Monday, December 17, 2007

Opposite Ends of the Spectrum

As I ponder this next job change, I catch myself wondering about trading places with my husband. I find myself pondering either working full-time as an executive in charge or staying home with the kids. It seems odd to me that I am thinking of such extremes, but if I'm going to go through a change, I want to consider the avenues.

When I think of a job change, I imagine a job that would fully support the family and that my husband would quit working. Yes, I've talked to him. Right now, he works for money and for satisfaction. But would he still work for just satisfaction or could I ever make enough to convince him that it is not for money? He admits that he doesn't want to work full-time. He also admits that if he works full-time that he'll be away from home more than me.

It made me realize that a 40 hour week for me is different than a 40 hour week for him. That I maintain work boundaries, as far as time, more than he does. I do, however, bring home the work stress more than he does, which isn't any better than working long hours in many cases.

I think I'm ready for a change, I know I can do it, and I'm beginning to realize that it can be on my terms. The real me is going to be great at this. The real me will be fulfilled. The real me will maintain boundaries. The real me will still miss some things though. I can't make every parent-teacher conference and every school play, doctor appointment, sick day at home, etc. But if I can make it possible that my husband is there, then I will have provided for my family.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

I Quit

Okay, not yet, but the wheels are being put in motion.

My 80 year-old mentors told me to quit this summer and today my therapist told me to quit. I don't need a heck of a lot more encouragement than that. I will spend the next six months clarifying my goals, casting my net and leaving my job.

Next stop, big boss. . . .

Monday, December 10, 2007


What the . . . .

That's all I have to say today. After a month long investigation into ethics concerns surrounding my boss, he got a review and a raise today.

I had hoped he would be fired, and then resigned myself to him getting his hand slapped. Seems like he got rewarded.

Now I am at a crossroads and feel the need to leave, now more than ever. How can an elected board condone such behavior??? How can those who represent the taxpayers look the other way??? What happened to karma and what goes around comes around? How can a man who is disrespected and even hated by his employees succeed? Do I have it all wrong? The kiss up/kick downs of the work really do succeed.

I feel like throwing in the towel, stopping banging my head against that damn glass ceiling and staying home. Maybe starting a women-owned small business. Maybe job sharing with my hubby.

Oh, update on the hubby. We had a date night on Saturday and the time together was very helpful. He hired help so that he could work extra hours and not have to work on my birthday. I sense that he still feels pressure to work, but we'll at least have the afternoon together and we have a date night the next day. I'm not expecting diamonds or anything, but I'm glad he worked out a solution.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

"There are plenty of other men who would like to spend time with me!"

That was the venom that spewed out of my mouth last night as my husband sheepishly admitted that he wanted to work instead of spend my next Friday off with me - this is a recurring theme. O yeah, it happens to be my birthday. He tried to make it better by first showing me the toilets in the garage, which are my birthday present, and then saying that we had a sitter 6 days before my birthday. We have a regular babysitter every two weeks, so having her come 6 days before my birthday is nothing special.

That was it.

I said the title of this blog, then said I didn't want to talk about it anymore because anything he offered to do was simply out of fear and not love or respect. Then I maturely ran to my room, locked the door and cried myself to sleep while he put the kids to bed.

I should have a warning at the beginning of this blog that this post is a pity party!

My anger stems from years and years of my mom forgetting my birthday. This is coupled by having it during the holidays and rarely having parties as a child and my day being overshadowed by Christmas. At 30 and with a 8 week-old baby, I threw my own party with only grunts from my husband, who would just assume we live as hermits and never socialize.

So, I'm probably going to schedule a spa day for myself and spend some ridicuous amount of money, that I don't have, trying to pamper myself and make myself feel better. Or maybe I'll calm down and come up with something a little more constructive . . .

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Damaged Goods

So I went into my second therapy appointment on Tuesday after work feeling a little cocky. I had just had a wonderful week off work with girl time and family time, got some distance and perspective, have been feeling great and generally had a positive attitude. Thought I would walk in, we'd wrap up and she'd send me on my way to lead a normal, happy life.

The first clue was when I checked her business card and read "Psychotherapy". It sounded mysterious and scary as I read the word over again in my mind.

Then the session. She started with some routine questions that we hadn't covered.

Are you sleeping okay? Check.

Are you eating okay? Check (okay I crave sugar a little more).

Has suicide ever been an option for you? Um, well, now that you mention it I did attempt suicide as a teenage, then the tears and grim details of a 2 year divorce and custody battle mixed with emotional abuse.

I told her that I thought I had healed, that I've been in at least five years of therapy to make sure I healed. Then she told me that when you get hurt that bad, you never heal and that every new pain has the opportunity to reach into the hurt and tap it's strength and power.


It makes me feel like damaged goods, that I'll never be normal, strong, and healthy emotionally. But the therapist tried to convince me otherwise, saying that I just need to be aware of repeating patterns from that painful time in my life, when I was young and a victim. That right now I am relating to my boss as I did my mother.

Boss - Are you loyal to me? Mom - Don't tell you're dad our new phone number.

Boss - Unpredictable rage. Mom - Woke me up in the middle of the night yelling at me.

Me then - feelings of helplessness. Me now - A strong adult, capable of distancing myself from hurtful people and attacks.

Now I just need to learn to act on the me now and not slip into the me then . . .

Sunday, November 25, 2007


As I was catching up on the papers that had piled up while I was away, I came across the following quote,

We give thanks for unknown blessing already on their way.

I read it to my daughter and tried to explain the meaning, then I send the husband off with the kids and stayed home to mix up some kitchen sink cookies. On the radio came a show about working with toxic people and it was GREAT. Two books were presented and the authors interviewed, The Power of Nice and Working with You is Killing Me. Very inspiring, and I recommend the quiz to find out if you're really nice . . .

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Homework and Gratitude

Visiting Yertle and having a great time - friendship is the nectar of the gods!

Define my Job - My job is to filter information between my boss and my employees. That's the role of a middle manager. I am to determine what information is necessary and appropriate to filter down and what information needs to be filtered up. It takes a lot of judgement on my part and a lot of trust. But at the same time, no one can expect information not to be sent up the chain and the boss can expect some information not to be sent down. Meaning that confidentiality works down the chain, not up. This has been hard for me and I struggle as I try to build trust and get things done at a lower level. The boss can ask me to keep secrets, but my employees cannot, or can they? I'll have to sort that one out.

My Boss - My boss is a loose cannon. He is unpredictable and not easily managed from the bottom. He is selfish and covets, enjoys, cherishes and is fighting for his freedom and flexibility. He believes he is not accountable to his staff, only to his board. He thinks he is undervalued and has friends with considerably more income. He is jealous and wonders if he is "settling". He thinks he is brilliant and above all of this mundane, routine work that I do. He doesn't respect the position and the responsibilities that come with it. He is fighting for his job and in doing so, may very well lose it. If not, I may lose mine.

Gratitude - I am grateful for enduring friendships, including and especially Yertle's, that stand the test of time and ebb and flow with change. I am grateful for parenting advice. I am grateful for seeing other parents and gaining an understanding of all the stages I've gone through and are yet to come. I am grateful for quiet time, long walks, and getting enough sleep.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

The Computer Ate My Homework

I had a wonderful blog yesterday. It had my 10 minutes of homework on my job and my boss and I included a summary of things for which I am grateful. A full, rich, thoughtful 3 paragraphs . . . and then the computer ate it. Decided to simply shut down and start fresh today.

Define my job: I am the Assistant General Manager. The organization chart show me reporting directly to the General Manager. I have 6 direct reports for whom I am responsible. Currently one of those positions is vacant and I am in the process of interviewing for the position. I am responsible for preparing the interview questions, prepping the panel and conducting the interviews. Then I am responsible for convincing my boss that my first choice is his first choice and his decision. Any other way and his ego gets bruised and he feels threatened, but that's the next part of my homework. My job is to ensure that wastewater is treating in compliance with rules and regs, recycled water is produced and delivered cost-effectively, and all of this is done within budget. I review, train, mentor, motivate and discipline my direct reports as necessary, elevating issues to my boss as appropriate. Of course, "appropriate" is typically a guess and constantly being refined.

