Sunday, January 30, 2011

Time crunch

Last week was Josh's first week at day care.  We decided that since I wasn't working last week, it would be a good week to start.  If he was having trouble adjusting, I could just go get him and bring him home.

Silly us to even consider that.  Josh never looked back as I left the first morning, and was not terribly interested in leaving when I picked him up at that night.  They have toys, and he can spend all day playing with toys, instead of being carted around town doing errands and running into work with Mommy and whatever else real life throws our way during the day.
Day care is clearly way cooler than being with Mom.

He had a great time.  We're thrilled that we(finally) found a good child care solution--2 days at day care and 2 days with Grandmas a week. 

But I am exhausted.
I'm up at 5 a.m. to be to work by 6:45.  I don't get home till almost 8 on Mondays or later, then I have Tuesdays off, and then I go back into work from 4pm on Wednesdays to midnight Thursday night, a 32 hour shift.  Fridays afternoons and evenings I'm at work studying, and then Saturday morning I have to be at class, an hour and a half away, by 8 am, and I'm not done till almost 5 pm.  By the time I get home, it's enough to kiss Josh, give him his nighttime bottle, put his pajamas on, put him to bed, and then say goodbye to my husband, since he has to be to work at midnight, and won't come home till the wee hours Tuesday morning.
And then my week starts all over again.

It's easy to get discouraged when I realize how much I'm not doing that I think I should be.  My house is clean, because we're never here and I do a speed-cleaning on Tuesdays.  We eat out way more than we should right now, because even though I made up freezer meals when I realized how busy these few months were going to be, I never remember to defrost them in time for dinner.  I've given up on lunches; Subway is only three blocks away.  Tonight I took tacos up to eat lunch with my husband, and ate Healthy Choices microwave meal for dinner.  In between trying to catch up on laundry, read four chapters of my textbook, play with my son, and think about how I really needed to change the sheets on my bed.

And then I read the blogs about happy, carefree, content, peaceful moms who cook three course dinners from scratch, sew their children's clothing, clean their house and welcome their husbands home every night.  With dinner, that is warm, and that is not takeout.

And I can't do that.  For starters, my husband doesn't come home every night.  And when he is home, I may be at work.  We divide up housework and cooking--we each do about the same amount.  I can't sew, and even though I can cook from scratch, I don't know when I'd find the time. 
Someday, maybe I will realize that it's not the end of the world.  This is my situation, and that is that I work 44 hours a week and am taking a 6 credit hour, very difficult critical care paramedic class an hour and a half drive from home.   I am not superwoman, and I can't do everything. So for right now, some things slide.  My stairs may not be vacuumed.  I may not be as hospitable as I like.  We may not even attempt to attend church right now, because I don't have a husband home on Sundays and I'm exhausted.  I had to put my son into day care two days a week, and he's thriving without me.
I have to let go of all that.  I have to focus on what I can do, here, now, with what time I'm given.

And that's okay.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Family pictures


Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Cookie cutter moms

It's about 5 degrees outside.  My mom is probably making a hot soup or stew from scratch for tonight, and everyone will gather around the dinner table and fill up by lamplight.  It will be cold and windy and snowy outside, but warm at home.

My life is not like this, by my choice.  I am at work this cold night, till tomorrow afternoon at 4 pm.  Josh is with my in-laws, and Rob is planning on playing basketball with the guys from the firehouse.   Yes, I could be a stay-at-home mom...we can afford it, if we really wanted too...I could make chicken broth from scratch and serve a lovely homemade dinner to my husband on these cold nights.  I could make a warm, comfortable, home-centered life, enjoying my son every day, making a wonderful home for my husband.  We could spend a lot less money if I really put my mind to cooking and shopping and meal preparation.  We could sit at home and play games with friends even the evening and our life could center on our home and our family.

It doesn't.
And it won't.

There is no one-size-fits-all formula for a family.  We are not all the same.  If day care and public schooling and a 2-career lifestyle is what works best for my family, there is nothing wrong with that.  If Mom staying at home and caring for home and family and homeschooling is what works best for a particular family's needs, then there is nothing wrong with that, either.

What we as moms need to let go of is believing that there is only one way to have a good family.  That there is only one right way.  There is no formula that produces a perfect family or well-adjusted, loving children.  There is no recipe that produces a good marriage.  Every family is different.  Every relationship is different.  What we need to do, instead, is recognize that what works for one mother may not work for another, and what one child needs is not what another child needs.  We need to be flexible, adaptable, and willing to step out of our box to try something new. 

For my family, we very quickly came to the conclusion that Mom staying home was not going to be a good thing.  Instead, for us, Josh going to day care two days a week, Mom working 36 hours a week, and staying flexible as far as future schooling goes is what we need.  It may not be what your family needs, and that's a good thing.  We're not asked to be the same; we are only asked to raise our children to be loving, independent adults.

