Archive | The Diva RSS feed for this section

To the Working Moms: Don’t.

Don’t. Don’t apologize. Just stop it. Stop it now.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve apologized in the last two weeks. “I’m sorry, but” and “I’m so sorry to say this” and “I’m just really sorry.” And this weekend, I had an incident where I naturally started to apologize – again. As I was crafting my self-deprecating apology, I realized¬†I did nothing wrong.¬†

And the more that I centered around that, the more that I enveloped my fragile ego with the stout truth of my truly NOT being in the wrong, I realized that I was angry about it. I was angry that my natural response was to apologize. Blanket apologies. I’m the Oprah of unwarranted apologies. And YOU get an apology! (Sorry!) And YOU get an apology! (Sorry!) APOLOGIES FOR EVERYONNNNNEEE!

Don’t apologize anymore. If you were truly in the wrong, yes: apologize. Apologize and correct the error. But if something just went wrong, or something you could’ve fixed went haywire (but you weren’t asked to fix it), or you’re just in the line of fire – STOP APOLOGIZING.

Bryan came to my office and had lunch with me last week. It was a gorgeous day, so we grabbed lunch from the visiting food truck and sat outside in the sunshine. It was the day that I had suffered a mild Facebook breakdown* about the #BanBossy campaign.

*it was mild in both MY meltdown measuring system and mild for a meltdown to have occurred on Facebook. Man, Facebook is sometimes a trainwreck of Miley Cyrus proportions, am I right? God bless Zuckerberg.

My issue with the term “bossy” is not specific to women being labeled as bossy. I honestly think that the campaign should’ve been called “Ban Bitchy”, but let’s just acknowledge that the greater Facebook community is not ready for those bumperstickers just yet. Bitch, I take issue with. It’s been a long while since I’ve been called a bitch, but be aware that I have. Many times. Yet most folks who work with me – and most of my immediate coworkers are male – would never list “bitch” in the adjectives to describe me. But I have ovaries, so “bitch” comes with the territory. Especially when I’m asking a male coworker to do something he may not necessarily want to do.

While waxing poetic on the campaign, I mentioned that someone in my program once remarked to me that we still have a gender equality issue within our midst. I told him this surprised me because I honestly don’t see that. But she mentioned that every time she gave an answer – and she’s a female engineer – it has to be validated by a male peer before it’s considered “correct.”

“How do we raise our boys to be smarter than that?” I asked Bryan.

“I hope they won’t see the gender line at all,” he answered.

“They will,” I said, hopeless. “It’s there. Of course they will.”

“They know their mom is incredibly smart. Hopefully that’s enough. They see you working – hard – and hopefully that’s enough. You’re building the next great rocket, for heaven’s sake.”

So stop apologizing. Stop apologizing because your kids go to daycare or because you can’t make the class party or when you can’t make a late meeting because you have to pick up your kids. Do you know what happens when MEN in the industry leave early to pick up kids? They’re LAUDED. PRAISED FOR THEIR COMMITMENT TO THEIR FAMILY. What a great dad! they all say.

STOP APOLOGIZING. You are doing the best that you can. And I know that you’re like me: you work overtime like an insane person, picking up the slack of others so that you feel like you’ve proven yourself; you rush from work to pick up your kids, angry that you’ll have to slapdash dinner together again, wondering how badly your screwing up your kids; your weekends are no luxury, filled with a million chores and loads of laundry and soccer games and grocery lists, and there’s not enough hours in there to even sit down. You are like me. You have no time for yourself. You see pictures of yourself years ago, pining for the body you felt was too fat at the time and for the free time you thought was so scarce back then. You feel like asking for help is admitting defeat, and on the rare occasion that you do ask, it may be denied and you reel. You are like me. It doesn’t matter the industry, the wage, the career path.. you are like me.

I need to stop apologizing. I have never shied from accepting blame, and I will continue to do so – when it’s valid. But there is no reason to apologize as an opening or closing statement anymore.

