Friday, December 30, 2011

Fitting it all in....still figuring it all out

I will be the first to admit that my schedule is absolutely insane.  I have a full-time job and on either side of that job, I do what I really love: teaching fitness classes.  I teach at 6(am) during the week on most days during the week and in the evenings on three days and then on then I kick off Saturdays with an 8(am) class.  There is a long commute on both sides of this to my full-time job.  Evenings are chaos, getting home @ 6ish, dinner, homework, bath time, bedtime, prepping lunches, laundry, cleaning...some times it feels like the same day every day.

Moving to Marin from San Francisco threw my life into more of a tailspin than I imagined.  While better for the kids (schools, neighborhood friends, etc), it meant that all of a sudden I was no longer 7 minutes from my kids at all times, I was about 90 minutes or even longer in bad traffic.  It meant I was no longer a quick ride to work, I had to plan plan and plan some more once I left the house because there was no turning back.
When we first moved, our kids were still finishing the school year in SF and I was still teaching fitness classes in the mornings there while I tried to get classes in Marin.  Scrambling to leave the house by 5:20(am) was just nuts.  Once I forgot my son's shoes and pants on a field trip day.  Many times I forgot underwear and socks (for all of us).  My daughter could've cared less what I forgot, she was in her Toy Story obsession stage and wore her Toy Story PJs to work every day (convenient).  One morning I remembered everyone else's stuff BUT I forgot my work clothes - CRAP.  This is one of those times where you have to thank your lucky stars for having a wonderful husband because he drove all the way home to get my clothes and then bring them back.  On the UPSIDE (yes, there is one) this gave us lots of time with the kids.  We would swim with them in SF, have dinner out with friends with the kids, etc - but I was exhausted, never making it to bed before 11(pm) and back up at 4(am) the math folks, it's not enough sleep.

I tried to offset not being with the kids as much by getting involved in everything at their schools and signing them up for lots of activities.  I took on co-room parent at one school and co-chaired the PTL and the annual auction at another hindsight - WTH was I thinking?  Was this helping my kids?  Maybe yes, maybe no.  Was I feeling less guilty about being away from them so much?  Not really.  You know what I was feeling - REALLY EXHAUSTED!
I did start moving classes over to Marin in the mornings, but everything still seemed chaotic and I was feeling physically lousy - almost flu-like far too often.  No energy.  Weight was going up and down and I was definitely not feeling or looking like a fitness/health role model.  After months of blood work and other tests with my Naturopath, the verdict was in - adrenal failure, serious vitamin B deficiency, bad hormones too high, good hormones too low...I'm not expert, but this did NOT sound good.  I started all of my supplements and my 2x per weekly injections of B12 (as someone who hated getting shots as a kid, I had to get really comfortable very quickly with giving myself shots).  After two months with the supplements, my Naturopath gave me the hard cold was time to SLEEP MORE eat MEAT (she actually said I could stand to eat some Buffalo)...WTF?!?  I was Vegan - for nearly 13 years - this was going to be interesting!  I started on enzymes to reintroduce the acids that my stomach needed to break down meat.  Okay, so I am taking the enzymes, but we still have a problem - the smell of meat and seafood makes me want to VOMIT.  Baby steps, I decided; just baby steps.  I started with eggs.  I did what I know best ~ I made egg scrambles, omelets and frittatas with lots and lots of vegetables.  I did this for months.  I was feeling a little better, but I knew that I had more work to do.  This fall I added Chicken...makes sense right ~ egg to chicken.  Grilled & baked ~ finally, my family was happy!  Something we could ALL eat together...what a novel concept.  Was there a chance that this change would not only improve my health but MAYBE, just maybe I could also cross "Short Order Cook" off my mommy resume - AWESOME!   I managed to add Turkey here and there, but have had little success with any other 4-legged animal (and definitely not one that swims) without wanting to vomit.  Now as for the SLEEP MORE, getting more organized has helped, but at the end of the day, what I really need is about 3 more hours to the day - how many other working moms out there would love that too?!?

As I started to solve one problem, I realized that I really needed to find ways to simplify my life or I would create another problem.  Finances haven't allowed for a house cleaner (trust me, we cut out all unnecessary expenses, but a new house, two small kids and lots of bills to juggle - house cleaner had to stay off the list for at least another year), so house cleaning, laundry, cooking, homework, etc - it takes a lot of coordination and juggling - let me tell you - I AM STILL FIGURING THIS OUT.  There are times when I am a total ROCK STAR and other days I seriously fall flat on my face.

I grocery shop on Saturday and cook/prep food on Sunday.  For those working moms who do this, you know that prepping and cooking food for a week and trying to plan out meals is an all day affair.  I get out for a run in the morning and then I basically park myself in the kitchen for the remainder of the day.  I also sweep, mop, dust and clean the main bathroom on Sundays.  If I am lucky, I fold remaining laundry...if not, I wear stuff out of the basket during the week...if you are getting the image that I am probably not all that put together when I arrive at work - then you are ABSOLUTELY right.  I am hardly a vision of loveliness getting from place to place, getting ready out of a backpack (which is so massive to carry stuff for teaching, toiletries & work that I look like I am going backpacking through Europe - thank goodness for a strong core), riding a scooter (helmet head looks so lovely) and taking public transportation, etc.  On the upside, I work hard, so I think that offsets that, at 41, I look less than professional in the office (not to mention I work for one of those private technology companies).  While all this coordination does make things easier during the week, what it also means is that I rarely have that precious time to play and have fun with the kids.
AGAIN, this is obviously NOT a perfect solution...but again, I am STILL FIGURING IT ALL OUT.

