The Day Before the Day

I knew moving to a new home with two small children was going to be an adventure to say the least. We’ve had lots of adjustments over the past two weeks, but the day before our closing was the most stressful of all so far.

It’s been said that children can sense your emotions, and I’m no expert on hiding mine in the first place, so we were all on edge the day before THE DAY. Unbeknownst to me, Justin had spent the entire day on the phone with the mortgage company and lawyer as they finalized things for our closing. At one point, it wasn’t even going to happen.

I was up to my ears in boxes, and at 3:36pm, the phone rang. I had just gotten Ella down for her first nap of the day, and Justin was calling to tell me that I needed to go to the bank RIGHT NOW to get our check for closing. The only problem, he said, was that he was having trouble transferring the money to my account. (No, why on earth would we have joint accounts? That would be too easy…)

So, I grab a cranky Ella out of her bed, throw the kids in the car and race to the bank. I think I forgot to mention that it closed at four. It was a miracle that we even arrived on time. I had the wherewithal to grab some lollipops from the counter immediately upon entering and stick them into the kids’ mouths. “Sit over there,” I said. “Play with the toys. Be quiet.” Ha!

I tried to explain to the teller that I needed a cashier’s check for a bazillion dollars by closing today, but the money wasn’t exactly in my account. You can imagine how this went over. Meanwhile, Justin was trying fervently to call me and call the bank so he could transfer the funds to my account. Around the same time, I noticed that one employee was locking the doors from the inside. Surely we wouldn’t have time to get this check.

During this whole debacle, the bank manager comes out, and tries to iron out the details of my situation. She ended up getting on the phone with Justin (who was at work 45 minutes away) to help the transfer move along. I looked behind me and saw Harrison racing from one end of the bank to the other on the pristine white floor tiles. Ella was toddling around with purple lollipop spit dripping from her chin. This then reminded me that I had given them lollipops. I noticed that she had set hers on the fuzzy chair in the waiting area, only to be picked up second later, lint and all going right back into her mouth. The toy section I had instructed the children to stay within was destroyed; books and balls were now littering the empty bank’s floors.

Ella, enamored by the radio on the floor in a corner, began an elaborate dance routine to pass the time. Smiling at my little princess, I turned around to pay attention to what the bank teller was trying to explain to me. A few moments later he looked over my shoulder and raised his eyebrows. I looked back and saw nothing else but Ella standing atop the radio. By the time I could race over to rescue her (she did NOT think she needed rescuing), she had turned the volume up full blast.

And because you’re all wondering what Harrison was doing during this particular performance of Ella’s, well, of course he was swinging from the ropes that distinguish the waiting line, singing along to whatever song it was that Ella was playing so loudly. I grabbed his hand and made him stand beside me. In response to this, he began swinging my arm. He then decided that yelling, “TITTIES! TITTIES!! TITTIES!!” would be an appropriate addition to the entertainment he was providing us all. I don’t know why he was yelling titties. I don’t know if he knows what titties are, but the bank tellers sure did.

I escaped the bank, check in hand, children in tow, embarrassment aplenty, thirty minutes after the place closed. A thank you note went out to the kind people who were able to assist me in my ever so complicated transaction. Hopefully they won’t remember me the next time I go in there.

The Great Debate

It’s all over the news. Microsoft and Netflix are now offering pretty amazing maternity and paternity leave options for their employees. I, for one, could not be more excited that two big companies in our country are finally getting their shit together on this topic. Will I ever work for Microsoft or Netflix? Most likely not. Will I ever have more children? Definitely not. So, in a way, this news doesn’t apply to me. But really, it does apply to everyone in our country.

Back when Justin and I decided to have kids, we knew we needed to save money and sick time to  make it work. That was something we were willing to do. We put ourselves on a five year plan so we could travel (but we forgot to go any place), and save loads of money (but we forgot to do that too) so that we could comfortably afford for me to stay home with our children until they were school age. After our first child, we just weren’t ready for me to be a full time stay at home mom. I considered taking a one year leave (unpaid) so that I could return to work after an extended time home with my baby, but the HR department denied my request. Really, my options were limited: I could resign completely from my teaching job, or take six weeks of “paid” time off. Since I have a dad who’s a labor lawyer and a husband who’s a union representative, I found out I could actually take twelve weeks total with FMLA, but my time off would not be monetarily compensated. With summer vacation included, I got to stay home with Harrison for five whole months. Everyone, including my husband and myself, considered this a very very good deal. With the birth of our second child, we were financially prepared for me to stay home with both children, and that is where I am now.

So many women in my profession came back to work just six weeks after their tiny babies came into this world. They’d stand at their classroom doors before the students came in in the morning, choking back tears because it felt like their hearts were ripped out and torn to pieces that morning leaving little ones at daycare. I saw it happen time and time again, and then I was one of those moms, too.

When I read comments on these news articles from Netflix’s and Microsoft’s new announcements I see the following patterns:

“What about those of us who decide not to have kids? How are we compensated?”

You are compensated by a full night’s sleep every night. You are compensated by going to the grocery store by yourself. You are compensated by not using your vacation time for sick kids. You are compensated by knowing that the next generation may not grow up without supervision from their parents who need to work because they have no choice. 

“I’ll have to pick up their slack when they’re home snuggling their babies in their pajamas til noon.”

Your company will likely hire a temporary replacement for the absent employee. Oh look! More jobs in the country! If you feel like you’re picking up slack, you can come over and pick up poop and vomit instead!

“Can non-parents take a year of vacation too?”

According to dictionary.com, a vacation is: 

noun

1.a period of suspension of work, study, or other activity, usually used for rest, recreation, or travel; recess or holiday:

Schoolchildren are on vacation now.

