Posts Tagged ‘working mom’

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Major Shift in Household Duties

July 2, 2012

Gulp.


David started a new job today.


Guess what I have to do tonight?  I have to cook dinner.*

I make much of the fact that I don’t cook, and that David does.  My girls make much of that fact; David makes much of that fact; my parents make much of that fact.  My home-friends roll their eyes at me (in jealousy).  My work friends either do the same as my home-friends, OR they are in the same boat.  (It’s not as unusual as you’d think for female attorneys to have partners who either work from home, work part-time, or stay at home caring for kids, etc.)

I know for most people, needing to cook about 50% of the dinners in their house wouldn’t be a big deal, or it would be, because they would get to STOP cooking the other 50% of the time.

Before David was in my life, I cooked all the time.  I cooked all the time while I was a stay-at-home mom to babies and toddlers; I cooked all the time when I was a working single mother.  The shift from being an at-home mom to a working single mom came with a shift in meals.  The girls’ memories tell them that we had Amy’s Mac & Cheese for dinner every night.  The reality is that it was our Friday night meal.  But I did definitely get into ruts.  I had several meals that I cooked often, if not once a week.  But they were years where the girls were pickier eaters.  When I did try something new, rebellion ensued.  I remember a certain eggplant dish in particular …  (although, to be fair, I also found that dish to be inedible).

When David and I were dating, back in California, he would come over and cook dinner for us a couple of times a week.  We were all Very Impressed.  They were great nights.

When David and I took the plunge and moved across the country together, we shared cooking duties and grocery shopping duties.  For a while.  I think I wheedled my way out of my turns shopping sooner into the cohabitation than I managed to get out of cooking — but eventually he was doing it all.  And at the time, he was working full time, and I was in law school.

When we were sharing the cooking, the deal was that he would cook and I would clean.  I don’t remember when even THAT stopped.  But it did.

At one point, when he was doing all the cooking and shopping, but I think I was still pretending to clean up after dinner, I started doing his laundry.  He had been doing his own, and I would do mine and the girls’.  But I saw that he was getting the very short end of the stick, and so I said I would do his laundry, in an attempt to even things out.

But then, I stopped doing that.  He does his own laundry now.

All this to say — This change is happening now that he is going back to full-time work, but it really has been long overdue.

Now I’m back to perusing recipes, looking for inspiration.  I need inspiration that is quick, simple, and healthy.  Not easy to come by.  But I think I can do it.  I’m going to have to acclimate myself to our grill — I’ve used it a few times, but I don’t know it well.  I’m also going to force David to eat a lot more fish than he prefers.  Because Mouse is a vegetarian, and I’m not really down with the “cooking two versions of everything” method that David has adopted.

Tonight, I’m making tilapia with garlic and lemons, and roasting some broccoli.  Because I am doing a low (or no) carb thing right now, and because they really ought to be contributing to the household, especially since they’re home all day lazing about, AND because they’re picky as all get-out, the girls are making their own sides.  Mouse is baking a potato, and Lemon is making herself a vat of rice.

And while I’m trying – really I’m trying – to get back into work-mode, I’m instead perusing more recipes. Would love to hear about any that are quick, simple and healthy.  Cheap doesn’t hurt, either.  (I know, I want everything!)

* Drafted this post at work, just now posting.  First dinner was a HUGE success.  Girls loved the fish and broccoli – Mouse made herself a baked potato, Lemon made some steamed rice, David and I had double portions of broccoli.  All plates were clean.  Hooray!

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Kids + Legal Mumbo Jumbo

March 28, 2012

Mouse’s braces came off today.  One of my favorite things about that was that Lemon was so excited for her.

At dinner, we were talking about Mouse’s arrival at the high school in the fall.  In the context of the girls’ similar appearances, I laughed and said, “Mouse, you should go into the high school as [Mouse] [Suz’s last name], and Lemon, you should stay [Lemon] [Ex’s last name].”  They got a kick of out that.  “Dude!  You look like Lemon!”  “Oh, yeah, we’re good friends, and she even slept over my house FOR THE PAST 15 YEARS!!”  HA HA HA!!  Say the girls.

But then Lemon said, “you know, now that your braces are off, you kinda do look more like me.”  Mouse agreed.

Other funny braces conversations:

Lemon:  “Was it wrong of me to think I looked WORSE when my braces came off?”

Mouse:  “I know!  I thought that, too!”

Me:  “Why?  Like you’re missing jewelry or something?”

[not saying “you know, you do look weird.” because she does.]

