Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Drive Like Every Day Is Mother's Day

[Note: From this point on, my children will be referred to by their blog names of Dean (8), Jess (5), and Logan (1). This sounds much better than their real names of Mopey, Screechy and Whiney. (Leave me a comment if you get the pop culture reference)]

Two weeks ago, we were getting ready to pick my oldest, Dean, up from school. I was starting to feel irritated because even though we had started to get ready with plenty of time, we were rushing at the last minute just the same. There was one more potty trip, someone couldn’t find their shoes, the baby wouldn’t cooperate with getting into his car seat – all factors conspiring to make us leave the house later than usual. Speeding down the road, as I am apt to do when we are late and I’m trying to get to school before they sell my child to the circus, I can see the flashing lights up ahead. My first thought is, “Crap, now we are going to really be late.” As I get closer, I can see more of the accident and that the road is totally blocked. My second thought is, “Crap, I don’t want the kids to see that.” I try to turn off the main road before the accident but there is no other turn to take. Bystanders are redirecting traffic to my left just a few feet from the crashed cars. Luckily, the boys in the back seat are only mildly affected. They can’t see the crash from their vantage point – but I can. I can see that it is not good. As I follow the detour, I can hear more EMS vehicles arriving and my mind is racing with various emotions. I pass this way every day – twice. This accident had just occurred – if we had been on time, we could have been involved. Was it someone we knew? Could it be one of our neighbors or classmates? Someone, somewhere was getting a phone call, the kind of phone call that I fear, and their day, their world, was about to come crashing down. But I kept driving, because, you know – kid, school, circus…

Once I arrived at school, I hugged Dean so tightly that he asked me what was wrong. So I explained that I was late because of an accident and that I was sad that people had gotten hurt. We spent some time hanging out at school – since I needed the distraction and I had hoped that the accident might be cleared by the time we passed the scene again. Despite the extra time, however, the opposite had occurred. Without a better detour idea, I took our usual route home only to pass a scene that had grown in intensity and drama. EMS workers were still trying to cut a victim free of the wreckage and so many people were standing around wringing their hands with grim faces. I had to carefully drive around parked cars, neighbors standing in the road including one scared crying child. Just beyond the actual accident was the Life Flight helicopter, parked on someone’s front lawn. Not something you see everyday so this is where I tried to draw the kids’ attention.

Dean, who could see more than Jess and his friend, was asking questions about what he was seeing – both outside and inside the car. He is old enough and mature enough to understand my emotional reactions and wanted to know why I was driving so slowly, why was I angry that someone had let their child watch something so scary and in such an unsafe location, why I was irritated that they hadn’t redirected traffic better, and why I was irritated with myself for simply not taking the really long way home that would have avoided all this in the first place. And why were all the other cars we passed for the rest of the trip going so fast? Didn't they know?

So I gave him some honest answers. I didn’t take a different route because I did not want us on the road any longer than necessary. Driving a car is a big responsibility and a small mistake could have huge, nasty consequences. I told him how sad I was that someone had gotten hurt. I hated that anyone had to suffer – like being pinned in a car for over an hour after being hit head on, and that an entire neighborhood had turned out to helplessly watch. I hated that someone was so terribly hurt that the helicopter had been brought in to bring him/her to the hospital (a good sign, in that the victim had survived the accident). I didn’t say that I was scared about how easily it could have been us involved in that crash. I didn’t say that this, while not ordinary, is an ordinary risk we take every day.

Several days later, I was still processing what we had witnessed. As I learned the details about how the accident had occurred, I was even more traumatized. I heard that the person stuck in that car was a mother and that her own mother had come to the scene to be with her. The simple fact that the crash involved a fellow mom affected me as much as everything else. A friend and I were talking about it one day – about the driver who had crossed the center line because she had reached for something on the seat next to her and had taken her eyes from the road for a split second. “How often do I do that?” my friend asked. “How often do I switch the CD for the kids, or reach into the back to hand them something?” True enough. How easily we take our safety for granted. And how would we live with ourselves if we were responsible for such an accident? We drive the same roads everyday, hurrying along, just trying to get to our next place – not really thinking about what could happen. And honestly, I can’t think too much about what could happen - because if I did, I wouldn’t drive at all. I can only keep my hands on the wheel, my eyes open, my mind focused, and my heart with the mother who almost lost her life.