Objectify my Boss: My boss is a vain man with perfect hair, a set jaw, and a physically fit physique. He rarely has a hair out of place, is tan, and loves to surf. He tells the story with a little pride of how he was late to Christmas morning at his own home with his own wife and kids because the waves were just too perfect. He is selfish, self-centered and egotistical. With all due respect to single moms out there, he married a single mom who has an abusive father and an ex-husband who was terrible. She still doesn't have a relationship with her father. I believe my boss picked her because she will not hold him to a high standard and likely withers when challenged. She is a stay at home mom and fixes his meals and keeps his house. When we have potlucks, she is the one who prepares the dish - very 1950's. He might be a little sexist, but I'm still sorting that out. He seems to think that there is man's work (capital projects and operations) and women's work (laboratory and administration). He at times assumes responsibility for areas (like maintenance), but then drops the ball, waiting several months to then express concern about MY leadership in this department. He does not follow through and has difficulty completing tasks, sometimes afraid to finalize things for fear of not being able to go back.

Things for which I am grateful: I am grateful for my early mornings before the family awakes - for my early morning runs and walks with my dog. I am grateful that I rediscovered yoga. I am grateful that my HR person convinced me to call for help and that the call for help resulted in me going to a counselor. I am grateful for my week of vacation!!! I am grateful for my husband's patience and willingness to watch the kids while I get some me time. I am grateful when I have the patience to be able to return the favor. I am grateful that my children's grandparents are all alive and that they have relationships with each. I am grateful for my self-confidence and inner trust, which I am constantly honing and refining - last night I went to a black tie dinner and wore a dress suit instead of a gown, last time I wore a gown I felt weird and didn't like showing skin or looking like the spouse, so I wore a dressy, feminine suit and felt great! I am grateful for my friends and can't wait to see Yertle!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Draft Homework (Saved before the computer ate the rest . . .)

I'm adding a little to my homework today, at the end I'll write about things for which I am grateful.

Describe my Job - My job is to be a role model and to model the behavior I expect of others in the workplace. My job is to enforce the standards of conduct expected, from not gossiping to being accurate to being on time. My job is to train, mentor and grow my staff. To find what motivates them and help them find that motivation in their job tasks. My job is to do all of this while following the company policy and the goals set forth by my boss. My job is to maintain professionalism and to not escalate drama, gossip, uncertainty and fear. I am to calm those forces for a productive and peaceful workplace.

Objectify my Boss - My boss

Friday, November 16, 2007

Lonely at the Top

They all say it's lonely at the top and at the risk of sounding like I'm bragging, it is. I work at a small company and am #2 in command with all other staff reporting to me. That means no peers, no coworkers in which to confide. Only a boss and a bunch of subordinates. Lately I have been working hard not to say negative things, to my staff and to my peers outside of my company for fear of the gossip mill making it back around.

So, the drama finally got to be too much for me and with bottling it all up inside, I just about burst. I called our Employee Assistance Program, which is confidential, and they talked me into seeing a counselor, just so that I could have someone to talk to about what is going on.

She gave me two homework assignments and I plan to use my blog for this daily homework.

Number 1: Define my Job - 5 minutes a day. I am a senior manager responsible for the productivity, training and general work well-being of my staff. I oversee all programs and am responsible for quality assurance, accurate reporting and compliance with applicable rules and regulations. I am to be available to my employees, but also have some projects of my own. I am responsible for staffing, hiring and firing as required to get the job done. I report to the general manager and am responsible for implementing his vision and helping him accomplish his goals. I am responsible for representing my company in the community.

Number 2: Objectify my Boss - 5 minutes a day. My boss is the Boss with a capital B. He is approximately my age. He is small in stature, but extremely fit. He is a black belt and generally aggressive. He is the bread winner and father of 2. He is easily threatened and often feels like he is taken advantage of for being the "little guy" - this refers to the size of the company. He is generally good looking, if not a little bit of a pretty boy, and appears to have an inflated sense of his abilities. He is technically okay and feels most comfortable in these tasks. He is socially awkward and sometimes says inappropriate things in group settings.

Now I get to put both of those behind me for the rest of the day and enjoy myself.

Happy Friday!

Friday, November 9, 2007


Lately work has been a lot of drama.

I pride myself on dealing with the sticky employee issues that others avoid, but I wonder if I am spending too much time?

This must be why some managers simply pretend they don't exist.

I will try to meet them head on and with compassion and strength - I trust that it will pay dividends.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Children are from Heaven

So the bad news is that I had training in Thousand Oaks and spent 7 hours in the car in just one day. I did get about 4 hours of good training out of it, but what a long day!

The good news is that I got to catch up on some books on tape. One was about self-esteem, and I'm embarrassed to say I don't remember the author. The other was "Children are from Heaven" from John Gray, the same author of "Men are from Mars and Women are from Venus".

He talks about the importance of compassion and leadership in parenting. Some of the areas he discussed that surprised me are as follows:

- Do NOT give children choices. Until about 10 or 11, children don't need choices and giving them options is actually stressful for them and erodes your power.

- Children don't need an explanation. Tell them what to do - they don't need to know why and telling them makes you weak.

I swear I've read in a thousand other places the importance of offering choices and giving kids a chance to make a decision on little things. Like giving them a choice of snack or what to wear. Gray says we should simply instruct them what to do. He cites an extreme example of the opposite of his advice - letting the child not wear a jacket to school and catching a cold. We've often strived to give choices on little things to help the kids engage and feel a sense of control, so this advice feels weird to me. Perhaps it should be "Go get dressed" not "Do you want to wear the blue sweater or green sweater?"

About the explanation, he again says that kids can't really reason until pre-teen/teen so that explanations are lost on them. This is despite the fact that the favorite word of most children is "why". I thought explanations were to help prepare them for their own decisions, but perhaps they are not equipped for that until much older.

Then again, we can give choices in other ways. Like we can take out the inappropriate clothes out of their closet before we tell them to go get dressed. Right?

Regardless of the minor points of the book on tape, children are gifts and I wholeheartedly agree that they are from heaven, so sweet and so pure.

Love 'em!

Monday, October 29, 2007


Today at my weekly Rotary meeting, the club president asked for my help in breaking down an easel. He said something to the effect of "Hey Squish, I need an engineer over here!"

I went over to help and broke down the easel quickly. He then said, "Wow, you and I could never be married, my ego couldn't take it. Your lawyer husband must be humiliated by you."

Now, the club president is a sweetheart and I can only imagine that he meant this as a compliment, but it sure made me feel weird. Why is being strong so intimidating to some people. He asked for the help - it's not like I shoved him aside or something. Am I supposed to act dumber or weaker than I really am?

Thank goodness I have a wonderful husband with a strong ego who isn't humiliated by me. Or maybe he's to intimidated to tell me . . .

Wednesday, October 24, 2007


One year ago, I started the plans that set in motion a 13 mom adventure. We were to all go to a family camp in So Cal with our kids. A weekend of friendship, no sleep, someone else cooking, no dishes, and late nights filled with Oreo cookies.

The trip is cancelled due to the fires here in San Diego.

I spent a year planning this, being the bossy mom and coordinating with the other moms. I have been looking forward to the camaraderie.

I'm so disappointed that it is cancelled.

We did agree to have a haunted house party and I'm providing the house. The husband is reluctantly in agreement - men can be such hermits!

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

The Talk

This past weekend I summoned up the courage to talk to my husband about feeling like he doesn't make time for me or make me a priority in his life. It was really hard to bare my feelings and insecurity like that, but it was the right thing to do. He confessed that he feels pressure at work. That he has to take weeks off at a time for the kids and to also take every other Friday off gives the wrong impression. He's an employee now, not his own business, so face time and impression is important and plays a role.

We talked about a balance where he'll go to work early on my Friday off and I'll get the kids to school. Then we'll meet for a late lunch and have some time together before the kids get out of school. We'll still also have our date nights every two weeks.

This seemed like a good solution and I feel much better. I think we both felt heard.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Forgiving Our Parents

Lately I've been thinking a lot about the concept of forgiving our parents.

My parents had a rough marriage while I was young which culminated in a very ugly divorce. They acted in ways that most people today know not to do. But the concept of divorce was new and there wasn't the resources available then to help people through the process.

Louise Hay explains that before we can love ourselves, we have to forgive our parents. She explains that we actually pick our parents and that we pick them to teach us an important life lesson in our multi life spiritual journey. That concept is a little far out for me, but I can relate to resolving our relationship with our parents in order to be spiritually healthy.

Another reason this has been on my mind is the central theme in the movie, Into the Wild, which I got to see this weekend. It is a delicious and wonderful movie about a spiritual journey of a young man after college. He harbors a lot of anger towards his parents, but seems to slowly come to grips with his anger. Some may argue that he resolves it.

