Saturday, September 17, 2011

Really, I don't know how we do it.

Last night I went to see the movie "I Don't Know How She Does It" with Sarah Jessica Parker.  I have to say that the whole thing hit a little too close to home.  It details the obstacles of being a working mom, and I have encountered all of them. 

A working mom faces so many areas of criticism, most of it coming from other women.  We really are our own worst enemies, but this should come as no big surprise.  The cattiness starts around 4th grade and really goes until we are about 75, or so I hear.  The usual arguments are if you are a working mom, you are allowing someone else to raise your kids.  I have been told that I am missing the very best parts of being a mom.  The Stay-at-Home mom is told that they are wasting the best years of their life and are not contributing to their household income in any meaningful way.  They will never recover from the lost work experience and sit around all day doing nothing but eating bon-bons and watching TV. 

I have been both, and I can say that each of them have advantages and disadvantages.  Dave and I have decided that for our family it is best if I work.  I need to be connected to other people and when I am a SAHM I tend to spiral into out-of-control anxiety and depression.  I am a better mother when I come home to my kids than when I am with them all day.  I think even the kids would agree with this.  And who are we kidding, the money is important, too. 

The problem with working is that there are so many things that need to be done, and such a short amount of time in which to get them done. You really do have to work twice as hard to be seen as an equal, and God help you if you need to do a kid related activity.   I used to work at a job where I traveled up to 10 days of the month.  The kids were 3 and 8 at the time and it was just too hard.  I would wake up and not know where I was.  One hotel was the same as the next and I found myself in all sorts of situations that now keep me up at night.  I once had the school secretary call me when I was in Dallas to tell me that Colin fell into a puddle and his pants were soaking wet.  I was able to orchestrate a mission to get him new pants while still participating in a meeting.  It is not quite as bad as getting a text alerting me to a lice outbreak, but still a critical mission none the less.  I might point out that Dave was sitting at his desk in the same state as the wet pants and nobody thought to call him. 

The Equal Rights Amendment helped women get opportunities that we have never had before.  The only problem is that while we picked up more responsibilities, we didn't share any that we already had.  I am very lucky that Dave helps so much with our kids and household, but even he will tell you that the majority falls on me.  I am the one that is responsible for making sure they are where they are supposed to be, and that they are in the care of someone we trust if we aren't there.  I do the laundry and cooking.  I make sure that projects are done and they have what they need for school.  In short, I am a general running this thing we call the Murray house. 

The sheer volume of things that need to be taken care of with two children can be overwhelming on a good day and then when you add in a job/career that also helps to fulfill you it becomes a huge balancing act.  At the end of the day, I am exhausted and cranky.  It is hard to imagine that I will be able to get up and do it all again tomorrow.  I think it must be the same feeling a boxer has when he is down for the count.  I have tried all different ways to make it easier and have found that there really isn't a shortcut here.  As it turns out, if given the opportunity, I really wouldn't change a thing.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Where Were You?

Ten years later, September 11th is still such an emotional thing that I am having trouble watching the coverage on television.  When we get to the anniversary it is like picking a scab you thought had healed.  I have put myself on a media lock down.  When I reflect back, I wonder how we made it through such a horrific event and have come out whole, that we have found a new normal.

The day started like many others.  I woke up, turned on the Today show and got ready for work.  I remember them talking about the date being 9-11 and thinking that was kind of weird.  I took Colin to Tricia's house and went to work.  I was doing a project and needed to run a bunch of reports and I also had a meeting to discuss the design of a new website that I needed to prepare for.   I was deep into it when my boss walked out of his office to tell us that a plane had flown into Tower 1.  My immediate reaction was to call Ann who was, at that time a stay-at-home mom. 

I was on the phone with her as the second plane hit.  It has become my definition for unbelievable.  I remember whispering because I thought I would be in trouble for making a personal call.  I was trying to sneak onto to Internet but all the news sites had crashed.  I went about my day and still had the meeting in the afternoon for the website.  Before I went in the meeting they had grounded all flights and I really needed to Fedex some drawings to a customer and it wouldn't go out. I was irritated by the inconvenience.  Right before I went in, Dave had called me to tell me that a plane had turned around over Cleveland and was heading back to Washington.   I thought it was all wild speculation and it couldn't be true.  Too much had already happened and I just couldn't believe it was still going on.  Certainly enough had already happened and we couldn't take any more. 