Sunday, January 16, 2011


Rob and I were told last week that we were two of the three paramedics at work chosen to go take this class.  It is a higher certification that paramedic; we will be trained specifically for transporting critically ill patients.  We will have a much broader and greater scope of practice, which means that we can carry and use many more medications, use more complicated equipment and other interesting things.  On the upside, it certainly gives us something to do, an $1100 bonus a piece for earning the certification, an hourly raise and other such interesting things.  On the downside, the next 3 months are going to be busy, stressful, and difficult.

Plus I am continuing to work full time hours, and some hours at Rob's work have opened up and he is back to his usual overtime, at least for a few weeks.  Admist all of this, we've made the decision to put Joshua into day care twice a week, at least temporarily.  We're just not going to be home, and it's unfair to expect our parents to watch him so much a week.  It's a brand new day care opening up, and there's actually no other children yet, so Josh will still get the one-on-one attention that he loves.  Since he is only part time, we've made the agreement that once the day care fills up, we'll pull him out so that we're not taking a full time infant's spot.  But I think we're good at least through April, and then maybe we can hire one of my sisters as a part time nanny.

So if you don't hear from me much the next 3 months, it's just because there is a lot going on.  We're going to be busy for the next 11 weeks, but it's a good busy.   We're looking forward to the challenge.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Mommy fears

Dear Sweet Little Love,

There are things you are going to have to understand. 

Mommy is a paramedic(so is Daddy, but he is not as paranoid as Mommy).

Mommy has seen little children hurt.  Mommy has seen little children die.  Mommy has worked frantically over a little boy who looked so much like you, and he died anyway.  Before Mommy had you, when Mommy was just falling in love with Daddy, sometimes she came home and stood against the door and wondered how anyone could possible bear to have children.  And then Mommy had you, and she understood that having a baby is like tearing out a piece of your heart and letting it walk around in this big, scary world.

So if sometimes Mommy seems a little emotional, a little scared, if sometimes you don't get to do what other kids get to do, if sometimes you see Mommy giving the evil eye to heavy pieces of furniture right before she shrieks at Daddy to take it out of the house, if when you get your driver's license and go out for your first drive and Mommy has to be taken the hospital with panic attacks--just please understand.

Mommy has seen little children be hit by cars, and choke, and have seizures, and drown in pools, and die in car accidents and by heavy falling objects. 

So tonight, if you didn't understand why Mommy sat and cried until you fell asleep, it is because Mommy got very, very scared.   No matter how well childproofed everything is, you will find whatever Mommy has missed.  And tonight, while Daddy was at a car accident with the ambulance, Mommy set you down on the living room floor to play for a few minutes while she ran out to the kitchen to stir dinner and dessert in the crockpots.

Mommy knows better than that.

I heard the gagging sound from the kitchen. 
I ran back in, and there you were, beautiful, beautiful baby, sitting there, terror in your eyes, no air getting into your lungs.  I saw the piece of paper I had somehow missed on the floor, half of it crumpled, the other part, presumably, balled up and lodged in your throat.  I glanced at your fingers and part of me registered that they were already turning blue.  The other part realized that your Daddy was the paramedic on duty in the county and he was already tied up, so if I couldn't get it out, I would need an ambulance for my equipment, and I would have to use forceps and dull blades to open your airway and pull it out.  And then I came to and scooped you up and flipped you over and began striking you carefully on the back, trying to dislodge that paper out of your airway.

You were not impressed with this, but I repeated it, praying you did not lose consciousness.  I glanced around the living room, looking for my phone, going to call 911 and tell them that I needed my fire department, and to just find someone who could drive the ambulance here and I would be the paramedic on scene, since I wasn't about to wait for someone else.

And then you made a grunting noise, and out flew a soggy, balled up piece of paper.  And then you threw up, all over Mommy--but I didn't care.  You took a great big breath, and then screamed.  It was the most beautiful scream Mommy has ever heard.

And you cried, and Mommy cried, and you both sat on the floor crying, until you put your head on Mommy's shoulder and your thumb in your mouth, and fell asleep, safe in Mommy's arms.

So if sometimes, Mommy is a little too paranoid, if sometimes you don't understand why you can't go swimming in the neighbor's pool when no adults are around, or why you can't climb on furniture, or ride your bike on the main road, it is because Mommy has seen way too much.  Sometimes, Mommy even thinks that she would be a more relaxed Mom, and maybe a better Mom, if she wasn't a paramedic.

But tonight, Mommy is very, very thankful that she is.
And even more thankful for you.

I love you, sweet baby Josh.


