Search

Confessions of a Working Mom

The real scoop behind what it's like to be a working mom.

Bald. Or should I say bawled?

I feel bald today. Stripped.

I think I mentioned that I had Roux En Y bypass surgery less than 2 years ago. No? Well, I did. I’ve gotten down to a trim 125. Yay, right? Yeah, not so much. Unfortunately I fell into the small percentage of people who had complication after complication. Nothing has worked right since the surgery. Several months after the surgery, in events that were seemingly unrelated, I developed blinding head pain. A year later and we’ve figured out it’s compressed discs in my neck that were probably aggravated by the loss of fatty tissue around them. I’m having a nerve burn procedure in two weeks that is SUPPOSED to help relieve the pain. I’m hinging a lot on this procedure, but at least it’s hope that the pain will go away.

During the course of figuring out the head pain, I had to try out a lot of different medication. This resulted in me having a complete revision of the Roux En Y surgery and that occurred 10 months ago. The medications caused an ulcer that had completely blocked off my small intestine, not allowing any food to pass through. I dropped down to a scary 117, and at 5’8″, is just unhealthy.

Well, despite stopping all the harmful medication, I’ve developed another ulcer. I got the news last week that I’d need another surgery. This time, we’re treating me like a cancer patient and just connecting the small intestine directly to my esophagus. You didn’t know they could do that? Yeah, get in line. Apparently that’s how they treat stomach cancer and my little tummy is going bye-bye. This news threw me for a real loop. It’s scary to contemplate. I mean, what’s going to happen when I eat? Will I just dump it out 15 minutes later? Dr. Google didn’t offer a lot on this particular topic so I’m left with lots of questions unanswered. If Dr. Google doesn’t have a solution, to me, it’s a scary situation. Can’t you find EVERYTHING through Dr. Google? So, here is me. Scared witless over this upcoming surgery that I never signed up for and know little about.

In the meantime, I’ve been put on two medications which must be taken two hours apart. One of them must be taken twice per day and it can’t be taken within an hour of meals either way. The other must be taken with meals. And I’m thinking, what meals? Do I even eat? When am I supposed to take this crap? It’s a little overwhelming, but I’m trying.

After this little fun bit of news (which has been accompanied by an inability to eat or drink much), I developed a urinary tract infection (UTI). It’s common when your fluid intake isn’t high enough as mine hasn’t been. This added another set of pills to the mix, again twice per day, but again with the meals. I’m now juggling 5 pills per day, and who knows if I’m getting it right? Am I 38 or 83? Today, I’m leaning toward the 83 because I’m pretty sure I doubled down on one of my doses after forgetting that I already took it.

Anyway, my stomach pain from the UTI had been growing increasingly worse despite the treatment of antibiotics which is pretty unusual. So last night, at the advice of my physician, I took myself off to the hospital for a CT scan to make sure I didn’t have a kidney stone. I don’t – but what I do have are two liver masses. If they’re the best kind of masses (which we don’t know yet because this was just preliminary testing), they’re completely benign but can still cause trouble if they grow too big. Most people only develop one. But I’m so special I got two! And of course I’m sitting in the ER room alone when the nurse tells me at 4:15 a.m. because my dutiful husband is at home with the kids. As she’s assuring me that she’s sure they’re benign, I just sit there confused. I came in for kidney stones, not an enlarged liver with liver masses.

After the nurse leaves the room, all I can think of is the fact that I haven’t even gotten through the stomach surgery yet, nor the neck procedure, and I’m looking at more diagnostic tests for my liver; possibly biopsies; and worst case scenarios – more surgeries. I wasn’t prepared to hear this news and I’ll admit, it hit me hard. Are my kids ever going to have a healthy mom? Will I be sick for their entire childhood? I sat in that dark ER room and just bawled like a baby. Normally I’m a kickass woman but today I felt like I was stripped bald.

Advertisements

Breast or Bottle? Who Cares???

