What Do I Do About the Racism?

I don’t know how to write this post.

I thought about it all day. I thought about it in the early shower I took tonight, specifically early so I could try to process what occurred today. How to process what is haunting me in a way that I’m unsure how to handle it at all.

I haven’t brushed my hair yet, haven’t put lotion on my winter-dry-skin face because I’m trying to process the blatant racism exhibited at a meeting I attended earlier today.

I told my husband, my parents, my co-workers what happened. And I haven’t figured out what I ought to have done. So, in the hopes that I can tag this post properly and use the right hashtags in tweeting it to get some ideas, here goes…

I’m involved with an organization and today was my first meeting as a member of its Board of Directors. I have a deep affinity for the organization and the community it serves.

There are, of course, other Board members. And I understand that just like the every day life I lead, everyone on the Board brings different perspective to the table. Which is perfect, of course. It’s what we want.

But today…

A fellow Board member began talking politics in the middle of the meeting, entirely off topic, specifically commenting on how Michigan’s Governor, Republican Rick Snyder, was doing a really good job. And while I’m from the complete opposite school of thought with regard to Mr. Snyder and the job he’s doing on a variety of fronts, I have learned JUST enough in my big-mouthed experience to not engage in political discussion in groups of people who I don’t know terribly well. It’s better for all of us, in times like these, to hold our beliefs close and work towards the common goals that bring us together. Political discussion works fine around our dinner table at home, on our back patio, over drinks, or where that is the point of bringing people together. But not in this setting.

So, I bit my tongue.

I even kept my eyes and face down so that no one could see my reaction – I’m an open book when it comes to my emotions.

I’d done well, I thought, in avoiding confrontation and making a scene.

And then, the same individual who had commented on Governor Snyder’s really good job, segued into a discussion about Detroit, about how he couldn’t understand how all these blacks had been elected mayor and driven the city to bankruptcy all those years, and then had to elect a white guy to get them out of bankruptcy.

So…

To say I was shocked was an understatement. I don’t THINK like that, let alone speak in public like that.

But here was this guy, saying these things.

And — I averted my eyes, bulging out of my skull though they were, avoided confrontation and avoided making a scene.

I. Said. Nothing.

Nothing.

And it’s haunting me tonight, 12 hours later. Having said nothing.

I feel as though my silence, in this rural Michigan town, somehow could be construed that I AGREE.

And I do not.

But, how does a white woman like me speak up, in a room of all white men and women, in a community of almost entirely white men, women and children? What words could I have used? What could I have said?

Honestly – I’m asking HONESTLY. What could I have said that wouldn’t jeopardize all the things I’ve worked toward personally and professionally?

I live in this community. I work in this community. I LIKE the community.

I DISLIKE people speaking this way.

Part of it is naivete – it’s not like I don’t know there are people in the world who feel that way about other demographic groups – but I didn’t…

I don’t…

I don’t know.

I could have made a statement, of course. I could have used my words – which can be sharper than knives – and could have stood up for how these words and the discussion made me feel. I could have said that it made me feel uncomfortable. But that would have put this person on the defensive, I fear, and it would have been confrontational. It could affect my work. It could affect my livelihood.

I guess what I am searching for are words – for the next time I find myself in a scenario where the discussion makes me feel uncomfortable and how I can deflect the topic while making it clear I do NOT agree with the views.

Sharing memes on facebook doesn’t change the way racism affects me, affects the community my family lives within. But the way I react and the words I use — maybe they can.

So what can I do? And how do I do it?

 

Day One – The New Job

Today counts as the first day on the job of the New Job.

 

That’s right, one whole day under my belt.

 

I feel like it was probably an unusually hectic day in terms of items on the schedule, and it was unusual in that there were corporate visitors on-site for walk-through’s and trainings with me…it was an exhausting, sometimes exhilirating day where I felt at times that I actually did soak in the fact that I’m in a position where I’m doing something I’m very, very excited to be doing.

 

But, then we did walk-throughs.

 

And my day is scheduled to end at 5:30 p.m. and while I didn’t expect it to totally be over at exactly 5:30, I didn’t figure that day one would go uber-long. So, I didn’t plan for that. I should have, in hind sight.