I've often wondered if I've truly forgiven my mom, and I think I have. During our talk last night, she talked about what she did wrong during the divorce. I think it came up after we talked a little about my brother, who is recently divorced. I found myself defending her to herself. Telling her that she did the best she could under the circumstances and she knows different things now, but it is not fair to judge herself against today's knowledge.

Now I need to learn to be as forgiving of myself . . .

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Happy Boss Day

Did you know that today is National Boss Day?

I didn't either until a couple of my direct reports asked me to lunch. I was taken aback and very flattered. Last year they got me a nice plant (it's still in my office - it has bugs, but I can't let it go cause it means too much to me - I'm working on the bugs though, one at a time . . .). The four direct reports (one is on vaca) that were here today took me out for sushi and gave me a nice card. Here's some of what they said:

"Thanks for your kindness and your encouragement. It means a great deal."

"Glad to have your support. You are appreciated."

"I appreciate your leadership style and have learned a lot working with you." - this is from my 50 year-old employee!

The gesture of lunch and the card made me all warm and fuzzy inside and even though I may not always be a great boss and I still have a lot to learn, the notes make me realize that I am the kind of boss I want to be, nurturing, caring and supportive.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Lame Dog

This isn't meant to be derogatory, but my dog is lame. (Here she is with my son as he draws a picture of our family on the sidewalk) She twisted her back leg on Sunday and I've been alone on my last two runs. It was really strange to go through the neighborhood without her, to run without her leash tied around my waist. I really missed her. It's been about 5 days and she still limps a little. Still hopeful that it is just a sprain and will heal.

Not Enough Time

After visiting with my dad, stepmom, brother, niece and family over the weekend, then working a full week, I get to put together a birthday party by 12:30 tomorrow.

Fortunately the goodie bags were already purchased and the cake just came out of the oven, but I still have grocery shopping to do and a house to clean and decorate.

A little daunting, but fun too.

Hard to believe that it was 7 years ago today that I became a mom. Tonight was just classic, here's a clip.

Daughter speaking after finishing her piece of birthday pie:

"Thank you for my wonderful birthday. The best part was having the whole family together."

She pauses and flashes one of her famous head tilts with full smile.

Then her little brother mutters something, and she yells:

"Shut up, you know I was only saying that to mom and dad, you don't count!!!"

It just kills me to see the sibling rivalry. Of course, now they are enjoying a sleepover together as I hear giggling from the other room. It's safe to say that all has been forgiven.

When I get just a little distance, the magic of my own life and family is all I need.

P.S. - Dad is out of the hospital and his blood test showed no cancer - he's tired and sleeping a lot, but we're hopeful that he beat his cancer.

Friday, October 5, 2007


Single women tend to have this thought that once you are married with a husband, you have a date every Saturday night.

Us married women know differently.

Recently, I've felt rejected from my husband and other than feeling hurt, I'm confused what to do. You see, I have one of those wonderful jobs that gives me every other Friday off. He has one of those wonderful consulting part-time jobs that allows him to set his own schedule. For the past couple years, we've enjoyed those days off together. Having a leisurely breakfast/lunch. Lounging around or running errands, together. We'd talk about how lucky we were and how little time some of our friends have together as a couple.

Last Friday off, he wanted to work and I asked him to spend half the day with me. He agreed, but seemed reluctant. Based on other events (him forgetting we had a sitter one night, blowing off his volunteering in our son's class, picking the kids up late from school every day, etc.), several days later I broke down in tears and told him I thought his priorities were wrong and that we were going to be around a lot longer than his job. He remained mostly silent.

This Friday off, I remained silent and he went off to work. Coming to say goodbye only to confirm that I would pick up the kids.

It really hurts that work is more important, that he'd rather be there than with me.

It makes me wonder where our marriage is going and what I should do.

I don't want to beg someone to be with me if he doesn't want to be with me.

Maybe I need to just back off and find my own things for a while, let him miss me, but what if he doesn't?

Monday, October 1, 2007

No Pressure or Anything

Last night I called my mom while making dinner. I try to call every couple weeks to check in - the regular calls keep her from feeling ignored and getting anxious. We've had a strained relationship ever since I was a teenager, but it gets better each year. Probably because I keep learning better ways to cope without pushing her away.

Anyhow, towards the end of the conversation she says something to the effect of "I hope that you are living up to your potential, you could be and do anything." I know she means well, but at times I feel this overwhelming pressure to live the life she didn't have. She was a stay at home mom and was wrecked financially after the divorce. She instilled in me a belief that women can do anything men can do and that a woman should work for money to stay independent. When I get caught up in the do everything, be everything, I try to step back and think about the long-term and balance. I would rather fail miserably career-wise than risk losing my husband to divorce, and this is not something I can say to my mom who initiated her two divorces.

So, what is my potential? What is the "all" in "having it all"?

I know I could be a better wife, mom and boss, but at what cost to me?

Thursday, September 27, 2007


Today we laid off the fourth employee since I joined the firm 22 months ago - we're only 21 people. Right now, we're short 4 people (2 due to layoffs, 1 a new position and 1 an employee move) and in the frenzy of hiring.

It's crazy, but exciting due to the possibility of adding great people to the team and improving work flow.

This is the yucky part though - discipline and letting go.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007


Quick update - Dad's surgery took 4 hours when it was supposed to take 2. Those last 2 hours were torture. They think they got the entire tumor and were pleased that it had shrunk after chemo. They were able to do the surgery without giving him the "coloscopy sack" - us engineers call it a bypass line for the rectum and it is no fun.

Thank you for your positive thoughts!

Today, I am grateful for:

The surgeon who respected my father's wishes and performed the surgery requested, worked twice as long and did a great job.

My step mom's friends who came to the hospital and showed support.

My husband's sister, who did a great job reading to the kids tonight, with love and patience.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007


Recently my children have started to say grace before dinner. Mostly it is a very positive experience and I've stopped cringing when they thank god for everything instead of each other or simply expressing gratitude. The concept of thanking only god has always rubbed me wrong - it feels belittling to the things the rest of us do. Anyhow, they seem interested in saying grace and expressing thanks for our food and other things.

According to Dr. Emmons' research, my kids are on their way to a happier, more fulfilling life. His research is based on the concept that "Gratitude is the “forgotten factor” in happiness research." He asserts that those who take the time to express gratitude and spend time thinking of their blessings are happier, healthier and more likely to help others.

I love it.

So, here's my first shot at three things:

- I am grateful for my long-lasting and enduring friendship with my college room mate and look forward to seeing her soon.
- I am grateful that my husband helped reinforce to our son that he should eat the healthy lunch his mom packs for him instead of skipping snack and buying lunch.
- I am grateful that my former boss, who has been respectful but distant since I changed jobs, has agreed to see me for lunch today.
- I am grateful that I live close enough to my dad that I can be there for his cancer surgery, which is tomorrow, and that my boss is supportive of that time off.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Entering Week 4

My darling little girl has been sick for just over three weeks and we finally broke down and started antibiotics for what we think is a respiratory infection.

When you don't catch asthma fast enough, or manage it well enough during an illness, the mucus stays in the lungs and can lead to infection. After a visit to the doctor last week, we discovered that the medicine simply wasn't getting into her lungs.

They gave us a new device that has a one-way valve and only administers the medicine when one inhales through the mouthpiece. God bless the engineer who designed this as it has been our savior. She's getting about twice the medicine she used to and we saw improvement within days. We were hopeful that the lungs would open up and we'd avoid the antibiotics, but when she complained of not feeling well this morning, and with our son now sick, my husband filled the prescription.

Which brings up a side point. One of the real challenges of being the one who works full-time away from the home is that I don't have control sometimes. I can give my input, on what I know, but my husband gets to make the call. I try to trust his judgement, but I'd be lying if I said we agreed on everything. Sometimes I sit at work so frustrated about my lesser role in my children's care giving, at my powerlessness in all of this. Then I worry that gender matters and that my kids need their mom, at home, with them. But in the end, I just try to be thankful that they have their dad at home to take them to school and pick them up. Many don't even have that. My support may not always be being there, but I am making it possible for many things through earning my salary. I just can't be both the wage earner and care giver, and sometimes that's really hard because having to pick just one seems so unfair.

I guess we could switch roles, but that would dramatically affect our ability to stay in our neighborhood, save for college and save for retirement. Plus, it's not clear that I would be happy trying to be part-time worker and home for the kids.

