Sad Anniversary

October 31, 2011

Some anniversaries are great and worth celebrating, but today is not one of them. As much as I love Halloween, influenced no doubt by my mom loving it so much, it is also the anniversary of the last day we had together. We had gone to doctors appointments in the afternoon then met my husband and daughter at the park with intricately carved jack o lanterns, and found our way to watching the Village parade.

In many ways I think after she saw the parade, she could say “I’ve seen it all.” That closure, along with my brother marrying a few weeks earlier, my sister in couples counseling, my grandmother getting consistent help and her boyfriend finally receiving the certificate of occupancy on his house, my mother tied up all of her loose ends.

Friday I was on the phone with my mom’s former employee who has taken over maintaining, albeit not the same way, my mother’s bead and jewelry store. The employee can no longer make ends meet and has to close the store, which is naturally sad, but no real surprise. It’s just a little bit more of my mom’s legacy disappearing. And while I was having this conversation, my mother’s boyfriend beeped in to tell me her dog had a serious tumor and was going to be euthanized, initially today, Halloween.

I was surprised by how affected I was with the news. I do not particularly care for the mutt who sheds and barks incessantly, but I did at one point. And my mother certainly did. She would walk around with pictures of that dog in her wallet – pre-iPhone – and not have any of her kids. She’d ooh and ahh over that pooch as if she were a person. But like the bead store, this little mutt was such a big part of my mom’s life.

Thanks to a recent rally, the dog is spared at least another few days, perhaps giving me a chance to say good bye in person.

I try to hold on to the good memories, but I’m entitled to have rough days and this just happens to be one of them.


Nanny Dilemmas

October 31, 2011

I know I am impossible to please, a disposition only exacerbated by my pregnancy.
And so nearly two months after hiring my nanny I’m debating whether or not to keep her. Every week I see a new post on my message board promoting some pseudo Mary Poppins who speaks Spanish and I get buyers remorse.

My nanny is very good with the kids – which is main reason I hired her. And she shows up on time, every day. But I do not like her. I do not like her attitude or her sassiness. I do not look forward to her coming in the morning and I resent that she had said in the interview that she is amenable to change her schedule and she has not really worked with me regarding the change. It takes time to train someone and as my sister says, I’ll still need to train her three years down the line.

I’m trying to decide if all of this is fixable or not. If it is not, I’d like to nip it in the bud and find a replacement before the baby comes. If it is, which perhaps it could be, then I need to shift gears and do a better job of dictating my expectations.

When I came home from the hospital with my daughter four years ago, emotional and insecure as a new mom, we had a baby nurse (I know I’m incredibly privileged!) and I hated her. The nurse would slip in criticisms of me and my husband leaving me more emotional and insecure. I don’t remember the details other than her one time laughing at me for where I put the diaper creme and how I bathed my child, but I do recall being happier when she was gone and wishing I had the courage to replace her even if she only worked for a few weeks.

I live in an apartment so when I am home with the kids and the nanny I find her underfoot. Perhaps, that is because she interrupts me when I am reading a story to my son and tries to divert him into a conversation with her. I suppose I should be grateful how she engages my kids but I did say in the interview that her job is 50 percent cleaning. And I am only seeing an attitude when I ask her, or things left. I suppose if I was home less, doing more, than I’d feel differently.

My husband is annoyed with me, thinking I am addicted to change which in turn affects our kids. I just don’t have a crystal ball. And I do not know how to try out someone new with the current nanny working full time.

This should be my biggest problem!

Can SuperMom exist?

October 26, 2011

I used to dismiss my mom’s accomplishments. So what if she ran a clothing store, technically up to 7 or 8 at one time if you counted the men’s, women’s and children’s stores separately. She wasn’t on the PTA and did not know much about what i was doing in school. Several days a week she got a break, sending my siblings and I to our father’s house. In retrospect, it’s quite amazing what she accomplished. Perhaps because she never appeared as stressed or overwhelmed as my father who ran his own real estate company across the street from her, I did not consider her job as demanding.