 

But – the visitors from corporate began the walk-through later than intended and as the time neared 5:20, then 5:30, then 5:35, then 5:40 I was uber-anxious that I wouldn’t get to daycare on time for pick up, that I’d end up getting ‘fined’ for not being on-time or before 6 p.m. and I was flustered as a result of not getting out of the office before 5:40.

 

When I walked in to get Elle, she was the last baby in the room, which made me sad because I’ve never been there when she’s the last girl in the room (or boy for that matter) and I just didn’t anticipate that, and I certainly didn’t anticipate the feeling of inadequacy/lateness and overall overwhelmed-ness (I just made that a word in case you were curious) that I’d feel in trying to get Elle picked up on time.

 

Why do I feel now like I need to do it more myself (without our parents helping with pick-up, etc.?) than I did before? I guess the knowledge that I’m simply 5.5 miles down the road makes it seem as though I need to be there to drop her off, pick her up and for her general well-being more than when I was 100s of miles away.

 

Add insult to injury and I got one of the first calls every from daycare today asking if it would be okay if they gave Elle some tylenol as she was running a low fever – which they attributed to teething, but still. So, all day I was waiting for another phone call from daycare, waiting on having to frantically make plans for her to be picked up by a grandparent, wondering if I should just call and have her picked up anyway, if I should be more cautious about taking her temperature. I feel like that pre-occupied my mind today in ways I probably can’t fully appreciate right now, too.

 

Anyway – my morning routine went well and I felt good about it. My evening routine, well, let’s just say that I’m tired, Elle’s tired, Jon’s tired and we probably need me to not be sitting in front of the computer writing this. BUTTTT. I needed to catalog my day.

 

So now I have – off to begin the evening routine.

 

Ah the life of a non-traveling, working mother!

I’ve Been Remiss

I’ve been gone for a looonnng time, too long, from my blog.

I miss it.

I miss seeing the stats that tell me that people (even if it is just my Mom and Andrea) are reading my blog.

But – I’ve been busy.

With what? you ask…

Well, landing a new job, for one!

I’ve got just four days left of the gig with my current employer and a full week of vacation off before I begin this new journey!

I’m not going to get into nitty gritty details here – but my title went from District Marketing Manager to Assistant General Manager. I went from traveling out of state each week to commuting 4.3 miles from my driveway to my office (which is further than those days when I’ve stumbled across the hall into my office chair). I changed industries, so I’m diversifying my resume while still putting my already-honed talents to good use.

Suffice it to say, I’m absolutely THRILLED about what this means for my life – our lives.

I already signed up for a Monday/Wednesday Bootcamp at the gym to get un-fat. Because I now know that I will be IN TOWN each day. I don’t have to plan my schedule around wanting to take a Zumba class or swim lessons or…anything, other than my traditional working hours. Can you believe it?

I can’t!

So, how did this all come about…

Heck, I think that I first heard about the new opportunity back before Memorial Day. And I had an interview face-to-face. And then some time went by. And some more time, and some over the phone interviews. And…well…they offered me the position that I SWEAR was made for me.

I did, however, make myself a list to remember why I wanted to not travel anymore…so that when the new job becomes a bear a few weeks in and I want to wonder ‘why’ I did this (this is my Mom’s advice…which is normally pretty spot-on) I’ll have a reminder of why I went on a selective search for a job that allowed a bit more stability to my work/life balance.

Only good is going to come of this – I just know it.

So, I’ve been remiss. I’ve been busy finding a new job, scoring a new job, wrapping up loose ends at my current job, and painting the basement (that’s a different post though).

I will promise that I’ll write more. I’m excited to write more. I miss this outlet – it’s therapeutic for me in many ways. So, I’m back. I’m sorry I left. It wasn’t on purpose and I won’t do it again.

Love,

L

In General, Today

Just a few thoughts top of head…

Valentine’s Day has come and gone. I was not here on the actual day to celebrate with Elle, but…such is my life right now. However, I got home today and started going through Elle’s lunchpail (it’s the thermal tote from thirtyone with her name on it, a gift from Molly). There’s a whole little white lunch sack folded up in the bottom of her lunchpail and I realize: IT CONTAINS VALENTINE’S.

Shit.

I saw the signs at the daycare when I was dropping off/picking up in the lead up to Valentine’s Day. I even thought ‘that’s nice that they do that for the bigger kids’ and went on my way. I got Valentine’s Day cards printed and mailed them (real mail!) to her friends and relatives. But I did NOT purchase the cliche box of Valentine’s and give them to the kids in the infant room.

