Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Photo Essay of a Work-Outside-of-the-Home-Mom

I'm not going to lie, times have been tough lately. Dave got a job in Frankfort - over an hour a way. Yay for the job! Boo for the commute. I work in Bullitt County, anywhere from half an hour to 45 minutes (even an hour) away, depending on traffic. We have two kids who go to two different schools to drop off and pick up. One of those kids sees an occupational therapist every Thursday and goes to Girl Scouts every other Tuesday and has swim lessons every Sunday.

Even on days when I'm not whisking Stella off to an after-school activity, my afternoons are NUTS. I've always been good at multi-tasking, every teacher has to be, but this is IN-FREAKING-SANE. Ridiculous. Really.

Wednesdays are days I relish. No after-school activities, no after-work meetings. I allow myself to leave work around 3:30pm on Wednesdays, pick up my kids, come on home, and chill for a bit. But that's not quite how today worked out.

First off, Stella has a "Family Art Project" due this week. These pop up once a month, usually on a holiday theme, and I suppose they are fun for families that have at least one parent who isn't working an insane schedule. For us, they usually end up causing us frustration and headaches when we look at the calendar and realize the blasted thing is due the next day. This time, it's a leprechaun trap for St. Patrick's Day. After schlepping 500 bags (containing all my pump equipment plus Sam's stuff from school plus Stella's stuff from school plus MY stuff from school) and Sam in his carrier into the house, I quickly got Stella set up to work on her trap. Keep in mind with this and all photographs two things: 1. I never claimed to be a decent photographer. 2. I only had access to my ancient and broken iPhone at the time.

At first, it seemed that Sam would be cooperative and hang out in the exersaucer.

Alas, this is usually his witching hour. Because I pick him up right when he'd normally want a nap, and because he can't seem to get that nap unless the circumstances are perfect, there comes a time - usually when I'm helping Stella with homework or trying to get dinner on the table - that he wants to be picked up and walked around.

I tried to distract him with food, something that usually works well in our family. I gave him a peeled pear to hold and suck and a bowl of organic baby oatmeal to eat with a spoon. We do a mixture of hippy baby led weaning (letting him eat hold foods with his own hands) and old-school spooned mushy foods because he has a crazy appetite and doesn't like the subtlety of sucking on foods. Yet he likes the control of holding it in his hands. He's stubborn. Like his parents.

All the while Stella was working on that trap, and doing a great job. I had to open jars of paint for her, and help her clean her paint brush, and hot glue something or another here or there. But for a brief moment, it seemed it would all work out OK.


Sam was done. DONE. He wanted to be picked up at that instant. And so I did. Getting food all over both of us. At this point, the exhaustion of the day was just too much for me. Sam woke up around 2:30am and never really settled back down. I went to work at 6:45am, managing 120 kids at the height of their puberty all day, with barely a moment to eat or use the restroom. I'd battled traffic to pick up my two kids from their two different schools, and I'd rushed right into the house to get started on a kindergarten art project and feed a baby. I. WAS. OVER. IT.

Stella, seemingly oblivious to the drama that just went down with Sam, was still begging for my help with her rainbow. But I know my limits, or least I'm trying to know and honor them, so I told her we needed to take a little TV break. And she was all too happy to oblige.

"Jake and the Neverland Pirates." Our go-to. Sam nursed a little bit, but fussed a lot more. I got him Mister Monkey, his pacifier/lovey, and he started to doze. I took a deep breath. I let go of my frustration, and started to see the situation for what it was. We were all tired. We were all over-worked. We all needed a break. And I was happy to be with my babies.

Stella snapped a silly picture of me in the sunlight, I snapped a silly photo of her. Then I looked down, and saw Sam was passed out.

Dave came home, and I was certain I could hear angels singing. It was only 6:30pm, but when Sam started to stir again, I could tell he was ready for bed. I know, I know. 6:30pm is crazy, but if I don't put him to bed then, he just screams until I do. And the longer I wait, the harder it is to get him to settle down. But when I tried to change his diaper, he kept flipping over and fussing like crazy. And I was just too bleeping tired. So Dave came and rescued me, and Stella and I finished her leprechaun trap.

I stood and supervised Stella while scarfing down the hamburger and fries Dave managed to cook up in ten minutes before he took over Sam duty. Then I made Stella at least attempt to eat her dinner, despite the fact that it wasn't plain pasta or black bean quesadillas - the only two dinners she wants to eat these days. 

Here's the finished product. Keep in mind that, in addition to NOT being a photographer, I also don't claim to be crafty:

That's a pot of gold and jewels under a rainbow, in case you can't tell.

Dave was a saint and got both kids in bed for me tonight, so I could deprogram the only way I know how: with a Guiness and some blogging.

I am so grateful for my job and my kids. But I'm not going to lie. Trying to juggle time for my babies with an out-of-town job, a job that has no down-time and a huge emotional investment, all while my spouse also works out of town - it's a bit much. I don't always handle it well.

But I did OK today. Not great. Definitely not terrible. OK. And I'm learning to be OK with OK. I think.

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