Monthly Archives: October 2012

The Mom Guilt

It’s there. In full force this week. Mom Guilt. It’s unlike any other guilt you could possibly feel.

Warning – this post ain’t gonna be pretty. But to my credit, it is honest. Soul-baringly honest. So feel free to skip this one if you’d like. I won’t be offended.

See, I work. Outside the home and in. Full time mom, full time professional. And since I’m being honest, it’s causing a lot of negativity at the moment. A lot (yes, that’s two words- another grammar snob pet peeve).

I’m not Catholic, but since I’ve been challenged to be ‘rigorously honest in all my affairs,’ I did a rundown of the seven deadly sins yesterday in my journal.

Wrath? Yeah. I’ll get to that.

Greed? A bit.

Sloth? What I wouldn’t give for about three weeks to myself doing absolutely nothing but reading, watching DVDs and LMN brain rot.

Pride? Yep.

Lust? I love that one of the awesome teachers in our Bible study class refers to lust as ‘any desire that takes precedence over one’s spiritual relationship with God.’ Got it. See sloth.

Envy? Heck yeah.

Gluttony? See sloth above.

Anyhoo, this was all brought on by a couple of things. One- I’m really tired. Busy but fun weekend with the fam did that to me. Sometimes I feel like I need a weekend to recover from my weekend. Two- Catching up with a few blogs I read. It’s really hard, after an exhausting week, to read about what some people consider a ‘busy’ day. Three- the Mom Guilt that makes me feel like I should be home with my kids.

Case in point- the mom who smugly bemoans the fact that her day consisted of ‘having’ to grocery shop and, as a result ‘only’ getting to spend four hours on the hand-designed silk screened shirts for family Christmas card photos.

Boo Hoo. I had a fourteen hour day yesterday starting with a teacher conference at 7 am.

My well-meaning spouse, the voice of reason, asks, ‘Why do you keep reading those blogs then?’

My answer was the same I give when he asks me about watching Big Rich Texas. ‘It’s like a train wreck. I just can’t stop watching!’ Or in this case, reading. It’s a vice.

And another blog I read has a mom justifying her decision to stay home based on the fact that her degree isn’t suited to the job market.

Huh? I spent six solid months looking for a job. Underwater basketweaving degrees qualify you for artisan-type jobs today. I got passed over at the Art Institute because music wasn’t ‘arty’ enough. MRS degree? Schools need ‘culinary arts’ teachers. Random ancient literature major? I’ve seen job postings go unfilled for years because no one possesses the working knowledge of (insert obscure dialect here.) Can you smell my sour grapes yet?

Now I sound judgmental. Not my intent. Envious of other women’s ability to have a choice? Yes. I’ll be honest. And I get sharp-tongued when I’m envious. I don’t have the SAHM choice at the moment. But my point is that I feel like women should own their choices, not make excuses for them. Be happy with the choice that works for your family and don’t cybernetically (? Word? Or not?) rub it in others’ faces.

Stepping off soapbox now. Cause I’ve gotten to the point where I’m rambling. I apologize. Bottom line – working through negative emotion is a challenge at best, and one way that helps me is letting it out – because I used to hold it all in.

What about you? How do you deal with the Mom Guilt, the negative, and still stay sane?

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Filed under honesty, Mom Guilt, negativity

Zen in the City

It was a week. One of those weeks. The kind that make you wish life would just freeze-frame and move forward in slow motion for about three days. Between work, fam, house, spouse, self and everything else – add in the fact that I’m still getting over the flu – I was exhausted.

Apparently people could tell. My spouse kept encouraging me to just go to bed. Kids kept asking me if I was OK. I took off my normally well-functioning filter and let a full-fledged e-rant go off into the void, saying exactly how I felt, who it was directed at and where they could put it.

My boss noticed too. She very casually mentioned one of her favorite places to go at lunch ‘when she needs a bit of feng-shui action. I took the hint and took off towards the city as soon as the clock hit 1 that afternoon.

Where did I go? A little place called Body Mind & Soul, about three blocks east of my office. It was really strange to be driving along, amidst the normal corporate geography, and suddenly see this:

And then this:

Granted, I’m not really the Zen, tarot card reading type, but as soon as I walked past the tinkling bells on the door I felt… peaceful.

Soft music, soothing smells, books, fountains, you name it. All laid out in a small space that was remarkably uncluttered. The store is laid out in a house, so around every corner you encounter new rooms full of quirky gifts and  other knick-knacks. Even a little table where you can sit to peruse a book or two that grabs your attention. And, most remarkably, THE STAFF LEAVE YOU COMPLETELY ALONE!! It’s like they’ve been trained on how to provide people with a completely relaxing shopping experience.

Granted, it’s a quirky place. Connected to the main store is a private building reserved for ‘readings’ of all sorts, but that just adds to the charm. I spent about twenty minutes wandering and letting my mind wander, then headed back to work completely rejuvenated.

Here are a few more sights from the shop (the book is on my next-to-read list) – check ’em out if you’re in town, feeling stressed, or just want to hang out off the beaten path. You won’t regret it!

