A Career Mum

I’ve been back at work since July 10 and I still haven’t figured out how to do both well. I anticipated that I would find it hard to be a good mom while working, but I had no idea the emotions that would accompany my career side. It appears that you can’t ‘win’ on either side.

Before becoming a mom, I was pretty proud of my work abilities. I was good at what I did and loved doing it. Now each day is filled with guilt and self-doubt. I feel guilty leaving at 5pm (even though I’ve put in my eight hours). I feel guilty that I think about A during the day. I question myself on my abilities now: did I forget to do that because I’m not as good as I used to be; does my boss wish I wasn’t coming back and my mat leave replacement was staying? Everyday is plagued with these thoughts. Mother co-workers tell me to stop doubting myself and to just do what I can. But I’ve never just stopped at what I can manage. I’ve always put in the extra time and effort. I was okay with not identifying myself through my career during my maternity leave because I wasn’t working and I had a new medium to identify myself through: I was a mom. Now I seem to be falling short of both.

During my maternity leave, I went to playgroups; I played games with A; I went on outings; I shopped at farmer’s markets and cooked meals. I wasn’t perfect but I felt like I was doing well. I also had time to do things for me. Now I rush to pack a lunch for A in the morning, wondering if daycare questions my food choices. For dinner, I throw something together that isn’t hitting anyone’s top meal choices. And when I do go to the gym I feel guilty that I’m again dropping A off only two hours after I picked her up from daycare. The house is a mess and slowly I’m purchasing my own lunch from a drive-thru more and more.

I’ve only been working for 7 weeks but I feel like I need a week off to catch up and re-group. How do people do this? My hormones are all over the place and I could sleep for days. Clearly as a single mom, choosing not to work is not an option.

I’m hoping slowly I’ll acquire more tips and learn how to manage. My first win was to hire a house cleaner. The first day I came home after she’d cleaned I wanted to cry. My mood jumped and my shoulders felt lighter. My second smart move was to make little containers of meals that A likes for lunch to allow for quick packing in the morning. Next on my list is to pre-prepare the ingredients for meals so I just have to add them together (cut up veggies, cook meat, etc).

Anymore tips out there? I’ll take any. Leave them below.

Waste Free Parties

I recently celebrated my daughter’s first birthday; a big event in any parent’s life. Like most things, I tried to give the party a green focus. I knew I wanted to achieve a green status, but I wasn’t totally sure how I could get there. I was aiming for the title of Waste Free, but I’d had little exposure to the idea in the party environment . I decided I would tackle some of the major offenders and soon become excited at how it was going to turn out. However, it was more difficult than I thought! Here is my attempt:

Paper Invitations: I went the Facebook route to invite people. But I was stumped with some friends that aren’t online or that I had just made through the mom world and hadn’t linked up on FB yet. I managed to get away with just four paper invites. In the future I might try the evite method as well so I can send emails to those that I’m not ‘friends’ with.

Paper Plates: I knew I didn’t want a garbage bag full of plastic cups, cutlery, and paper plates. My idea was to ask everyone to bring their own plate and cutlery. No one replied that they thought it would be a problem so I thought my goal would be achieved. So I was a bit defeated (and laughing inside) when many of my guests showed up with their own paper plates or plastic cutlery (my bad for not specifying). Next year I’ll provide all of the plates I think.

Non-packaged foods: ambitiously I planned to cook or prepare all the food. I was going to make natural juice with fruit and water and have pitchers of juice and water. I was going to buy all my veggies at the farmers market, cut it up, and have my own veggie trays. We also planned on doing burritos where all the stuffings were handmade and non-packaged.
Mental note for next year, this takes A LOT of pre-planning and work. We ended up with store bought juice and water (I cried inside when I saw all the plastic). A friend volunteered to bring the veggie tray and, knowing how little time I had, I accepted gratefully but had to bite my tongue and not request that it came plastic free. Thankfully she knows me well and it did! Our burritos were the only item that came close to my vision (minus the store bought salsa). And those only happened due to my mom cutting veggies, cooking beans, and grating cheese for two days straight.

Cake: I proudly stated that my daughter’s first cake would be homemade, suager-free, all natural, and without dyes. The night before at 9pm I still hadn’t started baking. We ordered cupcakes. I had to play blind to all the dye, sugar, and wrappers that came off the cupcakes. Although they looked beautiful and my daught loved them.

