Direct Sales (Elsewhere)

Am I the only one who finds it disrespectful when my family and friends relentlessly pursue me as a customer for novelties that 1) I would never use, and 2) I could never justify buying, even if I thought they had value?

In the last few months, I have received a barrage of messages from family and friends who have entered into a variety of direct sales business, selling everything from anti-aging cream, to natural products, to tiny sticky films to put on my nails. Through social media and even individual texts and phone calls, these family members and friends send messages that offer free samples and ask me to “like” their business Facebook pages to meet a quota. There’s always a guilt trip involved “I only need one more customer to meet my quota, which will really help my family” or “Do you want to learn about a really amazing, life-changing business opportunity? Call me today.”

Some have even mailed my son gifts for his birthdays and then solicited my business to replenish the supplies (that went largely unused) just a month or so after. We appreciated the gifts and found them thoughtful at first, but that feeling was quickly replaced by disappointment when it became apparent that the thoughtful gesture was based on ulterior motives–to get us interested in the products and buy more.

I have tried to firmly express my intentions not to buy, but when people are drinking the company Kool-Aide, they can’t understand why I don’t want to spent $84.00 on a baby care set with four bottles of lotiony substances. My son doesn’t use lotion. He doesn’t use bubble bath. I can’t afford $32.00 for a 6 ounce bottle of natural sunscreen. Even if I could, I wouldn’t because that’s a total fucking waste of money. I can get natural sunscreen for much cheaper elsewhere. “But it isn’t as good,” one relative would likely retort. “Nothing matches Arbonne’s quality and safety for children. It’s vegan and gluten free.”

Recently when a long-time friend kept soliciting my business for Concoria anti-aging cream, I came right out and said (in response to her sales text), “I want to be your friend, not your customer.” I shouldn’t feel guilty for saying this, but I still do. Maybe I should have let it go and kept my frustration to myself, but I was on edge from the frequency of these types of group texts, Facebook messages, instant messages, emails.

I love this friend. She is a SAHM. Her hubby is a school teacher. They have two beautiful children. She’s trying damn near everything to make ends meet. I would absolutely help her in other ways that didn’t turn me into a blinking, glowing dollar sign in her company database. Need a date night with the hubby? Let us babysit. Need help cleaning your house, no problem. Need me to pick your daughter up from pre-school so the baby can sleep longer? That’s what friends are for.

I don’t want to buy lotions or hand bags or overpriced baby clothes at a “pop-up boutique.” I just want to hang out, talk about life, let our kids play together, grab a bite to eat like we used to.

I want a real friendship, one where the value of our friendship isn’t connected to monthly sales figures and bonuses.

 

 

 

 

Daycare and Preschool Costs

I’ll be damned if I missed the local pre-school expo being held in my city. It happened on a snow day, which got me all off my game because my family was home, and I lost my normal M-F work-brain focus. I intended to go, just to get as much information about our options, but for some reason, I got it in my head that it was happening on Wednesday, not Tuesday. I even had the correct date and time on my google calendar, which usually helps. Still, I planned my Wednesday around it, and then I realized, right as I was preparing to go to the thing, that it had already happened.

My main concern is trying to find a place for my son to thrive in the future before going to public school without it kicking our feet out financially. The place he goes now is amazing–an in-home daycare about 15 minutes from our house. It’s such a loving and comfortable place with a great teacher. The only problem is writing that huge check at the beginning of the month; it makes me literally sick to my stomach and causes us to live beyond our means. I just wonder, now that he’s getting a little older, if we can find another place that would be good for him but that doesn’t cost us, on average, over $1000/month.

There has to be another way . . .

I hear from other families who have found creative way to save on daycare. Some freelancers and people who often work from home do a swap with others in the same situation so they can have a solid day of work each week. Others work more at nap time and at night, and spend the daytime with their children. Some just hire a mother’s helper to occupy the child while they get work done at home. Some try to get a little bit done in 15 minute bursts while their kids are occupied with screens or other activities. I see other people making this work and wonder if I could make some sacrifices to be able to keep my son home a couple days per week and save on daycare costs.

I know that my son gets a lot out of going to daycare. I know that daycare is a temporary expense. In two years, our son will be in public school, and this will be a distant memory. Maybe I should just keep sucking it up and writing the check. Or maybe I should start calling around. That pre-school expo sure would have saved us a lot of research time (and maybe money).

