park view

A view from the track at the park closest to my office.

Last September, I committed myself to 9 months of giving up my daily hour lunch break in order to shuttle Jax from pre-K (which is a half day) to daycare. This was the only way he could attend pre-K, and it’s a decision that I’m very happy to have made (because he LOVES his pre-K class and teacher) even though it seriously inconveniences me in the middle of the work day and uses up a lot of gas!

However, it has been 7 months of this now, and I’m kind of losing my mind. I hadn’t realized how much my lunch hour re-energized me in the middle of the day. How it was sometimes the only time I had all to myself, to do anything I wanted, which usually meant getting some exercise in and sometimes meant getting some errands run so I didn’t have to devote evenings and weekends to them. In particular, I’ve really missed taking walks with my co-workers during my lunch breaks.

Another thing that surprises me? How I didn’t notice that I could actually squeeze in 2 laps around the track at my son’s school as I waited for him to be let out. I have exactly 18 minutes, which until this month I had used to tweet, check Facebook, and text with my friends while sitting in my car–it’s the perfect amount of time for me to change out of my work shoes and into sneaks and do a fast 2 laps before heading back to the carpool line to change shoes again and greet my happy kid.

I’m kicking myself for waiting so long to do this. But now that I’ve been doing it for 2 weeks, my body craves the reprieve from all the sitting I do all day long at work. I love getting out there in the sunshine and warm air to move my limbs.

I may even treat myself to a new pair of sneaks because the Reebok Outlet is having a pretty cool sale today.

ONE DAY ONLY: Reebok Outlet Beat the Clock Sale – Up to 35% Off
On your mark… get set… go! On Wednesday, 4/23, you can get up to 35% off on Reebok Outlet during the Beat the Clock Sale, where the earlier you shop, the more you save. However wait too long and you will miss out because as the minutes tick on, the savings decrease. Here’s the breakdown…

12:00- 2:00pm receive 35% off
2:00 – 4:00pm receive 25% off
4:00 – 6:00pm receive 15% off

Code: HURRY

The longer you wait, the less you save, so make sure to hit the sale early and hard. Before you know it, the day will be over and the deals will be done. And you’ll have to wear your ratty old sneaks on your next walk. ;)

**This post contains affiliate links and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my links. 

 

This morning, I spent the entire hour between waking up and leaving the house on myself (other than packing lunches) because Jax slept in (amazing!). Just as the clock turned to 7:45–the time I have to leave the house in order to make it to work on time–I realized today is the Thanksgiving feast at pre-K. This meant that I needed to send Jax to school dressed like either a Pilgrim or an Indian, per his teacher’s instructions. Rifling through his dresser, I couldn’t find anything that fit the description (in my head), so I had the bright idea to craft him a Pilgrim’s hat out of construction paper & whatever other supplies I could gather in under 5 minutes.

I struggled for a second between which of my two hats I needed to put on more: on-time professional Editor with a workload that needs all my attention versus crafty mom who doesn’t want her kid to be the only kid at school not dressed like a Pilgrim…

Mom wins. Always.

Here’s what I created when I should have been commuting:

pilgrim hatNot terrible, right? Except for the pieces of tape showing…

But when he woke up, I couldn’t get him to put it on! Can you guess why? Guess what he told me!

His teacher already made each child a Pilgrim hat or Indian headdress! Apparently, SHE had even measured their heads!

So…what do I do with my super cute Pilgrim hat? I’m thinking I make one for each of us and show up to Thanksgiving dinner at my parents’ house wearing them.  :)

Do you think I made the right choice in going into work late so I could craft this hat, despite the outcome?

I did manage to sneak in a photo of Jax trying it on…

pilgrim hat modelAnd by the way, I managed to get to work only 9 minutes late! Not bad!

 

I haven’t had much time for blogging lately, and I sure don’t have time for it today either. But I’m compelled at this moment to carve out 5 minutes to process my feelings through a bit of stream-of-consciousness writing. I was moved just now by a video, “3 Queens,” shared on Elephant Journal, and so I’m taking a break from my work and thinking about motherhood, feeling grateful that I’ve been given the opportunity to be Jackson’s mother.