Lemon:  “No, it was like my teeth were too big.”

Mouse:  “YES!!! And [a boy] told me to ‘take off those creepy fake teeth’ – and I told him, ‘I got my braces off!'”

Then they were a bit wild, and during the wildness, decided it was the perfect night for a HOMEWORK PARTY!!!!  WOO HOO!!!

These things.  They melt my heart. I want these girls to be friends. And here we are.  It was not always the case.  The middle grade years were hard.  Hatred may not have been an exaggerated term.

But now?  Lemon is having friends over this weekend.  They’re having a Lord of the Rings Marathon.  Lemon and her friends thought, “Hey! It would be fun if Mouse watches with us!”  And they invited her. And she said yes. And they are all excited.

Big sigh.

_______________________

So — Work.

I’ve already made clear that this move from BigFirm to New Firm, which is a “Medium Sized Firm,” has been a great one.  But I just want to talk about it for a minute.  Another minute.  Because I have already talked about it.

In the Big Firms, filing deadlines are stressful events.  You have a senior associate, and a mid level associate, and maybe 3 junior associates.  They are working off a rough outline provided by a partner, or a Partner.  They got maybe 10 minutes of said partner’s time, and hoped against hope they were going in the right direction.  If not — they wouldn’t know until the eve of filing.  Deadlines loom, and still no feedback – but then 12 hours before— feedback!  Rewrite! Not good enough!!  Revise!!

My friends and I would say, over and over “It doesn’t have to be this way . . . ”  we know about deadlines 20-30 days in advance. Why does all the stress happen in the 12-24 hours before said deadline?

But now!  I am at a medium sized firm.  And I have better partner access.  I have more control.

Tomorrow is my second filing.  Last time and this time, I’m home by 6:30 the night before. The brief is DONE.  For real.  I will do a final proof in the morning, before a post-lunch filing goal.

We are golden.  It is remarkably stress-free.

Ahhhh.

 

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First Day

February 28, 2012

Less technology, warmer people.  Less art on the walls, more pictures of kids and families. Less flexibility in wardrobe, more going home by 6 p.m.

So, I’ll take it!

It was mostly a day full of paperwork and introductions.  I did get a case to work on, fortunately with no pressing deadlines. Went to lunch with some associates to get the scoop, and it was nice but no huge skeletons in the closet. 

I was exhausted by the end of the day, and swearing I’d be in bed by 9.  Instead, I watched t.v. with the girls until 11.  

I’m working on getting into a routine, but there is a huge part of me that misses the very lax schedule that I had in the final months of BigFirm.  When I could crawl back into bed after going running with my friend in the a.m.  Today was my first time running with her before the new job, and instead of going on and on here and then thinking about the bed, I have to hop in the shower and get ready for work.  

 

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Pre-Acceptance Freak Out

January 28, 2012

Friday was a busier day than I anticipated. I thought I’d have my 10 am informational interview, and then a restful day at home, maybe with a phone call or two.

But my 10 am “informational” interview felt more like a real interview, and then I checked in with a friend who works at that firm for a while.  He ended up being close with one of the associates at the offer firm, so he put us in touch to chat.

I went home, spoke to this associate for an hour, and then called next week’s firm to see if I could move things up, and then had real work to do, and then decided to engage in negotiations with the ex to get child support up to snuff. Then I freaked out, a la paycheck calculator.

Here are some of the results:

  • Associate at offer firm gave a very nice and candid view of the firm. I ended up even more excited to work there. It was good.
  • Next week’s interview can’t be moved up: the firm is in talks with a senior person to come in as a partner. They were thinking if he does come in, they’d bring me in as a junior person to support him. But timing can’t be rushed, and the area isn’t my first choice (and isn’t – really – what my resume indicates I would do, so …. ????). I’m keeping the Thursday lunch on the Calendar for the sake of the “longer view.” it’s not going to be an option for me right now.
  • The Ex was less resistant than I anticipated. I’d done a good job for the past year or so in prepping him for the reality that I would not be at big firm forever, and therefore wouldn’t be able to continue to discount child support forever. I think we can avoid court.
  • But the paycheck calculator was mean to me. 

This will not be easy. I’m nowhere near having to make huge changes, like moving out of my house or selling my car, but the series of little changes are going to hurt. 


A friend joked today, “you won’t be able to run out and get the newest iPhone and iPad anymore!” not that I’d need a new iPad. Mine is great. But if the iPhone 5 comes out ….  


No, seriously. The clothes budget will be an issue, the food budget will be affected. Things like $200 athletic fees for sports will start to hurt. 


