All I Never Wanted To Be Was A Stay-At-Home Mom

{September 20, 2010}   A Little Affirmation Goes A Long Way

Stuart Smalley will always be one of my favorite characters on Saturday Night Live. Remember him? “I’m good enough, I’m smart enough and doggonit, people like me!”

If it’s one thing I’ve learned in my career so far it’s that no matter how old we are or how successful we become, everyone likes a pat on the back every now and then. Over the past couple of weeks  I’ve been dealing with clients I’ve perceived as difficult and challenging. They haven’t complained, whined or scolded. They just haven’t felt the need to say, “good job!”Therefore, I assume they think I’m an idiot, my work stinks and wish to find someone they think is better and smarter. Healthy, huh? In my defense, I do feel it’s human nature to question your talents when you don’t receive positive feedback, but really, you do get so much more out of a person when you give them even just a little affirmation.

Sometimes my security as a professional decreases because, and I’ll admit it, I like to hear I’m fabulous. But today I realized that it’s not me–we all want a little pat on the back. I had two interactions with people I greatly respect who all but admitted they like to hear how wonderful they are too–every now and then. A colleague, who I felt never let clients or work stress him out shared that he internalizes his anxiety and, in fact, gets nervous before important meetings and/or presentations. And, my mother, an extremely successful teacher of more than 35 years, filled me in on how her principal recently singled her out and thanked her for always being able to count on her for a job well done. See? I’m not alone. Even those I look up to need a little Stuart Smalley mantra.

Like everything in life, this is another lesson learned and I make it a point to provide those I work with the feedback I would want. Granted, neither myself, nor anyone else, is perfect, so the feedback may not always be positive. However, just knowing whether the direction in which you’re headed is the right one can help immensely.

So, those clients I’m referring to aren’t really challenging, and if they don’t feel the need to reaffirm that the job I’m doing is a good one that’s fine. I’ll just have to have my own secret daily affirmation myself. Whatever works, right?


{September 16, 2010}   Only Me

Just when you think there are no more decent people in this world, my idiocy offers the opportunity to prove that theory wrong.

Because I am constantly doing 9 things at once, my attention to detail (personally, not professionally), can sometimes fall to the wayside. Therefore, today’s “situation” (not to be mistaken for the guy from the Jersey Shore) proves once again that I need to SLOW DOWN.

This evening I received a call from a strange woman who was in possession of some photos I sent to a friend. The woman, although extremely nice, was floored by the receipt of this package. She had lived at this residence for almost a year, and knew the two previous owners. And neither she nor those who used to live there, were my friend.

Mortified, I asked her if I could confirm my friend’s address and call her back. She so generously offered to mail the photos back to me (btw, the photos were nothing scandalous, just some family pictures I would never want to lose), but since I was capable enough to get the city right in the address, I asked if she would mind mailing them to my friend’s “real” address.

So, I called my friend, and after her outburst of laughter at what an airhead I am, she reminded me of her address. Turns out, she lives next door.

As we speak, my old friend, and my new friend, are meeting their neighbor for the first time. At least my mistake could add more peace to the streets.*

*I want to say a special thanks to Google, because if not for you, my lovely new friend would have never found me, and my cell phone number, and my precious photos would have been lost forever. Thank goodness for technology!

{September 10, 2010}   For Grammy

I’m more than embarrassed that it has been months since my last post, but fortunately, it’s because I was just too busy. Business was extremely good over the summer, and I’m now enjoying a little breather as my workload, although meaty, is nice and manageable.

In memory of my Grammy, who passed away on this day, 13 years ago, I am hoping this is the rebirth of the “All I Never Wanted To Be Was A Stay-At-Home Mom” blog.

Also, for the first time since my Grammy passed away, I am spending the anniversary of her passing with those of us closest to her–my Gramps, Nanny (I’m lucky enough to have inherited a second grandmother 11 years ago), Aunt and Cousin. Although I wish my mom was with us, too, it is so comforting to be together to share the memories of our beloved Grammy. The Buba and I traveled, with Michael, to Philadelphia, where we have all gathered to celebrate the Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashana. Michael continued on to Baltimore last evening where he met up with his Metro Firefighter’s softball team and is playing in a tournament to benefit Muscular Dystrophy. So, this weekend I’m playing single mom.

Although I am 100 percent supportive of Michael’s playing on this softball team and traveling, I still believe it is my duty as a Jewish wife to remind him how much fun he’s having this weekend while I’m being a single mom. Likely not fair, but it’s what I do. And, it’s not the first time…

About a month ago the five of us, plus our nanny (aka babysitter so as not to be confused with the real Nanny), traveled to Florida to celebrate my grandparents’ 90th birthdays (my father’s side, not those I was referring to above–sheesh, I feel like I have a lot of grandparents, how lucky am I?).