Thursday, January 6, 2011

Having it all

We should never complain about being bored.

E.M.T. class starts tonight.  No, I'm not recerting at a lower level--I'm teaching.  So until May, most Tuesday and Thursday evenings you will find me working with students on basic EMT skills.  This added into my regular 12 hour shift on Monday and 24 hour shift Thursday(which now will be Wednesday into Thursday, so I can leave at 4pm on Thursdays and head to class). 

And then last night while at work, my husband texts me to tell me that our boss wants us to take Critical Care Paramedic class.  CCEMT-Ps are trained in critical care transports and can do more than a paramedic.  Our agency is offering to pay for the class, mileage to and from, as well as an $1100 bonus and extra pay.  It's hard to pass this up, especially now with less hours available at work.  But every Saturday for three months away from Josh? It will be a full day, since the class is held an hour and a half away from home.  It starts at 8 am and ends at 4:30pm, so it will be an all day event. 

But my husband really, really, really wants us to take it.  His argument is that Joshua is just as happy now with grandparents as he is with us(maybe even happier, since it's way more fun at Grandma's, since Grandma and aunties have time to play all day, and Mommy doesn't), and it's way easier to do it now and get it done than when we have two or three or more kids.  And I know he's right. CCEMT-P is a certification that I will need to get at some point, and is required if I ever want to think about specializing in critical care transports or becoming a flight medic.
It's just a huge time commitment right now, between work, my paramedic refresher and helping out with the EMT class. 

And I'm already exhausted and have given up on things like housecleaning and providing wholesome homemade food.  I read all these blogs where the families have such a different lifestyle than we do--moms stay at home, cooking wholesome food from scratch and clothing their children with their own creations, dads go to work and come home at night, and everyone is happy.  And I wonder why we can't have a lifestyle that seems to peaceful and idyllic.  Why we're so stressed, and often exhausted, and things just keep piling up, both in housekeeping and just general things to do.  

Here is the truth: One cannot have it all. At least not at the same time.
One cannot have a beautifully kept house, clean children, and healthy, homemade-from-scratch meals while pursuing a career. Something has to give.  
Right now in my life, homemade spaghetti and a sparkling clean house is not what's going to happen.  Nobody is going to die if I haven't dusted in a week and some nights we grab Pizza Hut pizza.  In the end, it isn't going to really matter if Josh had to spend some Saturdays with Grandma, or if he spends two days with Daddy instead of Mommy.  Mommy doesn't have a monopoly on Josh, even if I would like it that way.

It's somewhat revolutionary to say this.  I was always taught, especially in college, that you could have it all.  It never occurred to me that you couldn't.
And slowly but surely, I'm learning that it's okay. 

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Cost cutting

We found out two days ago that Rob's hours are being cut at his full time job, losing all his overtime.  To explain how much this is, we're out $9360 a year.  Fortunately we can absorb this without too much difficulty thanks to my job.  But still I have been looking for cost-cutting ideas.

A lot of what I've found on the internet have been suggestions on how to afford to keep the wife home.  Since we don't pay for child care(my mom watches Josh on Mondays, and Rob is home Thursdays), I don't pay much for work clothes or lunches out, and we would have two vehicles regardless, I didn't find much of the ideas very applicable.  I'm afraid I can't save a whole lot by clipping coupons, especially since most of the coupons in the paper aren't for anything I would buy and the local stores don't accept internet coupons, doubling or anything else. I have been trying, though, but only really seeing about a $5.00 a week savings.  I also won't save how much money I'm bringing home in gardening, canning, sewing our own clothes, or any of the other cost cutting suggestions I've found on the internet.  We already don't have cable, paying for Netflix streaming instead and renting movies through the Redbox, and we eat at home most of the time.  We figured out the cost in depreciation, water, time and electricity, plus the basic costs for cloth diapers, and it didn't really save us anything to switch from disposables.  I spend less than $10 a week on baby food, so going to purely making our own isn't going to save me much either.  Formula is a big expense, but one we can't do anything about.  I'm working on cutting down on our electricity usage, but since our average bill is around $50 a month, I'm not sure we'll see much savings there, either.  Garbage is a fixed cost, and our water bill is dirt cheap, too, so not much savings there.  We're cutting movies out to twice a month, buying Joshua's clothes on Ebay, and trying to limit our driving.  Unfortunately, our biggest expenses are fixed--my student loan payment to the tune of $500 a month, mortgage, credit cards, car payment, old medical bill payments and health insurance, and there is nothing we can do to bring those down. 

But I'm not sure that even cutting us down to the bare essentials, because of the factors above, is going to make up for an $9360 a year loss.   So for now I'm going to keep looking for ideas online and hope that he either gets his overtime back soon, or that we can pick up a lot of extra hours at our second job.