February 28, 2011

They Smell Fear

Disclaimer: I am about to whine about solo-parenting while my husband is away. I can only imagine what single parents go through every day. My hat is off to you if you are a single parent.
Have I mentioned that my husband travels for work? A lot? When he started this job almost two years ago, we anticipated a few trips to NYC, maybe Montreal and Vancouver a couple times of year. Then they hired a new CEO who loves to travel and loves to travel with my husband. Apart from 2 or 4-day trips here and there, I can expect him to be gone most of the week for an entire month at least four times a year. I just spent part of my evening updating my giant colour-coded fridge calendar with his business trips for the next three months. Then I had a big glass of wine.
You’d think I’d be used to it by now. I mean, it’s been almost a year of this. And yet, when he has a small break from the road like the past 3 months, the beginning of another period of solo-parenting fills me with dread. John left yesterday for Florida. Yes, in the middle of winter. For a conference in Hollywood Beach. Life’s tough.
Like dogs, I honestly believe that kids can smell fear. As his departure time approached, I could feel the panic building up in me, the anxiety about dealing with three kids on my own for five days with no pinch-hitter or respite from the grind. The minute his car pulled away from the house, the kids went berserk. I don’t know if I can accurately describe it but imagine a play-date that has gone horribly wrong, “punks gone wild” or something similar. I had just over an hour to cook dinner, feed the animals and corral them into the minivan to get my son to a play-off hockey game. Gah.
When the game was done, we were home and the kidlets were wrestled into bed, I had the revelation that the kids feed off my stress. If I’m freaking out inside, I’m not going to be parenting the way I want to be. The kids will take this as their cue to behave like miscreants. And then I’ll freak out even more and then... You get the picture. 
Looking at my calendar, I have to psyche myself up, keep calm and carry on, get and stay organized and most importantly remember to have fun with my kids. I know that when I hit my solo-parenting stride, things run surprisingly smooth and I feel like I can handle (almost) anything.’s going to be a long three months.

February 26, 2011

And what do you do?

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The scenario: Any social gathering. I’m introduced to someone. After a few pleasantries, the conversation invariably turns to a discussion of career.
“And what do you do?”
“I’m a stay-at-home mom of a 7-year old boy and 5-year old twin girls.”
This is often followed by uncomfortable silence and a meager attempt to acknowledge how busy I must be, a quick change of the subject then a thinly veiled excuse to extricate themselves.
It’s a conversation killer.
I have always wanted to be a mother. As the eldest of four children, I knew at a very early age that I wanted to have children of my own. When my husband and I decided to start trying after 2 years of marriage, I was thrilled and couldn’t wait until that little stick showed me a plus sign.
When I became pregnant with our first son L, I was working on Bay Street for a brokerage firm (not exactly a family friendly environment). I loved being home for the 12-months of maternity leave and hated leaving him at daycare to return to a job that I had discovered I didn’t love. Soon after, we decided to start trying for a second baby and were quite surprised to become pregnant with twins when my son was only 14-months old. And so when L was not quite 2 years old, we were blessed with identical twin girls- K and M.
Yes, your math is correct. That is three kids in less than two years.
A review of finances and some soul-searching confirmed that it would make sense for me to stay home with the kids until they started school. My husband’s career was on the cusp of taking off and having a stay-at-home spouse would enable him to work late and travel if necessary. I was thrilled (and a bit trepidatious) to be fulfilling my lifelong dream of making a career of parenting.
Nearly six years later, I’ve weathered a gazillion diaper changes, potty training x 3, kids learning to walk, talk and talk back, starting school and homework, mountains of laundry, endless meal preparation and housework. My son is in grade two. My daughters are in SK. In six months (yes, I’m counting), all three will be in school full-time.
So where does that leave me? I’m still at home with the kids. My husband’s job has him traveling at least twice a month for up to six days at a time and it still doesn’t make sense for me to go back to working outside the home, at least if I want to maintain my sanity. How do I justify my existence? I consider raising healthy and considerate kids to be my full-time career. My days are filled with the usual unending household duties, coordinating school activities, obsessively reading parenting books and blogs and, from time to time, finding a few moments for self-reflection.
I hope you’ll join me on my journey of redefining my identity as a SAHMOSAK (stay-at-home mom of school-aged kids). I am certainly no “lady who lunches”. Commiserate with my (mis)adventures in raising pre-tween kids and the joys and challenges that are sure to follow. Perhaps I’ll find that being a SAHMOSAK isn’t such a conversation killer after all.
Happy reading!
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