why I quit

Well, it’s taken me a few months to come out with this, but I quit my day job.

Yup. Quit.

Good-bye.

Donesies.

You should know, first and foremost, I loved my day job.  Yeah, there were crappy days and sometimes crappy seasons, but I love to work.  I’m kind of a junky like that.

Specifically, I loved the people I worked for and with.  Every day was new and fresh and different. That was excellent.

But…

After a night of fitful sleeping (the twins did this sleep regression thing for like, a year, that just about ended me), I would awake to the sweet sound of my alarm clock.  Or, in a wave of terror and panic, I would awake to two eyes staring at me from three inches away from my face. Either way, most work mornings were terrible. Corralling twin two year olds, convincing them to wear the clothes I wanted them to wear (for expediency’s sake), getting them moving in the right direction (towards the door) and also making sure that I was presentable – all by 7 a.m. so that we could run out the door, stop at Starbucks, drop the girls at their sitter and arrive at work on-time – was a fiasco.  Nearly every day someone cried.  Maybe it was the twins. Maybe it was me.  Maybe it was a squall line of stormy tears that ended almost as quickly as it began.  Maybe it was a freaking hurricane that lasted two days (“Mom. Mom. MOMMY. Remember how yesterday SHE wore the pink dress and I didn’t?” Commence tears. For two days.).  But there were almost always tears trying to leave the house.

Oh, and last winter I was very pregnant and it was -20 several mornings.

It was … amazing? Yes. Amazing.  Like, amazing that I didn’t develop some sort of twitch.

Or maybe I did.

Anyway, that was just the mornings.  If I had night meetings, my mom (St. Mary Kay) did pick ups and I arrived home after bedtime, exhausted.  If I didn’t have night meetings, I picked up two tired and hungry two year old toddlers and schlepped them home to try to make something that looked like dinner that, very often, they wouldn’t eat anyway. And then, because hygiene has always been a priority in our house, I’d hose the kids off in a very unfun bath, sing “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” as fast as I could, and put them to sleep.

I’d like to pause right now and give a big shout out to single parents out there.

SINGLE PARENTS! Holy crap.  How do you do this, ALL THE TIME? Seriously.  Good for you. GOOD FOR YOU.  Single parents do not get enough credit or sleep or time off. While Frank was gone for four days each week, I was by no means a single parent.  I had a safety net that came home and let me sleep and made breakfast and did tuck-ins. And baths.  So, all I’m saying is, I have a strong appreciation for the legit single parents.  You rock.

So, back to me.

I did this three days a week.  On the fourth day, because Jesus is kind and my Mother-In-Law loves her grandchildren (St. Sandy), the kids would get to stay home and paint and color and have fabulous tea parties with GrahSandy.

And THEN, Frank would come home.  Now, while a lot of people do point out that he had the benefit of a full night’s sleep at a hotel and dinners out and so on, WHICH HE TOTALLY DID AND I NEVER FORGOT THAT FOR EVEN ONE MINUTE, the flipside is that he was staying in a hotel with paper-thin walls, in an uncomfortable bed and eating at Chili’s-type restaurants for every.single.meal.  As an aside, I do not actually want to know how his body has been chemically altered by that lifestyle, but if any scientists are curious about the effects of Chipotle-Chili’s-Panda Express-only food pyramid lifestyles, Frank is totally available.

And then he had a terrible commute to and from work.  Thanks to the brilliant Wright Amendment (which ended on 10/13/14 – woot!), Frank could never fly non-stop to Dallas from Midway for work.  He always had to stop. Sometimes he had to change planes.  No matter what, a generally short 2 1/2 hour flight would be dragged out at least an extra hour or so – possibly more.

Once he landed in Chicago, he had another hour to two hour drive home, depending on traffic.  His route often covered four Interstates/Tollways/Expressways, so every time he has to exit/enter a new road, there was a significant opportunity for a back up.

So that was fun for him.

Often he would walk in the door and I would launch the nearest twin in his general direction as a means of saying “hello darling.” He learned to reflexively drop the suitcase in order to catch the child.  He’s spry.

Fortunately I didn’t work on Fridays, so we used Fridays to catch up on stuff like seeing our children. And chores and paperwork.  And moving houses.  We moved houses last year.  I just finished unpacking recently.  So, yeah, we got that going for us.

