When Mom is a Bridesmaid

Mostly, I think I am a grown-up… or at least I pretend to be. There is no definitive criteria for establishing adult-hood and maturity is not automatically granted at the age of 18. Occasionally I’ll have one of those wow-I’m-getting-old moments and by occasionally, I mean all the time.

My best friend of almost 25 years is getting married. Yes, that would make us 21 years young. I am honored to be her bridesmaid and looking forward to the wedding. Although I don’t mind humiliating myself by blogging about life’s embarrassing moments, I won’t humiliate her by mentioning we used to have practice weddings in the library with paper flowers, wedding invitations written on notebook paper, and an aisle we used to walk down near the non-fiction section.

I haven’t been in a wedding since my own and I hadn’t anticipated the challenges of being a bridesmaid and being a mom at the same time.

Ah, how un-fondly I look back on that moment when the bridal shop called to verify my unusual measurements were accurate. Nonetheless, I re-did my measurements to determine whether or not having a baby had turned me into a mis-shapen mutant and it had. I not-so-enthusiastically ordered a larger dress size and was distressed when I tried it on. Snug is not a word that makes women feel beautiful or sexy. Bless the seamstress who promised the next time I try the dress on, my expression will be happier. If that is the case, I might have clothes professionally altered more often just for the pep-talks.

While we were waiting to have the alteration ticket written up, my mother and I were discussing undergarments. Yes, undergarments. My mother suddenly laughed (although I take undergarments very seriously) and I realized my son was standing on the pedestal with a young girl  who was having her prom gown fitted. Flirting already at 15 months… hide your daughters. After I offered an apology only necessary for me, I scooped him up and pondered the logistics of being a bridesmaid and being a mom.

We had a plan at the bridal shower for when he got fussy and I wasn’t able to make him happy without neglecting my bridesmaid duties, but the wedding will be a bigger challenge. I think I can hear some moms telling me to just leave him at home, but my usual childcare options will be AT this wedding and making arrangements is a little more complicated seeing as how we are traveling for the wedding.

And how will I get ready? I have been responsible for getting myself, my husband, and my son ready for the past 15 months. I’m afraid if I’m not there to help they’ll show up with no pants on or else inconveniently late. If the universe ever implodes and time collapses on itself, it is because a mother was not there to get her family ready.

This is another one of those unexpected ways a woman’s life changes after having a baby. No matter what other role I might serve as a bridesmaid, a working woman, or someone trying to wash their car… first and foremost I am a mom now!

What experiences have you had with taking your child to a wedding? Success or embarrassing disaster?  Any tips or tricks for taking your child to celebrate a special occasion?

Tuesday 10: 10 Favorite Photos

Below are 10 of my favorite photos that capture some of the most special moments in my life. If a picture is worth a thousand words, I will let these special photos speak for themselves.

1. When we first met…

2. Celebrating our marriage with family and friends…

3. Baby’s first picture…

4. Our first family photo…

5. Mother and daughter…

6. Little baby goes to Washington…

7. Precious smile…

8. Sisters…

9. That’s my boy…10. I love every, simple, mundane moment…

Blog Post by Her Bad Mother: Love Lifts Us Up, To Where We Probably Belong

Aside

Blog Post by Her Bad Mother: Love Lifts Us Up, To Where We Probably Belong

I wanted to share a blog post by Her Bad Mother. She talks about another controversial parenting subject; stay at home dads. She addresses the judgements others make and the complicated way some dads feel about being the parent at home. As I mentioned in the comment I left; We all eat the bacon. It doesn’t matter who brings it home. – Jennifer

This will seem like a statement of the obvious, but still, it bears stating: when we moved to New York City, everything changed.

Everything changed, of course, in the ways that you might expect: we went from living in Canada to living in the United States, we went from living in a very small town to living in a very big city, we went from living in a detached house with a basement and a yard to living in a loft, we went from socialized health care to totally not socialized health care. But it changed in this way, too: we went from being a household in which mom worked in the home and dad worked away from home to the reverse. And that, my friends, has made all the difference, and a difficult difference at that…

Continue reading at Her Bad Mother…

Also, the Co-Sleeping controversy.

