A Study on Bad Timing

Because I am on a flexible work arrangement at work, when I worked mad, crazy hours during busy season, I was able to choose two weeks to take off later in the year without taking official vacation days.

Because Kullervo was graduating in May, I chose the first two weeks in June, thinking that we would have some time together as a family, that I would have nice time in the early summer with the kids to play outside all day, every day before the brutality of summertime hit.  This worked conveniently around the schedule of my current client at work, and it was going to be perfect.

Then Kullervo’s summer annual training with the National Guard changed its dates, so the entire second week that I am off from work, he is gone.

Then we realized the awfulness of bar exam studying, and how it makes law school look like half-day kindergarten.

Still, I have these two weeks to play outside with the kids, “chalking” (as Oliver calls it), taking nature walks, swimming in the pool, basking in the sun (with tons of sunscreen, of course).

It rained for the ENTIRE first week that I was off.  All of this past week has been rain.  Every day.  All day.  If it’s not raining, it’s pouring.  If it’s not pouring, it’s drizzling.  If it’s not drizzling, there’s lightning.  If there’s none of the above, it’s nighttime and nobody realizes it.  And the forecast calls for nothing but rain for the next 10 days.

On top of that, Oliver developed what may be his worst diaper rash ever.  It was so bad that changing his diaper either took two people, or took one person holding him down using acrobatic-style leg calisthenics while he screamed bloody murder, “Don’t hurt me!  Don’t hurt my bum!” and I was certain that someone was going to report us to child services.  The diaper rash turned out to possibly be a blessing in disguise, because it finally convinced Oliver to attempt to use his potty.  And if he’s naked, he’ll use it without accident.  If he’s wearing anything, he’ll just let loose.  (I figure it’s a step in the right direction, right?)

And, because there has to be an ‘and’ here, Hazel appears to be teething, and hasn’t slept for more than about 30 minutes at a stretch at night for at least three nights in a row, which, of course, means that Kullervo and I haven’t slept for more than about 30 minutes at a stretch, and because the first night Kullervo didn’t realize, my boobs are so sore from nursing her every 30 minutes all night long that I remembered why I am fine to wait awhile before having another new baby, because the first few weeks of nursing are a horrible time.

But being inside with two kids all day makes them whiny.  And yell-y.  And bored.  They’re so bored they don’t want to watch TV.  They’re so bored that at the suggestion of a movie, Oliver says, “Um, how about we do something else, okay?”

So, that was last week.  Today, because God realized that I was really, really, really, really, really, really going to need it, it did not rain.  We dropped Kullervo off at Army this morning and headed for the zoo.  We went to the zoo, threw some tantrums, saw four animals (a free zoo makes going with toddlers much more enjoyable, because who cares if you only see four animals and your kids are much more concerned with the HUGE ant they saw walking by the window when they were looking at the bear sloth?), had an argument, chased some birds, and then came home for lunch.  After naptime, we went and tried out a couple of playgrounds we hadn’t been to in awhile (verdict: the first one was ghetto and I worried that we would be eaten by zombie drug addicts or something, and the second one was great with a lot of kids and parents who didn’t appear to judge me as I tried to keep both of my children from dying while perched on high playground surfaces and who lended a hand when it appeared that both were trying to dive off of opposite ends at the same time), and then came home right at dinnertime.

But, because we had to say goodbye to Kullervo for two weeks today, I have been an emotional wrecking ball today and desperately worked to not show the kids so they didn’t get freaked out.  I’ve been tired–I napped right along with the kids today, and it was AMAZING!–and on the verge of tears all day.

So, now I have rambled on and on and on and should probably re-read this before I post it because probably huge sections of it aren’t even going to make sense, but whatever.

Gender Stereotypes (Sunday Oliverism)

As Oliver figures out his world, I think it’s normal for him to classify things into groups based on what he sees.

This morning at breakfast, Conner was singing a silly made up song, and ended it by asking Oliver if he wanted to go to work.

Oliver looked at him very seriously and said, “I am a boy. Girls go to work. Boys go to school.”

When Did This Happen?

Hazel has a few words (Mommy, Daddy, tickle, baby, ball, eat, apple, book, and I think a few others). She’s also gotten to the stage where she has more sophisticated wants than she has vocabulary for, and she hasn’t quite mastered pointing. It’s frustrating for everyone; I’ve been trying to introduce sign language (we have got milk and eat down for that), but it’s still a frustrating time.

At the same time, she is delightful. She has more personality than her size would imply. She’s her own little person, through and through. She’s feisty, independent, and loving. This little girl loves! She loves the cats–even The Beast, who is kind of unlovable. She sees the cats, points, smiles and looks ridiculously happy. She’s very gentle with them (for the most part), and approaches them gently and slowly. It’s like she has an instinct for it. And she’s incredibly sweet with her stuffed animals. She’ll pick one up and carry it around all day, and smile at it. She’ll hug it tight and make it give her kisses, and then is delighted with the kisses she just got.

