Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Has Funny Left the Building?

Lately I find that I have little to say to others that I would consider funny (minus when I talk about my ever-so-hilarious little girl!). I never used to worry about things like I do today, and that made the world a much funnier place to live! Hell, I used to actually have fun every now and again (if memory serves), and I used to find others quite funny, as well! Ah, those were the days (or so they say). Lately, life has sort of become, well . . . unfunny.

I’m sick of reading about natural disasters, unemployment, political infighting, murderous rampages, and celebrities’ tweaked-out lives. I’m tired of turning on the news and seeing nothing but how this world in which I will someday have to leave my daughter is turning to shit. More and more I find myself deflated by the negative state of our world today. I try and stay positive, but with a young child to bring up in the ruin our world has become, sometimes it’s a struggle.

I miss the good ol’ days. No more are the days when a kid can get up in the morning, eat breakfast, and head outside for eight hours of exploring whatever it is he finds to explore. Today, he has to play in his fenced-in backyard with Mommy peering through the window every five minutes. No more are the days when parents could drop off their kids at the pool or golf club, and leave them there all day long without worry. I’m pretty sure that would be considered bad parenting now. You can’t even leave your kid strapped into the car seat for two minutes and run into the 7-Eleven to take a pee without fear of someone snatching your kid or being handcuffed upon return to the car!

The world we live in today is hurried, polluted, starved, frustrated, scared, abused, and strangled. Everything is crying out to be saved: the earth, its people, animals, and plants, our oceans, all the way down the tiniest forms of life. It seems that everything human beings touch is doomed!

I don’t mean to be overly dramatic. I really don’t think what I’m saying is anything that hasn’t been said hundreds of times before. What I want is to not be part of the problem but to help create a solution. Problem is: I don’t quite know where to begin. Recycling: obvious. Renewable energy: on the horizon. Volunteer to help clean up whatever mess we get into next: necessary. But then what?

My generation now bears a colossal burden, and we have a seemingly never-ending road ahead of us before even scratching the surface of the damage human beings have done to, well, everything. Our kids will learn from our mistakes and our example, and they will also inherit whatever we leave behind. Why not teach them now how to help heal our world so that someday they will be proud to pass on what we worked together to mend?

Note: If you want to know what your kids are thinking about our world today, check out this 2009 study by Habitat Heroes:

• 1 in 3 children (ages 6 through 11) fear that the planet won’t exist when they grow up.
• More than half (56 percent) believe the Earth will not be as good a place to live when they grow up.
• Girls worry more than boys, but overall, kids in metro areas worry more than those in rural settings.
• 28 percent say they fear the extinction of animals more than anything else.
• Nearly 25 percent worry about not having enough safe drinking water.

The good news:
• 95% of the children believe their parents are trying to help save the environment by recycling, using reusable batteries, and conserving electricity and water.

Friday, June 25, 2010

The Grass is Always Greener

The old adage “The grass is always greener on the other side” could not be more profound in my life than right now. Why is it that no matter what, many human beings just can’t seem to be happy in the moment—right here, right now? Well, I am definitely human.

I have this issue I deal with on a daily basis no matter what my situation: I want to be a full-time professional, and I also want to be a full-time mom (not to mention an entrepreneur on the side!). And I want to always be the best at both! But I’m not sure it’s possible for these two worlds to come together in perfection.

As you know, I started a new job this week, whereas for the past eight months, I was freelancing and at home with Makensie. While at home, I wasted a lot of time worrying about the fact that I wasn’t working enough and needed to find a full-time job to support my kid. Now that I’m back at work (and grateful to be here and loving it, for the most part), I’m spending too much time wishing I were at home with Kensie. See my dilemma?

Many mothers (fathers, too, I presume) struggle with this dichotomy on a daily basis. How can you be your best on the job when you know you’re missing out on so much at home? How can you be at home with your child and enjoy every single moment of your time with her when you want or need to get back to work? It’s a constant struggle, and one that weighs heavily on this single mom.

My biggest fear heading back to work is simple: I’ve worked hard these last eight months building a strong relationship with my daughter, and I don’t want to lose that. Kensie and I spent nearly every moment together—at the pool, with friends and family, at the zoo, on trips here and there. I made a point to get her out nearly every day, and we spent a lot of real quality time bonding with not only one another but with my parents, and my friends and their kids. Kensie and I really became close, and I am just not ready to lose that connection! But already, only one week in, I can see things beginning to change.