I am so tired of the raging debate between mothers who breastfeed and those who bottle feed. Here’s why:

  1. Moms who bottle feed look down their noses when a mom who breastfeeds whips out her breast in the middle of Target to nurse her baby (ostensibly she has some sort of nursing cover and is not running around hanging out in the wind). Bottle fed moms, get off your high horse. Stop whispering your disbelief at the nerve of the mom to bare her breast in public. We all have breasts. Sure, they look different, but only here in Puritanical America do people have such a weird fascination with keeping them covered. Aside from that little fact, it’s not like you as a bottle feeding mom would hesitate to whip out your powdered mix and bottled water to whip up a batch of formula for a crying baby. Hello, no, you wouldn’t. You’d take care of business and feed that baby. A breast fed mom is doing the exact same thing in the same time and space you are – providing food for her hungry baby. Not only that, but many bottle fed moms don’t wean their kids from the bottle until they are somewhere around 2. Yet moms who breastfeed often start hiding the fact that they are still breastfeeding because it’s considered “odd” after the first year or so. Bottle feeding moms, you don’t get to sensationalize this entire experience into something sick and bizarre.  It’s one of the most natural things our bodies do and the length of time it’s done for varies just like bottle fed babies.
  2. Moms who breast feed look down their noses on moms who bottle feed by stating it’s the “easy way out” and state their babies are healthier and closer to their moms than bottle fed babies. Although antibodies aren’t passed on in formula, I’ve been around enough kids to know that breast fed babies bring home the same ailments from daycare that bottle fed babies do. I have mentioned I have 4 kids, right? 3 who are in the public school system and 1 who is still in daycare. So, I’ve got some insight into this particular issue. I also find it interesting that statistics state there are less absences from work with breastfeeding moms. As someone who has done HR for a number of years, moms who breastfeed and are back at work are pumping and bottle feeding. According to womenshealth.gov, in order to reap the benefits of reducing infant illnesses, statistics show the babies have to be exclusively breastfed for at least 6 months. That cuts out working moms because moms who wholly breastfeed can’t come back to a regular 8 to 5 job because they can’t bring the baby with them so clearly the statistics are skewed. As far as making claims that baby is closer to a mom who breastfeeds? This whole premise makes moms who would like to breastfeed but can’t, or moms who adopted, feel bad or lacking, like they are less of a mom because the food the baby ingests doesn’t come from their body.  Enough already with making moms who bottle feed feel bad. Moms who breastfeed are not superior just for that fact alone. 
  3. Both sides, stop assuming that the way a baby is fed is made by choice. Sometimes it is. But many times it isn’t. There are economical factors, physiological factors, and biological factors that motivate moms everywhere into the mode of feeding they choose. I’ve been in Human Resources for a lot of years and counseled a lot of expectant moms on my own experiences. Plus, I’ve been in the position to be there when moms need a place to pump when they come back. What I’ve found is that some moms would love not to nurse but they can’t afford the “good” formula at $26.00 a can. And, there are some moms who would love to nurse but simply can’t get the baby to latch. There are some moms who are blessed to adopt a newborn baby and who don’t lactate because they were never pregnant. And there are some moms who want to breastfeed and everything goes perfectly with latching and milk production and get to do exactly as they please. Lastly, there are some moms who are career-minded or are extra careful with their body and make the decision early on to bottle feed because they are returning to work or don’t want their breasts stretched out. All of these motivations for feeding methods are valid – but how many are really choices per se? Stop treating each side as though they are the enemy and realize that the motivations behind what they’ve decided are personal and should be respected no matter what. After all, aren’t you asking us to respect your motivation for your method of feeding?

The bottom line is, we are all in a true sisterhood that derives from being moms. As moms, we love our babies and want what is best for them. We should be rejoicing with other moms that we’ve been able to have them in the first place, not tearing each other down on how the babies are fed. Life as a mom is demanding and hard. Why make someone feel bad about how they feed their baby? Instead of commenting on the fact that they took “the easy way out” when you see a mom stopping to prepare a bottle; or deriding the fact that a mom is continuing to shop while attempting to put on a nursing cover and NOT flash anyone her one-of-a-kind breast – why not stop and offer assistance. Wouldn’t that be an awesome change? I can’t count the number of times when I had to make a solo run to the store to pick up formula or diapers or wipes or some item and in the middle of my trip had to feed my hungry baby while making sure my other children didn’t escape off somewhere else, and while simultaneously trying to pacify my hungry baby so he or she didn’t scream the entire store down and thereby irritate other patrons. I probably would have wept in relief if another mom had offered a hand getting out a nursing cover from my bag or offered to dig around my bag for my prepackaged formula container while I juggled my angry baby. If you’re a mom, this scenario, or something like it, has happened to you. And no matter what feeding method is occurring, you can’t help but panic. So I say, join the sisterhood of moms and offer a fellow mother a hand. Help bring someone up instead of tearing them down. After all – as a 38 year old woman who dearly loves her mother – the last thing I care about is whether I was breast or bottle fed. I just care about the fact that my mother loved me the best way she knew how.