So, I’ve been trying to decide if I feel like an asshole mother for not doing this. Will the other mothers judge me that their kid didn’t get the same amount of Valentine’s as they gave? Will their kid even know the freaking difference?! I guess I felt that I really was ahead of the game by sending out real live Valentine’s early…and then I return from the road today and just feel like a giganto-turd-Mom.

Oh well.

There’s always next year, I suppose.

~~~~~~~~~

I kid you not – I began thinking of things to do for Elle’s first birthday party (mark your calendars friends and family, October 13, 2012 is right around the corner). [Elle’s birthday is definitely the 14th, but I already evaluated dates and the 13th is it].

Seriously?

Seriously.

And then I tried to minimize my own judgement on myself by thinking ‘well, if I decide on a theme NOW I can pick up items on sale/clearance as I find them’. Which sounds good IN THEORY but I’m not a huge bargain shopper and have a tendency to change my mind. So it’s much more likely that I’ll just wind up with party decor for three different first birthday parties.

I even went so far as to Google the football schedules for Michigan/Michigan State to see if Elle’s birthday could have a football rivalry theme (nope – Michigan play Illinois; Michigan State plays Iowa).

~~~~~~~~~

I get to meet Holden this weekend (I’m hoping!). A fresh, new, cuddly little guy. So excited to meet him!

~~~~~~~~~

Last night, my Mom was watching Elle because Jon had a meeting to go to. Jon had called my Mom earlier in the week to coordinate this plan – which I was so proud/glad that he had done.

I called my Mom earlier in the day while she was still at work and asked her if she would call me later, when she was with Elle, so I could talk to Elle before she went to bed.

My Mom called me on her way home from work to catch up and say she was on her way to see Elle (who was with my Dad and Grandma) and have dinner. I asked her again to call me later on and she says she will.

I watch the clock. It’s 7 p.m. so I go to the gym at the hotel. I get in a 30 minute work out and figure that I’ll hear from my Mom any time. I wait. I text ‘hey don’t forget to call me and let me talk to elle’.

Nothing.

I think, well, they did go to my Grandma’s for dinner, so they must just be hanging out…can’t believe that Elle’s not cranky for them.

Finally, at 9 p.m. (which is about an hour after Elle’s bedtime) I call my Mom.

She reports that Elle got a bath, got her medicine, is sleeping soundly…and I’m in tears on the other end of the phone, in a Homewood Suites in Indianapolis, hundreds of miles from my baby for the second night in a row.

I finally manage to collect myself enough to remind my Mom that she was supposed to call me and let me talk to Elle.

Silence.

She had TOTALLY forgotten.

I made my Mom feel bad (which was not the point, but it did make me feel better since I felt so rotten, at least I had someone else in the rotten trenches with me…) but I was so disappointed.

It’s SO FREAKING HARD to be away on all these over nights. I need to find a job that doesn’t require me to travel each week; find a way to be home, develop a consistent schedule for our family. But, I also need to pay the bills and this is the way. This is what it is. I have to do it. And it SUCKS friends. It totally SUCKS. I cry every night when I’m gone. I cry as soon as I get home and see my happy, smiling girl.

I forget that it’s only been about five weeks since I returned to work and I’m still working out exactly how this will play out…but it’s hard to be optimistic when I’m spending SO MUCH time away from my girl.

And then, you read those dumb baby websites and the emails you sign up for from them and they’re talking about perhaps the best way to celebrate your baby’s first birthday is with your FIRST OVERNIGHT away from your child.

HA!

If only.

If only.

~~~~~~~~~

That’s all – good night.

Work Travel Expense Report Baby

Does anyone out there reading know of anyone out there blogging who has SOME answer for how to be a Mom who travels for work and has an infant at home?

Because I. Am. Struggling.

Not so much when I’m on the road for work, but in the miles as I inch closer to home. That’s when it – f rankly – sucks the most.

This week was my first two nights in a row away from Elle and I HATED it. Again, not while I was living it, but as the days wound their way into night and as I found myself with nothing to fill the balance of my days. Space that’s taken up by Elle, vacant when I’m on my own out in the big cruel world.

Ok. Stop the pity party.