You are like me – you love your kids more than the breath in your lungs, and you wonder every single morning if you’re doing irreparable harm to them by trudging off to a cube or a desk or a counter. You would take any harm or illness or downfall for your children. You second guess every single decision you make in parenting – and then second guess your second guessing. The sleepless nights of infancy simply morph into the sleepless nights of teenage angst and then the sleepless nights of missed curfews. You are like me, and I’m like you.

Don’t apologize to anyone who doesn’t deserve it anymore.

I am so, so proud of you and what you’re doing.

Comments { 7 }

SAHM or WOHM or WTF, let’s all just LOL

Ah, The Mommy Wars. They are alive and well, aren’t they? And while there are no direct casualties, I think we can all agree that the collateral damage is pretty substantial.

I’ve been reading a couple of chapters of Leaning In every time I jog on a treadmill, and I think Sheryl Sandberg does a good job of highlighting some of the prominent issues that women in the workplace face. (I figure it’s a good read for any woman, working or not.) As much good as I think she does in there, I have to think.. Isn’t some of this just common sense?

First and foremost: I think each woman is wired differently, and trying to lump any and all women together is almost certain doom. And while I’ll be the first to say that I’d have difficulty being a Stay at Home Mom, I don’t think that I’m entirely incapable of it. Much like a Stay at Home Mom could eventually find herself at ease in the workforce. No matter how different women may be, I think we’re all adaptive.

Before I had the baby, I was approached by a lady who was asking me about my due date, gender, blah blah blah. Then she asked me what I was going to do with the baby after he was born. I didn’t think I understood her question, so I asked her to clarify, and indeed, she was wondering about my child care plans. I told her that Vinnie would be attending the same (loving) daycare that Tony had been in since he was three months old.

She stared at me in shock. “I don’t think I could do that,” she said. “I just love my baby too much to leave him in daycare.”

I was so taken aback by the comment that I stared at her. But here’s what I was thinking:

“Oh, you do? Lucky kid. I only marginally like my kids.”
“We’ve got a labrador retriever, and they’re pretty smart. I guess we could teach her to dial 9-1-1 and have her keep the baby.”
“Funny thing: we like to pay our bills. And our mortgage company wouldn’t really understand if I said we couldn’t pay our mortgage anymore because I love my kid too much for daycare.”

Since I’ve been on the receiving end of this love before, I’m rarely shocked by the sentiment anymore. But I’m constantly disappointed that it’s still out there. Because honestly, even if we could survive off of one income – and stomach the sacrifices it would take to do that – I don’t think that I would stop working. I love having an identity outside of Mommy, and I don’t think that makes me less of a Mom. If anything, I’m able to really, seriously, have focused and undivided time with my kids.

Because these things tend to go both ways, I’ve tried to watch my judgement of SAHMs. There are days, days where the office is a tough environment, days where I don’t get to see my kids during their waking hours, and those days make me wish I was a SAHM. Jealousy breeds contempt, and I’d see posts in my Facebook feed of moms rejoicing that the kids were back in school, leaving them alone and unoccupied for hours at a time. I’d give anything to have that life, I’d think. They don’t even know how easy they have it.

But I know! I know it’s not easy! Dude, me being at home random days this summer with a newborn and a five year old had me PULLING MY HAIR OUT. It’s not easy! It’s downright difficult!

Moments like those make me think of how relative it all is. Look at like this: How many of you spent your 20s feeling like you were overweight and not good enough? The majority of us, right? And how often do you wistfully look back on those days and think Man, I didn’t spend NEARLY enough time naked? Cause I do. Often. Sarah-in-her-20s was a hottie who spent 10 years despising her body. YEAH, SPOILER ALERT, IT GETS WAY WORSE, SARAH-IN-HER-20S.

