming from a child secured to an umbrella stroller.  It’s the only way I get things done and I can’t bring myself to use a child harness.  Those things just look like leashes to me.  Plus, he is strong.  Very strong.  Walking an enormous English Mastiff down the sidewalk would be easier.

I have a five year old that has no fear.  Self confidence is one thing, but this child likes to run and jump and leap…you get the picture.  I must keep one hand on him at all times.  Otherwise, I’m back in the ER with blood and stitches.  For some reason, he thinks the big red cement balls outside of Target would be perfect to run and jump on top of.  For this reason, I try to avoid Target when my two oldest sons are in tow.  Not good.

Mental note to self:  Never, ever, ever let my sons watch Jackass.

What I am trying to get at is that I have my hands full.  I didn’t even mention housework, laundry, running errands, chauffering children, attending practices, church events, etc.  If someone thinks I’m lazy then so be it.  So, I’ve decided that I will not sign up for everything that is put in front of me without giving it some serious thought.  I’ve just been way too cavalier in filling up my calendar.   The main thing is that I’ve got to stop feeling like a sell-out for staying at home to raise my children.  I know I’m not the only one who feels this way.  Working at home is working.  Plain and simple.

I’m no lady of leisure.  I’m busy with or without all of my commitments.  I just wonder if June Cleaver ever felt frazzled?   Did she ever say “No” to the PTA when they asked her to chair the school benefit?  Did June ever buy Little Debbie snack cakes instead of making brownies from scratch?  Did June ever take off those pearls?  Who knows.  What I know is that I work…it’s just work within the four walls of my home.  There is no crime in thinning out my calendar and letting go of some of the madness….I think.


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Warning:  This is not a rant.  My blog is supposed to be fun, observational humor about life as an ex-professional turned stay-at-home mom.  This entry is not some serious commentary on gender relations or anything of the sort.  With this caveat, I will continue…

I don’t understand why most women feel the need to ask for permission instead of forging ahead and doing what they feel must be done.  I know that this is a generalization, but bare with me.  I have never really given this idea much thought until the other day when I advised a close friend.  I told her, “You know…it’s really easier to ask for forgiveness later than ask for permission first.”

This advice just came pouring out of my mouth like I had always known it to be true.  I think my husband told this to me one time and I filed it away, only to retrieve it when the occasion presented itself.

My friend, Martha,  told me that she did not like one of her colleagues.  Martha is a very bright, funny, beautiful woman who is extremely capable …and I think …is highly qualified for the job that she is currently in.   Everyone likes Martha and Martha likes everyone.  I knew there was a problem when she said this to me.  Martha and I have lunch and our kids play together.  While on a play date, she told me that she is in the unique position, as a business owner, that she really doesn’t have to report to anyone.  Martha is autonomous as a franchise owner of a small retail store.   I’ve been in Martha’s store and it is an extremely well-run business.  Martha is great doing what she does, even in this poor economy.

As a franchise owner, Martha could really do as she wishes, but she confessed the need to report to someone…anyone.   Unfortunately, Martha needlessly asked her franchise manager to look over some of her advertising expenditures.  Now, Martha has set an unnecessary precedent.  The franchise manager now wants to exert more control where none was needed…or wanted.  As we sat there watching our kids play, I could relate.

It wasn’t that long ago that I practiced law.  There were days that I had to “find work” to do.  It’s not that lawyering leaves you with leisure time on your hands.  It’s just that you are in a strange position that you must chart out what steps to take to achieve an end result.  Some days are busier than others.  For me, I was accustomed to having every minute of my day planned for me prior to law school.

I spent six years as a special education teacher before going to law school.  I was used to having every minute planned…including my bathroom breaks.  As a teacher, you don’t have lunch hours, at least you don’t count the time you are hunched over a lunch tray sitting at a table watching your students eat while you scarf down mystery meat and a roll. When I taught, I had to ask permission for each penny I spent on my class, if I could swap out bus duty, whether or not I could take a sick day, and if someone could watch my class for five minutes while I went to the bathroom.  Asking permission was mandatory, not a courtesy.  Teaching is still a female dominated profession.  I wonder if this makes a difference….

In the law and other male dominated professions, no one really thinks to ask permission.  Once I entered the field of law, I remember feeling like I needed to tell someone where I was going at lunch and the need to only be gone for exactly sixty minutes.  I let my secretary know if I would be gone for twenty minutes down to the courthouse or if I needed to spend ten dollars on a package of legal pads.  Finally, my secretary told me one day that it wasn’t really necessary to tell her every move that I was making.  She was appreciative that I was so diligent and that I had such a great work ethic, but she felt she needed to “let me off the hook.”  After that, I felt lost.  I called my husband (also a lawyer) at his office and whispered into the phone, “They don’t care where I am going or what I spend!  What’s with that?”  I remember him laughing and saying, “You’re a friggin’ lawyer, for Pete’s sake.”  Oh, yeah.

Why is it so hard for women to just act…instead of seeking permission first?  I don’t know the answer to that.  I’ve always thought of myself as someone who is slightly rebellious to start with.  I have ADHD (which was diagnosed in law school, although I always knew it deep down) and have the natural tendency to act first…then apologize later.  However, it appears that my hard wiring as a female keeps some of my ADHD symptoms in check.   I’m just not sure.

I think the permission thing, for me, goes back to experiences that I have had working for female bosses.  I have had one good experience and several “not so good” experiences.  The bosses that are the most difficult to work for are the ones who feel it is their job to micro-manage.  I call these people “hall monitors.”  Almost every female boss that I’ve had has been a “hall monitor.”  (again…excuse the generalization…in my case…this is totally true)  Rarely, have I known a male “hall monitor.”

“Hall monitors” were those people in school that loved to tattle and obey the rules at all costs.  “Hall monitors” are always chosen to “watch the class” while the teacher steps out.  I was never a “hall monitor.”  I despise “hall monitors.”  If your job is one that requires a certain level of autonomy, working with a “hall monitor” can severely inhibit your ability to do your job effectively.  Plus, you spend an inordinate amount of time wanting to punch them in the face…or that may just be me.

I remember one time that I worked for a “hall monitor.”  I was in a unique position that I didn’t need to report to anyone, but I made the fatal mistake of asking, needlessly, for permission from my “hall monitor” superior.  This set things in motion where from then on, I was expected to run every decision by the “hall monitor.”  My creativity and my autonomy was zapped.

I began to think about permission, accountability, and autonomy.  Would a man in my position so long ago have asked for permission where none was needed?  Probably not.  Would it have been expected for a male executive to even go to his superior and get advice or ask for some sort of accountability?  I really doubt it.

In the wake of these questions, I just don’t think we, as women, should always assume permission is needed…especially when no one has asked for it in the first place.   This is what men do.  Why should it be any different?

Like most women, I seek permission before I do certain things instead of just doing it….”it” being a number of things.  Well, I’m over “it.”  Yes, I’m not in the workplace right now, but eventually I will return.  I don’t think this is a phenomena exclusive to the workplace, either.

It’s just something I’ve been pondering.  It makes my blood boil and gets me fired up.  Like I’ve said…maybe it’s just my nature..my personality.

I’ve decided one thing:  I don’t need “no stinkin’ permission any more!”  Who’s with me?!

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