I seriously just need to know how someone else makes it work. And I feel like there’s no one else out there that’s like me…I need to find someone, so I at least have a kindred spirit.

I can’t get a schedule or routine together very well, because I’m not home consistently to do that.

I got home tonight from three days on the road, left before Elle was awake Monday morning and forced Jon to keep her awake until I got home tonight. I made him save bath time (B-A-T-H, bath time is the song I sing…) for me, so that I got that time with my girl.

And as I got ever closer to home, I wondered if she’d recognize me or not; would she smile or pout or cry when I saw her.

As it worked out, I didn’t see her, because I couldn’t through my tears.

This economy, sucks.

This job – it is what is is and I need it, whether I want it or not. And I do enjoy the work when I’m doing it, but it’s the times in between, the overnights away that are killing me softly (don’t know what is about me and song titles and lyrics tonight…just humor me).

Jon’s laid off, mine is the primary, reliable income. But, because he’s laid off and home, worrying about who’s watching Elle, taking her and picking her up from school is less  of a worry. Jon’s a great stay-at-home Dad…but sometime soon, when winter is finally spring, he’ll be back to work (fingers crossed) and so will I and…

I know we’ll make it work.

Of course we will.

But this just totally stinks.

Either way, she was TOTALLY pumped to see me, smiled through her binky and felt so little and so much bigger than she did three days ago.

Ugh.

Gut punch.

So, we enjoyed B-A-T-H bathtime and sang songs and kicked and splashed, and did the normal bedtime routine, and she’s sleeping now and has been for just over an hour.

I’m home for longer than I was on the road now, thankfully, but it makes tomorrow night’s outing for my Mom’s birthday seem like ANOTHER time I’m leaving her. And Saturday morning’s 5K down the road is ANOTHER time I’m leaving her (can I take her in the jogging stroller, I’ve wondered…except, it’s winter in Michigan, remember). And what about Friday and my getting-the-taxes-done appointment.

Yeah, I have to find a way to make it work…or…

But either way, I need to find a kindred spirit out there who’s traveling and working and mothering an infant remotely.

Not my idea of fun and not something I would encourage other mothers to do.

Between work and work travel and expense reports…there I am, being Elle’s Mom.

Did I Really Just Accidentally Baby Talk a College Kid?

…and other things I do these days that boggle the mind.

I was on campus at Butler University this week, doing intercept surveys for work.

Day one, I’m waiting before lunch, talking to some students and asking them to take this survey.

There is a young man/college student extraordinaire standing in line for lunch. He is wearing – I kid you not – silver sparkle pants that, come to find out, his mother made for him.

How did I find this out?

Well, because I asked him:

“Ooooh, where did you get your preeee-ey-preeee-ey sparkow panssssss?”

I didn’t think anything of it until he looked at me and said:

“What?” as though I were handicapped in some way.

Oh crap, I realize. I just talked baby talk to a 20-something college student who, for whatever reason, is wearing homemade silver sparkle pants. In front of like 25 other people. Somehow I was embarrassed for myself and not for him and his preeeeypreeeysparkowpanssssss.

Elle likes it when I talk like that to her, smiles super big, babbles back at me.

Turns out when you talk that way to college students, they just think you’re an idiot.

And another reason gets added to the list why I no longer feel like I ‘just graduated’ from college.

Super.

I AM Losing My Mind

I had a conversation the other day with my friend Molly about our respective returns to work after our 12-week maternity leaves. I mentioned how I used to feel like I had my life together…that is, until I went back to work.

Never was this made more clear than Tuesday morning this week.

Monday was my first overnight away from Elle. I hated it, but it was fine, she was fine, Jon was fine. It all worked out. I woke up early Monday, drove to my account, spent the day and evening there and then headed to the hotel (with a quick stop at my favorite HomeGoods to pick up some guilt-toys for Elle).

I laid in that hotel bed and had a hard time falling asleep, but finally did (by putting Antiques Roadshow on my iPad and drifting off).

I woke up in the morning and got myself together. I looked in the mirror and realized I only had my right earring in.

Crap.

I began frantically searching the hotel bed, ripped all the sheets off. I ran my hands over the floor. Nothing.

I took the earring in my right ear out and put it in my bag.

Totally bummed.