Now that I am a mom forging an identity while trying to stay involved in my kids’ lives I have more respect for how my mom balanced everything. I’m sure her narcissistic streak helped.

On a side note, my equally self involved grandmother asked me if I thought my mom was selfish, and I said yes. She replied, “Where could she have gotten that from? I never saw that.” You Grandma. She learned it by watching you!

But my grandmother’s self involvement led her to a career and independence after her husband passed away.

I know one of the reasons I am able to pursue my fantasies of publishing this novel that I just cannot seem to sit down and finish even though I am not terribly far away, and I do not have to show up at an office everyday is because of my husband and his success. And there is a part of me that hates how dependent financially I am. I know it is not uncommon, it’s just not the norm I had growing up. My husband does not resent or bemoan this to the slightest. He is the one that tells me to get more help and encourages me to be fulfilled however I choose. He is grateful that I am a good mom who manages our household, even if he’d like it to be a little cleaner. And more than that, I am fortunate enough to say that he is the love of my life, a great father and husband.

In my mind, there is not way for me to do it all: be an involved parent, stay fit as many other mom’s manage to do with ridiculously demanding exercise classes, have a career or job or fulfilling hobby that enriches my life and hopefully others, without a super dad who enables all of this to happen.

No Good Deed

October 14, 2011

No good deed goes unpunished says the adage and once again I’m finding it to be the case as I try to volunteer with my children’s nursery school charity committee. Last year I met the seemingly bubbly and friendly head of the committee and offered to be her co chair at a class cocktail party. She must have had an extra glass of the cheap white wine as later that night she promised the position to another mom.

Last year I lobbied to coordinate a food drive at the school, one of those old fashioned drop off your about to expire can of beans you’ll never use to help a hungry neighbor. My own building had all but banished my drive to a sign by the mailboxes courtesy of the grumpy co-op condo president, the same gentleman who reported me to the police for letting my children play in the hallway.

I exchanged emails with the charity committee who basically nixed my idea for a variety of lame reasons. I cc’d my friend and other co-chair for a reality check, was I so out of line suggesting I make a sign and put a box in the lobby at the bare minimum? She agreed the other woman was being unreasonable but opted to refrain from the discussion.

So this year, I popped into the charity meeting hoping to participate in a meaningful way. One mom brought up the food drive hoping it would complement the bake sale and the same co-chair thought it was a *brilliant* idea. So I introduced a new charity I recently discovered, Soles for Souls. All of the volunteers at the meeting agreed they had spare shoes in their home they would happily donate.

The conversation in the group evolved into petty details and with a mountain of things I should have been attending to, I excused myself but agreed to volunteer later. An email exchange later, the Soles for Souls idea was completely scrapped (but I am allowed to make a sign for the PTA board) but collecting money for Unicef was still on the table. Not that I’m against that charity but I think more people are inclined to clean out their closets then dig for coins in their couch cushions, and children could likely learn and appreciate more by donating something physical versus money.

But during those recent emails I wanted to show good faith so I asked where they might need help for the upcoming Pajama Drive and somehow got involved with decorating boxes, which I’m now learning I only have one day to do, the same day that I am leaving town early with my kids. I feel guilty backing out now, as I do not want to appear that my goodwill was only to gain traction for charities that interest me. But I do not want to sacrifice my plans to tape together cardboard boxes, and do they really need to look attractive? Through an unnecessary amount of emails I will tape boxes in the morning that will be decorated by other mom’s in the afternoon.

I remember a Dharma and Greg episode when the free spirited Dharma was running for office and volunteers were delegated responsibilities by drawing straws. Her lawyer husband was assigned the task of affixing postage to letters while the Mexican speaking housekeeper picked speech writing. I feel very similar. I would like to do something significant and motivate our already passionate community to help others while contributing my time in an efficient and meaningful way. Perhaps next year when the co-chair’s children have graduated, I can be head and run the committee as I see fit. Or perhaps I will be overwhelmingly busy with three kids and resigned to the status quo, or even still I could spearhead the charity committee at my daughter’s new school, whatever that may be.