Tough Decisions | Life As A Working Mom

I try my hardest not to see things so black and white and to realize that each choice is unique from the next. It is something I have to constantly be present about because my natural instinct is to prejudge situations based on previous experiences. To add fuel to this fire, motherhood and parenting has become increasingly difficult over the past year – probably because we have 3 young children who are all in the age of discovering what they like to do. Which means, too many activities to manage PLUS two full-time working parents. I think this has led me to have a heightened sensitivity about my current season of life as well as increased amount of “Mom Guilt”.

Geez – I could write a novel about “Mom Guilt”. About how it is unavoidable, unpreventable, and untreatable. But, I won’t. Because who likes to read negative ramblings anyway?

Recently, I started investigating alternatives for the twins daycare/schooling.  They are currently at the same school my older daughter attended for the first 6 years of her life. It is a great school that happens to be going through a bit of transition. Unfortunately, the transition hit hard for the twins’ age group. There have been a lot of teaching transitions, schedule transitions, etc. While I have been going through this, I felt like my world and the twins’ world was falling apart. I found myself thinking “how are they ever going to survive? They need stability in 3k”. Then the dreaded “Mom Guilt” kicked in… “This would have never happened if we were in a better place where I did not have to work.”

Y’all. I was considering turning our lives upside down to move them to a school that could not keep them for a full work day and hiring a sitter to pick up my 3 children and drop my 3 children EVERY DAY just because I wanted to protect my children from hardship. THEN I would come to work and complain to my boss about the millennial I have working under me – She is too entitled. She has too high of expectations – someone failed her along the way because they never let her experience anything tough.

So it didn’t hit me that I was a living hypocrite until I was driving to work this morning – sans kid drop offs because of a teacher in-service. I would have never thought I would be causing my children potential harm by trying to create the most perfect external environment possible.

SIDENOTE – – I need to work on my control issues.

I guess my purpose of this rambling is to provide some sort of “I’m going through this too” content instead of writing about the roses and glory moments that DO exist in my life. Parenting is tough. Choosing when to push and when to pull back is not black and white. And I don’t know everything. And my children will be fine – and WHEN they survive this transition it only means that they now have a solid life experience to help them with the next change that happens down the road. They have that experience because they overcame it on their own, while i sat on the sidelines prepared to hug them when it was at its toughest.

On a brighter note… we had a lovely time last night at their book fair. Both of my 3-year-olds sang and danced and smiled alongside their buddies. This great school that is going through a tough transition made my kids smile. And I am eternally grateful. Here are some snapshots of those smiles:

Humpday Thoughts

Four things occupying my headspace right now:

  1. What the heck is snapchat? And why does it matter? And why are businesses talking about this being the next big social sell network? Wasn’t it just yesterday that you were hoping your teenage daughter didn’t have this app downloaded on her smartphone?
  2. Simple Life: it makes my heart happy to hear so many people talking about getting a grasp on their lives and striving for more of a simple life. This leads me to start thinking about why businesses have not caught onto this yet. For so long, people believed that they were the only human being who was not capable of working 90-to-nothing during the work-week. Why have employers not caught onto this yet?
  3. Heat: It is so bloody hot in the South this time of year! Why do I pray for hot weather when it is cold and cold weather when it is hot? I probably belong on a tropical island somewhere where it is 75 degrees year-round. Or maybe I have control issues and I need to come to terms with these issues.
  4. Why does my 3 year old all of the sudden have a stutter? A friend of mine who works in the speech therapy industry tells me it is “developmental disfluency” and it is very common at her age. It drives me crazy though – I don’t know what to do when she does it. Do I try to correct it? Do I just allow it to happen and pray she self-corrects? It makes my heart hurt and my mind go wild wondering if there is something wrong. She did send me this article, which eased my mind slightly – knowing that it is typical for her age. Have you experienced this?

I feel better now. Thank you for allowing me to have a place to dump these thoughts so I can get through the rest of my week. Happy Humpday!

Have You Heard? | #mothermanifesto

#mothermanifesto cissyromano.com

I was on the phone with a friend of mine from college this morning. Our sorority house is being demolished this weekend in order to make room for a larger and fancier house on campus. I don’t know the history of the house and how long it has stood – I should know, but my days of pledgeship are over, so just take my word that it is old. My friend mentioned that I will probably be the only sister not there this weekend, which makes me sad. Sad, because I know the reason I am saying no is because I’m having to make very tough choices these days in order to manage how stretched thin I am. I am sad because I know that I am missing out on yet another event with friends who were once a priority of mine. Sad. Sad. Sad. I miss them. And I miss that part of my life.