And laundry.  Do you know how much laundry a family of four generates?  That’s nuts.  Now that there are five of us, we’ve reached epic levels of laundry.

I’m saying all of this to say that the way that our family was operating was unsustainable.

Considering all that we went through in order to have a family, I was realizing more and more that I was going to get to the twins 18th birthday and probably say, “What the crap was THAT?” in reference to their entire childhood.

That’s not cool.

And then we were adding a third child to this situation.

When Annie was born, I found myself looking at her little fingers and her little face and thinking/praying, “Thank you God for sending this baby to save me from myself.”

I don’t think that’s hyperbole; Annie’s birth probably saved our family from the future we were racing toward.

I would’ve kept working if we only had the twins.  I would’ve muscled through it and done the “grin and bear it” routine.  I would’ve missed events at school and stuff at work, feeling inadequate and terrible in both arenas. Frank and I would’ve put our marriage on ice and hoped there was something left when the kids went off to their small liberal arts colleges along the Mississippi River or in Upstate New York (or maybe a Big Ten school, I don’t really know).  We could’ve done it.  I would’ve done it.

It would’ve been a mess.

I wondered while I was pregnant with Annie how it would play out if I kept the crazy cycle going. And always, I just sort of knew, we couldn’t stop the landslide – so we better just sidestep it.

At first, when Frank and I started thinking about this change, we kept looking at our checkbook.  But, in an unspoken way, we kind of knew that God would provide and He seems to open and close doors for us in a weird way. We decided to trust this rhythm we had with God and we had with each other and make this move.

On my last day of work, I was filled with relief and … something else.  Turns out, thanks to an abundance of psychologists in my life, this other feeling was grief.

It was hard to quit. As I said before, I love to work.  I love projects and check lists and people and ideas and all manner of work-y type things.

I just do.  It’s weird, when I think of it, how much I do like to do these things.

So while it was hard to release the death grip I had on working, I did it.

I did it because I love my family. I love my husband and I love my children. I did it because all of those stupid cliches are sometimes true – people on their deathbeds don’t say, “Gee, I wish I worked more.” People dying say, “I wish I had more time with my family.”

I give mad props to the women who work and have families and can do it all.  That is awesome.  I so wanted to be that woman – the one who could work and, like day to evening Barbie, transition effortlessly to caring for my family with organic homemade food and manicured hands. It’s just that, for me, the reality is this: I. Can’t. Do. It.

In some ways I felt like I was a failure because I couldn’t do it all.  I couldn’t sustain all of these fires I had burning without getting burned myself.

Staying at home with the children is work, no doubt. And I went through a hazing week a few weeks ago that caused me to see my hairstylist earlier than normal to touch up my roots. My dear friend, St. Eve, had to increase her data plan due to the insane amount of text messages she received from me, many consisting of things like “Sweet Jesus help me!” and “OMG YOU WILL NOT BELIEVE WHAT JUST HAPPENED.” It got so ugly, she stopped reading my texts while eating.

Enough of that, though. (for now)

When the rays of sunshine are long, stretching across the floor of our office/study/gathering area and the twins are busy drawing a very important picture for me to review and Annie is spreading spit-up across her blanket and the floor; when the sink is happily full of dishes from meals eaten at home; when the girls’ fingers are prunes from long bath times playing; when we have a stack of books to read at bedtime from the library; when we can take our time walking to school in the morning holding hands and saying “hi” to Miss Leslie-the-Crossing-Guard (and Carrie can give her a flower); when our kitchen window is full of pictures and when the five of us are snuggled on a couch – when those moments and days and experiences happen, my heart is full and happy.

And when a whole bunch of other stuff goes down (future blog posts, maybe), I sometimes wish I could be somewhere else. Like at a job. Or hiding in my bathroom with the door locked.

But no matter the situation, this is a pretty awesome gig: this staying-at-home business.

SInce I’ve been at home, I wanted to blog more.  Write about Ellie and Carrie and Annie.  After all, this blog is for them. But no matter the blog posts I was writing in my head, I could never put them down because before I could write all of that, I had to write this.

So here it is. Sort of word vomit. Sort of an explanation.

