The Perks of Being a Working Mom

Any mother who has left a baby in daycare to return to work after maternity leave knows that dagger-to-the-heart feeling. I felt it with both my daughters, too, and occasionally still do, but now nearly four months have passed since I have been back to work and I’m hitting my groove. I’m also reflecting positively on being a working mom. There are days when I definitely feel guilt, exhaustion, and the desire to clone myself a few times just to get everything done, but the reality is there are good and bad elements of everything. Today, I’m focusing on the good.

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(Photo by Alyssa Crawford Photography)

I firmly believe that we, as mothers, make our decisions with our children’s best interest in mind, and not something we take lightly. Choosing to be a working mom or a stay-at-home mom, or something in-between, can be one of the most difficult, guilt-inducing dilemmas we face. Sometimes circumstances make the decision for us. Further, none of it is necessarily set in stone.

My positive feelings are greatly because I enjoy (usually) my current job and love the daycare/preschool our daughters attend. Would I reassess things if that wasn’t the case? Absolutely. But we can also choose to be thankful for the path we are on and the blessings that come with it.

Here are a few of the great things I have experienced because I am a working mom.

My children meet and make friends. Watching my oldest daughter develop friendships at daycare over the past couple of years has been so heart-warming. I love that she’s only three, yet has already experienced many close friendships.

I, too, meet and make friends. Just last weekend my husband, daughters, and I spent a fun afternoon with a great family we met through our daughters’ daycare center.

Unapologetic quality time. Not seeing my daughters as much as I would like during the week means I allow myself to make at least one day each weekend all about fun. Whether we take in a fall festival or just watch princess movies and make cookies, intentional effort is made to engage in quality time, laundry pile be darned.

Using a variety of skills. I will probably always be better at analyzing a budget than at singing a lullaby. And that’s OK, but I get to do both and how cool is that?

Feeling valued. Moms, you (we) should all feel valued and appreciated all the time, but that’s not necessarily reality. Sometimes our coworkers are better at expressing appreciation than Toddle

The satisfaction of completing a task. Sometimes just cleaning the bathroom with my daughters around seems like it takes 17 times longer than it should. At work (on a good day) I can crank through a to-do list and at least have a few legitimately completed tasks by the end of the business day.

The end-of-day pick-up. You guys, there is absolutely no better feeling than how happy my girls are to see me when I pick them up at daycare at the end of the day. It never gets old.

Mommy Needs Alone Time (But Only 10 Minutes)

I fantasized about my kid-free weekend for a month. I would read, enjoy a quiet anniversary dinner with my husband, and maybe even find time for a manicure. There would be no diaper changes, no Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood, and, perhaps most enticing, I would sleep past 6 a.m!

But guess what, as soon as I dropped my daughters off at my parents’ house and pulled out of the driveway, I missed them. Like immediately. I felt like a little piece of me was left behind in my parents’ living room. How could I miss them instantly when all I had wanted for weeks was some alone time?

“Any update on the girls?” My husband asked me as we sat down for our quiet, romantic dinner. Apparently, he, too, was missing our little ladies. My mom texted us a couple of photos of them for us to swoon over.

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(Photo by Alyssa Crawford Photography)

For parents with young children, it is a tremendous help to have people we trust to care for them overnight or even for a short evening out. These relationships and encounters benefit the parents, the care-takers, and, most importantly, the children. Despite missing our daughters, we had a couple of great child-free days catching up on yard work, enjoying quiet meals, and sleeping in (until 7 a.m.)

I think it is healthy for parents to want (and take) some alone time now and then. It’s also healthy for us to miss them while we do that. We love them.

Parenthood is a mixed bag of emotions. We are stressed, blessed, annoyed, amused, elated, and exhausted all at the same time. That’s OK. So take a little alone time, even if you spend most of it looking at pictures of your kids on your phone.

 

To the Guy Who Might Not Read This

Reading blogs isn’t really your thing, but tomorrow we will celebrate four years of marriage and I just want you to know I still think you are awesome. We haven’t had much time for each other lately with work demands and raising the girls, but my love for you is stronger than ever. Whether it is an exciting adventure or a random weeknight doing laundry and changing diapers, I love every day with you.

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(Photo by Mist and Moonlight Photography)

I often write about spouses appreciating spouses and the importance of making time for one another, but I have been horrible at those things lately. You bear with me, and roll with the drama the three of us girls are capable of producing. You are tender, kind, and a wonderful example to our daughters.

I love that you get excited about college football and pheasant hunting while also applauding our daughter’s “beautiful princess” dances and helping dress Barbie dolls. Thank you for being the steady, patient presence in our little family. Happy anniversary!