And so if lessons are to be learned from other’s tragedies, this is mine. I cannot control what might happen to me, but I can be in control of what I do. I can prevent my being responsible for someone else’s pain. So here is my challenge to you. Drive today and everyday as if every mother depends on it.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

If I'm Not Home, Please Leave A Note

I'm starting to feel better finally. Monday afternoon was hard - my kids were hard. After my post, we all calmed down and were able to make dinner together. The whining and screeching stopped and the sun came out again. How do you other bloggers do it? How do you post, sometimes daily, with small children in the house? I don't understand. Do you stay up all night? Do your kids nap or something? How do you find the time? I'd love to know. I was reading a blog this morning written by a woman on her way to the hospital to give birth! How? Anyways, if you have suggestions or would just like to let me know that you have stopped by, I'd love to hear from you. I think perhaps if someone left me a comment, I'd find that really encouraging. Thanks for letting me know you were here.

Monday, March 17, 2008

How To Lose Eight Pounds in 24 Hours

Don't come over - I've been sick. Stomach bugs are the worst but you can at least usually count on getting over them quickly. Not this time, my friend. Several days and eight pounds later, I am still feeling the after-effects.

There have been several posts that have to come to mind this past week and have left before being able to enter them. It seems that when I have a moment, my computer is being used by my husband. This was especially true this weekend. At one point, I asked him if he were ever coming out from behind it. Very frustrating indeed.

Even as I write this, this entry keeps changing tone and content. Here is the ugly truth. I am having a really hard afternoon. It has taken me 40 minutes to write this much. My kids are needy and demanding. I am short-tempered and fragile. We are not a good mix at the moment. It's a symptom of a much broader problem - a combination of illness, hormones, lack of sleep and NO. TIME. TO. MYSELF. But every thing is just fine, as long as I don't ever try to do anything at all. So I'm gong to end here, despite all that I'd like to write because GOD FORBID I try to do anything for myself!

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Home Alone, Sorta

I have been working on another post but haven't been able to sit with the words to get them in order enough to share. So here is the abstract version: We saw a terrible car accident and it made me feel like crap. More about that at a later time.
In the here and now, my husband and oldest son are away this weekend on a Cub Scout outing. They are camping on an aircraft carrier with 498 of their closest friends. It was a six hour drive, through some nasty weather and they are bunking in some pretty tight quarters with alot of rambunctious boys. And since alcohol is not allowed on board, I was pretty certain that my husband would be having a fairly awful weekend. I on the other hand, was looking forward to it. Sure, I'm left at home with our two youngest sons without any backup. But typically when my husband travels (which is quite untypical), I make the most of it by renting a video for the kids and then one for myself after they go to bed. I thought I'd use the time to bond with the Gilmore Girls. The benefits of being left home are that I have less cleaning to worry about, dinner is mac and cheese, and I get to watch whatever I want on late-night TV. Then at some point yesterday as I was cleaning up, it hit me. Damn, I'd have to make my own coffee.
Now it is Saturday night. The husband called and is pleasantly surprised with the cub scout trip. At home, our weekend is going well too, despite having to drink my own coffee and having to get out bed to do it. The toddler spilled said coffee, but that is fine since Starbucks is on our way to wherever we are going. Both boys napped so I had 45 minutes to drink tea and watch Lipstick Jungle on NBC.com. And now the house is cleaner than usual (about 1/3 cleaner than usual) and the macaroni is bubbling for dinner. After dinner, my five-year-old will watch the movie he checked out of the library and we will cozily settle down for the night. Tomorrow, we will wake with one time change hour already consumed. And I will have to make my own coffee. My husband so owes me...

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Some Things You Should Know About Me

Now that the initial introductions are out of the way, you might like to know a little bit more about me. So without giving too much away on the first date (I wouldn’t want to scare you off or anything), here are some introductory thoughts that will give you a sense of who I am and what you will be reading more about in the future:

