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Archive for the ‘crazy job’ Category

I’ve begun to think about a short story based on my recent joy in purchasing winter coats in the most reasonable way ever – online at Land’s End. There is not much more to write about buying a coat for a child on-line at Land’s End. I did it and it’s done. Amen. But that is not the way I have traditionally purchased (or come by) winter coats.

Because of money. And so really, the short story I’m outlining is about money and mothering. The first thing I ever wrote about money came out of my brain whole my junior year in high school while I was reading Virginia Woolf. For some reason it became incredibly clear to me right then, sitting at a desk more appropriately sized for an 8-year-old, staring at the gigantic word processor my dad had bought me (some sort of type-writer with a screen that looked like it could swallow me), that it would be nearly impossible to “do better” than my parents had. I called my sister at college and she agreed, so I figured it must be true. The mere fact that I got a hold of her on the hallway phone for her floor was like some sort of sign from the gods that I was onto something (much good may it do me, as they say)

Both my parents were in the first generation of their families to go to college. Both came from truly working class backgrounds. Both of them had advanced degrees & professional jobs in Manhattan. It seemed unlikely I could even duplicate such a leap, let alone overtake it. I wrote a paper and did not mention the word money or class. I had no idea what I was writing about but it hit me – the urgent impossibility of my position being educated at prep school in New York, sent off to college and absolutely bewildered about what I was going to do for my life (code for earn money, I think – the 17 year old brain perhaps fuzzy on this point.)

This proved to me even more true when I graduated college during a tiny recession that by today’s standards does not rate. I was working, married and thinking about all of these things – and also none of them because I was working so much for not so much money, as was my spouse – and then we had a baby and so I was home to think about them all day long. All day – and some of the nights too.

My breastfed child did not enjoy me holding a book while I nursed. He repeatedly swatted at it. It was just this object in his peripheral vision to be grabbed, I suppose. So I did not read but rather thought about things. Does anyone else have a child old enough to remember breastfeeding in the years before streaming video and podcasts? My youngest child was breastfeed to podcasts and streaming npr, netflix – and even had the tenderness to not swat at books or magazines while they were in my hands.

That many years later, with children off at school and my career taking some pleasant turns, I am here pondering NaNoWriMo, sketching out this story & wondering if there is quite enough there for a novel. I don’t want to start writing until I know. Because two years ago, when I last attempted the athletic feat that is NaNoWriMo, I was without an idea at the start. I had such a long ramp up period, that I never could have finished. I also had a three-year old and we all know how crazy they are.

What do you think about mothering and money? And what do you think I should do about the agony of National Novel Writing Month? What are you going to do? Also, one more thing about the Land’s End coats – they have grow with me sleeves. Why did I not invent that when I was 17 or home breastfeeding a baby who rejected novel-reading?

*PS Land’s End did not pay for this post.

Sadly.

– Maybe –

Never mind, I like it better this way:

The coats are great. My thoughts are my own.

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Just like that I’m working. A month ago I was feel rather gloomy about working  here in Northampton. I couldn’t quite find my feet despite all my skills, experience and training.  We moved. It was hard to start over. It felt for a while like my work didn’t come with the rest of our stuff. What turned the tide? Social media, prayer and hunger most likely.

So just like that, I’m moderately busy. The more work you have, the more work you get – and it must come from clients. There is no one like a satisfied client to send more business along.  I’m not quite as busy as I’d like to be, but busy enough considering that like most working moms I don’t have enough affordable, quality childcare and we are running full speed into the Holiday Season. As an aside,  we generally call it the Season of Croup for lo, as long as we have been parents (11 Christmas this year), there hath been croup at the holidays. We inevitably end up with someone sleeping between us with the windows open to the cold New England breeze in dark December because nothing is better for a swollen larynx than your own mothering’s teeth chattering as you sleep on her chest.

I find myself leaning into next fall as I scramble to keep my work life flowing with a 4-year-old in tow. He is in very part-time preschool. It is very nice and very affordable. The only three moves we can make are

1. Very unaffordable preschool/daycare

2. Very not nice daycare

3. Wait it out til all day public Kindergarten.

We are waiting it out. He is in the school’s preschool program. He will be happy at the Kindergarten is 10 months away. Summer will be a whole different animal – every working mother stares that beast down pretty hard right at the end of February break.Next September everyone will get on that bus and stay there til 3 – though 4 would be better.

Waiting it out has been our family policy on the day care conundrum though for 11 Christmases now we have doubted and reevaluated that decision. We’ve always ended up picking high quality, affordable part-time care. We are not alone in our confusion. I had a chance to hear Sharon Lerner, author of The War on Moms, spoke this morning at the MotherWoman breakfast here in Northampton. I learned that 62% of mothers report wanting to work part-time and 26% are actually working part-time. This means 36% of women are working way more or way less than they want to be working. We aren’t getting enough help here. I feel it everyday. I’m aiming for the 26% mark. It’s a teeny bulls-eye to shoot for from a great distance.