Those are the earrings Jon got for me for Christmas a few years ago, that I wear almost every day. I dwell on it as one of those things that gets added into your day. Resigned to the fact that those earrings are no longer a pair.

I begin the drive home in the afternoon, from Indianapolis.

I wish the miles were shorter. Literally, I found myself wishing that.

I was SO excited to see my girl – I haven’t felt that much excitement in…I couldn’t even think of a time I felt that much excitement, honestly. Well, that’s not true. I know I have – but I just can’t remember when.

Anyway – I digress.

I get home and my girl is battling her cold (boo hiss) and I’m SO SO SO glad to see her. I don’t put her down for hours — she’s sick, and I’m feeling guilty for having been gone, and I just missed her and she’s so little and warm and cuddly.

I walk into our bedroom and set something on my dresser and notice, ah, what?

My other earring.

Yup, I had made it through an entire day AT WORK with just one earring, pirate style. I managed to NOT look at myself in a mirror (this is becoming a problem of mine) somehow from the time I left early Monday morning until Tuesday morning. And NO ONE told me I had lost an earring, either.

Anyway, I had lost my mind. I HAVE lost my mind.

It was all fine and dandy until I had to go back to work.

And now, I can’t seem to get it together it feels. Spinning, spinning, spinning out of control. I KNOW I’ll find a balance and a way to manage it all – but I haven’t yet.

Before I ended this, I actually checked both ears to make sure I put two earrings in today.

I did.

Ok, maybe I’m already making progress…or not – I did have to check.

 

Daycare Dilemma

…let me begin by retracting the title of this post.

It’s not so much a dilemma. I’m really, really comfortable with the daycare we found. It’s owned by friends from high school and lots of people I know send their kids there.

With that said, as my time to return to work draws closer, I find myself wondering how I’ll feel driving away, even if I’m working at home. I look forward to working, to mental stimulation, to challenges beyond trying to keep the toilets clean and the garbage emptied (which have become my hell in my stay-at-home world lately). I’d be lying if I said that I don’t relish the thought of being able to stay home and spend my days with Elle and see what comes.

Unfortunately, there is not a paycheck that I can deposit at PNC that comes with that job. Soooo, back to work it is, in just another 3 1/2 weeks (ugh, gut punch).

However, as I find myself caring for Elle day to day, I wonder how it is that the 1-to-4 (one caregiver to four infants) ratio can work. I mean, I don’t know how you can give the proper attention to a baby when you are caring for three others at the same time. I am certain that mothers of multiples struggle with this too. But, I’m NOT one of those, so I’m really struggling.

Don’t get me wrong, I think daycare is a great invention. I think the socialization skills she’ll learn, the other children and families we’ll meet, will be invaluable both to her and to us. I think the relationships you build with your caregivers when you are small are terribly important. But, how will it be enough for ME (I know, it’s not really about ME, but…I want it to be enough for ME to feel comfortable with).

I struggle, too, with the fact that my job carries with it a significant amount of travel. I chose to move back to Michigan of my own accord, but I couldn’t possibly have a child on my own in Chicago, because I would never have any overnight care for her, so I couldn’t travel at all. That was my trade off. Well, that and my happiness and sanity, that I didn’t WANT to be living in Chicagoland.

Anyway, I was going to try really, really hard to find a job that was more my-life-friendly while I was on maternity leave. And I did, for a minute. And I had a few (totally crap) interviews. So, I don’t have a new job, I don’t know what my job will look like heading back into it. But, I don’t really have an alternative. I’ve created a lifestyle for myself that requires my paycheck to survive, so I closed the stay-at-home-mom door on myself.

That was dumb.

I THINK my employer and job may be flexible enough to allow me to maintain my sanity as Elle’s Mom while also giving to my job and employer what it needs…but who knows.

I just keep trying SO SO hard not to dwell on the pit in my stomach, in the dread that fills me at the thought of being away from Elle overnight for WORK…of missing something cool…of having to hear about what she did today OVER THE PHONE! Uck. Not cool.

So, anyway, my dread is getting the best of me right now. I want to cherish the next three weeks, the holidays and the time I do have left with my baby girl, Jon and our little idyllic solitude that we’ve fallen into the last few weeks.

I seriously think the U.S. has to find a way to be more like Europe in allowing mothers the time to spend with and raise their children…but that would require a healthcare system that wasn’t completely defunct and expensive.

