Saturday, October 27, 2012

Ramblings about my Future, or Do You Want to Hire Me?

For reasons I won't go into in this public space, I won't be teaching my usual class this spring. After my frustration/anger/surprise wore off, I realized that I'm mainly just sad about it. I loved my students. I enjoyed teaching writing for public relations, as it kept my skills fresh and -- I like to believe -- helped students learn some real-life writing skills that they will use every day of their professional lives. It was very fulfilling to watch them improve over 15 weeks, and I treasured every email I received from former students telling me about jobs they'd landed or experiences they had that they attributed to my class.

Teaching was also a regular use of my brain, a time to step away from being a mom and instead be a professional. It forced me to stay on top of the news, both world news as well as happenings in business and social media. It took me onto campus twice a week to sit at a desk in a half-decent outfit, interact with fellow lecturers and professors, and have fun, adult conversations. Also, since my husband works in the same department, it allowed me to know more about the players and events going on in his daily life. While I've enjoyed my at-home freelance work, teaching was a way to get out into the world.

So, what do I do now? I could become a full-time stay-at-home mom. It's what I'm doing now, and it's not so bad, occasionally awesome. Without the distractions of work (which included an overwhelming if not overblown need to be on the computer a lot), I've become a more regular cook, a better housekeeper, and a more engaged mom (we do craft projects! we go to the playground often! we bake together!). I've even returned to regular novel reading during the daylight hours (bliss!). I don't mind this role, and I'm wise enough to realize these moments with my children won't last forever. It is a true blessing that we can afford for me not to work (it's tight -- very tight -- but we're making it).

But I'd be lying if I said it was 100% fulfilling. I miss talking to adults every day. I miss using my brain. I miss having a compelling reason to keep up with the news. I hate that when D comes home, I sometimes find myself chatting about a TV show I watched that day. I also have to admit that I'm not fully comfortable having D earn all the household income. I want to contribute. I like contributing. (Yes, I am FULLY aware that full-time parenting is a huge contribution, but I like it better when some of the cash in our account comes from my side).

I have been pulling in a little money here and there with my freelance work. It's not a lot, but I have enjoyed the projects, especially when I get to work on travel guides. So that's my second option: work to get more freelance clients. This may mean hiring more babysitters when projects come in (thus cutting down my per-hour earnings significantly). It will mean more stress, more computer time, less child-engagement time. But it would also mean more financial security (a little more money would help with house projects and vacations that I dream about,, not to mention those savings accounts that need some padding). It would keep me from falling off the bandwagon of the professional communications world; it would be my oar in the water (<---go read this article).

So now I am emailing a few old connections, seeing if I can drum up some new business. I'm not sure what I want, but I sure won't know what it's like to have more clients unless I try for some. In the meantime, let me know if you need some writing/editing/proofreading help, or help managing a PR campaign. I'm your girl -- I just may need to rearrange my entire home and work life first....

Monday, October 8, 2012


Dearest Sylvia,

As you have proudly told me several times today, while carefully displaying your three tiny fingers, you are three years old. Congratulations! We can both celebrate this milestone, achieved from 1095 days of adventure, many of them challenging, much of them rewarding, all of them growing, constantly growing.

I remember nursing you late at night in the green glider; now when you wake at night I stroke your sweaty hair, tuck you back in, ensure you have your Sleepies, and gaze at your beautiful, quiet face. You have given up naps, so bedtime is no longer a chore. You have come so far. I am so proud of you.

You can do the Hokey Pokey and the Chicken Dance. You can do a forward somersault and can balance on just about anything. You can play a pretty decent game of catch, catching most balls thrown your way and throwing most of them in a way that I can catch. You can kick a soccer ball really far and you are fast and sleek on your scooter. You are strong, coordinated and enthusiastic.

You know your alphabet by heart and can usually identify all the letters. You are starting to write letters; you've recently showed me S, E, F and H. You can reliably count to about 15, you can identify many written numbers, and you are grasping the concept of addition ("I had two M&Ms and I want one more so I will have three.").

You love to sing. You know several songs and bring back new ones from school regularly. You love art, usually coming up with your own ideas for projects. A favorite of yours is to collect flower petals, twigs and leaves from outside and then glue them to paper and paint over it. You color or paint on your easel several times a day. Your pictures are becoming more realistic: your people have eyes, nose and smiles, and you just added legs, feet, arms and hands. You've drawn identifiable kites, hot air balloons, lollipops, people, trees and cars. Your favorite color changes daily.

You are opinionated. You get frustrated easily when I want you to do something other than what you had planned. I'm told by other authority figures in your life (your teachers and gymnastics coach) that you listen well and follow directions, but at home you constantly test boundaries. You like to know the reason for every command. Your mastery of language makes you a rather interesting conversationalist and one who is constantly curious about the world, but it also makes you eager to talk your way out of obligations or demands. You;re also funny: you can make your father laugh his true belly laugh.

You are sweet with your baby sister. You try to include her in activities and often leave little gifts in her car seat or swing, like your special sticks, leaves, rocks and drawings. You like to climb on the bed to watch diaper changes, and you'll mimic your parents' soothing words, telling her, "It's OK, Sweetheart." You'll often tell me that Amelia wants milk, or you'll let me know the moment she falls asleep in the car seat. I call you Little Mama when you're a good helper.

You love pizza, the playground (especially swings), gymnastics class, television (especially Jake and the Neverland Pirates, Team Umizoomi and Super Why), chocolate, cheese, using glue and scissors, wrestling with your daddy, hiking, and cooking. You are independent, headstrong and full of ideas. You are talkative and very, very busy. You are silly, warm and engaging. You are my precious three-year-old and I love you dearly.

Your biggest fan,

Friday, October 5, 2012

Let me always remember...

...Her plump cheeks drooping onto my skin as she nurses, darting her eyes around as if daring someone to take the meal away.

...The incredible softness of her perfectly round head, crowned in downy fuzz.

...The heavy warmth of her body, curled up vertically against my chest, as she snuggles in the sling. She starts the journey by nuzzling her head into my chest, spends a few minutes observing the changing scenery, and then falls into a deep sleep, her ear pressed against my heartbeat.

...Her happy, open-mouthed smiles as she sits in the bent crook of my propped-up knees.

...Her giant, full-bodied stretches when I undo the swaddle in the morning. She arches her back and pushes both arms high above her head, joyful to start a new day.

...The deep, rough-seas blue of her eyes, showing flecks of mossy green and coffee brown. Those striking eyes are always looking, seeking, taking it in, sparkling. I'm sure they will change to brown, so I want to soak in this color now.

...Her tiny, beautiful fingers, which still instinctively curl around mine and hold on tight.

...Her radiating warmth and the soothing rhythm of her deep breathing when we curl up in bed together for afternoon naps. Even in the middle of a busy afternoon, or during times when Sylvia is scampering around the house, we can create a peaceful cocoon together in the dim warmth of my bedroom.

...Nursing at night, alone, lit only by my small book light, with no sounds except her gentle sucking. I am tired, yes, but also deeply comforted by these brief moments of togetherness and peace. We need each other.

My second, my littlest, my last baby. Let me always remember these fleeting moments. Don't let the rest of my cluttered life and its many distractions take my attention or my eyes from you for too long. This is your baby time. Let me be present.