To my daughters: if you work outside the home and have children, awesome. If you work outside the home and don’t have children, awesome (but get some dogs that I can spoil or travel a bunch so I can bore my friends at The Home with the minutia of your latest adventures). If you stay at home and have children, awesome.  If you stay at home and don’t have children, seriously, what are you doing? Go to work. Or volunteer. Geesh.

what are you eating? – WHAT ARE YOU EATING!?

In the 1993 classic Mrs. Doubtfire, Sally Field has an incredible moment in a very public restaurant when she discovers that Mrs. Doubtfire is actually her ex-husband, Daniel, dressed in drag.

“Daniel? Daniel?? DANIEL?? It was you- it was YOU?- it was YOU! The whole time… the whole time?  THE WHOLE TIME??”

Oh, the shock mixed with denial mixed with realization, all converging upon themselves simultaneously in an excellent mess.

Love it.

But lately, I found myself having the Sally-Field-My-ExHusband-Dressed-In-Drag-As-Our-Housekeeper moment on a lesser level.

Generally this happens when the girls are playing quietly on the floor in the family room.  Perhaps I am sitting and playing with one twin while the other goes nuts.  Or, sometimes I’ve stepped out of the room to load dishes into the dishwasher.  And still, there may be times that I am intently watching House Hunters and providing my own commentary on their home selections.

Whatever is going on, there is peace and quiet. I remember my mom saying that her most panicked moments were when there was quiet in the house. Quiet means that someone is doing something that they know they should not be doing.

It’s taken a while for this instinct to settle in, but I think I’ve firmly grasped the silence = trouble instinct. So when the not-so-subtle droning of baby babbling and innocuous crashing noises (dropping toys to check gravity, throwing dolls to check gravity, and unceremoniously dropping on their behinds from the standing position) stops and the reason is not apparent, I look over at the twins in a flash.

Sometimes this reveals that Carrie is trying to make her great escape, has gotten stuck and is now drifting off to sleep.  Sometimes this reveals that Ellie has found a remote control and is seconds away from turning the volume ALL THE WAY UP. OMG. (seriously, if you have poor bladder control, this is a liability)

And then, there are many times when the twins have stopped what they are doing because they found a day old puff/craisin/cheerio that fell under a couch or an interesting, and, by the way, DELICIOUS-looking fuzz on the floor. Oftentimes I catch them early in their investigative process.  This is where they pinch the item between their squishy little fingers and examine it very, very closely. And then? AND THEN! they put it in their mouth.

Wait – What?- WHAT?!

Who does that?

Toddlers, that’s who.

Crawlers, too.

If it is interesting, it must also, therefore, be DELICIOUS.

Duh.

If I catch them late in their fuzz investigations, they are already trying to subtly chew the fuzz.  You can see their little cheeks working away ominously.  And that’s when I have to do the sweep.

If you have kids, you know the sweep well.  You pinch their cheeks to open their mouths, stick your finger in and fish around for the object.

“What is in your mouth? – WHAT IS IN YOUR MOUTH?!”

Personally, I think the best time to ask ANYONE a question is when you have a finger jammed in their mouth and you are pinching their face. I also think it’s great to ask infants questions that they can’t answer.

Sometimes I’m relieved when all that I pull out is a day old craisin that they found. Sometimes I’m horrified at the items I pull out. I will not mention these fuzzy, insectish-like items here.

And it always ends the same: the girls always look at me as if to say, “What mom? What did you expect?”

When the phrase, “from the mouths of babes” was coined, I now know what they really meant.

Yuck.

twins, unplugged

Oh, how I wish this was a post about our dear daughters acoustic stylings.

Alas, it is not.

To really understand the full scope of what I am referring to, I must begin with what transpired on Friday night.

My dear, sweet, lovely cousin was in from Oregon.  Considering that I hadn’t seen her in years (perhaps as many as five years), I was really looking forward to catching up with her and introducing her to the twins.

In my mind, the meeting would be fit for heaven: my twin cherubic delights would be angelically smiling and cooing whilst my cousin oohed and ahhed over their perfect blue eyes, creamy complexions and amazing ability to grasp toys with their sweet little fingers.  It would be the makings of a Norman Rockwell portrait.

What transpired instead?  My eldest twin was, in fact, angelic.  She cooed and slept and was a delight.  My youngest twin cried – nay – screamed for the better part of an hour.  We took turns rocking, singing, cuddling, walking and soothing her.  The only pause in her blood curdling scream was to inhale and start over.