“Busy” is also relative, right? In my 20s, unmarried and childless, I thought I was Busy. All the time, busy. No one understood just how busy I truly was. Now I’m married with three kids and a more-than-full-time job PLUS a course load PLUS two (sometimes three) freelance gigs. I’m busier now in theory, but it still feels busy.

SAHM and WOHM are the same. They are both jobs that require copious hours, thankless days, and often very little immediate reward. A glass ceiling exists over both areas. We should be working together to break that glass.

I’m waving a white flag on the Mommy Wars, and sending over a dove carrying an olive branch. Because, man, I think the one thing we all can agree on is that we’re busy .. and we’re also tired.

Comments { 8 }

And We Have Re-Entry.

“And I’d like to welcome back a mother of three..”

This was brought up in a meeting I attended yesterday at work. What follows are my honest-to-Jeebus thoughts, in the order they occurred.

Three kids? THREE? Geez, who has THREE kids? Are they trying to build their own football team?

Wait, three kids? I think I have three kids now.

Holy crap. He’s talking about ME.

***

I am at my desk right now. At work.

I have no carseat in my car with which to pick up the youngest child.

I might as well be a brand new parent, for all of the stuff I’ve forgotten.

***

Vinnie had his first day at daycare yesterday. How’d he do? He was great. He slept a LOT. Like, HOURS. STRAIGHT. And then was up from 10 p.m. till 2:15 a.m. – I think, because at 2:15 a.m. I just gave up and put him in his crib and then passed out – and then was up again at some point because Bryan had just put him down at 5:20 when my alarm went off. And the child was still awake.

Since this is NOT my first child, I have the benefit of knowing that this does get better.

But man. MAN. It better improve quickly.

***

Tony is having some emo moments, where he’s clearly realizing that he’s no longer the baby of the family. While I’m exhausted and crabby, I can’t help but be heartbroken over his adjustment.

He’s such a sweet soul, guys. One day last week, daycare called because he had asked to go to the office and speak to the administrator, where he put his hands on his head and said, “I just need to go home now,” while sobbing.

BREAK MY HEART.

And I think that there’s no good way to prepare a child for a baby, because you know what? Babies are downright boring. They don’t do ANYTHING right out of the womb, outside of noise disruption and dirty diapers. So poor Tony had such ideas of all the stuff he was going to teach his baby brother, and then lo and behold, said baby brother is barely a sentient being.

We’re all adjusting, so I’ll give him time. (And maybe some extra attention.)

***

One of these babies is Vinnie, the rest are Tony. ISN’T THAT INSANE?

Comments { 2 }

Preparing for Re-Entry

Every time I’ve started a new job or assignment in my professional life, I’ve had to talk myself down from ledges early on, calmly rationalizing to the perfectionist part of my brain that no one is perfect at a new job/task/assignment on the first day. Probably even the second day. So a little slack and a lot of patience would probably go a long way in guaranteeing success .. and my ability to stay out of a padded room.

I think parenthood is much like that. The first few weeks, I remember thinking, God, I suck at this and I don’t know how Tony’s not ruined, but I’m SURELY screwing this newer model up and WHY DID I HAVE ANOTHER KID and other such things. I think there’s a reason I can’t remember the early, early newborn weeks with Tony and that’s because, as a kindness, our brains erase the really terrible parts so that we might continue procreating.

(HA HA, KIND BRAIN, JOKE’S ON YOU. THIS FACTORY IS SHUT DOWN. THE SUPPLY CHAIN IS GOING COLLLLLD.)

But now, five weeks in, I don’t feel so overwhelmed. While saying we have a “routine” is probably a stretch, I’m much more relaxed with whatever the day brings. I’m actually enjoying it now, believe it or not. I’ve relaxed enough to nap on occasion, and I’m learning how to balance housework with babywork and time for me. (I actually am not good at the last part, but I’m still learning.)

Of course, since I’m finally feeling comfortable in my new role, IT’S TIME TO GO BACK TO WORK.