Perhaps the grass just seems greener on the other side of the fence.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Las Vegas Slots Machines and My Parenting Skills

Ever thought about why the house always wins in Vegas and why people can spend countless hours in front of slot machines. The premise is that the machines are unpredictable and if you keep trying, you are bound to get lucky. It's just a matter of when.

So it goes with whining. If the child whines enough, or asks enough times, or promises to be good, maybe the parent will give in.

We've been practicing not being the house lately. It seems like every time the kids don't like the answer, they ask again and again and again. Or they try to negotiate.

I've been practicing holding firm.

I've even started threatening a worse fate if they continue to whine or argue. "You don't like sherbet for dessert? If you keep complaining, you'll get nothing?"

So far so good, but it's going to take time for them to know that we mean what we say and that our word is final. It makes me silent alot, or at least whispering to my husband before I lay down the law.

In the One Minute Manager by Ken Blanchard (I recommend this one Yertle), Blanchard talks of an experience with one of his sons. First it is important to explain the basic premise of the book and that is to be concise in your dealings and to delver criticism in a one minute package, absolutely focused on the recipient. Then it is also helpful to note that he is divorced and didn't have a heck of a lot of time with his sons. So, one day his youngest son acts up in the grocery store. Blanchard stops everything and begins to deliver his one minute of discipline. Yet his is greeted by a smiling face, all to pleased and eager to receive his one minute of undivided attention from his too busy dad.

Maybe that's part of it. Maybe my kids feel like they need to misbehave to get my attention?

Maybe I'll have to work on that too.

Friday, September 7, 2007

Spare the Rod

You ever heard the phrase, "Spare the rod, spoil the child"?

This has been on my mind a lot lately.

My mom was yelled at and hit as a child. She tells stories of how the nuns rapped her knuckles with rulers and her mom slammed her fingers in the window. My dad remembers the paddle in school. My mom vowed never to hit us. And she did pretty well with that promise, she slapped me once when I was a teenager, and lookihng back, I'm pretty sure I deserved it. My dad didn't make any promises one way or another and the occassional spanking was not unheard of. Once he got mad at me for intervening in a fight between my parents and my brother, he grabbed my arm hard, which wouldn't have been so bad if he hadn't popped the stiches that I had just gotten from a minor surgery - the scar is hideous. Although my mom didn't hit, she could say some god awful things and she lectured forever. I remember her following me into the basement to continue a fight and even waking me up in the middle of the night to yell at me. My brother jokes that at times he wished she would just hit us and get it over with instead of lecturing for hours.

So, my daughter and son are 7 and 5. An age where they have a lot of control over their actions and words. At times they can be very disrespectful, rude and out of control. At times, I slap them. I'm so embarrassed to admit this and feel like such a hypocrite when I tell them not to hit. How do I explain the reason. Far away from it, like now, it feels like a loss of control on both our parts. In the heat of it, though, it feels like the only way to get their attention after trying to reason calmly. This only came up this past year. Something about the sassing and outright disregard for rules triggers it.

So, I'm curious what did you experience growing up and how did it color how you parent?

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Everyone at Work Loves Me

Everyone at work loves me.

This is one of the affirmations Louise Hay wants me to say each morning to create a joyful work environment for myself. When I read it out loud to my husband last night, he laughed, out loud, and for a long time. You see, as a boss, not everyone loves me. I'm the one that gets to tell people that their copay for medical is going up or that the board only approved a small raise or that we're laying off their position. Right now I'm undergoing disciplinary action with an employee and was the target of two memos to HR about how she was a great, loyal, dedicated, long-term employee and that I was just a crappy, fly by night supervisor. Needless to say, I'm not always loved.

My husband thought I could say "Almost everyone loves me" instead. Somehow, it just doesn't seem as powerful, but I thought he was onto something, so I asked for translations from him on some of the other affirmations.

Louise Hay - My workplace is a pleasure to be in.
My Husband - There's hot coffee at work.

Louise Hay - It is easy for me to find jobs.
My Husband - I could always work someplace worse.

Louise Hay - There is plenty for everyone, including myself.
My Husband - There's hot coffee at work.

I think you get the gist.

But on a serious note, I paid attention to Louise Hay and to my body today. When I woke up achy and not feeling so good, I called in sick. Then I rested and read. Later, after the morning nap, I did a little yoga, meditated, and took myself out on a date for sushi (a whole food which is good for my body). Now I feel fantastic. I highly recommend taking the time to take care of ourselves - it's too easy to ignore, but so wonderful to not.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

I'm Not Ready for This

Upon the suggestion of my yoga teacher and in response to thinking a lot about a friend lately, I picked up one of Louise Hay's books. It was an easy choice, there was only one at our local library. The reason I sought out this author was to explore the concept of self-love and spirituality.

When I started the book, I felt fairly confident that I am a strong, healthy person with lots of self-love. Now, I'm not so sure. The part that hit the hardest was when Hay explained that our children mirror our repressed selves. The night I read that section happened to be a hard night-time with some yelling and general frustration - sometimes the kids just don't want to go to bed and will not stay in bed. I remember telling my husband while we stood in the kitchen feeling battle weary that I hated when I yelled and couldn't stand that I had become that.

Hay would tell me to forgive myself. Then to forgive my kids and not criticize.

I'm improving, but have a long journey ahead of me. I try to remember that escalating conflict only feeds it instead of dissolving it.

What I'm currently stuck on, though, is the concept of criticism. Hay says not to be critical of others, not to be judgemental. But then I catch myself wondering about my jobs of mom and boss. Aren't I supposed to have a critical eye, to correct behavior, to get results. Isn't that my duty? Otherwise, would it be chaos and anarchy?

Maybe I can be critical in a coaching way. In a manner that comes from love, not insecurity or fear. But then, who am I to be so bold, to think I have the answers.

Maybe it all becomes clear in the next chapter . . .

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Mid-week Pick Me Up

Anyone willing to ask themselves some tough, but fun, questions, should check this out!

Sunday, August 26, 2007

My Broken Baby

This concept has been on my mind for a while now after reading about it on Yertle's blog. It reminded me of a coworker of mine who had two daughters, both very different. One was strong and healthy and the other was often sick. It seemed so odd to me at the time.

We have that in our family. My daughter was wearing bifocals at age 4 and has asthma. Her asthma caused her once to be hospitalized and now requires her to be hooked up to a breathing machine several times a day every time she catches anything, including the common cold. She often complains about the glasses and asks when she won't need them anymore. None of her friends wear glasses. We pass the buck and tell her that we'll ask the optometrist. What we don't want to say is that she may need surgery, but would still likely have to wear glasses even after that.

Each year, we hope that asthma with get better. That the openings in her lungs will get bigger and won't get clogged up with mucus with every little illness. This summer we enjoyed a drug-free summer for her, only to have to put her back on a daily pill this week. She has to take an inhaler to school and go the nurses office during the day when she is recovering from a cold or sickness. It lasts about 1 - 2 weeks.

So she asks why she has to wear glasses and no one else in the family does. We try to make it better by explaining that mommy needs them to read and daddy to drive, but it doesn't make it better. Then she feels hurt and frustrated when she gets asthma and has to be hooked up to the machine several times a day. I get frustrated with having to wake up in the middle of the night to give her the medicine - it feels like having an infant all over again.

So what do I say to her. Life if not fair. Suck it up. God picked you because he knew you are strong and can handle it. We need to work on your diet more to figure out if the holistic doctor was right and that you really can't eat milk, yogurt or wheat, which is in everything. Mostly I just ache for her and wish I could fix these problems. But then I remind myself that life is not fair and that I should just suck it up.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Being Disliked

Found this tidbit on the Chief Happiness Officer, Kathy Sierra talks about being disliked:

Should you ignore the detractors? Diss them as nothing but evidence of your success? Should you just wave them off with a “just jealous” remark? Absolutely not.

Somewhere in their complaints there are probably some good clues for things you can work on. But if you start trying to please them all or even worse, turn them into fans, that could mean death. Death by mediocrity, as you cater to everybody and inspire nobody.