I digress…but…I’m just pissed I have to go back to work and be away from my girl strictly for the paycheck.

Ugh.

Baby for Butler U!

Go Bulldogs!

That’s what Minnie’s newest onesie has in store for her!

I’m at Butler today working and the director here, Stacey, and the management team got me a fun little baby gift! Totally, totally unexpected and so thoughtful!! They got her a lovey/blankie and a pink Butler onesie.

Isn’t it too cute?!

Week 29(ish)

Well, I felt like I liked the color shirt I was wearing this morning and when I looked in the mirror didn’t hate my appearance, so I snapped this photo of me and the baby belly today, July 27, 2011. Based on the original due date the doctor gave me, today would be the official “Three Months To Go” date. But – as we all know – my fact-based approach to negotiating has got the due date to October 20, 2011. That means — 11 weeks to go my friends!!

Somewhere around 29 weeks!

 
Anyway, not much new to report. Sleeping is still going well. The water intake I definitely need to increase. I’ve gained just 7 pounds total during this pregnancy. Not bad, all the way around.
 
It’s surreal (I keep using that word to describe this pregnancy journey) to know that in just 11 weeks or so, we’ll have a real, live baby living at our house!! Holy crap. How did it get to be just 11 weeks?
 
I need to get a new bra. Not that you care about this, but the boobs keep growing, outpacing the belly for sure. I was a 36C, solid, before this adventure began. I’m now wearing a 38D and it is UN comfortable. Need to go tonight and see what I can find in the way of a more comfortable bra. Heck, even my sports bras are beginning to get tight (at least the older ones…the newer ones I bought a little bigger).
 
I continue to be relatively conflicted about the breastfeeding route I want to take. I know ‘they’ say it’s good (again, who are they?? Oprah’s people, I think). But — then everyone says they don’t know why exactly it’s good. So, if you don’t know what’s good about it, how do you know it’s good? I guess I’m just not passionate about breastfeeding the way some women are. I believe that there are a lot of paths towards getting the baby the nutrients she needs. And the whole thought of being the sole person to be able to feed the baby bothers me a lot. I know this is an adventure that is not meant to be done all alone — so I don’t want to do it alone. I don’t have to, Jon’s there, so I feel like he should be involved in the feeding requirements as well. And seeing’s how that’s the only thing that babies need, other than a warm bed and diaper changes, I just don’t see how that all works out anywhere other than in his favor, if I’m the sole provider of nourishment.
 
I need to educate myself a bit more I guess and see how I feel about it. I guess I’m envious, frankly, of the women who know, vehemently, one way or another what they want to do. Some women are ‘No, not breastfeeding’ and others are ‘Absolutely breastfeeding, pumping, etc.’. I don’t fall in either of those categories.
 
Take, for example, the conversations of the last several days. My aunts (Mom’s sisters) whom I love dearly have said the alluded to the following things:
“Don’t feel guilty if you don’t want to breastfeed. I didn’t. I wore two bras and taped them up and bottle fed from the beginning.”
 
“You’re going to breastfeed, right?” When I responded I didn’t think I was, I got a “Oh, please do it just for the first month or so”.
 
Here’s where I stand as of today on the topic: I have just 8-12 weeks of leave for maternity. I want to truly enjoy and savor those moments with my child. I will not get the time back, I will not ge the opportunity to truly enjoy this baby, with no other distractions (like work) ever again. I don’t want to be struggling (or even not struggling) with breast feeding. I don’t want to be chained to a breast pump throughout the holiday season. I don’t want to breastfeed for one month, begin the weaning process, and battle through that process until I return to work. I want to enjoy my baby, one on one, with Jon, with my family. I want all of the people I love to enjoy the baby and bond with her. I want to enjoy the holidays that will fast approach after her arrival. I want to concentrate on nothing more than loving my baby — and to me, breastfeeding gets in the way of that. I know that for countless others they will feel exactly the opposite. But today, that’s how I feel…and that’s how I have felt. So now, I’m just trying to reconcile that with the feelings of guilt that the rest of the world (billboards, well-meaning family and friends, etc., websites, books) seems to put on me.
 
I’m sure in 11 weeks we’ll know a lot better how I truly feel about it…but for now, I’m just not convinced it’s the way I want to go.
 
L