I’m kind of obsessed with getting “bumped” by the airline, so when the opportunity arose for one of our party to give up their seat and in exchange receive $300, I was all about it. Without a thought, and frankly, like a dumba$$, I immediately agreed that Michael would take the other flight (that would arrive 10 minutes after us) by himself. So, the “best wife ever” (as I like to refer to myself), babysitter, two tweens and The Buba all flew together while Michael flew by himself. Pardon me, but WTF was I thinking? Granted, it was a relatively easy trip thanks to the best babysitter ever, and the tweens, who you forget are even with you because they’re so good, but still. Michael did whine about having to sit next to a heavyset gentleman, but then this gentleman shared his drink tickets with Michael. Rough trip dear.

So, today, as I was catching the food The Buba was throwing at me while I was trying to feed him lunch, I received a text from my beloved: “I am bored….sitting by myself listening to music.” Seriously honey, am I supposed to sympathize? Not going to happen from this Jewish wife.

P.S. He’s still the best husband ever.

{May 18, 2010}   Nanny Dearest

Well, after more than 16 months, I’ve caved. This morning  was the the nanny’s first day. And both The Buba and myself couldn’t be happier.

Before The Buba was born, Michael and I talked about our “best case scenario” option when it came time for day care. We both agreed that we would like to be at home as much as possible for both our child, and our sake. Therefore, when I found out I was pregnant, I went to my then-boss, and pleaded for a full time, 2-day a week at home, schedule. It took a bit of convincing, but he agreed and I couldn’t have been happier. In this day and age, employers are so much more willing to accomodate a flexible schedule than in years past. In our virtual world, you can be anywhere, and still be accessible. A blessing and a curse at the same time, but for that, I am eternally grateful for the Blackberry.

I am also extremely appreciative of Michael’s non-traditional firefighter’s schedule. Because full-time firefighters work 24-hours on and 48-hours off, my flexible work schedule meant that, everyday, one of us would always be home with Ryan.

When we first “bragged” about our fabulous day care situation with our friends, they were not as enthusiastic as we had hoped. Most were stunned at, what turned out to be, our ignorance at the difficulty of my working from home with a baby. I justified this negativity as jealousy and pronounced myself as superwoman. I mean, how hard could it be?

For the first 6 months, it was as easy as I had pictured in my head. I mean, The Buba slept often and was the epitome of the dream baby. He would lay under his play gym for hours (which has now resulted in a flat head), or sit in his bouncy seat on the couch next to me as I worked away. While others thought I was nuts, I thought they had to be incompetent.

Fast forward to June 2009, when, The Buba became active and I was laid off and devoted 8-hours per day job-hunting. Still, due to our decline in income, help was not an option. As my freelance business picked up, I just barely was able to manage my motherly duties alongside my professional ones. The Buba respected Mommy’s need to work, but my office was now a game of musical chairs. I could no longer sit in my office because he would want to sit on my lap; if I sat on the couch he would try to type on my computer. It was exhausting and a very ineffective way to get the job done. I refuse to be a quitter and felt as though asking for help would be a sign of failure.

Finally, last month, I surrendered. My business is more demanding then ever, and I just didn’t feel as though I could dedicate myself to my clients freely or be accessible enough to add the value I know I provide. Therefore, we began our hunt for daycare, and fortunately, it was a very short search. Due to our non-traditional schedules, a nanny was our best option. And, a good friend of ours’ sister-in-law not only provided these services, but hadn’t yet been swooped up for the summer. She’ll be graduating college this summer, is an education major and has a passion for children. It was love at first sight. She’s instinctual, capable and confident. What more could I ask for?

I’m thrilled The Buba will have a playmate for at least the summer (if she gets a teaching job in the fall, we’ll begin our hunt again) and we won’t have to burden our family as often. I know The Buba is having fun and I am thrilled to be able to get out of the house.

Today was the first day that the nanny started. And, of course, I didn’t charge my cell phone last night, which keeps informing me its battery is close to death. Thank goodness for the nanny, because apparently, I need more help than I even realize!

{May 7, 2010}   Thank You Social Media

Since 2005, I have toyed with the idea of starting my own public relations and marketing communications consultancy. During that time, I worked for a large PR firm in Chicago and for certain projects, we used a woman who worked for herself. She contracted her PR services to various clients, and agencies, and was extremely successful. I remember telling my husband that I dreamed of doing the same thing–having the opportunity to work for various organizations, but maintain my own identity. I always imagined it would be a win-win and would afford me many more opportunities and always keep me challenged.

Fast forward to June 17, 2009 when I was informed I was being laid off due to a lack of work. Thanks recession. The position I was in and the company I was working for at this time was a place I could see myself for the duration of my career. This is almost unbelievable if you look at my resume and see how many jobs I’ve had since college graduation. I’m a passionate and hungry professional who continuously wants to grow–both skill-wise and financially. Therefore, I was always looking for the next best thing. However, at my former place of employment, I was challenged, felt like I had the opportunity for upward movement, felt a sense of ownership, and enjoyed the people I worked with. So, it was more than a blow when I had to redirect myself and figure out the path I wanted to take.