As a boss, I have some loyal followers and some not so loyal, dare I say reluctant, unrespectful employees. It's hard because accepting that some people just won't buy into you and your style is hard. You don't want to ignore them, but you can also let them ruin all that is good about you and your work if you focus too much. I like what Kathy says, though, that there are some good clues to work on. One book I read called this "mining the shadow". Finding gems of knowledge in your darkest parts.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Quote for the Day

“Resentment is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die.”
— Carrie Fisher

Sunday, August 19, 2007

My Neighbors and Growing Up

My neighbors across the street have been married for more than 20 years and are somewhat retired. The man is a professor who is a skin cancer survivor. The woman is a mom of a grown son, who still lives with them but I never see him. They are good neighbors. They wave hello, know our names, more importantly they know our children's names. They keep their yard clean and are kind.

So, what's so special about them?

Each morning while I am getting ready for work, I hear a little something. Our bathroom has a window that faces the street and I get to hear people walking their dogs, runners out of breath from the hill, and my neighbors. In the early morning hours, what I hear from my neighbors is a car pulling out of the driveway. Then I hear the man's voice. It gets louder as the car pulls away. He is following the car out of the driveway, walking after it. He calls out "Drive safe" and "I love you". He does it EVERY morning as his wife drives away.

It melts my heart.

When I leave for work, I kiss my husband good-bye. His is still asleep at this time, as are my kids. My leaving is his wake up call I know. He grunts and murmurs when I leave. When I told him the story about the neighbors, he laughed at his grunts and murmurs, which are still loving, but in a different way.

I want to be my neighbor when I grow up . . . maybe tomorrow!

Friday, August 17, 2007

Maybe We're Just Hiding in Clay

I'm not very religious, but this story was read at my Rotary meeting this week, and I loved it. Maybe it will inspire you too.

Clay Balls (author unknown)

A man was exploring caves by the seashore. In one of the caves he found a canvas bag with a bunch of hardened clay balls. It was like someone had rolled clay balls and left them out in the sun to bake. They didn't look like much, but they intrigued the man so he took the bag out of the cave with him. As he strolled along the beach, he would throw the clay balls one at a time out into the ocean as far as he could. He thought little about it until he dropped one of the balls and it cracked open on a rock. Inside was a beautiful, precious stone.

Excited the man started breaking open the remaining clay balls. Each contained a similar treasure.

He found thousands of dollars worth of jewels in the 20 or so clay balls he had left. Then it struck him. He had been on the beach a long time. He had thrown maybe 50 or 60 of the clay balls with their hidden treasure into the ocean waves. Instead of thousands of dollars in treasure, he could have taken home tens of thousands, but he just threw it away.

It's like that with people. We look at someone, maybe even ourselves, and we see the external clay vessel. It doesn't look like much from the outside. It isn't always beautiful or sparkling so we discount it. We see that person as less important than someone more beautiful or stylish or well known or wealthy. But we have not taken the time to find the treasure hidden inside that person by God.

There is a treasure in each and every one of us. If we take the time to get to know that person, and if we ask God to show us that person the way He sees them, then the clay begins to peel away and the brilliant gem begins to shine forth.

May we not come to the end of our lives and find out that we have thrown away a fortune in friendships because the gems were hidden in bits of clay.

May we see the people in our world as God sees them.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Before and After

While going through the pregnancies and post-baby body, I felt like I melted into the background and no one paid attention to me. This is my 10-year college reunion photo. I'm the one on the far right, half cut-off and looking down at my feet.
Then I got a few more years under my belt and came out to be the person who takes charge and steals the limelight. I'm the one in the middle doing the super model pose . . . and yes, I'm wearing a control garment underneath!

Somewhere along the line I embraced my feminine side and was willing to allow it to shine. Sometimes a little too much. Yes, I wore the red dress to an evening wedding once . . . an etiquette boo boo.

I'd like to think how I am now is better, but it was nice being invisible. During grad school, when I had the kids, I went to school with a bunch of young beautiful people who drive nice cars and went to fancy restaurants. This was just as we were having kids and scaling back. I also spent 40 months either pregnant or nursing. I felt like the tagalong awkward sibling.

Since then I've allowed myself to be a little more flamboyant and I've gone back to being the leader so I know I can't be rejected. I go ahead and let people think I may be dumb, or poor, knowing that the truth is mine to embrace and their loss if not recognized.

But I crave the intimacy that other moms seem to have. They get to spend time together when dropping off the kids and some even steal away for a cup of coffee. I envy that beyond belief. I envy a close friend, outside of work, outside of my family.

But that's not fair to the friends I do have. One is my neighbor. She is a divorced mom of two. She is one of the few moms who can make time to hang out when I'm off work. The other moms seem too busy with family. This neighbor/friend is an amazing paradox of femininity. Beautiful in a Barbie way, but with fake hair, fake boobs, and a fake nose. Does she have true security? I don't know. She looks hot, but she's critical of herself too. Makes you realize that we all are deep down.

This is such rambling and I'm a bad blogger, but perhaps some of it sparks some thoughts for you . . .

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Sabotage and Success

Ever since reading Yertle's blogs on Sabotage and Fear, I haven't stopped thinking about them. I want to understand and in trying to understand I'm finding some parallels and some opposites in my own life.

First of all, I adore Yertle. We've been friends for almost 20 years, and she has always been there for me. She is an amazingly bright and extremely caring person. She really listens when you talk . . . even though she can do just about 20 things at once ;) I've always wished the best for her and still do. (You're a dear, Yertle, and I love you!)

In reading Sabotage, I see a glimmer of self-hate, or is it just a little lack of self-love? Like she doesn't deserve to have things be wonderful. That wonderful is scary. In a parallel, I recall a conversation with my stepmom about me and some differences between me and my brother. She called me successful. The minute the word escaped her lips, I felt terror. I had just finished rereading "The Paradox of Success" that profiled many successful people and how they are living a facade and deeply unhappy and insecure inside. Is that me?

I tend to be a leader. In life I found that I didn't belong easily to groups and so I would simply create ones of my own. Like starting the Physics Club in high school or my own playgroup after having kids. But being the leader can be really lonely. Just last night I was talking to my husband about our big party and how I fear that I may fear intimacy. That I seek to have large groups instead of small ones. That I lead in order to be alone and not have to bond on a one-on-one level. It's a sort of one upmanship that I tend to hate in others, but it's inside me too.

In reading about Fear and its follow-up, I see a fear of being apart, of being rejected, of being scrutinized. Then I started thinking back to a tape on interviewing I listened to years and years ago. The person on the tape was talking about how to manage being unemployed and getting a job. One thing he said really struck me. He said that there are all sorts of laws out there on discrimination for race, gender, religion, etc. but none for weight. Then he went on to say that weight discrimination is alive and well and "practiced with a vengeance." Wow. He then told his listeners to go get fit.

So, how do we discriminate against people who are overweight? Do we ignore them? If so, does the weight allow a shield?

Following my own advice on "Take Being a Role Model Seriously", I need to get back to work, but I'm sure there will be more on this.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

My Good

Okay, this is a little self congratulating, but I know you'll indulge me. A few weeks ago I blogged about my bad of coming home and nagging my husband when it should have been clear that he had a bad day too.

Well, tonight I tried to make use of my lesson and make good. My husband came home from swim lessons with the kids and there was a lot of yelling, from him and the kids. If you've ever met my husband, you probably can't even imagine him yelling. Well, first I went back to the bedroom and acknowledged that he might be out of patience and asked if he wanted a break. He seemed relieved and left to read. I made dinner, but let him rest and tried to keep the kids from disturbing him too much. Then later I approached him and offered him a hug or a glass of wine. He took both. I told him that I appreciate that he is with the kids in the afternoon and that I was sorry that they were not easy on him today.

Dinner went okay. The usual restlessness, but nothing unusual. I went ahead and did the dishes (typically his job since I do the cooking) and let him rest.

Now, he is cuddling both of them and reading to them.

Sometimes we just need a break to come back refreshed.

Good Boss

A little while back I blogged on my fear of being a bad boss and some of the challenges of management. Right now, I'm knee deep in personnel crisis, but that's my job.

Yertle asked about books on being a good boss. I''ll have to think on this a little, but I do have two lists to consider.

One of my mentors, a man in his 80's who spent his career in teaching and HR and is now involved in volunteering and politics, gave me this list.

The Fundamentals of Leadership

1. Establish who is in charge.
2. Know what you want to accomplish.
3. Know what you want each person you manage to accoumplish.
4. Let them know what you expect.
5. Find out what your employees want.
6. Find our what your employees expect of you.
7. Take being a role model seriously.

These seem so simple, but it is amazing how many people don't follow them.

Another list for thought came from a speaker at my Rotary. His premise is that you need to make your employees feel 3 things to be effective:

Make Your Employee Feel:

1. Influential - they need to feel like they can influence the direction of things, how work is done, what work is done, what decisions are made, etc.