2002: Not a Cool Enough Year to Make a Movie About

I’m not sure if you know this or not, but 2002 was like ten years ago. I know, right? If my son had invented time travel, I could take you back to 2002 with me. But alas, he is still working on it. I vaguely remember a few events that occurred in 2002 (who I was dating, where I was working, what I looked like) but mostly it is an intentional and embarrassing blur.

2002 was the year I had my braces taken off. Not the oh-I-didn’t-even-know-you-had-braces kind, the metal-made-radio-signal-disrupting kind. Yes, I graduated college with a mouth full of braces. Without braces in the summer of 2002, I proudly started grad school and work on my Master’s in elementary education.

2002 was the year I had my second to the last boyfriend. My next boyfriend became my husband. Sorry to the first-runner-up. I’d like to tell you you’re better off without me, but I think it’s the other way around.

2002 was also the last year I had with my Mema. Enough said.

Without the invention of time travel yet (come on son, mommy’s waiting) it’s easier to look forward than to look behind. As you can imagine, a lot can change in ten years.

2003: My grandmother passed away.

2004: I met my husband.

2005: Moved to Maryland where driving skills are optional when acquiring a driver’s license and was involved in a nasty car accident. Also, I started teaching.

2006: Did we skip 2006? I don’t seem to recall this happening. Yes?

2007: Taught 7th and 8th grade and planned-me-a- wedding.

2008: Married on July 26th. Left teaching to pursue some political opportunities.

2009: Worked and worked some more. Also, moved to Virginia because it’s for lovers.

2010: I got pregnant. Yeah, Virginia really is for lovers.

2011: Birth of my son on January 13th.

Knowing my luck, if I could go back to 2002 and tell myself what would happen in the next 10 years, the flux capacitor in my car would probably get it wrong and I would end up in 1985. And if you have no idea what I am talking about, you are the first person I am sending back to 1985 so you can get yourself some pop culture.

How I Really Feel About Valentine’s Day in 11 Images or Less

The rumors are true; I do have a heart. Here is the story of How I Met Your Father and my special Love Affair with Mr. Darcy. Enjoy and tell someone you love them!

How I Met Your Father

My husband will hate that I’ve shared our story. I love him, but mostly I don’t care if this bothers him or not. It’s my story too. It’s the story of how we met.

When you are in high school, everyone wants to know when you will get your driver’s license.  When you are in college, everyone wants to know what you are majoring in. When you finish college, everyone wants to know where you are working. When you are working, everyone wants to know if you are dating anyone. When you are dating someone, everyone wants to know when you will get married. When you get married, everyone wants to know when you will start making babies. After you make babies, nobody cares about you anymore and their attention rightfully focuses on said babies.

After I finished college I started graduate school and was working full time. So what that means is, I got stuck on the ‘are you dating anyone’ question for a long time.

Eventually, I had heard it enough.

Most 20-something acquaintances were meeting their significant others in bars. I had hoped to meet my significant other in a library. Yes, nerdy but I assumed a library is the type of place where I might increase my odds of meeting a sober and intelligent person. Yeah, no.

Eventually, I looked on-line. Take a moment to gasp as you ponder explaining on-line dating to your grandmother. But after 2 days of searching profiles, I saw a picture that I liked. Yes I know, you don’t judge a book by its cover, but that’s how I picked my husband.

In a day we were chatting on-line for hours, in a week we were talking on the phone until the early morning, and in two weeks we were making plans to meet. But the scary thought of meeting him was almost enough to make me say no.

He called me on a Saturday night and told me he really wanted to see if our connection was what we thought it was. Despite the distance between Massachusetts and Pennsylvania, we knew it was something special. Don’t get any ideas of a dramatic meet-up on top of the Empire State Building. That stuff is for Tom Hanks (le sigh)!

My husband and I met the following day, September 12, 2004, at the airport. He splurged on a ticket, endured questioning from airport security as to why he was flying on such short notice, and our first date consisted of five hours together (and a supreme pizza from Pizza Hut) before he returned home.

