Monthly Archives: May 2009

It’s My Blog, and I’ll Cry if I Want To…

I know, I know.  I’ve been MIA from the blogosphere lately.  Let’s just say, it’s been a busy couple of weeks–or to use a favorite term from a friend of mine–it’s been totally crazy.

In the last two weeks I have been:

*Working dilligently at securing a literary agent for my completed manuscript.

* Organizing the first aid tent for the community volunteer playground build week that’s coming up for Bozeman in two weeks–The Dinosaur Playground at Gallatin Regional Park.

* Dealing with the ever-worsening meltdowns of my six-year-old daughter.  We’re talking:  on the floor, kicking-and-screaming-as-if-she’s-a-two-year-old-throwing-a-tantrum meltdowns.  Really, this has gone on, intermittently, since she was two and quite frankly, folks, I’m over it.  Two weeks ago, I visited with a family counselor about this–one whom I’ve consulted in the past for the same reason.  She recommends a Neuropsych eval.  Good Lord.

* Attending physical therapy for on-going hip and back pain with a little improvement–the improvement I’ve notice is probably because I’m becoming increasingly sedentary, sitting around on my ever-expanding ass, watching weeds take over my precious flower beds, and dust collect on my brand-new road bike.  I’d like to think it is because of the core-stabilizing exercise my PT has expertly prescribed.  But avoiding exercising seems to be playing a larger part.

*My mom came to visit, to care for our three kids while Andrew and I took a whirl-wind trip down to the San Francisco area.  This, by the way, is not a boo-hoo portion of this post.  It was, for the most part, a wonderful trip…very informative, very busy, and even included a quick day trip to Napa’s wine country, plus several fantastic meals of Indian, Japanese and Italian cuisine.  My mom did an aweseome job with our kids, and Andrew and I both are ever grateful for the time she spent here.

* While in San Fran, I had a meeting with the director of the UCSF Medical Anthropology doctoral program.  Narcissistically, I went down there thinking I was a shoe-in.  I have a PA degree.  I practiced medicine for five years.  I teach childbirth classes.  I am a writer.  I am heavily involved in community events, including community education events.  I have my research topic totally dialed.

Over the course of a pleasant, 30-minute conversation, she told me I was headed in the wrong direction.  She suggested I check out the Sociology program.  She said my credentials were insufficient.  I was totally bummed.  When I went across the hall to the Sociology program I was nearly told the same thing.

*After four great days of work/play in the big city, including lots of riding in cars and tons of walking, I returned home with an aching back and hip.  Did I mention I’m scheduled for a hip arthrogram and back MRI today?  Yeah, just imagine a sword-like needle being inserted into the hip joint, injecting a radioactive dye and then lying in an MRI machine for the next hour + while tiny slices of imagery are taken of that hip, plus lower back.  I’m really looking forward to it.  Especially the large needle part of it.  (A friend of mine who happens to be an orthopedic surgeon at the same practice through which I’ve scheduled my tests mentioned to me that many people take Valium prior to this procedure…but because I have to drive myself to and from the testing, plus be prepared to take care of my kids after word, I’ll be skipping the Valium.  Lamaze breathing, here I come!)

*Until late last night, I was totally stressed about finding childcare for my two boys while having the above-mentioned testing done.  Thanks to the generosity of an awesome friend, I think I now have that piece covered.  In the past six years, I can’t even begin to count how many times I’ve been stressed over finding childcare.  Seems to have been a recurrent theme for me over the years.

*Upon my return home from San Fran, and after four days of reportedly good behavior, my daughter’s disposition has plummeted once again–non-coincidentally occurring on the day my mom left.  This all, while my back was hurting like hell, my right leg burning, numb and aching all at the same time, and Andrew gone at work until almost 7:30 last night.

Now, for those of you reading this…finger tips pulsating at the ready with a retort of something like, “you don’t have anything to complain about.  You don’t live in a mud hut in Subsaharan Africa.  You’re not dying of AIDS.  You don’t live under a burhka in Afghanistan.” –I know.  Believe me, I know.  I tell myself this stuff every day.  So please save yourself the effort and threatened Carpal Tunnel Syndrome from typing these things back to me.  I pester myself with these reminders every day.  By all accounts, I am tremendously lucky.