Finally Adjusted

When I was 19, I married my high school boyfriend. I’ll call him “the Ex”. I’ve talked about him briefly before. We had 1 little boy together (my Z) when I was 20 and by the time I was 23, we were divorced.

The Ex was the kind of guy that was easy to hate. He was a workaholic, literally working some days 18 hours, and had little time for anything else but his ambition. He had severe OCD and his mother had been diagnosed as bipolar (we know where Z got it from…). I suspect the Ex was bipolar too (after watching Z), he was just never diagnosed. He was a crappy husband, always screaming at me about something and belittling how I looked or the “fancy” words I used. He was also a crappy dad. He didn’t have time for a kid and so therefore largely ignored Z. When I decided to go back to college to pursue my degree, he was threatened and jealous and insecure. I decided I’d had enough and moved home with my mom and dad, taking Z with me.

The Ex quickly remarried and had another baby. Wife Two was a raving lunatic. Z hated going over to see them because the Ex was always working so he only spent time with Two. We amended the visitation to include only one weekend per month in exchange for dropping the child support to a VERY minimal amount (less than $100 per month). He and Two quickly became my nemesis. They were the people you loved to hate. Didn’t pay child support on time, bitched about every single thing, were just mean people. Most people have someone like this in their lives, right? Someone who provides you with an endless supply of good conversation amongst friends. This was the position the Ex held in my life. I held my bitterness around me like a security blankie because I was on my own raising a child and working on my college degree.

It was around this time that I met my current husband. He stepped in as a dad to Z where the Ex was miserably failing. He attended all of Z’s soccer games, tball games, etcetera. About a year into our relationship, the Ex and Two divorced. The Ex had a come to Jesus moment where he realized what a crappy person he’d been to me and to Z. He tried to become involved and make amends to both of us. He apologized to my husband. I accepted his offer of friendship and forgave him for the harm he’d done. What I didn’t realize was that I was again creating a security blankie for myself. I got to have a relationship with the Ex on my terms, where he felt abjectly sorry for everything he’d done. Our dynamic fed my own desire to punish him for everything he’d put me through by knowing he felt guilty each and every time he saw me.

Of course, the child support didn’t increase, nor did the visits. He didn’t even call his son in between visits. There was literally no contact. At his core, the Ex was a self-involved man who had no time for anyone else but his ambitions. He had started his own company which was very successful. He was driven and it was evident. But he was still a crappy dad and a crappy friend. It was during this new “self discovery” time that the Ex met wife Three. Three was a nice girl who had a very small little boy. She had been widowed and was looking for a sense of security. The Ex was able to provide that to her, being very financially stable. She didn’t mind that he was gone all the time so their relationship worked. She also didn’t mind that he was friends with wife One and she and I bonded over the absolute insanity of wife Two.

Things existed in this continuum for a couple of years. My husband was Z’s dad and didn’t mind (or quite understand) my odd relationship with the Ex. The Ex called me a lot because he had attacks of guilt a lot. And he needed to connect with someone who really knew and understood him. I was that person for him. His parents had long been deceased and I was a link to his past. Our odd friendship worked for us both and I didn’t realize how much I valued its place in my life until it was yanked away. 