You have nothing to prove

Recently, my niece (we’ll call her “H” here) was feeling embarrassed because she had announced that she would take a 24-week trip to two third-world countries to volunteer as an English teacher. For weeks, she couldn’t think about or talk about anything else. She even gave her workplace a six month notice that she would be leaving her entry-level post in the apartment leasing office. She expected her employer would be happy for her. Instead, they replaced her with a new employee and demoted her for the months leading up to her trip.

After she told her boss about her trip, she was free to make a big announcement to her entire Facebook community that she would be volunteering in both India and Nepal. The excitement in her message was palpable. She received many responses of support and caution from friends and family.

She put her deposit down on the trip. She signed up for an online program to learn how to teach English to speakers of foreign languages. She started eating Indian food.

Then, as time ticked on, she started having second thoughts about going away for six months. She cut the trip back to two months. Then she decided that she didn’t want to go at all anymore.

But she was embarrassed to admit her change of heart because she had made her trip plans so public.

I could absolutely understand her hesitation. She had tried to be brave, to take a different route than her peers, to break a mold, to be worldly, and she let everyone be part of that big dream.

But if she doesn’t want to go, she shouldn’t go just to save face. She knows that. But she still continued to worry about what others would think of her.

My partner doesn’t often say a lot, but when she doles out advice, I always close my big mouth and listen.

“You have nothing to prove to anyone,” Cindy said to H.

H is only 21 years old. She was 20 at the time. The world is huge. The options are limitless. She dreams big. She is innocent and hopeful about everything, which is incredibly beautiful. But she worries too much about what other people think. (Don’t we all?) She wants to prove herself to the world right this second. But Cindy is right. H doesn’t owe anything to anyone but her honest self.

I’m going to be 40 in about seven months, yet I needed to hear that advice too. I find that I spend too much of my time trying to gain approval from people who probably either 1) approve of me already or 2) don’t matter all that much. Sometimes I run myself ragged trying to win the love and attention of others. When I found out our daycare provider (J), who I admire as a caregiver, mother, and person, would be coming to my son’s birthday party at our home, I became a homemaking tornado to prove to J that I was an adequate mother.

Mind you, I already know I’m a good mom. My son is now two years old and thriving. He’s kind and empathetic and smart and healthy. My housekeeping skills aren’t perfect, but that’s just the reality of our lives: we are two parents working 40+ hours per week each and caring for a toddler. Still, I wanted to present the appearance of having all of my sh!t together.

Am I really that insecure? Do I really think that making perfect homemade mac and cheese or having a clean house with no dog-hair dust bunnies will prove my overall worth to others and allow me to gain the respect I crave?

I find myself most attracted to people who don’t try so hard, people who are really comfortable in their own skin; yet, I’m still so eager overexert myself to win others’ approval. Like H, I put others opinions of me ahead of my own wants, needs, and desires. I probably could have spent more quality time with my son had I not felt this desperation to present myself as super mom at a two-hour party. (Ironic, huh?) I need to stop doing that. I need to continually reevaluate what matters most–my time with my own friends and family, reduced anxiety, and letting go of things that I can’t control. That includes other people’s impressions of the honest version of me.

I am adding Cindy’s advice to my daily mantra: “You have nothing to prove.”

Yelling at the Seed

Though this isn’t a blooper or blunder, I think it’s something most moms can relate to. As you may know, my son, Joey, is 18.5 months old. My partner and I were talking last night about how much he’s changed over the course of the past three or four months, let alone the last year and a half. The tiny baby stages are a distant memory.

infant hand hold

Photo Credit: Judith Klein, Helping hand

Yesterday, when I picked Joey up from daycare, all the kids were outside playing. On the covered patio, our daycare provider’s mother-in-law (Nana) held a six week baby named Riggins. Riggins is the sibling of a 2.5 year old named Rohn who goes to daycare with Joey. Riggins has just begun vising Ms. Jenny’s house to get acclimated. He will be there full time once his mom goes back to work in a few weeks.

The point is, I asked Nana if I could hold Riggins.

When I put his cheek to mine and supported his neck with my hand, I exhaled big. I could intellectually remember how it felt to hold a tiny baby, but the flood of emotion that I experienced made me realize that I–the one who wasn’t sure she could be a (good) mom–am absolutely in love with babies.

On our journey to try to conceive a second child, holding Riggins was both a good and bad idea. I’m still quite sad about the miscarriage we experienced in December at two-months pregnant. I think what if I will never have another of my own? I’m nearly 40. Time is running out. Then I think about my love for Joey and know we would be just fine as a family of three. Then I think about how much I wish he could have a sibling to grow up with. And in the moment of holding a six-week-old baby, all I thought is please God, can I please have just one more tiny soul to nurture?