3 Queens from Matt Bieler on Vimeo.

Being his mother is the best thing I’ve done with my life. Nothing will top this, I am sure of it. And when I think about how lucky I am to have him, my heart nearly bursts.

Some days while I’m at work, I regret not finding a way to stay at home with him longer than my maternity leave. It simply wasn’t meant to be. Jax was born in 2009, smack in the middle of the economic downturn–the one that caused my husband to lose his job. There was no way I could stay at home with Jax, as my income was (barely) supporting my family. I had a lot of anxiety about returning to work. Actually, “a lot of anxiety” doesn’t come close to describing how I felt.

A few months into my return to work, I felt more at peace with my decision. I began to find enjoyable moments, even. The ones you would expect a working mom to say: peeing in private, eating a hot lunch, and all the other things I had previously taken for granted. Sometimes, though, this made me feel guilty.

Now that he is 4 years old and I’ve been back to work for so long, I’m mostly OK with being here. But not today. Today I want to be home with him, reading books in our jammies and then out exploring the neighborhood together. I don’t want to be stuck at my desk, where the best I can do is occasionally glance at a photograph of him and daydream about our 3.5 hours together after work and before bedtime. It doesn’t feel like enough. It doesn’t feel fair that I spend 8.5 hours away from him and only 3.5 (awake) hours with him.

I hope I’m giving him enough of myself on the weeknights. I have doubts sometimes. Some nights, it takes effort to be present with him and ignore the chore list. I tend to overcompensate on weekends.

I think about all this and I tell myself that I am a good mother, and I believe it. I’m doing my best, I can say with certainty. I love him fiercely, whether he’s with me or not.

I think it’s almost time to use a sick day and have a mommy-and-Jax day.

 

Months ago, or maybe even sometime last year, my therapist gave me a handout that I skimmed and filed, never giving it too much thought again until now. Across the top, it says “Distress Tolerance Handout 5 (cont.)” and at the bottom, the source line indicates it’s from a book by Marsha Linehan, the “mother” of dialectical behavioral therapy, or DBT.

I’ve written about DBT several times before; it has helped me figure out the coping skills that work for me when I’m stressed–coping skills I’m having a hard time remembering at this time, when I seem to really need them. Which is why I busted out the handouts again for a refresher.

This morning, I spent 15 minutes in front of my light therapy box (my “SAD lamp” as I call it, which I’m sure confuses some people–how can a lamp be sad?) and pulled out this particular handout, staring at it without reading it for a minute until I remembered all I’d learned about one-mindfulness (another DBT term, meaning to do one thing at a time, letting go of distractions, focusing on the moment).

I focused, one-mindfully, on the first box: Willingness. “Willingness is DOING JUST WHAT IS NEEDED in each situation, in an unpretentious way. It is focusing on effectiveness.” Apropos for a Monday morning, don’t you agree?

My to do list just for today, not even for the whole week, felt overwhelming. Like it always does every morning. So instead of caving in to the voice in my head that was scolding me for taking such an early break from the work (There is so much of it to do! Get doing it!), I continued to read:

“Willingness is listening very carefully to your WISE MIND, acting from your inner self.”

And then:

“Willingness is ALLOWING into awareness your connection to the universe–to the earth, to the floor you are standing on, to the chair you are sitting on, to the person you are talking to.”

Yes, I thought, this makes sense to me today. What was my “Wise Mind” (still another DBT term, meaning the place where your Reasonable Mind and your Emotional Mind meet) telling me? That I always pull off the save at the end of the day–I always manage to check off most of what’s on my to do list. I’m a wonderful employee, and my bosses clearly seem to trust that I’ll do the job well. And if I don’t? There’s another day to try again. And if something gets past me or is late? It has never resulted in dire consequences; I think at this point we all know I’m only human. In other words, it’s going to be ok, even though the list seems insurmountable, impossible. I will find a way to get it done. And because I’ve been in therapy and because I keep these handouts nearby, I’ll find a way to get it done without sacrificing my quality of life.

The handout then described the opposite of willingness: willfulness.

“Willfulness is SITTING ON YOUR HANDS when action is needed, refusing to make changes that are needed.” Oh, denial? Check.