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I owe you these:

Moving Out: the short series.

My life in my old apartment was hectically busy. This is best represented by this photo taken from the foot of my bed. I will not miss my room being grand central station. Those are two of the 7 doors that were in the master bedroom of our old apartment – yes, 7! Two to closets, one to the porch, one to the bathroom, one to the hallway and one each to each kid’s room. No wonder I almost lost my mind in there. Is it behind door number 3? Also, just imagine, this is my bedroom, please consider the craziness that was the more public parts of our apartment…

And this is Little Bear helping with all the packing….or something.

We will miss the lovely frog that Matt painted on LP’s wall. It was a very friendly frog and had a dragonfly as a friend; I understand they have been painted over, I don’t know what color. I hope they didn’t suffer. Soon LP will have road signs up in his room. I’ll explain later…

Here is the Thinker very helpfully trying to pack the baby…actually I had just cleaned the under the bed drawer out and they had found Sam the alien had been there for ages and ages and “how was your trip, Sam the alien?” Their great-grandmother got him by sending away for

it from the back of a cereal box…they have no idea how rare this behavior is in an adult. I’m sure they think all of us are just sending away for the stuff on the back of the cereal box all the time. That drawer is on wheels. I’m pretty sure I shouldn’t be letting the baby play in something like that. I’m pretty sure the baby is my third boy, so I forget stuff like that sometimes.

And the final piece in our “on moving out” series, Little Puppy, in a marked change from his usual medium, expresses his feelings about the packing process, particularly the loading up of the Pakrat on the front lawn. Notice both the order (3 square blocks stacked) and the chaos (upside down stool – why is that car there?). The mood is cheerful, whimsical and perhaps even a bit teasing (look grown-ups, why all the fuss? I can turn my world upside down during what’s supposed to be my nap time, why are you stressing about this, how do you say “move”?!) The prominence of the sippy cup speaks to the obvious truth that his needs come first. His younger brother lovey turtle tossed aside, yet still available, yes, okay, we’ll take care of him too.

Coming soon, moving in….

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by the dread of moving, by fear of things working out okay with our finances, by confusion about where to put our PackRat container, by indecision about whether I want the school to bring back the dumpster or not because I have a horridly old washing machine that needs to go into a dumpster, by my fear that we haven’t planned this well, won’t have enough help, boxed or packing paper, by anxiety that my client will go into labor on the only day I can’t find a babysitter for my kids, by the great wide unknown of LP sleeping in a bed next week, by the fact that this bed is in a storage locker 10 minutes away, but we have no idea how we’ll get it home.

Home.

This is what I’m like when my home unravels and isn’t a proper home. The home we’ve had these last few years has been a combination of public and private space, neither a rental nor private home, a space whose peace can be turned upside down in a moment’s notice – and whose peace I have now disrupted permanently. I’ve unsettled every bit of dust in this place and it’s un-rooting me – and my children – at the core. Every dust mite floats, my keys, wallet, sunglasses in some uncontrolled telekinesis escape their places. We look forward to a week of transition in a home of friends and then creating a new place to call home, moving into a home to rent for a while.
This is the very first time in my life I have wanted to own a home, to be done with the shifting of things from one spot to another; this is the first time I’ve needed that stability to come from the outside – and we’re not there yet – Our next home will not be owned by us, but it will bring stability, it keep us covered in a peaceful space. My life will become much simpler in this space, with no doorbell ringing and one less phone to answer (with easily 80 fewer people likely to call me too!)

Joy, peace – my own faith teaches me that these things come not from my circumstances, but that they are gifts received from above; is that a tinge of guilt that circumstances have overwhelmed me, that I’ve been “tossed back and forth by the waves?”

Honestly, yes. I wish I had been more at peace in this place, that I could have more patience now with myself, my circumstances, my kids. Even today I am wishing that, having lost my temper about something so mundane as a diaper change on my three year old (very lame, I know.)

And also, no. As I look back I’ve had only a few choices all along the way. Most of this path was carved out for me and as I walked along it I came to know that I needed change and that I had to be brave to have it. Bravery is also kind of a gift. I’m glad we are making this move to a place more “home.” I am grateful for the things that opened my eyes to this need for change, even the crazy painful things – like having a child who has been either sick, sick, pre-verbal, sick or in the throes of a very challenging toddlerhood, or sick. That’s life with LP, and we can’t live it here. In his very own way he is both perfect and sweet. New things scare him, change scares him, not understanding things scare him, owls “supplies” him and so do cows (we’ve come down that ladder two rungs from screaming, to “Scary” to “supplies!” accompanied by hugs.) What will life be like when he’s playing with a puzzle and the doorbell doesn’t ring to “supplies” him 8 times. What will it be like? (good, right?) And when I think about that, how can I be overwhelmed, when I need to be brave?

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We’re closing up shop here; it’s the last week and it’s cleaning and packing time for all 30 teenage girls who live with us. It’s super busy, but I just had to come up for air to let you know the following:

*Teenagers do not know how to pack. Giving them more time is not helpful. Affluence & Ability to Pack seem to have an inverse relationship a good deal of the time. I do not have the energy to get you scientifically accurate stats on that.