I want another child. But I’m trying to practice the art of letting things be the way they will. My friend Cathy and I were talking yesterday. sunflower-2542_640She used an analogy relayed to her from a friend. She said that when you want a seed to grow, you just have to water it and step back and wait to see what will happen. You can’t hold the seed in your hand and yell “GROW!!!” and get results. I’m trying to practice this idea and take lots of deep breaths and to accept whatever comes. I have no control, though all my life I have had this illusion that I had more power than I did.

“What can I do to increase my chances?” I asked the doctor. I was surprised when my eyes filled up with tears as the words exited my lips.

“Just live a healthy lifestyle, like you’re already doing,” he said.

I wish there were more that I could do. I’ll keep using agave nectar in my decaf coffee and drive past the 25 fast food places I encounter on my way home from work without letting myself be tempted.

I will also refrain from yelling at the seed.

18 Months of Momhood

I’ve been a mom for 18 months. We’ve gone through struggles with breastfeeding, struggles with sleep, struggles with eating, struggles with illnesses, and struggles finding balance in the midst of it all.

When people try to help a new mom by saying that everything in newbornhood is a short stage that passes, it seems so cliche and unhelpful. I mean, when you are a mom who desperately wants to be able to provide breastmilk for your baby and have to give him formula at times, this advice makes you want to punch someone in the face and cry. At least it did for me. Not having enough milk for my son felt like one of the biggest failures of my life (at the time).

When the child wouldn’t take a nap unless someone was holding him for two hours and we couldn’t get anything else done, people had all kinds of suggestions. They said to let him cry it out. They told me just to go with it because I’d miss getting to hold him someday soon. All I wanted was to have the flexibility to put him down in his crib so I could make a phone call or return an email or do his laundry or lie down in my own bed and rest. I wanted the option to find some balance.

But damnit.

Those assholes were right about some things.

I cried about ending my breastfeeding relationship with my son. I mean, I sobbed about it. It was such a special connection that only I got to have with Joe. I had barely any milk left anyway when he was 11 months old. That was over six months ago. I can still remember the feelings of inadequacy that I felt back then because of my low supply, but I honestly haven’t missed nursing him much at all. We’ve moved on to bigger and better things like 2% milk from the store and spaghetti, for heaven’s sake. All that struggle and beauty is just a distant memory now. Our relationship is developing. Now he can tell me how he feels and what he wants to eat. He can tell me what song he wants me to sing. He can dance that cute toddler dance right there in the kitchen while eating Kix from his high chair footrest. He can help me make him a fruit and veggie smoothie.

And the sleep thing…

At about 14 months of age, the little guy spontaneously started taking three-hour naps in his crib. He stopped wanting to be held much at all because he loves lying on his tummy and can’t exactly do that on my lap. One day he just decided he was gonna take one hell of a nap from that day forward. And so it is…for now.

He also started sleeping from 8pm until about 6:30am almost every night.

I admit that I wish he would let me hold him more now. He’s such a busy little guy that his snuggles are few and far between. I steal them from him when I can like when he first wakes up and for a few minutes before he goes to bed. I have faith that as he ages, he will become snuggly again. I imagine times when we all jump into bed together with a pile of pillows and blankets and books.

No stage lasts forever, but in the moment, mommy struggles seem like they will never end. They consume every waking moment and thought. But trust me, the breast pump has been collecting dust in the basement for over six months, and I have never missed its sound or sensation. My body also thanks me for not spending so many hours with my bum to the nursery chair.

We just figure this job out as we go. Cheers to you, moms.

You’ve got this.

Good Intentions vs. Reality

photoI moved to Colorado as a 22 year old because I loved the outdoors and was mildly obsessed with snowboarding. At the same time I was also mildly obsessed with playing ice hockey. As I’ve aged, I’ve continued to snowboard, but more occasionally than in my 20s and early 30s. I have had spells of playing travel ice hockey, rec league hockey, and no hockey at all. Still, I love these sports and always find my way back to them in some capacity.

***

photoscenic

During Christmas break, I wrote about our family’s stir-craziness. At that time, my partner and I were trying to figure out some winter outdoor activities that we could do together. She isn’t much into snowshoeing, has bad ankles and can’t ice skate, and isn’t interested in downhill skiing or snowboarding. So, we decided to buy a Living Social deal to try cross country skiing at the Frisco Nordic Center in Summit County. We were really excited about this idea. I’ve never XC skied. She did it with her family when she was young and has fond memories.