2. Significant - see Dilbert and think the opposite. It's simple, people need to feel like they matter and are worth your time.

3. Capable - make sure they have the tools to do what you task them to do. Think of parenting and how you try to get your kids to feel like they can do things in baby steps.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007


I have one employee, who is careless and insubordinate, on a personal improvement plan and another employee, who I hired and who is awesome, just gave her notice. And yes, the awesome employee was making dealing with the difficult employee easier.


Sunday, August 5, 2007

"Honey, do you still have clothes on?", he said in a deep, uncertain voice.

"Yes . . ." I reply with anticipation and curiosity.

To which he replies, "Would you like to take the garbage out?"

This, in a nutshell, is why I love my husband.

Bad Boss?

So, I try to stay away from work topics as I worry about the confidentiality of combining a blog with many of the situations I face at work as a boss. But this article came out, and I just had to comment. It stipulates something we all fear, that nice guys finish last and that to get ahead you have to screw people. It is the corollary of a book that just came out, The No Asshole Rule. This book talks about how much money true assholes cost the company and how good leaders recognize that and don't reward them.

The reason I focus on this is that this is exactly what I try not to be, a domineering and intimidating boss, but at the same time, I am responsible for the effectiveness of my team and must hold people accountable. So, how do you correct behavior without seeming like a bully? All these management books talk about being personable and "touchy feely", but they are geared towards male readers who are less nurturing by nature. So, should women be reading the books about being tougher as a way to even out or should we embrace our softer sides. Probably the latter, but there's no simple rule . . . unfortunately.

Friday, August 3, 2007

Me to the Power of Three

I got tagged recently by Yertle and I really thought it was fun. Being the bossy mom that I am, I've decided to start one . . .

1. Name three things that you adore.
- my family
- my dog
- happy couples

2. Name three things you appreciate about your spouse/significant other.
- his calm manner
- his patience
- his commitment to health

3. Name three things that you are especially good at.
- organizing things and people
- getting things/tasks done
- networking and getting friends/colleagues together

And Sierra, you're it

The Mountain of Mulch and the Dumb Blonde

So we have a big party coming up in a week. Each year we host a potluck (in my opinion the best kind of party, affordable and the guests feel involved and connected to it). To prepare for the event, I ordered 4 cubic yards of mulch, think about the size of a compact car and you'll get the idea of the amount. In my brilliance, I had it dumped in the driveway . . . while my cars were still in the garage! Thankfully, my husband's car was on the street so he could drop the kids off at summer school and get to work. Meanwhile, I'm spending my day digging myself out. This must be what if feels like to be snowed in!

Thursday, August 2, 2007

"Honey, Do You Remember . . .

when we last had sex?" That was the question last night, and I am embarrassed and saddened to report that neither of us knew the answer. At least it was mutual! Sure seems like that's the last item on the to-do list for many of us moms. I'll spare everyone the details of what happened next, but let's suffice to say that maybe that last glass of wine we both had wasn't the best idea . . .

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

A Rave and the Best Drugs I've Ever Taken

So the local craft store had glow sticks in packs of 15 for $1. This is what my som bought with his allowance this week. Tonight was a blur of glow sticks and hip hop - too cute.

Several months ago I started taking an anti-acne medicine. I'm 36 and was getting 1 - 3 cystic pimples (the really big ones that hurts and take a week or more to heal) every menstrual cycle. Fed up I asked my doctor for help and he prescribed a low grade antibiotic. I take a probiotic to help balance it and I have to up my calcium to offset the mineral binding effect of the medicine. It is so great to be mostly acne free - I can hardly describe how wonderful it is for my self esteem and self image. I tend to be very natural and this was a very big step for me, but I love it. It vain, but true.

Me Me Me

I'm new to this blogging thing, and I got tagged today by the sweetheart at Smile Play Dream. So here goes . . .

4 Things That Should Go Into Room 101 and Be Removed From the Face of the Earth:
(What is "Room 101" supposed to mean??)
1. Bullies
2. Grudges
3. Impatience
4. Elitism

3 Things That People Do That Make You Want to Shake Them Violently
1. Be Lazy
2. Don't Take Responsibility
3. Whine

2 Things You Find Yourself Moaning About
1. My Boss
2. My Husband's Thriftiness

1 Thing the Above Answers Tell You About Yourself
I'm absolutely terrified of being an:
- elite, bullying, impatient boss to my employees,
- whiny, lazy wife to my husband, or
- impatient, unforgiving mom to my kids.
And I've been all of the above more often than I care to admit!

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

The Day of Rest

So the family got home at 1 am this morning after our trip to my mom's. I took off the Super Mom cape and did not go into work today. After our last trip, we got home at 9 pm, then I did grocery shopping, made lunches, slept and went to work the next day. Needless to say, I almost got sick from exhaustion. This time I'm trying to be smart. It feels like slacking, but going to work on half a brain isn't good for anyone and I didn't want kids to have to wake up and go to summer school after a rough day of travel. My son slept in until 10 am!

I survived the stress of the trip and am glad that we went. One absolutely endearing moment was watching my mom and daughter play patty cake. My daughter was amazed when my mom knew the words to her tune, and my mom even knew some my daughter didn't!

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Bad Habits

Ever notice that when we are most stressed and need to do all those things that are good for us (exercise, drink water, don't eat too much sugar, don't drink too much caffeine, and don't drink too much alcohol), we do exactly those things. They seem to offer a quick comfort at the expense of a clear head or calm psyche.

Wish I understood.

Maybe it's because they feel like obligations and not following them feels like a small sense of freedom when so much else feels out of our control . . .

I Need a Vacation from my Vacation

Right now I am on my annual visit to my mother. This visit is very different from how I imagine it is for many friends visiting their parents. My mother is disabled and on social security. As such, she lives in a boarding house and has so for 17 years. She has no license, and thus no car. When we arrive, we rent a car, and drive to our hotel. We visit her twice a day, as she needs a nap in the middle of the day. Those visits occur in the park or at the hotel, as children are not welcome in her home. Right now, she is being asked to move as the house has sold - she is really stressed. This is all she talks about. Times like this, I feel myself slip into a pity party.

My mom and I have had a challenging relationship ever since the divorce and this annual visit has always been hard for me. Since having kids, I have been slowly mending our relationship, understanding that it is up to me. So I call once every week or two and prepare for the hour or two long call about this and that. We avoid the topic of my dad or her sister. My brother hasn't seen her in years, but the two are not openly antagonistic even though he admitted to me that the next time he sees her will be at her funeral. If I miss a couple of weeks between calls, she gets paranoid. My mom misses birthdays and Christmas, not calling or sending a card. The phone calls after my birthday are the hardest as she spends the call explaining why she forgot. Sometimes I pretend I didn't have a birthday. The phone calls after the kids' birthdays are also hard as she explains why she's so busy and then laments that the kids don't know her. Maybe they would if she sent a card every now and again. She is pretty much a one way person and my brother explains that this is why he stopped trying. She can forget everyone else, but gets terribly upset when she is forgotten. She is immature and self-centered in this way, but she is my mom. At night, after the kids are in bed, I pause and wonder what I do that is like my mom and if I will grow up to be like her. Then I try to stop judging and instead to be more forgiving. Then I long for the childhood that I feel was robbed from me 24 years ago when she kicked my dad out of the house and accused him of molesting me.

Visiting every year is the right thing to do. My children will know my mom through the photo album and the few pictures a year I capture. My husband admitted that he thinks of sending me alone now that the kids are older and a little easier to manage while traveling. He is so good during these trips, but I can tell that they are hard on him too.

So after day three on too little sleep in a couped up hotel, I'm ready for a vacation from my vacation, and an end to my pity party too!

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

My Bad

Last night was a complete disaster when it comes to family harmony. I came home to an empty house (the kids and husband were at swim lessons), the back door was open, the dog was loose (thank goodness she didn't run away as our back yard is not fenced), there was paint on the ground outside and it was tracked inside and was on the carpet, toys everywhere, pillow cushions everywhere, ripped up cardboard and miscellaneous papers everywhere. So when my husband walked in the door, I nagged. It wasn't "Hi Honey, how was your day?" or "Hi Sweetheart, nice to see you.". It was "Will you get the kids to clean this up while I make dinner?" So, I set the tone for the evening. My husband was so mad, he simply pulled the garbage can up, put it by the front door and started throwing away toys and all of the paint and brushes. The kids went from panic to distraction to yelling at us to stop yelling at them. Then, just when I had four pots on the stove, all going strong, the boss calls me on a personnel matter that had happened that day.