The first incident was the other night when Kensie wanted her Nana to put her to bed, not me. Ouch. Then yesterday, I left for work just after K got up, and I didn’t see her again until this morning (it was girls’ night out last night, and don’t get me started on how hard it is to have a social life in this mix!). This morning, instead of calling for me when she woke, Kensie called for my mom. Sniff. This thing is tough!

I don’t know if these recent happenings are a sign of what’s to come (the collapse of everything I’ve worked toward since the day of her birth!). Yes, I can be dramatic. Or maybe it’s just a normal adjustment that Makensie and I must endure to prepare us for this new chapter in our lives. Whatever it is, I know that we are lucky in so many ways, and I am grateful for our life. Instead of a stranger caring for her five days a week, Kensie gets to begin preschool and spend lots of extra time with her grandparents. Lucky kid! Instead of me spending all of my hard-earned money on daycare and babysitters and rent, I am lucky to be able to tuck some of it away for a rainy day instead (thanks Mom and Dad!).

The truth is, whether at home or working full time, in my eyes, nothing will ever be good enough for my girl. Makensie, she will adapt to whatever life throws at her. She’s happy, healthy, and strong at the ripe old age of (nearly) three, and she has lots of people around her who love her to pieces. But me, I will suffer. I will think about Kensie constantly, tear up when I get a picture text of her riding her bike playfully, feel cheated every time she chooses her Nana over me, and regret every moment I miss while away from her. But I will also be doing what is necessary to raise a gracious, grateful, grounded human being, one who understands that life is not always what you expect it to be and adapts. With that in mind, I can be at ease in my current situation. Here’s hoping the turbulence of the past couple of years is beginning to settle.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

“Nothing Gold Can Stay”

These days, my life is simply a series of balls that stay in the air at all times. Full-time mom. Starting a new company. Trying to stay healthy. Day care. Swimming lessons. And, as of yesterday, working full time.

As I sit at a desk doing this new job in a familiar building surrounded by people I worked with more than five years ago and am happy to be working with again, all I feel is grateful. Grateful to get up early and get Kensie ready for her day. Grateful to be in the mix of the congested highway leading to work. Grateful to drive up the stone-lined path to the beautiful building I once (and will never again) took for granted. Grateful to have a job in my field in this economy (“temporary” is fine with me!). There are so many people in this town and in our country right now who can’t find work at all, and I get to come here every day and earn money to support myself and my child in a beautiful setting with great people doing what I love. I. AM. BLESSED.

I haven’t always felt this way about working. When I was younger, I took that privilege for granted. I changed jobs frequently. I moved around a lot. A job was just a means of getting cash to support my lifestyle, little more. But when I had a child, my view began to change. Suddenly, I had this constant reminder of my responsibilities—to my daughter, to myself, to those around me, to the world (new moms tend to exaggerate things)! And when the economy tanked and I lost a couple of jobs, I began to truly appreciate how lucky people who have stability in their lives are. And that’s when I decided it was time to find a way to ensure that my daughter had a bright future. I’ve always loved what I do, and I’ve been lucky enough to work within my field since I was in college. But I’ve recently discovered that loving what you do and having a chosen career path are simply not enough anymore. So now, I’ll try anything that will keep my daughter fed and playing happily in her Target rompers!

Nothing is permanent. Jobs, homes, friends, lovers, nature. It’s something we all know but most of us choose not to think about. Look at the catastrophe in the Gulf. Growing up, it never occurred to me that I may not be able to share with my children the beauty and tranquility of a place I visited multiple times each year of my life and saw as a second home. I never once thought that something so horrible and possibly irrevocable could happen to this sacred place. I was going to take Kensie to the beach for her third birthday celebration this summer, but not now. People there are getting sick. Children are playing on beaches right next to clumps of oil mixed with God knows what. I can’t take my child there now, and it breaks my heart.

Change is inevitable. Nothing stays the same; it just can’t. As Robert Frost so eloquently wrote:

“Nature’s first green is gold
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf’s a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.”

Inevitably, this phase, too, will come to an end. But I plan to appreciate every moment of every day, because, in the end, isn’t that what matters the most?