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Filed under Galleria, Houston, local business, relaxation, working moms, Zen

Hypocritical

I’ve always been taught that you shouldn’t talk the talk if you can’t walk the walk. Don’t dish it out if you can’t take it. Can’t remember any other cute little sayings my mom may have used over the years, but you get the idea. And I totally agree. That’s part of being an ethical, honest human being, right? Right. And if you make mistakes, the right thing to do is own it and fix it, right? Right.

I’m a hypocrite.

See, here’s the deal. We all have pet peeves. We do. Even if you don’t think you do – you do. That ONE thing that irritates you more than anything else and will take you to your last nerve if you let it? That’s a pet peeve. And one of my biggest pet peeves is cutters. You know them. Those people who see you heading to the checkout line and make a speedy beeline to get there before you. The ones who are more obvious and just shove in line at the movies. We’ve all seen them. Well, the ones who bug me the most are the drivers. The ones who drive past the ‘lane closed’ sign – the bright orange one – just like you do. But do they move over? No. They whiz on past, waiting until the absolute last inch of available lane and then force their way over in front of you. Do they realize that they are the traffic issue? That they’re the reason the rest of the roadway comes to a complete stop? Maybe. I’m sure some do. Anyhoo, I HATE it. True, strong, self-righteous hate.

I have to duck my head when I say this, but I’ve become one of them.

Not all of the time, mind you. Just sometimes. I used to be militant about following the letter of the law, common sense and unwritten driving courtesy. So much that I almost needed a sign for the top of the car screaming, ‘SEE??! I”M DOING THE RIGHT THING!!’

Not anymore. I’m ducking my head in shame here, but I’ve gotta be honest.

I cut in traffic.

Only in ONE location, during ONE part of my commute, and ONLY in the morning. See? Here I am trying to make it sound better – like I’m not a filthy hypocrite… But I am. I’ll explain… My morning commute averages about 45 minutes. Sometimes less, but sometimes a lot more – like up to an hour and 15 minutes. Seriously. But I’m a mom. I live in the ‘burbs. I can only leave so early – somehow I think the school would complain if I sent my kids to the bus stop an hour early. Or my neighbors would when the early-morning wrestling started down at the corner. So I’m limited on my start time.

Most of the drive is OK. I’m patient and try to be a good citizen, letting people in my lane, etc. But once I get to the bottleneck, all bets are off. There’s one spot on my route that comes to a complete stop. And there’s the dilemma. I could stay in my assigned lane, which is always much slower and longer due to poor planning down the road. I could. And I did for a long time – until I started being late to work. I hate being late. Also, this is a new job, so I’m still building trust, etc. I don’t want to get the ‘late’ label. No way.

So, I move over. Into the faster-moving, non-exit lane. And I creep up on the left, wait for my opportunity and some kindhearted soul who will let me over, and sweep into the correct lane. In front of all the law-abiding citizens who are silently waving their fists at me. But it saves me 10-15 minutes of drive time every day. And for this working mom, that’s a gold mine…

Like I said, this is probably trivial to most of you (or the five of you who read this), but I like to walk the talk. I try, anyway. So I had to be honest and get this off my chest.

Whew! What are your pet peeves??

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Filed under commuting, ethics, Pet peeves, suburbs, Traffic, working moms

Writing

I take my journal to lunch with me. It’s my regular noontime companion. Why? BecauseI have this romantic notion that lunch in the park will invariably inspire me to write something profound.

It hasn’t.

That’s a problem, because I insist on having this dream of writing. Being a Writer. Yes, a Writer with a capital W. But lately I’ve been doing much more reading than writing. I’ve been completely uninspired. So much that yesterday I actually wrote five pages in said journal bemoaning the experience of having nothing to write about. Seriously. You’d think that somewhere in all of my moaning and groaning there would be a kernel of inspiration.

Not even a speck. I’m confounded. Not only that, I’m stymied. See? I’ve got all of these really good words and nowhere to use them. And what makes it worse is that I’ve had plenty of time to write this week due to the glacial pace of Big Real Estate lately.

Lots of time plus an absence of ideas equals a frustrated me. And right now the irony of this isn’t lost on me, truly. I mean how much more ironic could this get? Blogging about the absence of any ideas to write about? Really? Only in my head, I’m sure.

Hopefully Some Great Inspiration will pop up immediately after posting this. Hopefully. Maybe. What about you? How do you deal with mental blocks and frustration?

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Filed under Blogging, creativity, Writer's Block, writing

Artsy

Last weekend was the fall Bayou City Arts Festival. It happens twice a year – fall and spring. The spring one is OK, if a bit small, since it’s held in Memorial Park. Fall is by far my fave – downtown, spread out, and full of wonderful art. Here are some of my finds this time around:

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Filed under Art, Bayou City Arts Festival, Downtown, Houston

Politics!

Gotcha didn’t I? Ha. Good. Because this post isn’t REALLY about politics…

It’s about grammar.

Don’t get me wrong, I do have political opinions. Strong ones at that. I just don’t like to share them unless I’m asked. But in light of all the political posts I’ve read on Facebook recently, I’ve got to speak up.