While my primary and initial thoughts were, “What is wrong with my sweet baby??!!” I must also confess that in the background of my brain, I was thinking, “What is wrong?  WHAT IS WRONG?? Why won’t the crying stop? We are going to be THOSE parents.  The ones that can’t control their children.  If our children turn out to be wild teenagers, everyone will point back to their infancy and this particular night and say, ‘Yes, we all saw it coming.’ Holy heckfire – please stop crying! I’ll buy you a pony!  I’ll buy you a car! I will tell everyone publicly that you are my favorite!  Please, please stop crying!”

It’s a good thing that those thoughts were only running in the background of my brain because the rational thoughts circulating in the foreground included, “Oh my gosh, what if she has a tumor that is rupturing and I’m sitting here trying to tell her to calm down and this is an EMERGENCY! Maybe we should go to the hospital?  Would I sound crazy if I suggested that we go to the hospital? Can tumors rupture? Ahh!”

And of course, my devoted and loving husband stood next to me, his brow earnestly furrowed saying encouraging and helpful things in a hissed whisper like, “What in the world do you think is wrong with her? What should we do?  Feed her? Change her?  Over stimulation?  When did she poop last?  Should we get a Q-Tip?”

Did I lose you at “Q-Tip?”  For seasoned parents, you may be familiar with the age-old parental horror show of using a rectal thermometer to stimulate, ahem, the bowels.  When our doctor first told us that the only option to get things moving in our preemie newborns was to gently insert a rectal thermometer, we both gagged silently and thought, loudly, “one-two-three-not-it!”

The first three day stint of no-poopies almost resulted in the use of a rectal thermometer.  We held baby Ellie in our arms and told her how much we would sooo appreciate it if she would get things moving.  Miraculously, Ellie ended the stand-off with a BM that resulted in Frank sending me the following text, “POOPIES!!!”

We breathed a collective sigh of relief.

Turns out that was a bit premature.

A week or so later, Ellie went almost four days.  For some reason the thermometer seemed too harsh to us, so we opted to go for the Q-Tip.  And it worked like a charm.

And so, last Friday we found ourselves trying to remember the last time we changed a poopie diaper.  Three days?  Four days?  Hmmm.

Out came the Q-Tips.

But no dice.

We decided to pack up the girls and head home.  By the time we got home, Carrie seemed to be in better spirits and went to sleep easily.

Saturday was fine.

Sunday seemed like it was going to be OK.  The girls slept almost 12 hours.  We had K-Fam time and I started getting ready to go to a bridal shower.

You know, an event with adults, lunch, punch, copious amounts of female giggling and cake.

I love cake.

In between finishing my make-up and taking my rollers out, Carrie lost her ever-loving mind.

I tried everything.  Frank looked at me and I looked at him.

“Q-Tip?” we were hopeful it would work.

Nevermind that we were up against a serious deadline – my sister was coming over to babysit while Frank got ready for work and I left for the shower.

Q-Tip: Fail.

Then we googled options and there was a site that suggested a baby enema.

I can’t even explain how that is executed.

Enema: Fail.

At this point I was sweating from rocking and “shhing” and going up and down the stairs.  There was no way my stick-straight hair was going to hold the curl today.  It was the least of my concerns.

Oh, and Ellie had decided she did not like all of the raucous crying and started whining.

I made a very adult decision: I could not go to the bridal shower. No cake for Mama Bear.

We called the doctor’s office’s answering service.  They doctor’s office’s answering service called the doctor.  The doctor called us.  Dear, lovely, wonderful doctor suggested a suppository.

When she explained to Frank how to administer said suppository, he replied, “Oh, our poor girl!”

The doctor chuckled.  “More like, poor you! I think the suppositories are worse for the parents!”

Lovely.

Frank went out and bought the suppository while I told Carrie that if she pooped now, she could make this all go away.

Reasoning: Fail.

We marched Carrie upstairs, administered the suppository (some things are left unexplained) and waited.

Let’s just say, Carrie is feeling much better tonight and slept for the rest of the afternoon.

Moral of the story?

I don’t really know.

I just need to write this down so that when I am arguing with the girls about curfew, I can at least be grateful that this era of my life is behind me.  Well, it better be behind me.