2.a part of the year, regularly set aside, when normal activities of law courts, legislatures, etc., are suspended.

3.freedom or release from duty, business, or activity.

4.an act or instance of vacating.

verb (used without object)

5.to take or have a vacation:

to vacation in the Caribbean.

I don’t even know if I need to elaborate, but of course I will. “Suspension of work” is not the definition of parenting and nurturing an infant. The words “rest”, “recreation”, and “holiday” also are not the words I would use to describe my children’s first years of life. And shall we discuss number three, a “freedom or release from duty, business, or activity”??? My favorite part about that definition is thinking about vacationing to the Caribbean with a baby. Ha! So, no, you may not take a vacation while we are busy parenting. 

Although I worked as a school teacher, which gives me an amazing schedule when it comes to having children, I knew I wouldn’t be good at balancing all of the late nights of grading papers, lesson planning, and learning new curriculum that was going to change the next year anyway when I could be home with my children. I know lots and lots of moms who LOVE being working parents. They’re good at it. They’re good at the balance. But it should be a choice. And by choice, I mean that companies and places of work should make it possible for their employees to work and take time for their families. It doesn’t matter if you don’t have children, or your children are all grown up. This is something our society needs. It’s something our children need. It’s something our future co-workers need.

Missing the Message…or Massage…

A while back, I attended an open house for a new wellness center in my area. I was invited by my sister-in-law, Casey, and I was really excited to go see the new place. Plus, it would get me out of the house without my “extra appendages” (someone I knew at the event actually referred to my kids as such). Plus, plus, there were mimosas.

The center was offering free demos on exercise classes and body treatments. Casey and I both signed up for a facial and a Reiki massage. I’ve had facials aplenty, and in my younger and freer years, I would have the occasional massage. I LOVE massages, but I had never experienced Reiki before, so it was a new learning adventure.

Well the nice lady sat me down in the massage chair and explained what she would be doing. She told me I might feel a “light touch” on my back. ‘Just one light touch?’ I thought. I’m no expert but I thought massage was all about touch. Oh, and dictionary.com agrees with me:

massage

[muhsahzh, –sahj or, esp. British, mas-ahzh]

noun

1.the act or art of treating the body by rubbing, kneading, patting, or the like, to stimulate circulation, increase suppleness, relieve tension, etc.

So I put my face in the face hole and relaxed as best I could. I sat there for a good two minutes and felt no light touches, or touches of any manner. I almost sat up to ask if I was missing something, but then there it was. She laid her hand on my back. And left it there. For like five minutes. Nothing else. Then she moved it to another spot and did the same thing. And then one more spot. And then no more. Nothing else. She whispered that it was over and I sat up, slightly confused. She asked if I felt energized and I politely smiled, thanked her, and moved on.

Casey and I headed to the car and talked over our experiences:

Casey: So, how did you like the massage?

Me: I don’t think I get it.

Casey: There wasn’t much to it, was there?

Me: Ella gives better massages than that.

Casey: I think that would be the best job ever. To charge like a billion dollars and just put your hand on someone’s back? I can totally do that.

Me: I’m pretty sure it’s all in your head, that kind of massage. But I like head massages too. I didn’t get a head massage today.

Casey: I guess I wasn’t thinking hard enough if it was supposed to be in our heads, because I didn’t feel massaged after.

We then talked about how we were either really missing something, or the massage itself was missing something. This provoked me to look up a little information about Reiki. DO NOT TELL MY FORMER STUDENTS, but I used Wikipedia and found out some interesting factlets about Reiki. Here are some quotes:

“It uses a technique commonly called palm healing or hands-on-healing. Through the use of this technique, practitioners believe that they are transferring “universal energy” through the palms of the practitioner, which they believe encourages healing.”

Well there you have it. Must be that our practitioner wasn’t very energized that day.

And here is another:

“Reiki is a form of pseudoscience.[1] It is based on qi, which practitioners say is a universal life force, though there is no empirical evidence that such a life force exists.[3] There is no good evidence that Reiki is effective as a medical treatment.

[3]”

OK, so to me, anything that begins with “pseudo” is NOT REAL. I’m not really sure how empirical evidence differs from other kinds of evidence, but I am feeling better that there’s nothing to PROVE that Casey and I were just not “in tune” enough to catch the life force being sent through our bodies. Or…was it the mimosas??

So tell me about your Reiki experiences. Did you feel the energy? Or the mimosa?

Captain Underpants

This morning, Harrison asked me to come into the bathroom to help him. I always get nervous when I hear him call me from the loo. He’s gotten into all sorts of trouble in the bathroom, so sometimes he needs help wiping; other times, he’s flooded the tub or unraveled all the toilet paper. Today, when I arrived, it was simply that his underpants had slipped off his ankles while he was doing his business. “This will be easy to learn, buddy,” I say. “You just slip your feet through these holes and then pull them up.” Delighted that this was a quick fix, I returned to sip my coffee and watch the Today Show.

Now, I have been trying to catch at least one full segment of the Today Show for three years now, and it hasn’t happened, so I don’t know why I thought this morning would be any different. As soon as my coffee was to my lips, I saw Harrison exiting the bathroom with his underpants AROUND HIS NECK. The best part is, he looked at me as if this might be a completely reasonable way to wear underpants. It is not, my friends. It is not.

How does one mistake his neck for his feet? I do not know, but I also do not know what was going on on the Today Show, or how my morning coffee tasted, because I had to go unravel him from that mess. On a completely unrelated note, here is a picture of him putting his shirt on yesterday:

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