We like Calistoga Springs sparkling water, the orange flavor. David tends to buy a case of it now and again, bc it’s cheaper by the case. I was having a glass last night, and wondered “can we keep buying this?” I asked him how much it was, and he really didn’t know. “do you think we will have to look at things that closely?” he asked.  Yes. Yes, I do.


I may need to have Lemon quit her voice lessons.


And the  there’s my other hold out – Third to house and car – the housecleaners. A $200/month expense that I just can’t imagine giving up. I’d rather cancel cable. Having a lower income doesn’t mean I have a lesser job. (Odd as that may be, but the reality when you start out in BigLaw). I don’t have any more time to scrub and polish. The housecleaners don’t tidy – they keep up with the floors, the bathrooms, the dust bunnies under the radiators. And they force us (because all of our personalities require force) to keep up with our personal messes on a twice-monthly basis, so the dust and grime underneath the clutter can be addressed.


Before we had them, I was a sad lady. A mad lady. Weekends were unhappy times because I was resentful that I spent the week working and then the weekend cleaning. So maybe I’d sit on the couch and pout, instead of cleaning, and things were yucky. Then we’d plan to have friends over, and I’d have no choice but to tackle the weeks’ (or months’) worth of grime, and I’d go on a rampage. Cleaning and bitching would go hand-in-hand. I would, essentially, turn into my mother. And like the generations before them, my kids and husband would hide in corners somewhere or leave the house. 


I can’t think of anything other than these housecleaners that has increased the quality of my life to this degree.  Maybe my iPhone. Maybe – but it may have detracted, really, because of the, well, distraction.


So I will tenaciously hold on.


And we will tighten the belts and see how it feels.


And David is still on the job market. It was easier for me because the legal market here is picking up, but other markets are still slow.  I also am currently employed, and he, in contrast, has been managing the home for the past 5-6 years. He got a masters in that time, too, but even that is somewhat in the past. And in the time that he’s been looking, he kinda caught pneumonia – so, things have been slower.


Once he’s settled, I think we will be even closer to ok. 


And so – there I am. Freaking out, but still optimistic. Could be worse, right?


I could have to move … And I do not.

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Suzie Saves the Day!

March 18, 2011

Tomorrow is a big day for one of Mouse’s closest friends.  And it’s the first Bat Mitzvah for Mouse’s grade.  Very exciting, let me tell you.  For anyone who may be unfamiliar (as I was for most of my life, coming from a relatively sheltered, Christian childhood), the Bat Mitzvah will consist of a service at the Temple in the morning, to which we (the “we” here being myself, my husband, and Mouse) will wear typical religious service dress.  Then, there is a party, where, depending on the venue, party attire is worn.  This party is at night, and the dress is, in fact, party dresses.  I’ve been to some others where the party is an outdoor picnic, and so party dresses were NOT worn.  But for this one, it’s a par-tay.

Mouse has been dress shopping  for the party dress for months upon months.  Sadly, 90% of the dresses she chose were completely out of stock, and others weren’t cut for a person of her undeveloped stage, and others still just weren’t made in a size small enough for her.

Finally, however, she found a dress.  We bought the dress.  The dress was a little loose in the torso, but we knew it was salvageable through alterations.  The day the dress came (early to mid-February) she said, “mom, can we find a tailor?”  My response?  Mouse, we have tons of time.  We don’t want to get it altered too soon, what if you grow?

So we went on vacation.  We got home.  “Mom, can we find a tailor for my dress?”  Oh, sweetie.  We still have tons o’ time. And I’m going on a business trip in 2 minutes, so can we just leave me alone be a little patient?

I got home from my business trip and did say “oh, hey, we should find a tailor!”

Then, about a week later, I did post on Facebook to solicit recommendations for local tailors.

But then last week – “oh, crap!  the party is in a week! We need to take care of the dress!”  I called one of the tailors that was recommended, and left work early to bring Mouse in to have the dress taken care of.

We ended up bringing it in with sufficient time.  I felt Responsible.  (Not typical).

It was due to be picked up yesterday (thursday), before 6 p.m. when they close.

A little side story:

Mouse’s whole group of friends is very excited about this event, and they all have been getting together to check out each other’s dresses, etc.  Yesterday (Thursday), they had plans to go together for mani-pedi’s.  Mouse was going to use her allowance for that.  Allowance is paid on the 15th of each month (my pay day), and she gave me ample notice that she’d really need to have hers in time for the outing on Thursday.  I told her “please remind me the day before?” knowing that I am a scatter brain.