I know I’ve said (more than a few times) that I was ready to get back to work and be a grown-up. And that’s true. I have the privilege of loving my job and what I do, and I realize how rare that makes my existence. I miss my coworkers, I miss the adrenaline and deadlines, and I miss having something substantial to talk about. (Right now, my conversations revolve around bowel movements and feeding schedules, and then I fall eerily quiet.) I really am looking forward to getting back to what is a defined, comfortable space for me.

But.

I have high, high, HIGH anxiety about other parts of my returning to work. And since this blog serves as my therapist, let me make myself comfortable on this here couch and share them with you.

I’m busy. Although – obviously – my work would never force something on me if I said it was a difficulty for my family, my work schedule as I left it was a hard one. I was at work most mornings by 6:45 a.m. and rarely left before 5:00 p.m. Now, again, I could raise my hand and say This won’t work anymore and maybe that’s what’ll happen. But most likely not. See, I chose this. Loving what you do sometimes means that you spend long hours doing it. But the reality is that this means Bryan will have THREE CHILDREN to get ready for school. And after a month, none of them will actually attend the same school. (Downside of having children spaced out as we do.) So I don’t know the right answer here. Cue anxiety.

I’m fat. This sounds like a silly thing to fret about, doesn’t it? I KNOW, IT TOTALLY DOES. And while, sure, my personal demons are tormenting me all the time, the larger issue at hand is that I have nothing to wear. Seriously. Although it’s slowly coming off, I’m still needing to shed about 35 baby pounds. You can’t just coerce those pounds to fit into what I was wearing before pregnancy. Luckily, my employer is health-focused, and my new office building has a fitness center. (And five flights of stairs to my office.) I also signed up for the next 5K training class, which is a 2x/week class. So I have a path. But day one? Will totally be sporting maternity clothes. Cue anxiety.

I’m emotional. The biggest struggle for me, as a woman, is not being emotional at work. Empathetic, sure. Compassionate, yes. But emotional? Rarely. The last time I cried at work was when a coworker showed me a video of a soldier surprising his family with his unexpected return. (THANKS, PATRICK.) But I’m still sweating out the hormones over here, and I tend to blubber a bit. Over STUPID stuff. (Today, I cried at The People’s Court because a woman’s iPod was ruined and it had her wedding song on it.) Cue anxiety.

I’m new. While I’ve actually been on this program since Tony was five months old, I’ve been gone for six weeks. Which, coincidentally, began the day after our new program director came on-board. So I have NO idea what’s been going on over there. I’m walking into a potentially new program, overhauled in my absence. I’m usually a quick learner (she repeats to herself to calm her nerves), so I’m sure it’s not long before I fall into a rhythm. BUT WHAT IF I DON’T? WHAT IF I DON’T HAVE A PLACE ANYMORE? Cue anxiety.

Disclaimer: I am incredibly fortunate to 1) have a job that offers 2) paid maternity leave and is 3) not affected by furlough. I am aware of these points, so no need to make them in the comment section.

All in all, the bottom line is this: a week from today, I’ll scan my badge and find my desk again. I’ll be lost for a little while, but I’ll muddle through it. I’ll figure it out because that’s the only answer. And I promise: I WILL NEVER TAKE MATERNITY LEAVE AGAIN.

Gratuitous baby pics:

Comments { 5 }

Casa de Brown Comer

It’s been awhile since I’ve graced these pages, which is mainly depressing because I’m the ONLY one who graces these pages. It’s MY blog, for Pete’s sake, which means that someone – named SARAH LENA – should write something here occasionally.

Let’s see if I can get you adequately caught up.

We had a punch list of things to do before the baby (get the house listed/sold, buy a new house, buy a new car.. each of those having a subset punch list, obviously), but the one thing we have done is get Bryan a new job. He started on Monday of this week, and it’s an exciting venture. He’ll be working in the same industry, just back in a locally-owned, small-business kind of environment, which is what he prefers. (Not me, boy! Give me that corporate teat any day!)