1. I am a Mom. This is the first and foremost aspect of my life – the axis around which my whole life spins. I have three boys, ages 8, 5 and 1 ½. Being their mother brings me equal measures of joy and stress, pride and self-doubt.
2. I have an amazing husband. We have been married for more than a decade and are more in love now than ever. Corny, I know. Every morning, he brings me coffee in bed. I am so spoiled.
3. Every morning, I can’t get out of bed before consuming a large mug of coffee. I told you, I am spoiled.
4. Susie is not my real name – or least I haven’t answered to that since I was eight years old. I pretentiously prefer my given name of Susan but Susie sounded more welcoming and the URL address I really wanted was taken.
5. Since becoming a parent, I have been a working mom, a stay-at-home mom, and a work-from-home mom. I have experienced the pros and cons of each and know how hard it is either way. I won’t choose sides on who has it harder or better.
6. I have a Masters degree in child development. Contrary to what you might think, this does not make me a more confident or credentialed parent. It also does not increase my pay.
7. Twenty years ago I would have scoffed at the idea of living in the suburbs and driving a mini-van. Of course, twenty years ago I would have liked to join the Peace Corps and do meaningful work, except I was afraid to give up daily showers so, I didn’t. Little did I know that parenthood would be a lot like the Peace Corps in that the natives and I don’t always speak the same language, there is no pay and I often don’t get a daily shower. And it is indeed meaningful work.
8. I have always wanted to be a Martha Stewart type Mom. I love to bake, cook, sew and create things but didn’t have the time before I had kids since I had a demanding job. Now that I am a stay-home parent, I don’t have time since I have demanding kids.
9. If I could change one thing about myself (besides my hair), I’d like to be more patient, especially with my children.
10. When I get an idea to do something, I sorta obsess about it – until I finally do it. Starting a blog is one of those things that I have decided I must do but I almost gave it up completely when I couldn’t get my entry to post this morning.
11. Some of the sister blogs that inspire me are: Toddler Planet, Catherine Newman, Woulda Coulda Shoulda, Flotsam, Serving The Queens, A Little Pregnant – just to name a few.
12. I chose the name “At Home With Me” because I am welcoming you into my home, my life. Secondly, a blog is for the blogger more than for the readership. I will be processing my thoughts and experiences here so that I will feel more at home with myself.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Welcome Home

It seems like an introduction is in order.  My name is Susie and I might be addicted to blogs.  Reading blogs has become a hobby of mine, especially since I don’t really have the time or the patience to read anything that is more than a grocery list.  When I first started reading blogs, I thought that I should just go ahead and write my own.  After all, I like to write and I like to talk about myself.  This, of course, meant that I had to research this blogging phenomenon by reading more blogs.  If I were going to be serious about this, then I needed to know more about what other blogs are out there.  Hmmmmm…   Do you know how many blogs are out there?!  Some have cute and catchy names, themes, and styles even – this was way more than I expected. Benchmarking led to procrastinating. I couldn’t start my own blog because I was intimidated by all the other blogs out there that surely are better than mine could ever be.  I mean, really, we need one more blog like we need one more reality TV show. With all these other blogs, how can mine be at all extraordinary? And besides, I didn’t have time to actually create a blog since I was too busy reading everyone else’s.
I also needed to work out some critical questions – some of which I haven’t fully answered yet.  For example, how anonymous do I want to be?  Do I want to invite friends and family to read this or do I want to be able to use it as an outlet to work out some issues. But wait, what if my parents did read it?! Should I curtail some entries in the off chance they do?  Should I not let my husband or kids read it? Where will that line be between disclosure and privacy?  How will I keep it real without giving too much away?  Will anyone even read this? Will I even have time to keep a blog or will this just be another extra something that I don’t ever get to do like knitting and getting a haircut?  At this point, you might ask, “So why blog at all?”  Because I have been reading some amazing blogs written by some incredible people.  But I feel like I am watching a party through the window and it is time to come inside.  From what I have been reading, I feel welcomed to finally do so.  I too have a voice and I am ready to share it.
Doubts and worries aside, one positive thing I have learned in my explorations is that while there are indeed many blogs, the blogging community is a cozy and personal one.  I am often awed by the sense of sisterhood that exists here - from setting up virtual baby showers to making videos of support, there is a wealth of brilliance, strength, humor, and courage out there to be read and I want to be apart of it.  As I would read one, I’d follow a link to another, and so on, only to come back to another link to the original blog that I started with.  So from the uncountable number of blogs out there, the blogosphere started to feel more like a community, a neighborhood.  I am inspired to build my home on that block.  So come on in to meet your new neighbor.  Get yourself some coffee, don’t mind the mess, but please do make yourself at home.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Under Construction

This home is under construction.  Please come back to visit me soon!