See, I’m a grammar snob. I can’t help it. Part of it is genetic – being a Type A/Gold/INTJ has its caveats. And I blame my job for some of it too – it’s hard to turn off the technical editor in my free time. But I definitely blame three of my English teachers too. Their pet peeve has become my own.

Apostrophes. Really, if you’re going to make an eloquent political statement that’s supposed to influence my opinion, please check your grammar first. Consider the following gems that I’ve come across in the last few weeks:

‘As Americans, we have the right to speak our mines.’
‘Its important to use your right of free speech. The Constitution clearly lists this in it’s rights.’
‘Your supposed to vote for one of the two main candidates. If you don’t your just wasting you’re vote.’
‘The Democrat’s are going to lose this election.’

Now I sat through years of English classes getting slammed over apostrophes. Comments like, “You’re never going to get a job if you can’t pluralize a possessive correctly,” come to mind. Really. Yet I see them used improperly all the time!

I started to get mad. So many political posts, so little actual fact-checking involved. Everyone out to promote their own agenda. Steam was coming out of my ears, and then I started noticing the grammar. Now I just laugh. It’s my coping mechanism. Call me shallow, but there it is.

Please check your apostrophes. Please. The Type-A in me thanks you!

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Filed under Blogging, Election, Politics, writing

Standin’ on a Soapbox

Let’s just start out by saying that I’m gonna shake it up today and probably ruffle a few feathers. Hopefully I’ll start some thought-provoking conversation (or at least thoughts.) Today’s topic is one that has rankled me for a long time.

Homeschooling.

I’m gonna be honest – I’m NOT against homeschooling. I can think of many situations where it’s a good thing, and I know many excellent, kid-driven homeschool moms who have their families’ best interests at heart when making that decision. For example:

The mom of a large military family. They move around a lot, sometimes abroad. By homeschooling, she’s able to provide her kids with tons of continuity in their learning.

The Godly woman whose spouse travels so extensively for work that they would not get time together as a family if they couldn’t travel together and take school with them.

The mom of a child with special needs who can truly provide a one-on-one education for her child.

Several families who, for religious reasons, have chosen to educate their children at home.

These are just four, but I know many more. I’m not puzzled by those moms. I get it. I support their decisions. And they don’t judge me for choosing to keep my kiddoes in public school.

I start to question the decision when it’s not made 100% about the kids. I’ve talked to many women about this, and I get concerned when I hear moms say things like, ‘We just don’t like that school, teacher, class, other kids, so we took him/her out and keep them at home.’ Or a few that just hate The Establishment and want no part of that for their kids. Now, I know that homeschooling (or not) is a personal decision, but consider the following:

I’m a product of public school. I didn’t always like it. But there are some life lessons that I fully believe kids need to learn in order to become fully productive members of the society in which we live.

  • Life’s not fair. It just isn’t. There’s always going to be someone who has more, does better or simply succeeds ‘just because.’ I didn’t like it in school (still don’t) but as an adult, I can’t just walk away from a situation where this happens.
  • Sometimes people won’t like you, no matter what. I can count on one hand the two teachers who didn’t like me. For whatever reason, they didn’t. My parents encouraged me to speak up for myself and be proactive when I felt like something was out of line. There was only one time where they got involved. And you know what? I can’t just leave a job because I think my boss doesn’t like me. I learned how to handle it.
  • Kids bully. They can be mean. It’s the truth. We’ve all been bullied, and I definitely had more than my share because I was an easy target. Smart kid, glasses, dressed funny, liked to read, etc. But again, you learn how to handle it. My parents used those times as teachable moments. I’m trying to do the same with my kiddoes.
  • Schools can’t teach right and wrong. As a former educator, I know this. We try the best we can to teach social skills but fully recognize that it is the function of the family unit to instill values and ethics.

Bored yet? If not, keep reading. What truly puzzles me are a couple of examples that I’ve encountered. And let me say for the record that I fullly recognize these as exceptions rather than the majority of homeschool moms.

A mom who started homeschooling because it was just ‘too much of a headache to get the kindergartener up, dressed and off to school without her throwing a fit.’ What does that teach the child about routine, life and responsibility?

The mom who rushes through the math textbook in a month because she ‘hates math and doesn’t get the topic’ in order to get it over with for the year and then spends the majority of time on reading and writing.

The kids I’ve talked to who say things like, ‘Yeah, we did biology back in December, but we haven’t done it in a couple of months.’ How will they be prepared for college or a job when disagreeable subjects or tasks must be done every day or consequences will result?

And finally, the following conversation I had with two adorable homeschooled children, ages four and seven:

7 – Yeah, we love school cause Mom’s such a good teacher.
4 – And it’s fun cause Mom forgets about school a lot and we don’t have to do it.
7 – NO! Remember, Mom told us to say that we do school every day.

WHAT??! Seriously I didn’t make that up. I could go on, but basically just wanted to say this: I’d love to get your thoughts on homeschooling, pro and con, in order to better understand these few exceptions. Help me get it, please! Because in these few cases, I don’t. And I want to understand.

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Filed under Education, family, Homeschooling, life lessons, Moms