Tuesday, June 26, 2012

My try at being a working from home kind of mom.

I am extremely blessed to have an awesome job that allows me to work from pretty much anywhere.  As long I meet my goals and get my tasks accomplished, my work environment can be very flexible.  So, in an effort to “have it all” I decided to let my little man stay home from camp and spend the day with mommy.
The grand plan I envisioned started with us getting dressed in our work clothes (no hat, and a shirt with a collar for my little man), having a healthy breakfast at the table and enjoying a nice car ride into the office.  My morning was more like this – a quick cup of coffee, fast shower for me, long shower for him ended by a flood in the bathroom.  Me - mopping the floor while encouraging him to wear his ‘work clothes’.  Him- fighting with me about what coordinates and why it is perfectly ok to wear a hat to the office.  By this time I gave up hope of a warm breakfast for the two of us and threw some goldfish crackers in a bag with some string cheese.  I skipped doing my hair, threw on a dress and was out the door with my little co-worker next to me. 
Once we arrived at the office I introduced him to my coworkers and the two of us set up shop at my desk.  I had some phone calls to do and he had summer homework to catch up on.  Our first ten minutes went like this:    “Mommy, why is your office so small?” (It is actually one of the largest I’ve had!)  “Mommy, why do you have a corner office?” “Mommy, why didn’t you decorate better?”  “Mommy, who is the boss here?”  “Mommy, can I have a snack?” “Mommy can I use the bathroom?”  “Mommy, do you have any games?”  “Mommy, can you please download a game to your computer?” “Mommy, can we go to lunch yet?” “Mommy, what is for lunch?” “Mommy, when are you going to be done?”
I LOVE my little man more than anything, but after 10 minutes of nonstop chatter I realized our business partnership was not going to make it that far.  I quickly texted a friend and arranged a play date.  Not to give up on my work from anywhere challenge today, I decided to pick up the friend and let them play at my house while I conferenced called my way through the day.
Good plans don’t always work out the way we hope……
My little man and his friends are good kids - really they are.  They get along well and listen pretty well for being 7 ½ and 8 year old little boys.  I decided I was going to be the kind of mommy that can work from home, make dinner and even do a project with the kids today.  (Ok, in hind sight maybe I was being a little over confidant).   First, the boys and I had our lunch at Subway (I was NOT going to fall for a drive thru – I’m dedicated to being Super Mommy today after all!)  A few fart jokes and a lot of me saying things like “shh!” and “stop kicking each other” and I packed up our sandwiches and we hit the road. (I am beginning to think drive thrus were invented to keep the kid craziness IN the car and away from innocent citizens.)  Next we went to the grocery store because I needed a few seasonings and thought the boys would enjoy baking brownies.  We had a chance of rain yesterday, and this mommy was going to be prepared!  Again a lot of “shh!” and “Stop kicking each other!” But I survived the trip and we made it home.