As I was in my meeting the towers started to collapse and the Pentagon was hit.  It was at this time that we called the meeting off.  One of the designer's best friends was a flight attendant and he couldn't find out where she was.  Amazingly, we stayed at work all day.  When I finally got home I went out to get the mail to find out that our neighbor that we really didn't know that well, had a son that lived in Washington and they hadn't heard from him.  He didn't really have business in the Pentagon so they thought he must be okay, but there was no telling what else was going to happen and where it would hit.  Public transportation had been shut down and he had to walk home.  The phone lines were jammed and he couldn't get through.  He ended up being fine. 

We watched the around-the-clock coverage.  There was literally nothing else on and it was so horrible and unbelievable that you just couldn't look away.  Peter Jennings cried on air when he finally heard from his kids.  The feelings were overwhelming and so diverse.  It was fear, intense sadness, anger, patiotism, confusion, hopelessness and despair, loneliness and strangely at the same time, solidarity.  It was truly a loss of innocence and peace.  It divided things into before and after. 

The strangest thing for me, aside from the obvious was that they suspended all flights of any kind.  We live by a small private airport and the intense quiet was eerie.  It is the same effect when the electricity goes off and then you notice the noises of the house by their silence.  Conversely, when they started flying again it was so strange to hear it again and I was strangely scared.

I remember going to church that week and trying so hard not to cry.  When I reflect back, I wonder why I just didn't let it out.  I can't believe we stayed at work all day.  I can't believe we went back the next.  I can't believe we were able to go through that time and come out on the other side. 

No, I can't believe anyone alive that day will ever forget.  I am forever changed, some for the good, and some for the bad.  I find that I am more willing to go out of my way to help others, and would like to think that I am a bit less self-centered,  but I am also much more vigilant and protective.  I no longer think that I am guaranteed a tomorrow.  I no longer believe that America is always right, but I still believe that this is the best place on earth to live and if people had the opportunity to come and see what we are all about, they would most likely agree.    I am thankful that we have been able to make a new kind of normal, but I will never forget.  No, I will never forget. 

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Bus Stop Talk

This is the conversation Ryan and I had on the way home from the bus stop today:

Me: How was your day?

Ryan:  MOM, I AM SO ANNOYED!

Me:  What happened?

Ryan:  I sat next to Susie* on the bus and now Pete* keeps saying I have a girlfriend!  I am too young to have a girlfriend!
Me:  (silently in my head:  HELL YES YOU ARE TOO YOUNG TO HAVE A GIRLFRIEND!)

Me:  (out loud) Don't worry about it, they are just trying to make you mad.

Ryan: (with all the attitude his little body can muster, and that is a lot of attitude)  Well, I'm MAD ALRIGHT!

I had to walk ahead of him the rest of the way home so he couldn't see me laughing.  Then he would have been mad at me, and Lord knows I don't want that reigning down on me!

Upon reading this, it might only be funny if you were there.  Sorry

*names have been changed to protect the somewhat innocent.

Monday, September 5, 2011

11 Favorite Things About Colin

Colin has pointed out that I have been more vocal about Ryan and I wanted to even the scales.  Here are my 11 favorite things about him since he is now officially 11 and a half. 

1.  He is my first born and I had five full years of him all to myself without distraction.  Those were some of the best years of my life.

2.  Colin has always been a great conversationalist.  Now that he is getting older and we have more in common, I love talking to him even more. 

3.  The sound of Colin's laughter is better than the best music and is one of my favorite sounds. 

4.  I love that he is willing to go with the flow if I ask him to, even and especially when I know that he is hesitant or aprehensive. 

5.  I love that he loves to read.  It is my favorite thing to do, and I am glad that he can enjoy it with me. 

6. I am so happy that he has developed a sense of self and is not afraid to stand up for himself, even and especially when it is not the easy road to take.  This will serve him well in life. 

7.  He is kind to everyone with the exception of his brother.  He could work on that a little bit, but Ryan does not make it easy. 

8.  Colin has a wicked sense of humor.  It is very dry and when delivered by an 11 year old it cracks me up. 

9.  He looks before he leaps.  He thinks things through to see the end result before he gets involved.  I am thankful for that the closer he gets to his teenage years. 

10.  Colin is very helpful.  While he is not the quickest to jump when I ask him to do things, I do appreciate all he does. 

11.  Ryan doesn't understand this yet, but Colin is a great brother.  They could not be any more different if they tried, it is a good thing that Colin is older.  Anyone else would have lost it, and Colin has too, but he does have a tremendous amount of patience with him. 

Colin, I am so glad that I get to be your mom.  I love you!