At 4:30 on Wednesday, she texted me and said, “hi mommy! don’t forget about my allowance, okay? luv u!” I responded that her reminder was perfect, and the timing was perfect, and thank you.

But yet, when I left work at 5:30, I did not stop at the ATM in my building (actually, at either of the two ATMs in my building).  Neither did I stop at the one across the street.  I got around the block into the no-ATM zone before I realized that I was a dolt.  But I had plans to take Lemon to empty my bank account into her new sport, so I figured I’d just get cash back then.

Still, there’s nothing like getting an eye roll from your 13-year-old when you explain that you managed to forget (like, 15x) sometime that was clearly stated and reminded (like, 15x).

And of course, City Sports doesn’t do cash back.  But Lemon and I stopped at an ATM, and Mouse had her money.

But it was close.

Back to the dress.

On Wednesday night, she reminded me about the dress.  I had to pick it up before 6 p.m., and I thought I’d be okay with that.

On Thursday, I went to work.

I worked pretty steady all day on a significant project.  I had been a little afraid that I would be panicking and working right up until the evening, but was able to send it off at around 5:15, even with a few other side projects in between.

Once I sent the project off, I sat back and thought about what Friday would bring.  I checked the news.  I looked at Twitter.

At 5:30, Mouse texted.  “Did you get my dress?”

Oh shit.

I called the tailor :  “do you close at exactly 6?”  “Yes, I have someone picking me up at 6.”

I grabbed my bag, texting Mouse “I’m getting in a cab now!”  at 5:38.  I really wanted the dress on Thursday so that Mouse could try it on, and we’d have at least some time to fix any problems.  To be safe, I worked out an alternate plan in my head, if I didn’t make it to pick up the dress.  I’d leave work early on Friday in order to be at the tailor by 3, with Mouse in tow.  We’d try it on there, and make the seamstress fix it on the spot if there was a problem.  But first choice (mine and Mouse’s first choice) was to get it in my hands on Thursday.

I told the cabbie that I was in a big hurry, and it was the perfect day to get the world’s most accommodating (and flirty!) cab driver.  He floored it whenever possible (so much so that I almost barfed, but whatever).

At 5:52, I texted Mouse “I’m almost there!”  She texted back, “okay – this is so stressful!”  So I said, “sorry!” and she said, “wait, you missed it??!!”  And I said, “no, sorry for the stressful part!”

At 5:54, he said, “maybe you should call the store, and tell them to wait?” We were stuck at a light.  I said, “no, we’re going to make it!”

At 5:57, I called the store, “I’m two seconds away!”  She laughed at me, “it’s okay, it’s okay! we’ll be here!”

At 5:59, I texted Mouse, “The dress is in my hand!” “I did it!”

Mouse:  Yay, Mommy thank u!”

Me:  I am a super hero!!

Mouse:  Yes u r

Me:  My power is making deadlines when it seems impossible!

Mouse: !!

Me:  My weakness is putting myself in situations where making deadlines seem impossible!

Mouse: IDC – I’m so happy!!!!

I’m very lucky to have such a forgiving child.

When I got home, she tried on the dress.  We both had a moment of concern when the dress seemed like it might not zip.  But it did, and it is just snug enough that she doesn’t have to worry about it creeping down and showing her bra.

She tried it on with her shoes and she put her hair up, and she looked quite lovely.  Success is sweet.

 

Also – today?  67 degrees in the Greater Boston Area.  67 degrees.  That is awesome.

 

 

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Finally, a Fun Weekend

November 20, 2010

Sort of my first weekend without work.  Except that I got up at 8 and worked on finishing a project until noon …

 

But now!?  VACATION!!

 

I am very excited.

Kicked it off with a fun lunch out with the Mouse, to celebrate her Straight As Report Card.  Go Mouse!  We went to our favorite Vietnamese restaurant, and ate too much food.  We chatted about school, the movie we watched last night –

Defiance, with Daniel Craig.  WD and I didn’t expect her to watch it with us – she came home from a dance when we were more than half way through.  She’s pretty good at knowing when something is too much for her, so I thought she’d be leaving the room soon.  movies about Jewish refugees hiding from Nazis, starving and barely surviving in the forests of Eastern Europe, sprinkled with occasional battles and death (thanks, Nazis.  Jerks.) didn’t seem her speed.  But the movie was awesome, and pretty powerful, and she ddin’t leave.  And then we talked about it for 15+ minutes at lunch today ….

