Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Hard decisions

I know I have blogged about this before and I'm sure 99% of you don't care to read more about my journey with nursing Maya - but for you 1% here it is. Actually, in the end I blog because writing out my thoughts and struggles really helps me process them - it's not about who reads it or who doesn't - it's about the journey I am on.
This morning I decided that I am going to be finished nursing Maya. I will try to still nurse her when she gets up in the middle of the night and maybe one other time before bed, but it is not going to be the primary way in which I feed her. For me this is one of the hardest decisions I have had to make as a mother. It was also one of the hardest decisions I had to make after Amalea was born. With Maya I was really determined to nurse her because I was really bummed it was so hard with Amalea. Yet, in the end it has been really hard once again.
I know that plenty of people have told me it's ok if I give her formula and while I believe that I don't think I was ready to give myself the freedom not to nurse. I needed to be ok with this decision and up until today I really wasn't. I was still struggling through it and trying as hard as I could to nurse...but I am now ok with this decision.
I am reading a really good book called "I was a really good mom before I had kids" and one chapter is on guilt and one on judgment and both of these have reminded me that this is my journey - the journey of my family and I need to be doing what is best for all of us. At one point the authors of this book asked mothers what the hardest decision they have had to make in parenting was. Some said whether or not to work and while that was also a hard decision for me I think the biggest struggle was the decision to stop breastfeeding. It weighed hard on me with both of my daughters and with both I endured a lot of pain to try and make it work.
I have come to realize that part of parenting is making hard decisions. I know this is only the beginning - just wait until they become interested in boys!!!

Friday, November 6, 2009

To work or not to work

When Amalea was 9 weeks old I went back to work in the mornings. I got to work about 7:00 in the morning, taught 4 classes and was home by 12:00. I didn't feel like I missed a tremendous amount of time with her and luckily I was home for all the major milestones in her life. Plus it allowed Amalea and Jim to have the mornings together - and if you know how Amalea is with Jim you know that time they had created such an incredible bond between them.
We were lucky we had this option - Jim was able to go in to work at 1:00 because he worked evenings doing youth group stuff and in the end he got all his work done with no problem. This also allowed for us to get great insurance (one perk of teaching) and to have a really great income between our two jobs combined.

When we moved to Portland I continued to teach and still taught just 4 classes. However, my hours were a lot worse this time. I worked from 8:00 until 3:00....the 7-12 thing was so much better.

I took a year leave of absence from my job this year to stay home with the girls. The 8-3 days were really brutal on me and I felt like I really missed out a lot with Amalea. I really missed being able to get home at lunch time (and I was making the same amount of money doing 7-12 as I was doing school in CA was much more flexible with me). We made the decision at the end of last school year that I would take this year off. It didn't make sense to have to pay for daycare just so I basically could keep working (because I do love teaching) and so we could keep benefits. That was a tough decision though...I mean you want to make sure you can take your kids to the doctor when they need to go and my insurance benefits were really good. We didn't know how everything would work out financially, but we trusted that this was the best decision for our family.

I haven't really missed teaching a whole lot....well, I take that back. I have missed teaching - I love Language Arts and I love working with adolescents - but I have not missed getting up every morning and having to be prepared and on top of things every day. There isn't much room to have an off day as a teacher. And things are definitely tight financially as we are trying our best to make it work with just one income...and our health benefits are costing quite a bit more than they did and the coverage is not as good.

I was asked this week to come back and teach 2 classes in the morning. My first thought was that I would love to do that. To be a part of the staff and get to teach and have a little time each day away from my kids (trust me, I love them, but my days have been really draining me lately). Jim and I weighed the option from a financial standpoint, from a benefits and healthcare standpoint, from a time standpoint and what it would mean for his job and the girls getting to have time with him possibly, from a daycare standpoint and if that was an the end though what made the decision was my gut. I couldn't get the feeling out of my gut that I just didn't want to go back - not yet. As much as I truly feel some days like I am going insane I am not ready to go back yet. I know I will have the chance to be in the classroom again, but for now where I want to be is with my girls. I want the chance to find balance with them, I want to see them grown and help them grow. I don't want to be gone every day for a few hours (not to mention that the hours wouldn't have been ideal since school doesn't even start until 9:30 - way too late in my opinion). I want to be here, I want to be present, I want to feel sanity with my girls.

I am so thankful I have an understanding husband who is working his ass of so that I can be home. I am thankful he is willing to make cuts in our finances so that I can be here. It's not easy on him to work long days and then come home and run up and down the hallway with Amalea and take Maya when she cries...but he does it. It's not easy for him to see me in my frazzled and slightly insane moments (sometimes with tears in my eyes) but he listens to me and helps so much.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Once upon a time...

...there was a young mother of two. Her daughters were beautiful and brought her so much joy, but lately she had really been struggling with how to give both of her daughters the love and attention she wanted to give them. She had an adorable infant who wanted to keep mommy in eyesight at all times and a vibrant two year old who wanted to run and play all day long. She had spent the summer months (the end of her pregnancy) going on daily adventures with her oldest daughter. They kept very busy and went so many great places. After the birth of her youngest the adventures slowed down greatly. Life was definitely easier if she just stayed home and played there, but the mother really struggled because though staying home was much easier with the baby she felt terrible for her older daughter who had to see all her adventures end. Now of course she knew that the adventures were only on pause for a short time and would continue in the future, but it was hard to explain that to an active two year old. The mother tried to take smaller adventures close to home, but often times those ended with at least one child in tears (though often both - and sometimes even the mother too). And so, the mother is left a bit confused on how to raise a toddler and a baby without feeling like she is neglecting one of them.

(OK, I understand this is third person, but it just seemed easier than admitting it as a first person story :-)