This is where my story does sound like a Tom Hanks movie. The romantic-comedy kind, not the Academy Award winning kind. After my husband left that day, I immediately told my mother that I had met the man I was going to marry. As your roll your eyes at my absolute lovey nonsense, now ponder explaining that to your grandmother. Did I mention she’s feisty?

Finally on July 26, 2008, my husband and I were married. I don’t know what it will be like someday explaining to my children how I met their father. Will on-line dating be a norm or a thing of the past? But most importantly, we did meet.

Life Labeled as a ‘Working Mom’

Hi, it’s me standing on my soap box. Yes… again.

Moms make difficult decisions every day: Should I buy the generic diapers on sale or should I splurge on name brand? Breast or bottle? Is my child crying because he really needs something or is he crying because he’s a little fussy? Despite the unsolicited advice and lectures I have endured regarding my family’s ‘controversial’ decision to co-sleep, the toughest parenting decision I have made is little more complicated and selfish; my decision to be a ‘working mom.’

Being a mom is a super-duper important job! It is both challenging and rewarding. Moms don’t earn a paycheck for their hard-work, but they raise curious babies who become intrigued children who become responsible adults. Moms are responsible for nourishing their children, keeping them safe, and totally loving them! If it sounds difficult and complicated, that’s because it is.

You have my deepest apology for using the clichéd term, ‘working mom’ as you read on (if you kindly choose to do so). Labels should be for jars of baby food, not moms!

Being a working mom has been a difficult experience for me that I underestimated and was not prepared for. Sure I’m always struggling to find time, but what mom isn’t? The issue has been an emotional one that I can no longer blame on hormones.

After 6 weeks of maternity leave, I was back to work in March of 2011. Was I ready? Not at all! Although six weeks sounded like a vacation before maternity leave began, when you actually have a newborn, six weeks is no time at all. I have since encouraged other working moms to take extended leave if possible, unpaid or not. Yes, where maternity leave is concerned I offer my unsolicited opinion to other moms.

So why be a working mom? For some, it’s not a choice. As a first time mom, this was one of the first decisions I had to make in which I had to put my own feelings second to doing what was best for my family. I’ll be honest, it was a tough lesson to learn. I was, and still am, very selfish about my child. I want to spend every possible moment with him (and what mom doesn’t).

But there were other reasons for returning to work as well and I only have myself to blame. I have worked very hard to get where I am today (shout out to the working girls!). Opportunities in my field are limited and highly competitive; leaving meant the likelihood that I would never be able to return to the position I am in today. I had to ask myself if I was ok with that, and my honest answer was no.

You may have noticed I seem to be contradicting myself. Yes I am. But I did say this was difficult. Honestly, after nearly a year of being a working mom, it hasn’t really gotten any easier and I still struggle with the same emotions. I can’t possibly describe how much it hurts when another mom says something like, “Oh, I can’t imagine being away from my children all day.’ Yeah, pretty much sucks as much as the guilt you just dumped on me.

So why do it?

It’s a combination of doing it for the good of the family and doing it for myself professionally. So far, being a working mom has been the right thing to do, despite the challenges.

When my son is not with me, he has been exclusively in the care of family members who devote 115% of their time, attention, and love to him.  Not only do I save a small fortune in child care (we’re talking more than $1000 a month per child in the DC area) but my son is with the same people who raised me. Mostly, I think I turned out ok and my son will too.

His reaction each evening when I get home from work also dispels my irrational fear that my baby will forget who I am and love me less because I am not with him 24/7. Babies understand families and love a lot better than we give them credit for. Added bonus that perhaps me being a working mom can someday be a teachable moment for him.

Emotionally, it is fortunate for me that my husband and I commute together and meet for lunch each day. Most people don’t think of traffic as quality time together, but we make the most of it. It’s also nice to talk about the stressful parts of our day before we take our stress home with us. We leave our stress stuck somewhere in traffic and give our son the better parts of our days.

I have no immediate plans for leaving work. Things are good and we like ‘good.’ Although my family intends to remain on its present course for the time being, we are open to re-evaluating things when the situation warrants other consideration. If I have learned anything about how quickly children grow and develop, it has prepared me for the very real reality that I will begin homeschooling soon enough and the label of ‘working mom’ will someday have a different meaning for me.