My glamorous life.

Thank goodness that my husband and I spent some time together once the kids were in bed and didn't go to bed angry.

But I caught myself keeping score, or "doing the math". I imagined if my husband had to ask me to do the things I do. "Honey, would you please wake up every morning before anyone else, make our lunches, then go to work, work 9 hours and come home to fix our dinner . . . oh, and don't forget that I get Saturday mornings all to myself while you care for the kids." But it goes both ways, "Honey, would you put your career on hold and work part-time, being available whenever the kids are sick or need to go to an appointment . . . also, pay all the bills and track our finances, and don't forget to be the calm, rational one when I'm not." I do have it good and I need to remember that next time I open my mouth with a nag instead of a warm greeting.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Why Can't We All Just Get Along?

My family is a compilation of people who aren't speaking to one another. My parents are divorced and have been in the same room on two occasions since their divorce 23 years ago: my brother's wedding and my wedding. So, for one, my parents don't talk, which causes family vacations to be split in thirds: my dad, my mom and my husband's parents. Thank goodness my husband's parents are still married.

Next comes my dad and his brother. Before my wedding, they decided they weren't speaking. It was huge turmoil when I decided to invite my uncle to my wedding. My dad, who I adore and respect, was very hurt and upset that I invited his brother. The reason I did was that he was the only aunt/uncle who didn't stop communicating with me after my parents' divorce. I always appreciated that. Being ex-communicated as a teenager was very, very hard on me. Now that Dad's fighting cancer, I still haven't decided whether or not to tell my uncle - I'll cross that bridge later.

Then comes my mom and her sister. After the divorce, my mom moved out of state to go live near her sister. This sister have four kids, my cousins, who are roughly my age and starting having kids of their own a few years ago. Each year of the last 10 or so, my mom would organize a family gathering during my annual visit to see her that would include my cousins. My husband likes my cousins, and their children are the closest cousins my children have. As such, my husband wants to maintain relationships with my cousins. Here's the wrinkle, my mom and her sister have stopped talking, putting me and my cousins in a rough spot. When I talked about trying to see my cousins while up visiting mom this coming weekend, she got upset and made it clear she didn't want to be there. Last year, she made it clear that she didn't want me seeing her sister. It was a guilt trip about how she only gets to see her grandkids a few days each year and shouldn't have to "share" that time. I respected her wishes.

This is when the pity party starts. I'm so tired of my parents' selfishness when it comes to family relationships. I don't understand why they don't accept or acknowledge their effect on others and how unfair it is. It makes me angry and it embarrasses me that my family seems so dysfunctional. My husband's family seems so normal in comparison. So, now I get to either make my husband happy and my mom mad or my husband disappointed and my mom righteous.

Ugh . . . .

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Freak, Part 2

Went to opening day of the horse races yesterday and felt like a total freak. I was the only woman covered head to toe and wearing flat shoes. Everyone else seemed to be in pretty, flirty little dresses with high heels. When I met up with my hubby, I apologized for not looking sexier (we were meeting up with an employee and I had two other employees there - so I dressed conservatively). He said not to worry. It just felt really strange to look and feel so different, but I also know I would have been tremendously uncomfortable in a little dress and heels. Sometimes, I wish I fit in more, though.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

"Mom, do you know _______?"

So, parenting sometimes feels like a series of mini-heartbreaks, different stages of independence and letting go. My kids are in summer school this summer. Due to schedules, my husband drops them off and picks them up. I get to drop off and pick up once every two weeks. Needless to say, I am a little out of touch. So, it's breaks my heart a little when we sit down to dinner and the kids ask me, "Do you know Abby" or "Do you know Ms. Lynn". I have to say no and then ask them to tell me about this person who very well may spend more time with my child during the weekday than I do.

Recently, my boss teased me for making my families dinners and lunches. I guess when you're at my level, you have a stay at home spouse (like he does) or the part-time person takes on these duties. I didn't have the heart to confess that I make their lunches as a small gesture to make sure they know I think about them, even though I am not around when they wake up in the morning and only see them for a couple of hours in the evening.

My mom tells of how she used to sit next to kids with homemade lunches and was envious. Her mom worked and did not make her lunch. My mom says she would have felt more loved if she felt her mom prepared her lunch. Frankly, my kids would probably love Lunchables five days a week, but it makes me feel good when I pack fresh fruit in season or cut up veggies with dressing. Sometimes I sneak in a little treat or a simple heart or smiley face. It's probably more for me than for them . . .

Monday, July 16, 2007

Zzzzzz . . . and Karma

So while on vacation recently I took some yoga classes. One I remember in particular had one of the Activity staff in it with me. A man in his 20's or 30's. The Activity staff party alot and he was tired, as expected. Well, during deep relaxation, he started snoring. I thought it was hilarious (no, I didn't laugh at the time, but I did tell my husband later).

Well, tonight that was me. Here I was in deep relaxation (sponge pose where you lie on your back with palms up and feet apart) after about 2 hours of yoga on a Monday after a long day at work, I hear my name, and when I look up, the whole class is in the sitting pose, looking over. At least they got a little laugh when I squeaked and got up. The instructor's mom was so sweet, she simply said "you're body must have needed the rest."

I guess I did!

Doing it Again

Every so often I become absolutely obsessed with work. It's all I talk about, I think about it before falling asleep and again immediately upon waking. It usually happens when I have a problem, but not a solution and I just feel stuck. Well, that's happening now and my poor husband is being as patient as can be with me, but I know I'm boring him to death with my worry, over analyzing and insecurity.

My goal is an organic life. That can mean a lot of things. One concept I really like is looking at really fast marathon runners. They make running look effortless. They have a stride that puts energy into the right places. Their faces are soft, their fists aren't clenched and their strides long and easy. I want to be that in life. It's not that I want to not work, but I want my work and home life to be a good fit.

Now I just have to figure out how.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Catch 22

Each summer, like most families with school age children, we're faced with the challenge of how to care for the kids. Last summer, our youngest stayed in his preschool while the oldest went to YMCA day camp. Since we're too cheap to sign up for the cool camps (like ice skating, swimming or reptiles), my daughter spent her days on a dirt lot with some shade, doing crafts and learning about values from teenage girls who shared stories about their boyfriends and their views on God. As you can tell, this was less than ideal in my point of view.

This summer, I pushed to have our kids at the local Montessori school during the summer. That way there is still some down time for crafts and such, but at least it would be in framework and structure that I respect. Trained teachers and appropriate values. Of course, that costs more. So, when I tell my husband (I work full-time and he is part-time) that I want my kids to be home when he's not working, it became clear that he feels pressure to work more to pay for this summer school option.

So, from 8:30 - 3:30 everyday my kids are spending their summer in school. And during that time, my husband is working to pay for it. The worst irony of all, is that we barely break even financially on the deal. But it keeps his career intact, which is important. You can't tell your employer that you're taking the next three months off and expect not to be replaced, unless of course you're having a baby and protected by law.

Well, at least they spend their time in a classroom, not on dirt, learning from mature teachers, not teenagers. Right?

Thursday, July 12, 2007

If I Were Religious

I work for an immature and aggressive man. In my 18 months on the job, he's chewed me out about 4 to 6 times. The first time was just one month into the job. It put me in tears in the bathroom. The second and third time had me in tears in his office. The last time just left me numb. Anyone who's read about how NOT to fight with your spouse knows not to use words like "always" and "never" during the fight. These are some of his favorite words. Before I came to work here, I was warned that he "had lot of testosterone", but I didn't understand what that meant. Now I know that it means he is easily threatened and picks fights. He's like a bull who sees everything in shades of red.

So how do I cope? If I were religious, I would believe that God sent him to me for a reason. Fortunately, I am very spiritual, and I do believe that he is in my life for a reason and that I have a very important life lesson associated with this challenge. My father always said that my skin was too thin and that I needed to thicken it up if I was going to be successful. I fought this, thinking that the only way to have thick skin was to be callous to others, to not sympathize or feel their pain. But I think I can learn to have thick skin, to let these fights roll off my back, and still be a compassionate and loving person to others. First and foremost, I need to remember that 99% of how people act is from their own internal pressures and stresses. His blowups aren't because I am a total screwup, but they are his reactions to me because of his experiences and outlook. When I'm insecure, I do wonder about what I'm doing wrong to cause it, though. Then I overanalyze what I'm doing and how I should change.