Still, some days (weeks) are more challenging than others–thank goodness for a little vacation thrown in the mix (and one awesome visit to the Robert Mondavi winery including a great tour and fabulous wine tasting).  Poor me.  Cry me a river, right?

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Filed under Balancing career and motherhood, family, From One Mother to Another, General Health, Kids

A Poem for Daddy

Well after 10pm on Tuesday night, I came home from teaching Lamaze class to a quiet household.  Kids were asleep.  Andrew who, truthfully could have used the sleep, was still up, pounding away at his computer, finishing off a few items from his eternal work-related To Do list.

As I’m apt to do, upon setting down my computer bag, I visually swept over the household, inventorying the level of cleanliness and what would need to be tended to the next morning.

That’s when I saw it:  the poem our six-year-old daughter wrote for her daddy. ~

                                                         I love you Dad.

                                                         If you could be love.

                                                         Daddy, would you be mine?

 

Now, if that doesn’t melt your heart…

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Filed under From One Mother to Another, Kids, Writing and Publishing

Exercising the Mind…Finding Your Niche…Developing Your Talents

During Tuesday’s edition of NPR’s All Things Considered (if y’all don’t know it by now, I am an NPR junkie), I happened upon a wonderul story about how we can keep our brains exercised as we go through life and actualy continue to get smarter even into those golden years.

In his recently released book, Think Smart: A Neuroscientist’s Prescription for Improving Your Brain’s Performance Richard Restak delineates three separate forms of memory, and how to exercise each:  sensory memory, long term memory and working memory.  (In writing this last paragraph, I have had to return to the article on NPR’s website three times to get my facts straight.  Apparently, I need to exercise my memory more.)

As I listened to the story I, of course, translated the issues contained therein to what happens to a woman’s mind and memory while in the thick of early motherhood.  Everytime I experience an all-too-common brain fart, I retort, “just another example of what happens after a few more brain cells have exited with the placenta.”  (If you don’t get this joke, you obviously haven’t yet been pregnant, delivered, or raised young children.)

During those early years of starting our family, when Andrew and I brought three children into the world in less than four years, I noticed it happening:  my ability to focus, recall, stipulate and converse intelligently had waned significantly.  Making matters worse, as I traversed the landscape of stay-at-home-motherhood, I watched my esteemed husband climbing the corporate ladder and, quite obviously, getting smarter every day.  I, on the other hand, felt like I was drowning in a puddle of wooden blocks, diapers, parenting magazines and baby drool.  There’s not a whole lot of intellectual property to boast about about such a puddle.

All the while, however, I felt a strong urge to keep developing my “adult” brain.  Having continued working as a PA for a while after our first child was born, I set that aside that form of out-of-the-household work (reasons too complicated to go into here) and within another year, completed my Lamaze Childbirth Education certification and started up my own childbirth education program.  Two years after that, I started writing what would end up being my first book.  For me, and running the risk of entering the dangerous role of Super Mommy, I simply couldn’t be satisfied with a life of domesticity that ran unchallenged by higher intellectual pursuits.

Yesterday, I had the lovely opportunity to meet with one of the keynote speakers from the Montana State University College of Business’ Second Annual Women’s Circle of Excellence conference.  As we sat in a coffee shop with two of my three kids milling around us, she and I talked of how a motivated, career-inspired woman strikes that all-important balance between successfully tending to the needs of a family and successfully honoring the desire to better oneself as an individual with hopes, dreams, drive and talent.  We talked about how, when you feel pulled to develop a certain talent or intense interest that’s percalating  within the confines of your brain, ignoring that talent or interest in lieu of only tending to domestic duties can result in a bitter, stifled, unhappy woman.

This particular woman I visited with, a retired exectutive from a mammoth of a medical and home health and beauty supply company, managed to prioritize her family in the way of occasionally leaving high-powered meetings for Alice in Wonderland tv date night with her daughter, while also surging ahead into a high-powered private and public sector career.

She didn’t do it all alone, of course.  She had help in the way of nannies and housekeepers and such…a luxury many of us certainly couldn’t afford to employ.  But the take-home point of our conversation, for me, was that there is always a way to make it work:  to nurture your own drive and desires as an individual and raise children.  It requires creativity, prioritization, making some concessions, asking for help, lining up help, and spending your time wisely.