The Ex came to see me in October of 2010. I had just had my 4th and final baby and everything was great in my world. But not so for the Ex. He had cancer, you see. Terminal. In the brain. Less than 6 months. These words echoed around in my head over and over. I urged the Ex to make arrangements. Draw up a will. Write his children letters from him. Bequeath certain things (his high school letterman jacket, trinkets). But the Ex was angry. He was so angry at life, at knowing he was going to die. He went out and bought a Corvette that he was only able to drive one time because of the surgeries he decided to have, even knowing he was terminal. He went and bought a new home for Three and remodeled it for her so she would be comfortable when he passed.

I visited with the Ex often. I saw him for the last time about a week before he died. We sat and talked about our lives. He apologized to me repeatedly and told me how much he loved me. He told me he knew I’d be a good mom to Z and that my husband was a great dad to Z. We cried together about the paths our lives had taken. I left that day feeling peaceful with him. He died a week before his 35th birthday.

After he passed, I learned the Ex left Z and his other child with NOTHING. Not even a letter telling them how much they were loved. Not even his letterman jacket or the quilt his grandma made. Three got everything. I was shocked. I had expected so much better of him than what he did. My own expectations of the Ex left me so angry with him, there were no words. I was angry on behalf of his children. I was angry for myself in believing that the Ex would do the right thing when he never had in the past. Stupid me. I couldn’t even take my anger out on him because he wasn’t there. I felt so guilty being angry at a dead man and that made me even angrier! I had moments of such anger at him that when I was driving in my car alone I would yell at him how much he’d let me down, let his kids down, and ruined his own memory.

This May makes three years that he’s been gone. Three years of dealing with the odd mixed emotions of losing my own version of a security blankie. Three years of dealing with extreme anger at him that he left his kids behind without anything at all. And, secretly, three years of missing him like crazy. This last part has taken me completely by surprise. But he was the guy you loved to hate. The guy you could talk about endlessly. He abandoned his kids in death, even though he had advance notice. He was also a friend, a blast from my past, my first husband, half of the biology of my precious Z. And he’s gone forever. It has taken me three years to realize that all of the emotions I have about him and his death are normal. I’ve stopped yelling at him in the car. He can’t hear me anyway and I’m quite sure I just look like an idiot to anyone who happens to see me. I feel like I am finally adjusted to his death and just quietly miss him and our odd relationship.

Dread

One of the hardest things about being a mom to four kids is the fact that you can’t evenly distribute your attention to each one of your children. In a perfect world you would have no trouble doing this. But my world is far from perfect.

My Z is constantly on my mind. Especially in April. Two years ago in April 2012, I had my first experience with 51/50. 51/50 is where you commit someone for their own safety when you believe they are at risk to harm themselves. Before we knew Z had bipolar disorder, trouble had started brewing at home. He was rebellious. We found out he was smoking pot, sneaking out. Normal kid stuff I guess. I did it, but my parents never knew. I quickly grew out of it. But not Z. Z was in everyone’s face with it and we had three very little children at the time. He left pocket knives out on the floor, left doors unlocked, and did things that were irresponsible and ultimately put our other kids at risk. My husband finally called him on it and told him it had to stop. Z flipped out. It’s a day I’ll never forget. He attacked my husband and broke a couple of his fingers. My husband is a much larger guy than Z and finally just sat on him to stop the insanity. Z screamed the entire time that we were abusing him and that he was going to kill himself. It was awful and a defining moment in our family. It fractured us. We called the police and they recommended a 51/50. Z was gone for several days and the house was peaceful. It felt like everyone could take a breath for the first time in months without waiting for the powder keg to ignite.

When Z returned from the inpatient treatment, things were bad. Nobody trusted anyone else. The relationship between Z and my husband was more than fractured, it was broken. Several more months of self-destructive behavior resumed until my Z took a ride with someone who had threatened to have him arrested the night before. In that moment, I lost all sanity as a mother and said things I deeply regret. I was so angered that he put himself, this child that I loved, into a position to be truly hurt. I realized at that moment that for the past six months I had neglected my other three children to focus on Z and I could no longer do so because it was destroying me. I was on so much anti-anxiety medication at that time that I was an absolute zombie. I called my mother and father and arranged for Z to go live with them. Their home was only 30 minutes away, but he was switched to a new school district and his life was radically changed.

