Right around December 29th a sense of renewal and cleansing washes over us. With the new year just days away, there is a chance to start over and correct all things wrong. Hence our new year’s resolution lists. Going to eat healthier, exercise and loose 10 pounds. Going to spend more quality time with the kids. Going to be more frugal with my pennies. By February 11th, we are reserving the 8pm seating at the sinfully plated restaurant downstairs from the overpriced bed and breakfast we booked for our Valentine weekend away from the kids.
This time, I am going to try a different approach. On December 31st, I will not make any resolutions. Instead, on January 1st, I will start the day as I normally do: kisses for Patrick, Bella and Mikey……Coffee extra light with skim milk. But new to the routine that morning will be a stop at the notepad on the fridge. I will write down one item I will do to make me happy and one item to make someone else happy. 2011 will be the year of giving………..
…...and I will let you know on February 11th how this new approach is working out
At this time of the year, if the children are in control of what is being viewed on TV, you will often hear “I want this”, ”I want this”, ”I want this”, ”I want this”, ”I want this”, during each commercial break. This coming from the two who have almost everything. So this year for Christmas, my husband and I instituted the 3 Gift Rule in honor of the 3 Wise Men who traveled to Bethlehem. I explained to the children that Santa and Jesus had “a meeting” and decided that from now on, Santa would give them just 3 special gifts and we in turn would also give 3 special gifts to others in need.
Our first and second acts of giving were achieved by buying several gifts from a wish list for a local family in need. Our third act of giving came about rather incidentally. In early December, my girl scout troop participated in a Caroling Event but were unable to sing to many homes. Seeing the girls disappointment, my fellow girl scout leaders decided we would sing holiday carols in our own neighborhood.
Tonight, 5 families took to our neighborhood with a large empty satchel and sang wonderfully off-tune carols while collecting food for our local food pantry. The night was cold and the air was crisp, and yet there was a warmth that traveled with our group from home to home. The children, including my own, graciously accepted the canned goods eager to fill the satchel.
Our effort tonight was simple but the end result was pure. We ended the night sipping hot cocoa, eating cookies filled with true Christmas spirit.
As the night began, there were 9 ladies seated. Wine was poured. Conversation blossomed. Soon after, the table grew from 9 to 10, then 11 and then 12. More wine was poured. Conversations flourished. Around this festively plated table sat 12 women: a collection of full-time working moms, part-time working moms and stay at home moms celebrating the holiday season and connected by one common group – the Book n’ Wine Club. But like most of our book club meetings, the focus of conversation centered around one common topic – dealing with motherhood.
I sat at the table in awe of these remarkable women. Regardless of what approach we adopted into motherhood, we all faced the same challenges. We all try to maximize our time so that we can juggle kids activities and household chores. We all struggle with the occasional tantrum both at the office and in the nursery. I couldn’t help but feel that by just sitting among these women, I was gaining valuable knowledge that I could use in my approach. Through the laughter, the wine and the sinful dessert, I was so thankful that I was mother because I wouldn’t have met these ladies otherwise. How lucky was I!
I am not sure how many bottles of wine we finished at Fernando’s Grill, but I do know this: at that table for 12, the priceless gift of honesty and laughter was shared and will continue to grow in the years to come.
Monday morning began unlike any other Monday morning for my daughter. She awoke from her slumber by her own free will and not by her rushed and frazzled mom screeching that she would be late for the bus. She made her way down the stairs without a tease or shove from her little brother. She sat at the kitchen table to find her mom leaving a very jovial message that Bella would not be attending school that day. Amazed, Bella turned to me and said, ”Wow that was easy. I am not even sick and you are letting me stay home”. At age 6, I introduced my daughter to “playing hooky”.
Bad lesson to be teaching an impressionable young girl, right? Well, if there is one thing I learned thus far from writing this blog (and with much help from Linda E.) is that as a working mom I must trust that what I am doing is right and hope for the best. So I pulled Bella from school on that Monday morning and took her to experience Christmas in New York City.
The day was crisp and the city was crowded with visitors.
We tried to ice skate at Rockefeller Center but the line was way too long (lesson in accepting disappointment).
We visited St. Patrick’s Cathedral and encountered a homeless man sleeping in the warmth of the church (lesson in compassion).
We shopped at American Girl and selected one item to purchase that was well within the set budget (lesson in finance).
We finished the day watching the Radio City Rocketts perform incredible dance numbers in the Christmas Spectacular (lesson in commitment).
As the day ended and we walked back to our car, a light snow was falling and the Christmas tree sparkled and gleamed. Bella turned to me and said, “This day is so magical. Thanks Mommy” (lesson in humility).
Only time will tell if Bella will remember all we learned on that Monday in NYC. I know I learned.
I was raised to believe that women can have it all. Great job. Smart kids. Handsome husband. Nice house. Ok, so I have that now. But what I wasn’t told was the price I would have to pay. What is the price?
The disappointment in my daughter’s face when I tell her I need to leave the house early and will be unable to send her off to school at the bus stop. Some may think that is a small price to pay. However, the sight of my disappointed daughter standing behind the glass door as I pull out of the driveway, eats at me the remainder of the day. I worry that this encounter will scar or damage her in some way. This triggers a flood of thoughts…..
“This situation could be avoided if I just quit my office job and stay home.”
That thought is always followed with the realization, “we wouldn’t be living in this neighborhood if I had given up my job.”
“But isn’t being home to get my children on and off the bus, regardless of where we live, more important to their overall well-being.”
Somewhere in this train wreck of thought, I wonder if tonight is Mega Millions Lotto night and what numbers I should pick or should I just let the machine pick them for me. Winning the lotto would surely fix this problem. After my “Cybil” moment passes, I am often left more upset and confused.
My children, my husband and I have it much easier than most. On days when I am not working from home, either my parents or my in-laws are home for them. We never sent the kids to daycare or before care of after care. So why should I feel guilty that several mornings or afternoons I will not be the last and first face at the bus stop? I feel guilty because I want it all and my children in some way are becoming the fruit of my actions. I can only hope that my daughter will admire my committment in trying to retain all that I worked so hard for without denying my motherly duties. I hope my son will respect my drive and one day support his mate in whatever decision she makes without regret.
Maybe I can have it all.