And she told me that yesterday was the best day ever.  Because (1) she had a presentation in History, and it went well, and it was a lot of stress leading up to it, so it’s a great relief; (2) she had two quizzes, and felt that she did well on both;  (3) she broke up with ____; and (4) she had fun at a dance with her friends.

Kinda funny that breaking up with a boy is mixed in there as something that was making for a great day.  But the poor kid is 12, and found herself “going out with” someone she didn’t really like.  But she did like him as a friend, and so didn’t want to hurt his feelings.  And he wasn’t in her classes, and their activities don’t overlap, so she just …. let it sit.

For 6 weeks.  They texted now and again, but never spoke, never saw each other, never nothin’  (poor boy)

Finally, just before the dance, she had a face-to-face conversation with him, and told him that she thought they were better off as friends.  His response?  “Will you still be my friend?”  She said yes, and told me she thinks she really will.  Poor kids.  Life is tough.

After lunch, we came home to grab Lemon, and went off to see Harry Potter.  That was fun.  I liked it.

Then we came home again, and had a mad dash to clean [most of] the house, because Lemon is having People over.

New people.

People I hadn’t met before.

Now that she’s a freshman, her class is comprised of 500 students, instead of the 60 that were in her 8th grade class.  She’s been spending time more and more with a larger circle, and today is the first time she’s had non-regulars over.

And what are they doing?

They’re watching the Hangover.

That is a Rated R movie.

Lemon has seen it already – with WD and I.  Honestly, I didn’t even squirm that much.  The movie was funny as hell, and I know from conversations with her that the jokes were not going over her head.  (Usually, when I express concern that she gets certain references, her response is, “Mom, seriously?  I learned about it in health class!”)

But I was a little nervous.  I don’t know these girls, and I have no idea who their parents are.  Or if they even have parents.  Maybe they don’t? But what if they do?  What if they have super-protective parents?

I tried to casually mention to Lemon that I would like to email the girls’ parents, just to make sure the rated R movie was okay.

She balked.  Like crazy.  “MOM!  One of them is bringing HER copy of the movie over!  Obviously it’s okay.  Everyone has seen this movie.  I was the last one!  You do NOT need to call their parents.”

I thought about it a bit. And I decided it’s important to me that the kids come here.  I don’t want to do something to prevent it in the future.  I know things are safe here.  I know WD and I are home, and that we won’t let things get out of control.  And none of the parents asked to meet me, to talk to me, to ask me what the girls are doing (and 3 of them are sleeping over ….)

And so I am letting it go.

For the record – while it may be true that they’re going to watch a Rated R movie with multiple references to drugs, alcohol and sex … they’re currently singing nursery rhymes.  I’m comfortable with the balance.

Most frequent words spoken in this house:  “Mom, we’re FRESHMEN!”  [as if she is saying, “mom, we’re 40 year old executives!”]  We all know how mature and grounded FRESHMEN are.  So I’ll just stop worrying and thinking and, you know, parenting!

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Vacation Stress

November 17, 2010

I’m in the throes of that work-spell that leads up to a vacation – the major stress time. Where instead of getting things done and watching my list grow shorter and shorter, I’m getting things done and watching my list grow longer and longer … beacuse people are thinking “she’s leaving!  quick! let’s get her to do this stuff before she goes!”

And I keep finding myself saying things like, “oh, I’ll be around over the weekend!” and therefore inviting more of the piling-on.

And I will be here over the weekend.

What I’m not telling people is that I will also be here on Monday and most of Tuesday.

I’m not telling people that because I need those days.  For that other favored task … cleaning the house.  (Blech.)

Because we have a ridiculous amount of animals, including young kittens, and so we have friends coming into the house at least once a day to play with the kittens and to be sure taht they aren’t wrecking our house (which they may do).

My house is in no shape for friends to have access to all of the deep recesses and dusty corners.  No shape for that at all.

I also need to launder lots of clothes, and be sure that the girls are ready to be packed onto an airplane on Tuesday.

So I have a lot to do.  I’d like to do it during the day, and not in the middle of the night.  If I have to work during the day, I will be doing these cleaning-things in the middle of the night.  And it will be bad.

At one point yesterday, when I was told I had to write a major memo before Thanksgiving, I thought “eegads!  I only have two days!” But then I realized it was Tuesday – not Wednesday.  And I calmed down.  But then I got a call yesterday evening saying “let’s write three major memos!”  And then I freaked back out.

But I will say that the people I’m working with are respecting my vacation, when it is pointed out to them, and solutions are being found.

Back to the stress, now …