I wish I could say that things got better for all of us but they didn’t. I was eaten alive with guilt. I felt like I should have moved myself out of my family home to go live in an apartment with Z. Clearly he couldn’t be around my other children. I was living in a fog of self-hatred for making the call to abandon my child. Everyone tried to reason with me that if I moved out with Z, I would be abandoning 3 other children. And although I knew they were right, I still couldn’t focus on my other children. It seemed that by making my decision to have Z move out, I had worsened my own situation. There are large gaps in my memory of time that I can never get back. And I hate that. My youngest wasn’t even two when all this started and so I missed a lot of the “fun” stages that are associated with having a toddler because I was off dealing with Z.

When April 2013 rolled around, my mother called me in hysterics. She and Z had gotten into a huge fight and he’d run away with a girl. The girl’s parents were also frantic. My husband (who knows my son very well) found him easily. Z was high and pumped up on a manic cycle (although we didn’t know it at the time). He again sat on Z while Z’s friend vandalized our car, the girl punched him in the face and broke his eye glasses, and general chaos ensued. The police came again and heard Z screaming that he was threatening to kill himself. By this point, we suspected he had bi-polar disorder but nothing had been officially diagnosed. He again ended up with a 51/50 and then was transferred to an inpatient hospital 2 hours away.

The first couple of nights were awful. The events of the previous April had fractured us. The damage done this April broke us. My husband had just been laid off and now his eye glasses were broken. His vehicle was damaged. And we had a son 2 hours away in inpatient mental therapy. We could little afford any of it, yet on the second night Z was there, I left work early and drove to see him. Visiting hours were between 7 and 8 p.m. nightly. I made the trip and within 5 minutes he was screaming at me and refused to see me. I was devastated. Luckily, that night I met his psychiatrist who explained that Z was in rapid cycle mode and needed heavy medication to help bring him out of the cycle. I made the trip 2 more times that week, consumed with the need for Z to know how much I loved him and for him to know that I was there for him. He didn’t seem to care either way other than to tell me each time he saw me how much he hated me. Regardless, at the end of his weeklong inpatient treatment, he was transferred to another facility for a 30 day inpatient stay. This treatment facility was 4 hours from home and required us to come every weekend for family therapy. My husband and I did it willingly, again giving up time with our other children (along with money we didn’t have to begin with) to help Z. In retrospect, I am grateful for the events of that April because he was finally properly diagnosed as having bipolar disorder and was put on the road to therapy, anger management classes, and given mood stabilizing medication.

Still, things are not good. Z still lives with my parents because he has destructive anger outbursts. I don’t trust him around his siblings. But during the past year I’ve learned to let go just a little bit. I can’t control what he does. I can love him, which I do, but I can’t stop his path to self-destruction. I do still watch him though. I guess that will never change. I’ve noticed recently that his self-medicating has ramped up. I tell myself that this April will be different because, although I’ll extend all my effort to help him, I realize I can’t “save” him if he makes the same kinds of choices he made the past two years. Still, I dread this month. I dread having to deal with everything that goes along with his disease. I pray that this month will turn out differently than the past two Aprils I’ve gone through. I’ve been trying to cherish the days that I have with my children, including Z, instead of just wishing time away and hoping that the month comes and goes without any event. And if I never hear the term 51/50 again, it will be too damn soon.

Bi-Polar

Wow, now there’s a word. Bi-polar. Kind of makes you want to run in the other direction, right? Wait until you’ve got one in the family.

My 17 year old son, Z, was diagnosed as bi-polar two years ago. This is by far the most difficult thing I’ve ever gone through. See, Z has always been my buddy. When my ex-husband and I split up, Z was mine. I was young and in college and so wherever I went, Z came with. He was such a good little guy. Sweet temperament. Polite kid. It’s hard to reconcile all of that with the surly young man that stares out of his chocolatey brown eyes at me.

Until you get bi-polar disease under control, the person that you know will disappear. And even when it gets under control things are still a challenge. My Z is so smart it’s incredible. His academics, however, are very reflective of his disease and much less so of his actual mental acuity. And I’m so tired of hearing, “Are you sure he’s not just acting this way because (insert whatever reason)…” Dear God, who would choose to have horrid mood swings that take you from the height of the clouds down to the depths of the sea in a heartbeat? Nobody. Watching my son plummet and then rise is agonizing.