I took a trip last week with our Leadership Connect class and it was amazing. We focused on state government and visited Montgomery and the timing couldn’t have been more ideal: a very controversial education bill had been signed, then put into injunction, then a temporary restraining order was filed.. oh, it was better than Judge Judy, y’all. It was AMAZING. As much as I love law – seriously, had I the time and the funds, I would start law school TOMORROW – the politics were almost as much fun. The spin, the lobbying, the inability to get a straight answer? SERIOUSLY, WOULD DO IT EVERY DAY.

Seriously – we played “Keep the Balloon Off the Ground” for probably about an hour.

However, on that trip, my body was all WTF, Sarah, this is too much! and my legs and feet and arms swelled to the point that I suddenly lacked ANY footwear that would fit. I figured I would rest over the weekend and all would be well by Monday.

Well, then some blood pressure issues surfaced and the doc was all, “Bedrest! For a few days – FOR NOW.” (Cue the Dun, dun, dunnnn!) So I’ve spent the majority of this week with my feet up, downing water like a dehydrated camel, and just generally praying that today’s appointment means I’m allll better.

One of my mentors at work received a promotion that took him out of our division and got him a much better gig, so we threw him a celebration dinner last Friday. Since I didn’t have any shoes that would fit, I debated not going, but I am SO glad I did. You guys, I really wish everyone has the opportunity to sit in a room of folks they’ve admired for so many years and see the love and dedication they all have. Space exploration typically brings out the hippies, but this night was so full of love and inspiration that I wanted to go to work the next day. ON A SATURDAY. We have a rocket to build!

Typical day.

The children outside of my womb are doing fine, for the most part. I think things are starting to come to a head on the school front for Jack – which, honestly, I’m ready for ANY momentum on that front – so we’ll see where that takes us. In the meantime, we’re gearing up for kindergarten interviews for Tony. Because he’s suddenly Grown. Tony also started soccer (with Uncle Dude coaching), and Jack has stepped in as an assistant coach. I can’t tell you how much I love this. Last night, they had practice, and then everyone went to eat dinner together and play trivia at a local Mexican joint. It was such a nice time.

Asst. Coach Jack and ToCo

Bryan started remodeling the boys’ bathroom as an attempt to get our Sell the House punch list down, but then he got a new job, and it’s been sitting in a state of flux for .. too long. I’m starting to have pregnancy dreams about it, to be honest. I fear that we’re going to be a family on one of the HGTV self-remodel horror stories. (And I’m okay with that if they COME FIX IT FOR ME.)

Bryan, braving the plumbing.

The child inside my womb is progressing nicely. He’s an active little mofo, which I say with total love and adoration. (But Momma wouldn’t hate it if you calmed down JUST a tad, dude.) It’s constant Tae Bo up in my uterus. We have a name picked out – Jonathan Vincent – and a nickname, because none of our children go by given names – Vinnie – and a registry. We also have him on a list for daycare. Outside of that? WE HAVE NOTHING READY FOR HIM. (We also have a due date: June 9th. Which means we have PUHLENTY of time to clear out a drawer in our bedroom for him to sleep in, right?)

Who’s hungry?

Here’s my question to you: why is all maternity stuff so low-cut? Do manufacturers realize that one of the “perks” of pregnancy is that your rack doubles in size? So suddenly a v-neck – no matter how modest when not pregnant – qualifies you as a Hooters girl? (No offense to Hooters girls, seriously. You’re doing good work there.) Or why are they sheer? I understand wanting to be light-weight, since I’ve hit the point that I’m in sweating-all-the-time mode, but GEEZ. Don’t make me layer. That just makes things even MORE warm. Low-cut and sheer: the bane of my maternity wardrobe’s existence.

Comments { 4 }