When we finally had a babysitter on a weekday in February, we sat in the kitchen having coffee and eating breakfast. The conversation went like this:

Me- “Do you still friscowant to go XC skiing?”

Her- “Do you?”

Me- “Not really. Do you?”

Her- “Not really.”

We just didn’t have the energy to find and load all of our snow gear into the car and drive 90 minutes up the mountain to try a sport that required so much energy. Our child makes us tired.

Instead, we drove 45 minutes up the mountain and went and played Texas Hold ‘Em Poker in Blackhawk, CO, a cute little mountain town.

***

We just don’t have the same amount of energy that we once did. When we have the choice between doing exhausting sports or playing cards, we’re likely to pick cards. If we have a choice between walking or running, we will choose walking. It seems crazy to think about doing anything that would make us more tired than we already are from working and parenting.

***

I had a miscarriage in mid-December at about 8 weeks pregnant. I was a total idiot. I really didn’t think this could / would happen to me. It was a total surprise because our first ultrasound at 6 weeks showed a visible, strong heart beat. At 8 weeks, the embryo’s heart had stopped beating. We had already started getting too far ahead of ourselves, picking out some new nursery furniture and talking about names.

I decided that as part of my healing process, I would do all of the things that I can’t do when I’m pregnant. I would indulge in all of the sacrifices that pregnant women make.

  • For me, first on the list was buying a ski pass to go snowboarding as much as possible.
  • Next on the list was to get out to open skate and play some drop-in hockey.
  • Third on the list was to enjoy a few pints of craft beer in social settings or an occasional glass of wine at dinner.
  • Fourth on the list was to eat lunch meat and drink coffee again.

photomountainI’ve used my snowboarding pass once. I paid over $250 dollars for said pass. I had a great time, but life is so damn busy with working full time and taking care of a toddler that my priority just couldn’t be placed on snowboarding, no matter how much I enjoy it.

I still haven’t gone ice skating.

I’ve had a few beers.

I’ve eaten some lunch meat.

I have had my share of coffee.

The pattern here is that anything that requires any amount of effort to follow through on just hasn’t happened. I had good intentions, but the reality is that I need to accept the fact that, at this point in my life, I may not be the Colorado adventurer that I was when I moved here.

I’m just not as rugged as I used to be.

Also, I need to accept that being a mom has changed me. I’m just not the same person who just happens to have a toddler living with her. Snowboarding, ice skating, hiking lots of miles are things I’ve enjoyed in the past and maybe again in the future. But right now, I am just doing the best I can to be a good mom, partner, and teacher. Hopefully, Joey will want to do some of these things together when he gets older. For now, being a cautious homebody doesn’t feel like a sacrifice.

Spring Break 2015

Spring Break 2015 has come and gone. We’re heading back to school this week to wrap up the spring semester. It’s been a wonderful week.

We saw lots of friends and family and even took part in some pre-Easter activities, or as I like to call them “bunnies and eggs” activities.

IMG_9219On Saturday, we went to the Parks and Recreation Bunny Breakfast and Joey’s first Easter Egg Hunt. Man, was that fun. I never knew how much I’d enjoy the simple little things we get to do as a family. I’m not being sarcastic here either. There is simply nothing better than seeing our little guy run and giggle simultaneously. Nothing.

We shoved syrupy pancakes in our smiling gobs with plastic forks and got a picture with the Bunny Himself. The little guy gathered about a dozen eggs in his basket in the two minutes that the massive city egg hunt lasted. I ran beside him, coaching him to pick them up and put them in his basket, and he did a great job.IMG_9265

Of course, he also thought it was pretty fun to dump all of the colorful eggs back onto the grass right after he collected them.

I love his non-attachment. He hasn’t learned to be competitive or greedy yet like so many of the rest of us. He’s not possessive of his goodies. I know that will come very soon, so I may as well revel in this moment for a second.

I am so very thankful for the gift of getting to be a mom of a toddler at the ripe age of (almost) 39. I got to see the world through an adventuring single person for a long, long time. I’ve had the freedom that so many long for. And now I have this anchor here at home that keeps my feet firmly planted (or as firmly as possible) on the ground.

IMG_9228Turns out, I love being anchored to my family even more than than I loved my knee-jerk freedoms. I never thought I would be able to honestly say that before I fell in love with this child of mine.

 

I’ve never smiled so much in my entire life as I have in the past 18 months with Joey.