“Willfulness is GIVING UP.” Double check.

Things were striking a chord. With my workload increasing from 1,080 pages per year (I managed 2 health care journals for a publishing company) to 1800+ pages per year (I am now managing 3 journals, with only a minimal increase in help), it would be fair to say that yes, I do feel like giving up. I feel like searching for a new job altogether. I feel like shutting down. I feel like giving up who I am and what I love just to check everything off my long to do list at work. I’ve done a whole lot of ignoring this isn’t happening at work. I’ve also stomped a lot and raged and cried at home. Neither of those things is working. I’ve instead had migraines from crying and being stressed. I’ve let go of anything enjoyable to me–now, when I obviously (even to me) need those things most! I’ve tried to “FIX every situation” (which is also willfulness, according to this handout).

I’m not, and I never have been, good at rolling with the punches. But I think it’s time this old dog learned how to be willing and not willful, before I burn out. I see it happening already, and so quickly. And it’s terrifying.

Wish me luck as I trim the fat from my life and focus, one-mindfully, on only what’s really important, both at home and at work. Wish me luck as I try to practice what I just preached above!

 

Life is good, but it’s busier than ever. I haven’t had ANY time at all for posting here, which is eating me up inside. I miss oversharing! This is a quick post to tell you I’m still here, still thinking of the blog and of its readers, trying to figure out how to achieve a better work-life balance (aren’t we all?).

A quick recap of what has been on my mind (and my plate) lately:

Shore vacation! We spent a week at the Jersey Shore with my family. It was relaxing and peaceful and exactly what I needed. However, I worked very hard leading up to the vacation to ensure I wouldn’t be swamped with work when I returned–but here I am, up to my neck in articles to edit and proofread, backed up against seemingly impossible deadlines. Sigh. Looking at pictures sort of helps me recall how enjoyable the week was:

Don't I look relaxed? (That's my husband and Jax in the background, flying a kite on the beach.)

Don’t I look relaxed? (That’s my husband and Jax in the background, flying a kite on the beach.)

view

This is the view from one of the balconies at the shore house. Very peaceful.

Postvacation has been a blur of kiddie birthday parties, bringing work home, refinancing the house, spending as much time as possible with my bestie (who visited from Florida), and more. I guess you could call it a typical summer, full of plans and lacking time for things like blogging!

In my very minimal spare time (read: the time I could be using for blogging), I’ve been reading a lot. I read Little Earthquakes just before vacation. I didn’t love it, to be honest. Then I finished The Interestings on vacation. I highly recommend that novel, which I couldn’t put down and is typical of my favorite style. Then I read The Silent Wife, which was just OK. It’s been compared to Gone Girl (but so many have, these days), but I didn’t love it how I loved Gone Girl. It just…lacked something. Now I’m reading Sisterland. So far, so good but we’ll see. Up next might be Sharp Objects, but I’m open to recommendations if you’ve got ‘em!

Also up next? My 36th birthday on the 14th, and Jax turns 4 on the 15th. (As I typed this, “Landslide” randomly came on my iPod and now I want to cry! “Even children get older. I’m getting older, too.” SOB, SOB, SOB.) I’ve been party planning (for him, not me). We’re considering buying Jax his first “big-boy bike” as his big gift. Very exciting! Also exciting is that I just signed him up for soccer in the fall. His two best buddies are playing for the same town, so we’re hoping they manage to be assigned to the same team. Think good thoughts!

I also signed him up for Pre-K at our local elementary school. That was emotional–how is he already old enough for school?! Now we wait to find out whether he gets the morning session or the afternoon session. If he gets the morning session, I’ll be giving up my lunch breaks (which is when I take walks with my friends) to pick him up from school and take him to daycare for the afternoon. It’s going to be rough and it was a tough decision to register him, but it will make the Kindergarten transition easier and will be good for him in many ways. If he is assigned the afternoon session, we will likely opt against Pre-K and keep him full time in daycare, as the commute and after-school care is a big issue for us. So also think good thoughts for the morning session for us! :)

I guess you’re all caught up now on most of the goings-on in my little world. I hope to return to blogging (and reading blogs) regularly very soon!