She has a favorite book–Fifteen Animals by Sandra Boynton. I read it to her every time she gets into bed, and she holds the book while she sleeps.

She loves Oliver. They adore each other. They sit in the back of the car and have conversations. Oliver will ask Hazel questions, and then say, “Yes or no, Hazel? Yes or no?”. Hazel will nod or shake her head, and Oliver will take it very seriously. They listen to each other.

Oliver becomes more and more of a total character. First, he can remember everything. Once, about a year ago (when he was just-turned-two), I picked Conner up from Army (heehee!), and we had to wait awhile for him to be ready. We got out of the car and one of the other infantry guys brought out a ball for Oliver to play with. This weekend, when we were there, Oliver asked if he could look for that man with the yellow ball. How can he remember that?!

He also has this amazing imagination. He has started playing pretend games, and is very elaborate with what is going on. Things often get stuck in the mud (I don’t know why, but that’s been an ongoing theme in his imagination since last summer). Today, a dragon got stuck in the mud and Oliver couldn’t get him out! I offered to help, and proceeded to attempt to pull the dragon out with all of my might, but my attempt was foiled! The mud was too thick! So Oliver found a hero who saved the dragon from the mud and they were friends.

He also talks a lot about his “work-job”. When we tell him to do something, his response is likely to be, “But first…” Often, first he has to go to his work-job. When caught picking his nose, he has explained to our nanny that picking his nose is his work-job. And when prodded further, declared that Hazel is his boss at his work-job, and makes him pick his nose. And pays him $1 for it.

So, when did this happen? When did my kids stop being babies and start being these intelligent, imaginative, loving, really cool people?

Also, just for kicks:
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Mommy CPA

So, I’ve been thinking about the turmoil of the working mother. I haven’t really talked to anyone else about this, but I imagine that I cannot possibly be alone, and what I feel is probably universally shared by all moms who go to work.

I get up in the morning, race around as quietly as possible to get as much done before Oliver and Hazel wake up, and then get them ready. I drive them to their nanny’s house on my way to work, and have to give them hugs and kisses (and sometimes more hugs and kisses) before I leave for work. Some mornings I can’t help but cry on my way in.

I go to work, and by the time I arrive, I have put on my auditing persona. I concentrate on work and colleagues, and while I talk about my kids (perhaps more than these single guys that I work with are really interested in… but they humor me, and I love them for it), I’m not really focused on them. I love my job, I work hard, I get stuff done. I talk with my clients, I try to help my staff, I audit financial statements.

Except when it’s time for me to have some quiet time with my pump. I take the pump downstairs, and read parenting magazines. Pumping is never as satisfying as nursing (I guess machines really aren’t an adequate replacement for children, as much as I may love my Crackberry), and I always wonder what the people who work in the offices next to the room clearly labeled “LACTATION ROOM” think of me when I walk in and out, and if they wonder about the mysterious interior of the locked room.

Some of my more forward coworkers have asked me about the room, and some general questions about pumping. I appreciate that, because it’s way less awkward. More awkward is when someone asks me an innocuous question about the trendy black carrying case (“Is your lunch in there?”), and I can’t think of anything to say except the truth–that it’s a pump. The younger people are sometimes really slow to pick up, and ask, “A pump? What do you mean?”, and I have to explain, for breastmilk. (Of course, as I’m writing this, the clever answer seems obvious–is my lunch in there? No, but my daughter’s is!)

As I near the end of my workday, I climb back into my car and make mental to do lists for the next day as I drive away from Fannie Mae’s offices and towards home, my kids, and the other me.

When I arrive at my nanny’s house, Oliver doesn’t want to talk to me–he doesn’t do transitions well, and my arrival is no different. Hazel smiles at me like I have just made her whole universe better–and her smile does the same for mine. We go home, play, eat, bathe, read, sing, dance, and love.

Except on the really rough days, I love my job. I love what I do. I love that I go to work. In other circumstances, I would love to be full time. But I love my kids. I love Oliver’s jokes, Hazel’s stubbornness, the way that they hold hands and kiss and love each other so much. Is it possible to have it all? Maybe I am–maybe having it all involves sacrificing a little bit of everything, but coming out as a better, more whole me on the other side. Am I cheating my kids out of my time? Am I cheating my coworkers out of my knowledge and experience? Maybe. But I think that I need both sides of me–I need Mommy-Katy, as well as Katy-Katy. And, just as important (if not discussed here), I need Conner’s Katy, too.