I’ll talk much more about this subject because it’s always on my mind. Of my 4 children, Z is constantly there. He takes up the most space in my head but it’s because I worry about him so gravely. Will he hurt himself? Will he hurt someone else? When will he be arrested and what will it be for? Will he graduate? The list is exhaustive. But I love him tremendously, with or without his illness. He no more asked for this than the kid down the block asked for Type 1 diabetes. Yet he’s got it and we’ve got to deal.

TGIF

It’s Friday again and thank God.

Being an executive for a large company, a mom to four kids, and a wife to a stay-at-home dad is challenging. Springtime seems to be the worst. This week my 6 year old boy, B, started t-ball on Tuesday. This lasts for the next 8 weeks. Tuesday involved rushing home from work, making sure my B had all his t-ball paraphernalia all ready to go, and getting us all over to the field by 6 p.m. We were all home by 8 p.m. and it didn’t seem so bad. Until I realized I still needed to get plastic Easter eggs and candy from the store to send with him to school for the Easter egg hunt. So off I went. The night ended with candy-stuffed eggs and me feeling like a lard because I’d consumed half of the leftover chocolates from the egg stuffing.

Wednesday was a rinse and repeat kind of day. My 8 year old daughter, C, had volleyball practice. Again, it started at 6 p.m. I found myself rushing home and doing the same steps all over again that had just happened the day before. This night, however, was hat making night. A hat needed to be made for Thursday’s Easter parade. So, after volleyball practice, off I went for a quick trip to the local craft store. The night ended with me high on spray adhesive fumes and with little bits of plastic grass stuck to my clothing. And I’d consumed the other half of the chocolates I’d hidden the night before in my sock drawer. But the hat was made!

Thursday there was a weird lull. There was the Easter parade (which I missed because of work) and not a lot else. I found it vaguely ironic that I had done all this prep work for the kids and I couldn’t even participate in the events at school. One of the glaring conundrums of being a working mom, right? But, lest we forget Friday, I still had one more day in which to achieve motherly greatness. Friday morning, starting at 7:30, was Muffins with Mom. I love my children, I truly do. But I work and so I don’t participate in a lot of the events at school that occur during the day. So I’m completely outside of all the cliques. I dread events like Muffins with Mom because it’s like being the new kid in high school all over again. There’s nowhere to sit in the cafeteria except next to the weird kid. And I’m the weird kid. So anyway, I wake my kids up an hour early Friday morning (myself included) and we lug ourselves off to grab a Starbucks before hitting Muffins with Mom. The only thing that makes the morning bearable is the fact that they are thrilled I am at school with them. But as soon as they scarf down their muffins, they are ready to be done with the whole thing. They kiss me sweetly and then completely ditch me. I’m left sitting there like a complete reject.

So here it is, the highly anticipated Friday. I’m plugging way at my job when my husband calls me. He’s a sweet man, one of the best I’ve ever met. But he thinks like a kid a lot of the time. So he calls me and suggests we have our friends and their six kids over for movie night tonight on the back lawn. When I ask how we’re going to do that because our back lawn needs to be mowed and our four month old puppy has chewed up and spit out half of the toys back there, he is affronted with me. How dare I question his plans? Am I just a dullard? No fun? Of course he’ll take care of that all. And move the TV outside. And string some lights. And buy pizza and paper plates and sodas for all. We’ll picnic he says.

As I am dead silent on the other end of the phone, it occurs to me that maybe I shouldn’t have looked forward to Friday. I love our friends. And my husband. And my kids. But I’m tired! I feel like I directed half of the military of the world this week and would just like 15 or so minutes in which to quietly celebrate my success. Without kids. Without friends. Without my husband. Just me in a quiet house alone. Does that make me selfish? I guess it probably does. But I feel like I’ve shared so much of myself already this week that I don’t have any left to give. I know when I get home, I’ll change and get comfortable and at some point during the evening, maybe while I’m sharing some wine with my friends, I’ll again think to myself, “TGIF”.

Blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