Category Archives: work

How Big is Your Fear?

boxfeara

It was a big day. It was Dylan’s first day of early morning band practice at school, and it was my first day of work.

Did I mention I got a job? After a brief twenty-year hiatus, I’m putting my M.F.A. in Modern Dance and Choreography to good use as a part-time creative movement and beginning ballet teacher at my local YMCA. I’ve kept a low profile about it because I’m so freaking excited and happy to have the opportunity to do what I love (and get paid!), and I don’t want anything to jinx it.

“My stomach hurts.” Dylan’s first words upon waking up were ominous, but they didn’t scare me. When you have a kid with anxiety, unexplained stomachaches are a common occurrence. I know because I get them, too.

My gut told me he was worried about the band. Truth be told, I was a bit on edge, too. After eight years as a stay-at-home mom, it was scary to be accountable to anyone other than my kids. I had deadlines and responsibilities as a writer, but for the most part, I worked when, where, and how I wanted. Now, I’d be clocking in and out on a weekly basis.

I made breakfast and sent Dylan upstairs to get dressed. He slogged through all of it. He barely touched his food. “Are you afraid of going to band practice?” I asked.

“I don’t know,” he said. “A little bit.”

“I know you’re nervous, but I want you to go because you’re a talented drum player and I’m pretty sure you’re going to have a great time. If you’re tummy still hurts after the practice, go to the nurse and I’ll come get you, but I have a feeling you’ll feel much better once you get there and get settled. Trying new things is scary. I get it. I really do.”

He agreed but continued to trudge.

I went to my bedroom and into my closet to fetch a small, round, hand-painted wooden box that I used to hold hair pins. It was a gift from a choreographer back when I was in college. She gave a different box to each dancer backstage before our first performance. Mine was red with raised streaks and waves of black, white, and gray across the top. My name was painted on the inside of the lid.

It was the first time I performed at a venue that wasn’t on campus. Instead of the audience being filled with teachers, friends, and family, it was filled with teachers, friends, family, and complete strangers who paid actual money to see the show. It was exhilarating and terrifying all at once, and receiving that precious gift eased my nerves.

I told Dylan about the performance and the box and how scared I was to perform that night. Then I asked him, “How big is your fear?”

“Big,” he said.

“Show me with your hands.” He spread his hands wide like he held a beach ball in front of his chest.

“Put it in the box. Squish it so it will fit.” He looked at me like I was nuts, but he followed my directions.

Once his fear was safely in the box, I closed the lid. “It’s mine now. I’ll hold your fear so you can let it go. Go get your socks and shoes on.”

Still, he lumbered. We were going to be late if we didn’t get in the car in the next two minutes. I bent down to help him with his socks and that’s when he projectile vomited all over himself, the kitchen counter, the bar stools, the floor, and me. It even landed on the lenses of my glasses.

He was definitely nervous about band practice…and he also had the dreaded stomach bug. My big fear of vomit and even bigger fear of my kids getting sick on my first day of work came true. It was a good thing I unearthed that special little box. Hopefully there was enough room in it to hold my fear, too.

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Filed under anxiety, fear, motherhood, Uncategorized, work

The Time We Talked About Going To Work

TimeTalkedWork

A flyer came home from school about this year’s Take Your Sons And Daughters To Work Day. When Dylan saw me looking at it, he asked if he could go to work with Daddy that day.

“I’m sorry, Love,” I said. “Daddy will still be in London.” Mike is back in London for the next few weeks building a cutting edge product development team to create cutting edge global online financial media products for cutting edge people in the global financial industry that want cutting edge global financial news, data, and analysis.  You know, whatevs.

“Can I go to work with you?” he asked me.

Yes! I thought in a moment of utter righteousness as I posed in a strong, open stance with my fists on my hips (#poselikeasuperhero). Damn right you should see ME at MY job doing dishes, folding laundry, making doctor’s appointments, taking you to and surviving your doctor’s appointments, paying bills, getting bids on house repairs, watching the “Good Wife” on my lunch break, going to the grocery store, buying supplies for school projects and gifts for birthday parties, designing PTO newsletters, chaperoning 2nd grade fieldtrips (dear God), driving you to and from school and a million other destinations, helping you with homework, feeding you, bathing you, brushing your teeth, and taking care of every aspect of your life all the while writing smart blog posts and maintaining a relevant and humorous social media presence!   Because – dang it – stay at home mother/blog-hood is the hardest job there is, I’m the glue that keeps this family together, and you should appreciate and idolize my job as much as you admire Daddy’s!

And then I remembered that he sees me in my workplace doing that all that stuff all the freakin’ time. He knows that I write stories about being a Mommy and that I “play” on my laptop at the kitchen table a lot. If he stayed home from school to observe and learn about it, he’d end up playing Plants vs. Zombies all day while I served him icy water and snacks in ten-minute intervals, and I wouldn’t get to watch the “Good Wife” on my lunch break.

“Dylan,” I said, “You’ve seen me do my job. You see me do it every day and night. You can have a make-up day at Daddy’s office once he’s home, okay?

“Okay,” he said.