*Goodwill/Salvation Army in this area will have a plethora of Abercrombie attire as well as some other brands that are way out of my price range, because teenagers (even the girls) are still growing. I find this alarming when faced with the potential clothing shopping for three teenage boys in my future and the knowledge that they will beg to own jeans that are more expensive than mine even though I have worn the same size (excepting pregnancy and postpartum) for 8 years and they will outgrow theirs in 4 or 5 months. Also, shoes – let me not start….

* I found a garbage can in the garbage; I’m not sure what this means. I took it home; I feel like my mother. I’m okay with that.

* Teenagers are very, very comforted when other people are suffering. All through the spring they received some pleasure in knowing that I was working on my certification during their study hall, that I took a test on my weekend off. It truly made them feel better; they liked offering their condolences. Now they enjoy asking me if I’ve started to pack, how many boxed have I packed? Isn’t packing tape expensive? It must be so hard to pack with kids, right? How do you pack food? Do you just throw it out? What about trying to eat if all before you leave? That’d be hard with salad dressing, wouldn’t it? Etc, they enjoy this and I’m happy to oblige in my self-deprecating way. I really do have a lot more to do than they do and that seems to make them happy. Maybe that’s wrong of them, but I just need them to stay happy for 24 more hours.

And in Blogging News
* why can’t I get my video up? Little Bear is so cute walking! So very cute, sometimes he tries to clap for himself while walking and falls down. Multi-tasking is rarely worth the effort.

* Two very special bloggers have a great idea – share and give to help AIDS orphans in Sub-Saharan Africa. Link yourself over there -there’s time yet!

* If all of us are very lucky, my sister Jen and her friend are going to start a blog about reducing our carbon footprint in real, achievable, simple ways. Look for a link, hopefully soon!

* After you have solved my video problem, please discuss Technorati at your leisure.

Okay, time to put my arms back to the plow here…wish me luck – or better yet, bless me with grace and poise for this final push.

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I had some big plans. In my fantasy world of way more free time than I really have I was going to overcome my overstimulation and nominate writers for all kinds of awards. I have made absolutely no progress at all on my blogging learning curve and am annoyed at myself.
Also, I now have more bloggity blog homework, which will be fun, in a thinky kind of way, once I have time for fun again. Which I don’t. have time. for fun. at all. Do you remember in March when I whined about my crazy job? – okay also in all the other months too, but this time was special because I got that song stuck in your head. Yep, that one, from Annie; sorry, I did it again. Well this time, the sun will come out one week from today, making this week my last week to wait for vacation to begin. And when the thump thump thump of suitcases being dragged down the stairs meets the parking frenzy out back, I will no longer live with anyone except my very own three boys and my man, which is really a full enough life.
Thus one chapter of my life ends and I look forward to having some space, time and quiet to reflect on it. I look forward to the new path I have picked, a little house, a little town, three boys, and the world of childbirth calling me out in the wee hours every so often, tying loose ends together to make ends meet but having our own space to work it out in for the first time in three years.
This is also my last weekend with two children under three, LP turns 3 on Sunday, a day I have look forward to since he was about 19 months old, and now I’m feel all weepy and nostalgic about it. It helps not one bit that my last baby started for real today – not the two – three step tumble we have had for two months, real walking from room to room. Which brings us full circle to my blogging learning curve:
overcome evil powers of google/picasa/blogger and learn to upload deliciously cute video of Little Bear walking!
I know, I should be packing…

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Dear Universe,
I’d like to thank you so much for listening to me last summer when I announced to you that I was going to quit my job. You instantaneously made my job much easier. It was nice, how once I learned to listen to my intuition and stopped swimming upstream, you stopped all the screaming in my ear telling me to quit. I guess you figured, why beat a dead horse. Indeed, why?
I’m wondering if maybe some Ginkgo or perhaps just more sleep would remind you, dear Universe, that I have already quit. You don’t need to waste any more time on this topic with me. I am very, very clear on the fact that this job is for someone else. I’ve learned from my mistakes. I am too introverted, analytical, highly-sensitive and host of other things to stay here happily. I’ve even taken full responsibility. The job is set-up a certain way and try as I may, I’m simply not able to succeed as it is. No amount of bright ideas on how to make it better will help. I have stopped altogether having/sharing said bright ideas. I’m saving all creative thinking for parenting, blogging, budgeting and my future ventures in the field of childbirth.
I am just trying to save you some time. I’m sure there are bigger fish for you to fry. Infant mortality rates in a neighboring city are terribly high. Isn’t there some public health official you could dog for the next few months so I can spend my time packing?
Listen it hasn’t been dreadful, just high maintenance, lots of little things going awry, necessitating duplicate emails, triplicate replies and excessive phone calls at odd hours. All I’m saying is :I’m all over it. Message received. Move along. Nothing to see here.

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