What I am incredibly lucky to have?  A great, and I mean great, husband.  He is an amazing dad and a really good husband.  He helps in so many ways: drop offs, pick ups, tends to the outside of the house, fixes/builds stuff for the house, catches those pesky rats.  He puts 100% effort into trying to help with folding the laundry and I am grateful, though sometimes all the clothes get mixed up in different places and some things have to be refolded...why do I spend 2 sentences talking about laundry?  With 2 adults and 2 active kids and 2 parents who exercise, I do between 10-12 loads of laundry a week - yep, that's a lot of f@$#king laundry.  What he is really best at is filling in those missing links with the kids - doing those things that I am not great at doing.  YES - I can admit it, I am NOT perfect and I have some shortfalls, so I have to play up my strengths.

As I am on this ongoing journey to FIGURE IT ALL OUT (you know, that life stuff, balance stuff, diet stuff, etc), I realize that there is A LOT of trial and error.  I know that I am a completely insane, Type-A control freak who likes to be in complete control of everything at all time.  Ironically, while I DON'T like chaos, my life is PURE CHAOS.  Since I know that the days will not magically get longer, I keep on pushing forward and challenging myself to: breath, stop and smell the roses, play games with my kids, be a better wife, carve time out for me (seem selfish?  not if it is what is necessary to be a better mom - this is seriously long overdue) and spend more time doing what I love most with those that I love most.

As I stumble, fumble and continue to make mistakes, I remember what my 6-year old son said to me a few months back when I was frustrated with myself for not getting to school to pick him up on time: "That's okay Mommy, I forgive you, so now you can forgive yourself."  Sometimes kids are so much smarter than us adults.  Hopefully it won't take me another 3 weeks to write another post for this blog....Birthday Post coming up next.

~ Amy

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Welcome to Urban Mommy Mayhem...get ready to laugh, cry and be inspired!

Thanks for visiting my blog.  Back when I first envisioned this blog we were living in San Francisco.  I was trying to juggle being a full-time working mom with two young kids and that seemed challenging on its own.  Fast forward 3 years and I am still a mommy who wishes she were Urban, but was transported to Suburban life in Marin.  Now I am (sub)Urban Mommy trying to juggle jobs, kids and a long daily commute.  I am often a good employee; hopefully sometimes a good mommy; and try my best to be a good spouse.  My blog shares candid stories that working moms can relate to.  My blog is a journey of how I am trying to do it all...sometimes successfully, other times I fall flat on my face.  My blog is a journey of my desire to try and find some balance in my life physically/mentally for me and definitely for my family.  I invite you to laugh and cry with me as you read about some of my most embarrassing mommy moments as well as some of the humbling realizations that trying to be all for everyone all the time can have some really negative consequences.

It seems like my very first post should be a recap of how I got to where I am today and the challenges that I face as a full-time working mom.  I graduated from law school in 2002 and was working for one of the largest law firms in the world.  It wasn’t long before I realized that (1) I liked being a law student far more than I liked being a lawyer and (2) I did not like the type of law I was practicing.  Switching firms didn’t help.  At the end of 2003, I met my husband and by October 2004 I was engaged and pregnant (yes, in the same weekend).  I didn’t have an easy pregnancy and was taking a lot of time off of work, which didn’t sit well with my new firm, so I decided to quit.  I was committed to having a peaceful pregnancy, not a stressed out one.  I had read all the books and joined mothers groups, certain that if I did yoga and took pottery classes, I would have this amazingly peaceful child who slept through the night and was happy all the time.  I look back now and laugh at how naive I was at age 34.  

For those moms who paid their way through college/grad school, you know how painful those loans can be,  I graduated with just shy of $170,000 in school loans – yes, the price of a decent house in many parts of the country.  Had I stayed in the big law firm, with the big salary, managing the payments would’ve been okay…but with more than 8 years of payments and many more to go, the loans have been a thorn in my side.  I am not sure if I would’ve been the best stay-at-home mom, but I haven’t had the option of testing those waters, so onward I go through this maze of mommy mayhem.

Over the past six years I have straddle the line between legal work and the fitness world, which is my true passion.  I have been in work and out of work and juggled family finances to make things work during the lean times.  I have juggled multiple jobs with lengthy commutes while trying to be a room parent and the co-president of the PTL.  I have volunteered for fundraisers, classroom events and field trips hoping this would offset my being at work while my kids’ friends moms dropped them off at school and picked them up each day.

When we lived in San Francisco, so many of the families had both parents working and we were always within 10 minutes of the kids, so even though it was always chaotic, it seemed manageable.  The move to Marin, albeit so wonderful for the kids, has adding a degree of chaos that I could have never imagined.  While “seemingly” healthy and totally together, again – I stress SEEMINGLY, I have had some eye opening experiences about my health, my kids, my marriage and what really makes me happy in life.

Being a working mom, has equated to some seriously hysterical, embarrassing and tear filled moments.  I invite you on this journey as I try to create balance for myself and my family, try to cherish moments with my kids more, try to spend more time with my husband and try to recognize that, at the end of the day, I can’t always be Superwoman.