Once we were home the boys were in their element.  They ran in the backyard with the dog, climbed trees, tossed footballs and generally were just being boys having fun. 
I was on a mission to be a multi tasker and decided to start cooking dinner.   I didn’t get my hot breakfast, the least I could do was dinner.  A large pot of Black Beans and Andouille with some fresh veggies seemed like a great idea. I was happily chopping my way through peppers and sautéing onions when the dog came to the door all dirty at the same time my phone started ringing.  CRAP!  Work call!  Barking dirty dog, and onions about to burn!  Oh! And where did the boys go? 
Double Crap!
I lost the kids. 
First I decided to let the phone go to voicemail, next I turned off the stove, put the cooking on hold and locked the dog outside.  Since I was babysitting a friend’s child, I didn’t think they would appreciate me losing their kid.  Found the boys – in a tree- spying on the neighbors. Great! Let’s just hope they didn’t call the police thinking there were peeping toms around.
Time for me to re-group. “I got this” I thought to myself. I’m successful. I manage a lot of big projects. I can manage working from home with my little man.
I gathered the boys and we set down some ground rules.  No spying on neighbors, no messing with the dog, wear helmets when riding scooters (Safety first!) and no shooting nerf guns at strangers.  We all shook on it and I got back to the kitchen.  I decided to bypass any idea of a gourmet meal- tossed the remaining ingredients in the pot and turned it on simmer.  The dog was whining to come in because it is hot as hell outside and he is a St. Bernard living in Florida (poor, poor puppy). I wrangled him in, cleaned him off and got ready to sit down at the computer.
Then I heard a ‘WHEEE!!!’ and saw a form flying down the road in front of the house.  The road – with cars on it- with a great big hill- with more cars and driveways and a chance to get hurt- UGH!
I burst out of the house as fast as I could (well, fast as I could while trying to keep a St. Bernard IN the house) and ran to the yard to see my little man and his friend racing their scooters without any helmets or shoes on down the street.  I yelled STOP! (Yes, I am officially the crazy neighbor lady that yells for her kids from 6 houses away).  The boys froze in their spots, actually I think the yard guy a few houses down froze in his spot too.  I corralled the boys and we made a new plan.  I would sit outside and watch the races and they would wear shoes and helmets.  
It turns out that I live in one of those neighborhoods that if you are outside, other kids will hear you and come over to play.  All of a sudden we have added to the races and I am now watching over a few more kids than I signed up for. Not to worry, I’m supermom, I got this.  I decided I could return the call and check my emails while sitting outside life guarding the kids.
Except, one kid decided he wanted to be inside, one wanted to play with the dog and one wanted to ride down the hill.  I checked my watch – it was only 3:00.  I have a few more hours of work to do and a few more hours of kids.
“Change of plans!” I announce.  I rallied the troops, plied them with juice and snacks and plopped them in front of the t.v.  Television was not on my list of approved super mommy activities, but really I need to check my email!  It worked for about three minutes, until one kid decided to play the drums, one decided to play some sort of noisy video game and a third wanted more food.
Ok, food works – more food for everyone! Let’s eat.  I fed the boys their second meal of the play date, it kept the house quiet and they were occupied.
Once they were done they wanted to go back outside – ok back outside, let’s go! This mommy has got this stuff down. I looked at my watch – it was only 3:30…
And so my day went, watching boys play and create new games.  Laughing at them being silly and making sure we didn’t need any trips to the emergency room.
I checked on my dinner once, and never got back to returning my emails.
In the end, I decided to call in a vacation day. 
Turns out I am a super mommy, but it is very hard to be a Working at Home Super Mommy!

Monday, June 25, 2012

What are you attracted to?

This is just one of the 500 questions you go through when dating.  (Ok, let me be clear, when you are dating and you are over the age of 30.  I have a feeling that people who are in their 20s and dating still sort of rely on looks as their main source of attraction).
Being single, I am asked this question a lot by all sorts of well- meaning friends.  You know the kind, the ones that are happily married and want to see you ‘settle down’, also the few concerned friends who don’t want to see me raising my son by myself of shouldering the burden of being alone.  (Besides my fear of being stranded in a hurricane by myself, I think I am o.k. with being alone – thanks!)  Anyway more and more this question has come up in conversation, either directed at me, or me asking it to my friends.
My typical response usually flows like this; well, he must have a job, like kids and be taller than me.”  Yes, after being on the dating scene for about 5 years now I proudly deduced this formula is all I needed to find my happily ever after.   Unfortunately, my witty response now needs a few more descriptive words as I have noticed that this may be good for a quick retort but they are pretty shallow of me and won’t get me out of the kiddy pool of dating.
While at breakfast the other day, my friend and I were discussing attraction and how over and over again we (meaning women in general) fall for the handsome mysterious man, but yet get disappointed when they can’t carry a conversation or we can’t introduce them to our co-workers.  She went out on a few dates with a man who has a good job, owns his own home, plays sports and has good conversational skills.  The thing that she raved about most?  His brain!  He is smart and likes to talk about books and work and planning for the future.  The two of us laughed over our coffee and we remembered a few years ago when we bragged about our dates’ muscles or new tattoo or how many shots they bought us the night before.
So, as I am ever a fan of lists, I think it is now time for me to adjust mine and realize that what I am attracted to really does not have much to do with looks but a whole lot more to do with ambition and drive.
1.        I am attracted to someone who has a job (ok, same as the first list) BUT, must have a job that provides for them and one that they enjoy and are proud of.
2.       I am attracted to someone who likes kids (yep, still the same) BUT, must understand that I have a son and that it is a full time job.   An added bonus is someone who enjoys spending time with kids and doing kid friendly things.
3.       I am attracted to someone who is healthy and takes care of themselves.  By no means am I a super fit person, but I realize that I need to be healthy for my son. Once you realize the need to be healthy, it is hard to find someone with bad lifestyle choices attractive.
4.       I am attracted to someone who is knowledgeable.  I know that not everyone is cut out for office work and college.  However, I have met some extremely smart people who know a lot and are passionate about learning.  I am attracted to someone who likes to learn and also likes to teach. Having new experiences together can be a great relationship builder.
5.       I am attracted to someone who challenges me and encourages me.  Maybe it is as simple as making me go to the gym, or trying a new recipe?  I realized that I am the type of person who needs a bit of a challenge every once and awhile.
6.       I am attracted to someone who needs a partner. I have been the bread winner in relationships and I have been the stay at home housewife.  I didn’t like either of those roles.  I am attracted to someone who looks at me and says – “Go do your best, I believe in you”.  Not “I’ll take care of you” and not “I need you” But, just let’s work on this together.
It is funny that I as I sit here and write this looks didn’t even make the list.  I guess after being single this long I have decided to be a little more specific and a lot less superficial.  To wrap this list up, I would say I am attracted to ambition.  Oh, and yes, they still need to be taller than me!