“What part of Daddy’s job do you want to learn about?” I asked out of curiosity, because Mike is generally in an anxious, stressed, and impenetrable trance in front of three computer screens for several hours at a time when he’s at the office. I’m not saying that what he does isn’t intriguing, innovative, and incredibly relevant as we embark on a 21st century information technology revolution, and I do think it would awesome for Dylan to develop an interest in STEM beyond playing video games, but for an eight-year-old kid who has a hard time sitting still for more than six to seven minutes at a time, it would be a pretty boring day.

“Daddy plays ping pong at work,” Dylan said, “and he has a pool table, a Nerf gun, a dart board, and a remote control helicopter. I want to do those things.”

Yeah, that sounds like a pretty awesome job.

Do your kids participate in Take Our Sons And Daughters To Work Day?

 

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Filed under motherhood, work

I Took My Child To Work

In our neck of the woods, Thursday was Take Your Child To Work Day.  We didn’t plan for Dylan to go to work with Mike because (1) Mike is crazy busy and (2) we honestly didn’t think Dylan would enjoy it.  It’s not that Dylan doesn’t worship the ground his Daddy walks on (he does), but all Mike does is stare at his computer screen all day.  He’s a product developer/computer programmer for a financial media company and his days are intense.

In the end it didn’t matter, though, because Dylan caught a stomach bug and stayed home from school sick that day.  (So long, perfect attendance!)  At Riley’s morning drop-off with Dylan in tow, someone joked, “Is Dylan going to work with you today?”  Ha!  Get it?  I’m a Stay-At-Home-Mama!  Ha!

“Yes!” I bantered back.  “When we get home I’m going to show him how I fold the laundry.”  Ha!

Let me be clear about a few things.

(1) I am not mocking Stay-At-Home Mamas.  I am a Stay-At-Home Mama.

(2) The only definition of Stay-At-Home Mama I know is mine.  In my house, I do fold the laundry (all the f—king time).  I also load and unload the dishwasher (actually, OCD prevents me from allowing anyone else to go near my dishwasher), and I do the bulk of the grocery shopping, mail sorting, kid shuttling, dog walking, whine listening (and wine drinking), sibling refereeing, homework supervising, bath running, and meal preparing.  I’m also a writer, a blogger, and a PTO-er.  I have an unhealthy relationship with Anthropologie, I can’t stop myself from buying owl tchotchkes, and, very occasionally, when my kids are at school or asleep, I sit on the couch and watch stuff on my DVR while inhaling Boom Chicka Pop popcorn.

(3) This wasn’t some well thought out social experiment to shed light on and validate the tireless work that Stay-At-Home Mamas (and every other kind of Mamas) do day in and day out.  That would’ve been a great idea that perhaps might have caught some attention @HuffPostParents or something amazing like that, but in this case, it simply happened because my kid had diarrhea.  (Dear God.  If The Today Show calls me about this, Dylan will be mortified.  Crap.  Ha!  Why do I always end up talking about poop?  Must stop.)

Anywho, I unexpectedly set out to show my Kindergartener with the gurgling, gassy tummy what my job was all about.  It was going to be awesome and inspiring and life-changing for both of us!

Or not.

Truth be told, it was kind of a boring day, especially since Dylan didn’t feel well and needed to be near a bathroom.  Don’t get me wrong, I did six bazillion things throughout the day and never sat down once, but if I were asked, “What did you do today?” I probably would’ve said, “Eh, nothing much.”

At one point during the day, I brought up to Dylan that it was Take Your Child To Work Day and that I was showing him what it was like to be a Mommy.  He looked at me and said, “Can you turn on the Xbox?”

Charming, right?  Actually, his answer spoke volumes.

Dylan doesn’t see me as a person with a job and he doesn’t think about what I do as work.  He sees me as the person who’s there to turn on the Xbox (or to tell him to do it all by himself, thank you very much).  The person who rubs his tummy when it hurts and sits with him in the bathroom when he’s sick.  The person who reminds him to say please and thank you and to wash his hands after he goes to the bathroom.  The person who nags him when it’s homework time.  The person who reads to him and cooks for him and keeps him safe.  The person who occasionally shows up at school to volunteer in his classroom.  The person who wakes him gently each morning with a kiss on the cheek.  He sees me as his Mama.

Frankly, I don’t think he thinks about what I do at all, because, like the sun rising in the east, I’m just a constant in his life.  Perhaps when he’s a little bit older, or if my status on the Spectrum ever changes, he’ll gain some perspective on the matter, including learning about all the different jobs – and dreams and passions and talents and goals – I’ve had (before and after becoming a Mama).  But as it stands now, the only person worried about definitions, perceptions, and validation is…me.  (And you?)

The next morning, I asked Dylan, “What’s my job?”

He said, “To give me popcorn.”  (He really likes popcorn.)

I said, “Really?  Don’t you think my job is to take care of you and your brother?”

“Yes,” he said.  “And you’re beautiful.”

In that moment, I felt pretty damn good about my job.

Career Day is coming up soon.  Maybe I’ll submit a proposal.  I have some fantastic “hands-on” challenges for the students, including (1) getting me to stop whining, (2) catching me to put eye drops in my eyes, (3) picking up toys faster than I can dump them out, and (4) making an important appointment on the telephone while I scream in the background.

If you have any other ideas, let me know!

(@HuffPostParents, are you reading?)

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Filed under Stay-at-Home Mama, work