My main problem is that I need at least 8 more months to vest in my retirement, then I'm a free agent. Also, I took the job for a reason and that reason hasn't really changed, despite working for a challenging individual.

So, for now, I'll practice making like a duck and keeping centered.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Manly Smelling

Can you believe that my dear husband of 9 years just offered, in all seriousness, to run around the block and make himself "manly" smelling for me.

I'm dying.

Fortunately he only reads my blog when he's looking over my shoulder . . .

Our Parents, Ourselves

So I am privileged to be part of a wonderful volunteer organization, Rotary. By being involved, I get to interact with some of the most amazing people. Tonight I had a conversation with one of my favorites; he helped me remember that a big part of who we are is directly due to our parents. To embrace and love our parents is to embrace and love a part of ourselves.

This conversation came to pass as I talked about my dad, who is battling cancer. My dad is a wonderful man and I've been fortunate enough to have shared my high opinion of him with him over the years. Meaning that I feel comfortable that he knows how much I love him. As weird as it is to say, if he were to die tomorrow, I would rest easy knowing that he knew how much I loved him. Crazy and sad to think that way, but true. I remember a radio show I heard once that interviewed Oncology (cancer) nurses and they were polled as to how they would want to die, if given the choice. Some of the choices were to die in an accident, to die in your sleep, to die of cancer, etc. The poll showed that they chose cancer by an overwhelming majority. The reason given was that cancer gives you time to say good-bye. One of my former employees lost her husband to cancer. While he was alive, he was able to video tape sessions of himself talking to his sons (who were only 4 and 7 at the time) and tell them things he wasn't going to get to tell them since he had only 6 months to live.

My dad will have surgery in the next 1 - 3 months. My understanding is that his chance of survival is 50%.

But this blog isn't all about dad. It's about my mom too and how I've learned to embrace her and all of her beauties, flaws and weaknesses. My mom is part of me and as I grow into womanhood, I see how I act like her and am like her. Instead of rejecting it, I'm trying to learn how to embrace it. Like my dad, she is wonderful, in her own way. Like my dad, she made me. Like my dad, I love her.

As I learn to love my parents even more, and as I learn to forgive their shortcomings, I learn to love and accept myself.

Monday, July 9, 2007

Over the Top

So my boss walks in as I'm leaving a message for someone. When I'm done, he says, sarcastically, "so professional, you're always so professional". Because of his tone, I ask if there is something wrong with that. He says that sometimes it's over the top and makes people question whether or not they are professional.

So what the hell am I supposed to do with that bit of criticism, be less professional? Am I supposed to dress worse and use bad grammar too for fear that I may intimidate someone?!?! Mostly I'm mad because this has confused me for a while. I've been told time and time again that I am intimidating, but I don't understand why that is bad or what I am doing to intimidate people. It's not that I'm aggressive, or is it? Is it that I make people feel like they are in competition or is it just that insecure people feel even more insecure around me.

Augh . . .

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Anger and Embarrassment

My stepmom called me today to let me know that my dad, who is battling cancer, is in the hospital . . since Friday of last week! That's more than five days that he's been in the hospital and I've been going about my life like everything is normal. Was he sitting there thinking no one cared about him? Did he not want to bother me? Was he scared and didn't want to worry anyone? Did he even have an opinion on the matter or was it entirely up to my stepmom? I'm angry I didn't know sooner and embarrassed that I spent the last week living such a normal life without checking in on him.

It reminds me of something that happened to my college room mate. Her grandfather died while we were in college and no one told her until after the funeral. Now I understand a little of the complex set of emotions she must have felt.

Now I'm worried about how much I'll know as this cancer battle continues. The only thing I can do is to call more often to check up on him. But this touches on my need to feel some sense of control in matters - that's another blog in itself.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007


Okay, I have to admit it, I'm one of those sun cautious freaks that you see at the pool or beach, covered from head to toe and wearing a wide brimmed hat. I've been reluctant to admit it, but two things happened recently to drive it home.

Looking over vacation photos from our beach/pool vacation in beautiful Puerto Vallarta, a funny image came up. It was the photo from the sun dance, which was basically a line dance coordinated by the staff each day at 4:00. They would get the guests to line up and dance a little number to their theme song. Imagine people in bikinis and board shorts, tan and happy. Then next to them, imagine a family in long sleeve swim shirts, sarangs that reach the floor, and hats. That would be my family.

At Legoland last week (it must sound like I llive on perpetual vacation), I saw a family who looked odd to me. The mom had an umbrella, long skirt and long sleeve shirt. I looked at the brand name and realized it's what I buy - the only difference is that I stop at the umbrella, haven't gone there yet. I thought the family looked odd, until I realized they look just like mine.

No plans to change this freakish dressing, I gave up any chance of being cool a long time ago. It's just odd when I'm forced to acknowledge it.

Monday, July 2, 2007

Bliss - only in hindsight?

Here is a picture from my recent family vacation to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. We spent about 11 days there at an all inclusive resort. Three pools, activities all day, shows at night, babysitting, all you can eat and drink. As I look at this picture, I imagine myself in heaven. Happy, calm, relaxed and with the people I love more than anything. Total bliss, at least in hindsight.

The truth is that it took several days to even relax. Worrying about sun exposure, saying "no" to the dozens of people wanting to sell you stuff on the beach, worrying about the kids and pool safety, etc. Then we started to relax and spent about 5 days exploring new areas and becoming more familiar with the existing ones we knew. After that, we started to get what I call that "Sad Sunday Feeling" when work is starting to cast it's shadow.

When I look back at this photo and think of our time, I wonder why I didn't realize bliss the entire time and if you need the perspective to experience bliss. It seems the goal is to learn to live in the moment more and to learn to sieze the beauty that is in front of all of us. At times it feels like I spend so much time planning my future, that I forget that the present is here and now, and more often than not, quite wonderful.

Maybe this picture will help me remember that.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Me and My Daughter


Remember the song that was used as a jingle for a fragrance in the 70', "Because I'm a woman, W-O-M-A-N". It talks about bringing home the bacon, frying it up in the pan, and never letting you forget you're a man. I heard that song on my recent vacation, performed by four women in thongs, and I've been thinking about it's lyrics ever since. That song sums up my mom's dream for me, which I feel like I am living.

Let me pause here to say that I love my family, I love my husband, and I love my life. I have been full time, part time, in school, out of school and every combination. We've put a lot of thought into our lifestyle and it works for our family. At times, though, the equality we spent years to get seems elusive and contradictory, that's all.

Today I am home sick with a minor cold. I could tell that my husband thinks I am a slacker for it. He would never say so, but he would also never take a sick day. He would put the kids in school, go to work and then come home and sleep. So why do I take a sick day? Part of it is that I don't feel I can come home and just sleep. I have dinner to make and others' needs to tend to. So I rest during the day, skirting work responsibilities in lieu of skirting home responsibilities.

One of my college boyfriend's moms once told me that this whole fight for equality seemed to only add the additional responsibilities of a career and money making to the already long list of responsibilities borne by women. In that, we got to go to work, but didn't have a reduction in any of the household responsibilities. Nobody's fault, just the way things kind of fell out. Maybe we don't delegate, maybe we don't get offers of help; probably a little of both.

My mom was a stay at home mom. She was devastated financially by the divorce and now lives on social security in a house of 9 people and without enough money to cover her dog's vet bills. She never wanted me to depend on a man for money. She wanted me to be in the workforce. Now I'm the breadwinner of the family, working full time at an executive job with 20 employees working under me. She beams about how I seem to be balancing it all, but admits that she secretly worries about burnout. At times I complain to my dad about my host of responsibilities, saying that sometimes I feel I wear the pants and skirt, but he reminds me of the work he did around the house. Then I wonder if I grew up to be my dad. But no, I'm not my dad, because I'm a W-O-M-A-N.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Me and my son

A Blogger

Never thought that I might become a blogger, but knowing that I find comfort in others' blogs and that it also comforts me to write, this made sense.

Thanks to my friend for encouraging me.

I picked the name Bossy Mom because those are two of my roles. In hindsight, perhaps I should have slipped "wife" or "spouse" in there somewhere . . . Anyhow, my goal is to balance all of my roles for a fulfilling life that is sustaining in the long run. Success for me is keeping this balance and not letting any one area dominate. We'll see how that goes.