Motherhood is hard. Ok, you are thinking this is going to be a complaint post. No, not a complaint post. More like a PSA for all of you mothers that are living day-to-day right now. So I get to my point. A friend of mine from high school has co-created an initiative called the #mothermanifesto. She charges all women from all walks of life to band together in support of being a #mother. While I know that a simple pledge is not going to be life-altering or grant me more sleep at night, I do find encouragement in a band of sisters lifting each other up in support. Sometimes, you just need to reinforcement that you are not alone. There are other #mothers out there who have to flake out on their college buddies for important events. Because, you know, you have kids. And no babysitter to be found. And you are renovating your kitchen. And those weekend hours are spent at the library picking up site-word books for your kid that is starting school in the fall. Or making Costco runs and freezer meals for the upcoming week.

So, here I am – very transparent. Letting you know that I am riding this ride with you sweet mother. I feel your struggle and I know the way your brain is rationalizing decisions. I signed the manifesto because I want others to feel my digital embrace and to know that they are not along. If you feel the need to encourage, you can sign the manifesto here, and order the cool #mother shirt here.

Back To The Basics | Living Life With Less

Budda Quote_CissyRomano.comHave you ever seen those programs about tiny houses? The ones where the people live in spaces under 500 square feet? If you haven’t – check out this YouTube channel. Absolutely fascinating. While this lifestyle would never work for me right now, it got me thinking if one day I would be able to live with a minimal number of possessions – truly live with only what I need. I’ve been intrigued by this lifestyle for at least a handful of years. It was only recently that I started making changes in my own life to get closer to this minimal way of living.

Regardless of what you have going on in your life and the number of warm bodies (human and furry friends) you are responsible for, have you ever spent an entire Saturday or Sunday cleaning up your crap? I’ll take that as a resounding YES – even if you aren’t admitting to it now, we’ve all had to take time out of our valuable and precious weekends to sort our things out. Call it “spring cleaning” or whatever you want – it exists. And it stinks. It makes you realize real quick that you are an adult and that being an adult is just not fun sometimes.

So this whole minimalist movement is about solving that problem. What if you controlled your living space and possessions instead of these things controlling you? Admit it – its intriguing right? And completely counter-intuitive to our Western culture where more is more and less is less. What if less really was more?

As I mentioned before, my husband and I have already started making smallish changes in an effort to explore this new less-is-more lifestyle. It was easy to get him on board by merely talking about how much time we would save on our weekends and dedicated free time if we weren’t having to do mounds of laundry and spend hours picking up the explosion of toys that happens immediately after the previous pick-up session.

My first step happened in January of this year – I started in my closet. Clothes seemed to be the easiest starting place for me as I am not emotionally attached to clothing. My reason for having so many items of clothing was practical and rational for this point in my life. My body has endured so many changes over the past 6 years – I have grown and delivered three human beings, so of course my body shape has been all sorts of shapes and sizes during this time period. I was hanging onto clothing with plans in mind of not being as large or round in certain body areas forever. OK, so its taking longer than I would like for this to happen. I’ve accepted it and I have now parted with the variety of sized clothing in my closets. It is still not where I want to be – I need to shed some more – but it is better than it was when I started.

My second step was our kitchen – again out of rational thinking – we are about to undergo a much-needed kitchen reno next month, and therefore we need to have all the crap that we don’t use out of the way so its easier to work around the reno and store our belongings. I have 4 of the same-sized pyrex! How does that happen? I also shed our old plates we received from our wedding. We had more than we needed and the majority of them were chipped anyway. We upgraded to stark white plates, which I am obsessed with and they bring joy to me every time we sit down to eat.

After the kitchen purge, I watched a review of a book that seemed to be taking over people’s conversations (in the social/web community I take part in): The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo. Her book basically summed up everything that I was reading and watching that was inspiring me to make these changes. I picked the book up in hopes that it would help me organize my plan of attack for this new exploration of mine. I’m about half-way through the book and it is amazing. And life-changing. And magic. I highly recommend it.

This past weekend we purged toys. It was amazing. It was joyful. My house smiled when we finished. My children did not even notice. Again, I feel we could purge even more, but this was an awesome starting point. My next attack will be my closet again. I plan on documenting my process now that my house is not as embarrassing. Had you only seen where I started.

I can tell you that so much peace has already come upon me and my family. After three months of slowing chipping away at the over-abundance of STUFF that was taking over our lives, I have never felt so at-ease walking into my home. It is slowly but surely becoming a place I enjoy spending my time.

Have you been intrigued by this minimalist movement? Have you tried changes in your own life? Please share with me any successes or failures you have experienced. I hope at the end of the day the promise of minimalism comes true, and I hope you enjoy our journey.

I feel a “Namaste” is an appropriate exit of this post. So, namaste.