Friday, June 22, 2012

Feel like a Mom?

The other day one of those random Facebook surveys popped up on my news feed.  The question was this: “How did you know when you were a Mom?”  Ok, DUH! That is a pretty obvious question right?  I mean you KNOW you are a Mom when that little stick you pee on turns blue, or gives you two lines instead of one, or you wake up every day for a week straight and vomit, or suddenly your boobs are swollen and feel like they will explode at the slightest touch of a feather.  I mean really, this is a pretty silly poll Facebook people. 
But then I got to thinking…. You can pretty much skate by being a Mom without actually feeling like one.  (Deep thoughts by Dana) 
I guess for some people it would be the first time they see their little baby smile, or the first time they hear them utter ‘momma’ out of their little mouths, or when they walk across the room to them for the first time.  Unfortunately for me Mom memories didn’t actually happen that way.  See, I was a working Mom and had a village helping to raise my little man - we had a very loud southern Daddy and a sweet Nanny at home, all of which called me Dana.  Turns out, babies repeat what they hear.  So instead of my little man whispering ‘momma’ in a cute baby voice, he decided to call me “Anda!” (Dana mixed up) in a loud southern bellow.  And the moment he walked across the room with his hands wide open?  Yep, the Nanny got to witness that one.  I learned about it through a broken English/Spanish translation via a cell phone.  So, no – I didn’t feel like a “Mom” then either.
Some Moms know they are doing their “Mommy Work” when their little one is sick and needs help through a fever or a band aide for his first big bruise.  Well, I am very fortunate to live near my parents and have a fantastic Mom (Gogo to my little man) who has a way with bruises.  It breaks my heart a bit, but my little man prefers to spend his sick days with my Mom and get her cuddles and attention.  I love that they have a great bond and that I know he is well taken care of, but it does not leave me feeling like I’m doing that “Mommy thing”.  For some reason a band aide or ice pack from GoGo cures my little man much quicker than me and for that I am grateful.
And on and on the list goes - me wondering when the heck I knew I was a Mom? By this point I have spent a good two days pondering and it is getting to me and my mommy self -esteem.
Then it hit me! 
I knew I was a Mom this month. (Ok, my son is 7 ½, maybe I’m a late bloomer?)
My little man has been away for 3 or so weeks.  Leading up to his big trip and my spontaneous staycation I had made list after list of things I would do sans my little guy.  The list was basically this:  tan, drink with friends, try new happy hour places, go dancing, try new bars, have work happy hours, have friends come visit, go on a lot of dates, buy new clothes and so on.  It was basically a list of everything I could think of that my single non parenting friends get to enjoy.  I was stoked! I had three and half weeks to conquer the single kid-less world!  I was going to take back the old pre-mom me.  I was ready to roll!

You know what?
 I ended up not doing much of my list.  Instead of drinking the nights away talking to lame men, I went running and cooked healthy dinners.  Instead of shopping for new clothes, I got a head start on uniform shopping for the next school year.  Instead of work happy hours, I stayed at work and actually got work done.    Instead of going tanning, I decided to be healthier and cancel my tanning membership.
I guess this week I KNEW I was a mom.  I realized how much my little man means to me, and really how much I miss him.  Sure, I miss the idea of fun happy hours at bars, but I miss bike riding with my little man more.  Sure, it would be fun to spend the day at the beach tanning and drinking Coronas, but it is more fun catching the waves and building sand castles. 
So Random Facebook Poll – thank you for helping me put my life back into perspective.  It might have taken me a bit to really “KNOW” I’m a Mom.  But, thank the good Lord I am one and I can’t wait to have my little man back home!