Presents: I protested the need for presents. A had so much stuff already. Instead, I suggested a loonie for her piggy bank. I thought we would avoid both excessive packaged toys, wrapping paper, and plastic toys. Everyone came with gifts. But almost all were in gift bags and presents were amazing. We were so overwhelmed with people’s generosity.

Goody Bags: I knew I wanted to avoid plastic bags and toys that would just be thrown out. I wanted to give something people could use and that would promote green living. I decided to make reusable snack bags for everyone. (PS – start making those more than 2 days in advance) I was making my last one as my dad was loading the car with all our stuff. But everyone loved them! I filled them with kid snacks and accompanied them with a book.

Essentially, I didn’t completely meet my waste-free goal. But I learned a lot of lessons, most importantly that parties (green or otherwise) take planning and preparation. Thank goodness for grandparents!

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A View into Working and Motherhood

Last week, I got a glimpse into what it will be like when I go back to work. I taught a course Monday through Friday and then participated in a course on Saturday. Six whole days of being away from A. It was hard. My best friend was amazing and babysat her all week. Yet instead of feeling grateful, I felt jealous!! I was envious of the time she got to spend with A while I was at work. So ridiculous.

I also found myself bending on rules that I’d previously set. I started bringing A into bed with me at night. I pushed back her bedtime. I didn’t want to let her go.

But I’ll tell you what I did let go, everything else. My house was a disaster. I didn’t make it to the gym once. I started buying my lunches once the weekend leftovers ran out. I didn’t blog. I simply worked, spent what little time I could with A, and went to bed.

I tell you, it makes me super nervous for when I go back full time in three short months. I am definitely going to have to plan more. I’ll need my cleaning schedule, gym commitments, meal planning, and more. I’m worried my life will feel like a job.

I found myself on the Sunday just relaxing and watching TV while cuddling with A. I deserved the rest, right? But then the guilt comes in. Would doing the things I was avoiding really be so bad if I enjoyed doing them. I need to learn to find the enjoyment in the daily things in life instead of taking a break from them on the couch and watching my life pass me by.

A Night Out

Tonight I had the glorious pleasure of going out while my brother stayed home with A. She was sleeping and made for an easy babysitting job.

I haven’t had a night out for over 3 months. Now I didn’t go crazy or anything. I simply went to the gym. (Have to keep up with my daily challenge!) But I almost skipped there. I worked out with a grin on my face. It felt so good to be out and not responsible for A.

I need to find myself a sitter. I had forgotten how it feels to have time to myself. I’ve had A in daycare while I work, but that’s not quite having time to myself. It’s crazy how something so simple can feel so good. I came home and thanked my brother knowing that he didn’t understand what a gift he’d just given to me.

All this time I thought I’d been spending time on myself by soul searching and self evaluating. But spending time by myself is just as important.

I’m on cloud nine. And I know tomorrow I’ll be recharged as a mom and ready to tackle another day.

Genius to Cruel Idiot

Today and yesterday I was boasting about how I’ve mastered getting A to sleep through the night. She’s slept through the night for several nights in a row and I thought I’d got a handle on the right technique.

I think I jinxed myself. Three hours into the bedtime routine and she’s finally sleeping. I stuck to ‘the rules’ and didn’t pick her up. Yet with every new cry I started feeling more and more cruel. Maybe she was sick or genuinely needed to just be picked up. I felt less sure of myself by the minute and increasingly cruel.

I’ll never know if I made the right decision and I know there are some parents that would say I did the wrong thing. With every rewarding moment of parenting I’ve enjoyed, there is another that crushes me. I suppose that will never end. It would just be nice to have someone by my side to support my decisions. This is one of the toughest areas I’m experiencing as a single mom. After each session of going in to check on A, I want someone to come check on me. Instead, I’ll settle for cuddles from my daughter tomorrow (hopefully once she’s forgotten that I let her cry tonight).

Tasty Tuesday

Lemon Cranberry Scones
I was in the baking mood today, plus I need to bring something to a play date tomorrow.
Originally, I had thought I would try one new recipe a week while I was on mat leave. Like most of my millions of goals, I got sidetracked and forgot about this one. But since I have a new cookbook, this seems like a good one to get back into to.

This recipe is from Feeding the Whole Family by Cynthia Lair