Cissy

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Real Life Mom | Gwyenth Paltrow Has A Tough Life

I mean, Gwyneth Paltrow has it rough. And for a minute, I was wondering how I was going to survive the day. Screen Shot 2014-03-28 at 9.29.22 AM

Recently, Ms. Paltrow sat down with E! News and discussed taking a break from her demanding job so she could go back to being a mommy. I definitely pat her on the back for getting her priorities in line. However, I never realized that all of the stress I experience as a full-time working mom is NOTHING compared to the stress she experiences from being on set 2 weeks out of the year. Gosh, I bet those 12 consecutive 14-hour days are hell!

See, I thought I had it hard. Waking up to screaming babies at 2 am. Taking an hour to put them back to bed just to turn around and wake up two hours later to start my day at 5. Then dropping my kids off at daycare when the doors open at 7am so I can make it downtown to sit at my easy office job for a mere 9 hours – head back to pick my three cranky, lovelies up – make dinner for my family of five – clean bottles and dishes and pump parts – make bottles for the next day – somewhat “clean” the damage from the tornado that hit the inside of my house – bathe all 3 children – feed babies – read stories – fight with three year old about going to bed – put babies to bed – then…. look at the clock, it’s 9pm. Time to do it all over again. I have it soooo easy compared to Ms. Paltrow.

Maybe her marriage failed because her life is so demanding. I’m sure Ms. Paltrow doesn’t have any help with the cooking and cleaning and butt-wiping and temper tantrums. I’m sure she never gets any alone time to recover from being needed 110% of the time. It must be terrible to have to miss school-events and the carpool pick-up. I wouldn’t know anything about that.

I have a boss who thinks its totally cool to miss half a day on Valentines Day so that I can make it to the preschool Valentine’s Day party – NOT. And I probably would think less of him if he was cool with it. He would also probably laugh in my face if I told him I needed to cut out 3 hours early every day to make the carpool pick-up line at school. Most businesses operate in 6-hour day, right?

I bet it is hard to have so much flexibility with your job that you can cram all of your year’s work into two weeks so that you can free up the remaining 50 weeks of the year to dedicate to your children. I bet thats why it is so hard to appreciate those gruling 14-hour work days.

Ms. Paltrow, you should definitely quit your career and pick up an office job. You are right – it is so much easier working a 9-5er (more like 7:30-5:30er). Thank you for bringing it to my attention of how ungrateful I am.

Mamas Know Best. It only took me 30 years to understand that.

32056_815193803195_1880974_n“You’ll understand when you have your own kids.” Man, I must have heard those words spit from my mother’s mouth a billion times when I was growing up. I say “spit”, because I she was in a constant state of being pissed at me because I was ALWAYS in trouble – for my mouth. I never got into normal teen-trouble growing up because I was constantly grounded for the way I fought and talked back to my mother. How she manages to love me today is beyond me because I was terrible!

So, the day before her 57th birthday, I am reflecting on how appreciative I am of the Mother I have been so blessed with. She is a quiet woman who has an inner strength capable of moving mountains. Although, she does not believe this. She is gorgeous – the kind of gorgeous that will never fade. She is not materialistic because she never had the liberty of learning what it would be like to be materialistic. She raised three kids with only a mere year31998_805085829655_6648410_n spread in age between them each. She worked hard for a very long time so that we were able to have the very best opportunity at education. She is only just now learning how to take time for herself and indulge in small luxuries – like reading a book in peace and quiet.

She spent countless months away from her life, her husband, and her family to be with me and my brother’s family for the birth and the few months after with each of my children and my brother’s children. Stepping in to help when we needed her the most.

Did I mention how terrible I was growing up?

For me, she is the best example of a woman.

How to: road tripping with babies!

When I was thinking about what I wanted to title this post, I thought to myself: Self, you should label it “Road trips with babies – DON’T DO IT!”. Ha – but that would be unreasonable. Because, as I found out and I’m sure others before me discovered as well, you sometimes just don’t have a choice.

My Sweet Emma

My Sweet Emma

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Rosie!

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Laid-Back Lorelei

The beauty of being raised by parents who encourage you to take charge of your life and make the most of your oppotunities is that you end up experiencing some of the coolest places, people and things that you wouldn’t ordinarily if you lived life day-to-day. With all things, the are downsides to beautiful things in your life. My family is scattered across the United States. My brother moved to Indiana from D.C. a couple of years ago for grad school and I have yet to go visit him and his family. Thankfully – life forced me to head up there this past weekend. He was baptizing the newest addition to his family, baby Patrick. I’m pretty sure I would not earn any points with St. Peter if I didn’t even attempt at attending such an important event in a little Catholic’s life!