Soaking It All In

Like a lot of parents, my husband and I spend a good share of the work week away from our children. This definitely leads to some feelings of guilt, but the silver lining is it also gives us the excuse to spend an entire Saturday at least once a month doing fun activities with the girls. The laundry can wait. The yard can wait. It’s all about family on those glorious days.

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Last Saturday this involved breakfast at a nearby restaurant, a trip to a pumpkin patch, and various other activities.

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On these amazing, care-free Saturdays, I focus on soaking in every moment with these three.

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It’s so cliché, but the little ones truly do grow so fast. I love being a mom, but I also find value in my work outside the home. One major perk is learning to make true quality time on the days the four of us can be together. I love those days. P.S. Isn’t fall the best?

The Motherhood Milestone I Hoped to Skip

The seasoned moms told me it would happen and I cautiously waited. I waited, watched, and wondered when it would happen to me. But it didn’t. Months went by. Then my daughter turned one. Then two. Then three. Still nothing.

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But then the unthinkable happened last night when I turned my head for just a second to check on her baby sister. My completely potty trained (or so I thought) three-year-old pooped in the bathtub. Not only did she poop, but then she attempted to clean it up which made things far, far worse.

I scratched my head, baffled. Where to begin the epic cleansing of the tub, toys, bathroom floor, and child. Meanwhile, the aforementioned baby sister began to wail. I pulled my older daughter from the tub and attempted to dry her off without smearing feces everywhere. Two really nice wash cloths we got as wedding gifts were lost to this cause, and many, many Clorox wipes were used.

My husband had picked the perfect night to work late and arrived home after the girls were both clean, happy, and full of smiles for Daddy. It was one of those mothering moments that seem like a complete and utter circus. And one I’ll be delighted to share with any and all of her future boyfriends.

 

 

All 50 by 40: Ohio, Kentucky, and Indiana

I was pleasantly surprised by the city of Cincinnati. People were welcoming, weather was gorgeous, and the food was fantastic. Newport, Kentucky and our riverboat cruise on the Ohio River were both fun. Indiana, maybe I didn’t give you a fair chance, but you’re now crossed off my list nonetheless.

Cincinnati August 2017 (4)

My mom and I did a lot of walking because the weather was so great. We ate two absolutely delightful meals at Boca (more on that later) and watched the Reds play the Cubs on one of the most beautiful evenings of all time. We shopped at Tiffany’s (kind of funny that the first Tiffany’s I have even been into was in Cincinnati, right?)

Cincinnati August 2017 (10)

Cincinnati August 2017

We got pedicures at Paragon, went bowling, and visited the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center. I had a mint julep in Kentucky and ate some delicious Cincinnati ribs. I didn’t take as many photos as I usually do, but I was enjoying time with my mom and that’s what really made this trip count.

Cincinnati August 2017 (6)

As we visited with people throughout the trip, I was touched by their support of my goal to see all the states. I missed my daughters tremendously and was glad we kept the trip fairly short. However, travel continues to be important to me and I hope they catch the wanderlust bug a bit themselves. Eight states left!

Cincinnati August 2017 (9)

Cincinnati August 2017 (7)

The Updated List

Alaska

Arkansas

Hawaii (scheduled for January 2018)

Michigan (I have been to airports)

Tennessee

Texas (I have been to airports)

West Virginia

Wisconsin

All 50 by 40

I love traveling and lists, so it seemed only natural to set a goal of visiting all 50 states before I turn 40. I have a six short years left to visit the remainder of my list, which you’ll see below. I have detailed the rules, essentials, and list below. After hitting Ohio, Indiana, and Kentucky later this month and Hawaii in January, seven states remain. If you have been to these states, what are your pointers? If you live in one of them, do you have a couch I can sleep on? (Kidding, not kidding).

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The Rules

I must set foot in each state for them to count.

Airports don’t count (sorry, Texas and Michigan)

Extra credit for eating local fare.

The Essentials

Enablers: These are the people who are willing to hop on a plane with me, stay home with the kids, or drive me five hours out of the way so I can cross Idaho off the list (my mom, husband, and bestie, respectively).

A plan: I have a full-time job, two kids, and have to stay within budget. Having a game-plan is important.

Willingness to explore the boring ones: People keep asking “why Ohio?” We’ll make it fun!

The List

Alaska

Arkansas

Hawaii (scheduled for January 2018)

Indiana (scheduled for August 2017)

Kentucky (scheduled for August 2017)

Michigan (I have been to airports)

Ohio (scheduled for August 2017)

Tennessee

Texas (I have been to airports)

West Virginia

Wisconsin