As luck or coincidence would have it, I spoke on these same topics at a Bozeman MOMs Club meeting on Monday morning.  My talk, entitled, “The History of Modern-Day Motherhood” revolved around the historical, cultural, social and medical elements that influence how we “practice” motherhood in the United States in 2009.  A big part of this talk was how the current generations of moms are having to find new ways to balance career, motherhood, personal needs, and the need for support in raising a family that is all very unique to our American social set up.  The messages I strived to deliver to those twenty-or-so  mothers of young children were aptly refelected in my conversation with the reitred exec.-mom.

Coalescing the exploratory work I’ve done on contemplating and laying the ground work for my own career path, the writing work I continue to pursue, the local speaking engagements I’ve thus-far accomplished and the conversations I’ve had with mentors such as mentioned above, I happily left that coffee shop yesterday, feeling more than ever, like I’m on the right the path.

I’m on the right path in how I am raising our children (with the support and equal involvement of one very involved partner).  I’m on the write path in my burgeoning writing career.  I’m on the right path toward the public speaking career I hope to grow into the future.

Balancing an excellent form of motherhood with career pursuits is not an easy thing.  It requires…um…balance…and a lot of creativity…and a lot of external support that might come easily from extended family for some, from hired sources for others but, at the end of the day, is necessary nonetheless.

What is your path?  Are you spending time thinking about where you want to see yourself five, ten years from now?  Are you putting things into motion that will pay off for you in the future?  What are you working toward?

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Filed under Balancing career and motherhood, Childbirth Issues, family, From One Mother to Another, Kids, Living, Mommy and Motherhood, Writing and Publishing

Best Childbirth Prep Class, Ever

Tonight, I finished up an eight-part class series with six couples, several of whom are due with their first babies any day now.

In fact, one of those couples, who initially doubted whether or not they’d make it to their due date secondary to early labor signs several weeks ago, were in early labor while attending class tonight.

It really was a remarkable thing; it was remarkable not because the woman was in labor, and not because she’d made it to her due date (lots of us make it to and beyond our due dates much to our surprise or chagrin).  It was remarkable because of how she handled things.

This woman, strong in constitution, smart, calm and prepared, who very easily could have bagged out on our final class meeting tonight, chose to come to class with her husband to keep her mind busy and stay engaged in normal activities.  And, by making this choice, she avoided heading to the hospital too soon where she would have been much more likely to undergo a variety of medical interventions that the couple hoped to avoid, and even more importantly, she allowed herself–the two of them, as a couple–a nice, gradual start to their baby’s birth.

And here was the really cool thing:  the other couples in the room were all aware of her early labor status as well.  As calmly as she conducted herself (not reserved.  not hiding anything.  not masking.  just calm) everyone else in the room was aware when she was having a contraction.  Eyes gently meandered her way, observed her for a few moments and let it sink in:  this woman is in labor and she’s doing fine.  Her being there tonight was such a gift to every other person in that room.  The other couples had the chance to see one of their cohorts entering the process they’d all spent weeks collectively preparing for, and see her doing it incredibly well.

At the start of the two hour class, the woman was laboring easily with contractions coming six minutes apart.  Two hours later, she was becoming more uncomfortable with the strength of the contractions that were then four minutes apart.  She was moving from early to active labor and totally rocking it!

By the end of class, the couple was ready to leave.  She was ready to head home, soak in some of her own comfortable environment, visit her dogs, collect her belongings, and think about heading up to the hospital.  She had already called her doula with the heads up.

I can’t wait to hear how things have transpired.

I hope, some day, this woman, this couple, will understand what a true gift their presence was for the rest of our class tonight (myself included).  In my four years of teaching childbirth preparation classes, it was the first time I have had a couple in labor during class.  (Did I mention a second couple looked as if they, too, were entering early labor by the end of class?  Oh, the birth energy was flowing tonight!  Anyone catch a reading on the barometric pressure?)

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For All the Wonderful Mothers Out There…

Happy Mother’s Day to all those wonderful, hard-working mommies who dedicate themselves to that all important job called Motherhood.

In honor of moms everywhere, all around the world, every walk of life, this one’s for you:

Pass it on!!!

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Misery Is

Misery is attempting to cram the square of thyself into a round hole.
Relief is recognizing the above.
Salvation is seeking out the round hole in which you really fit.
Celebration is finding that round hole and leaping in, head-long, not looking back.

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