So, last Friday, my husband and I hurried through a half-day at work and then took 2 hours (we had planned for 30 minutes) to load up the 8 Vera Bradley bags, two Graco pack-n’plays, 1 sparkly backpack loaded with God-only-knows toys, 2 iPads, 3 sets of ear phones, three car seats, bags of pump parts and bottles and cleaning supplies, boxes of snacks and sippy cups, red bull and other forms of caffeine, no gas medicine or teething medicine for the babies, and two stressed and fighting parents. We left behind the 3 huge boxes of clothes that I was pumped about dumping on my brother for his 2nd daughter to use as well as baby Patrick’s Baptismal gift.

MOM fail #1: Plan breaks into your ETA.

We had planned ahead at least, dividing the trip up into two parts instead of powering through in order to make it to South Bend by 1am that morning. So glad we had some sanity remaining to break the trip up. We made it to my sister-in-laws house by 9 that night – we were supposed to arrive around 7. When you are planning a trip with children, simply add 2 hours to the duration so to plan for 30 minute bathroom stops as well as a minimum of 45 minute break for meals. A break for meals is a must – babies, toddlers and preschoolers can not keep focus for 3 minutes, what made me think that they would not need to break out of their car seats after 5 hours of driving?? Mom fail #1.

At the rest stops or gas station bathrooms – expect the changing table to be unusable (if there even is one). And once we passed through to the Eastern time zone it was much too cold to change in the van with the door open. We improvised and survived, but please equip your diaper changing set-up to completely cover the changing station in these facilities. Plus, bring along enough anti-bac to make it through a wild outbreak of the next bird-flu.

Mom fail #2 – ENTERTAINING YOUR CHILDREN FOR A LONG CAR TRIP.

I remember back to around 2009 BC (BC = before children) when I promised myself that when I had children, we would never invite a DVD player into our car. We would only play games on road trips and color and do other educational activities. Right – well, I was young and dumb… about a lot of things. We have one device completely dedicated to videos and episodes to entertain our oldest for a max of 12 hours (enough time to get us to my hometown, Houston). Do not head out on a trip if this device is not fully charged and your adapter for the car is not readily accessible. Or, prepare yourself for an epic meltdown. If you have not experienced this already – be prepared to not be able to recognize your sweet, angelic three-year-old after they have been watching movies on an iPad for more than a solid two hours. WOW. They should do a psychological study on that. For sure.

Mom fail #3 – Pack junk food.

For this particular trip, I packed protein-packed, healthy snacks like almonds and hummus and pretzels. We lasted an hour. I’m pretty sure we were still in North Birmingham when we stopped for chips and chocolate. Healthy food is a crock when you set out on a family adventure, crammed in a car for an entire day with each other. Just pack the junk food – it won’t kill you to eat crap for a day. It will make you and your spouse happy. And that makes for a happy trip.

Mom fail #4 – Check the weather.

So, Spring has already started teasing us in the South. We had a week or more of 65+ degree weather. I had already packed up most of the turtlenecks and fuzzy sweaters. Why, when I knew I was headed to Indiana, where there is still snow accumulating? I blame “Mom Brain” (yes, that is a thing). So, I improvised. We bundled our kids up in double socks and the fluffy blankets I brought to make the pack-n-plays less like a rock for the twins to sleep on. I almost thought it couldn’t get worse than the 38 degrees we arrived in on Saturday morning. The 14 degrees the next day was much worse. Plus – I had no idea what the wind chill changed to when you were near Lake Michigan. Heads up… its cold. So cold.

So, all in all. I hope you learn from my failures. If you are anything like me, preplanning is no joke while working full-time, taking care of three little ones and preparing your house to go under major renovation in the next couple of weeks. BUT, preplanning and a little organization will definitely take  you so far and make your trip so much more enjoyable.

We throughouly enjoyed seeing a family and spending time with everyone. I wish I had been less stressed. I wish I had not forgotten the gas medicine for the girls. I wish I had not eaten the refried beans at the Mexican restaurant on Saturday. But, no regrets! Just learn from the mistakes and move on.

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My Emma and my brothers girls at the baptism.

We baptized sweet Patrick on Sunday and had an awesome time celebrating such a beautiful moment in his little life. I am beyond proud of my brother and it made the trip worth it to see him so happy with his growing family. I wish little Patrick a God-filled life and I trust 100% that my brother and his wife with see to it that it happens. Lots of love filling my heart this morning. I don’t even mind sipping out of my South Bend souvenir this morning (in privacy, of course – ROLL TIDE).

My South Bend Souvenior

My South Bend Souvenir

I’d love to hear your tips for traveling with wee-ones – please leave a comment below!

Happy Tuesday!