When I first lost my job, my plan was to freelance while looking for another full-time opportunity. In the past, I had applied for jobs I was intrigued by, interviewed and got it. All is different in a time of recession. There are pools and pools of applicants and organizations are afraid to commit–from a payroll standpoint and scared they may miss out on someone more talented. You can imagine what this job market initially did for my self-confidence. Not only have I likely applied for upwards of 70 openings, but I have had only about a handful of interviews. I was crushed, deflated, and at times, wanted to give up.

However, what I didn’t realize while I was focusing on securing full-time employment, was that I was slowly building the business I had always dreamed of. One of my biggest strengths appears to be my interpersonal communication skills (who knew?). Although I’d like to credit Miami University for the class I was required to take, I have to give full credit to my dad, for which I inherited these skills. Everyone loves my dad, and while I will not be so arrogant as to say everyone loves me, I do have pretty great relationships with my clients. Therefore, I was fortunate enough to have clients I had worked with in the past seek me out to work on various projects, while the rest of my business development came solely from social networking.

I’m not a traditional networking kind of gal. Small talk is not my forte, and while I absolutely love to be social, traditional networking makes me uncomfortable. But, thanks to the relationships I developed within the many jobs I’ve had, my social network really rallied around me during my time of need. And, fortunately, in this day and age, we have all the various social media channels to rely on to broaden our network and keep us informed. Thanks to social media, I met people who ended up benefiting from my services and therefore, I benefited as well. Thanks to social media, I’ve reconnected with friends who have directed me to various opportunities. And, thanks to social media, most recently, I discovered an opportunity that I feel will lead me in the direction to the professional place I always hoped to be.

People say to never burn bridges and always keep the doors of communication open. I’m a firm believer, and proud to say, what appears to so far be, a successful case study.

So, for those of you who think Linked In is a scam, Facebook is an unproductive excuse for play time, Twitter is confusing, FourSquare is for stalkers, and Blogging is too much of a commitment, don’t be so quick to judge…they could change your life.


{April 28, 2010}   Couple’s Retreat

I truly believe that one of the secrets to a good marriage is the couple’s taste in television shows. Based on past posts, it is no secret that I am obsessed with TV–sitcoms, reality, movies of the week (or MOW’s as they are commonly referred), you name it. Therefore, during my single days, it was imperative to find someone who enjoyed, or at least tolerated, my taste in television. I know I often rave about my adorable husband, but specifically in this regard, boy, did I strike gold!

Early on in Michael’s and my relationship, we were innocently channel surfing one day, when we came across a television show. There was a brief pause on the channel, followed by a standstill. While both of us were infatuated with what was on the screen, each of us was nervous to witness the other’s reaction. After sneaking a peek at each other and almost, in code, revealing our approval, a glowing smile spread across both our faces. Who would have thought? That joint excitement was for none other than the historic teenage soap opera, Beverly Hills, 90210.

For the past, almost seven years, 90210 has been an integral part of our relationship, and recently, our family. During the early years, we would attempt to catch our favorite show whenever it was on syndication. Our investment in this “classic,” continued when we upgraded our cable system just because 90120 was featured daily on the SOAP network, and then, because our DVR couldn’t keep up, we purchased the entire series on DVD. Talk about dedication.

Spending quiet time on the couch watching a joint favorite, has become one of our most cherished past times. Fortunately, our taste (and subsequent DVD collection) has even expanded and diversified from 90210. For awhile, we were hooked on Friday Night Lights (this season premieres Friday, April 30, yay!), and our newest passion is Entourage (which, if I may add, is the perfect recipe for a male and female–the glam of Hollywood combined with frat-centric men).

So, I’m sure as the years go on, Michael and I will continue our tradition of SHARED television. But, my DVR remains on overload as the other half of me maintains television individuality. Hence, my currently watching last night’s premiere of The City while Michael is not home.

{March 30, 2010}   Some Things Have To Change

For 15 years, Michael (Hubby has now earned the honor of my using his first name) has been attending the Ohio High School Athletic Association’s basketball championship tournament. It has become a tradition for him. From what I understand (because a husband only tells his wife so much when he spends the weekend with the boys), the weekend is filled with the three B’s–basketball, bratwurst and beer. The tournament is held at The (if you’ve attended the university or are from Ohio, then you understand) Ohio State University and is basically the Academy Awards of statewide basketball athletes. Therefore, because of my obsession with entertainment, Michael was smart when comparing this event to the Oscars. How could I argue?

Now, I want to make sure to get well-deserved props for both my understanding and encouragement each year Michael attends this guys-only weekend. Not only because, for as long as I’ve known Michael, I’ve not been invited to attend, but because every year this tournament falls on my birthday weekend. However, just like any bad quality in a guy, I knew this when I met Michael and I will forever know that my birthday weekend comes after state basketball.

Lucky for me, and I’ve mentioned before, Michael never fails to shower me with love and attention–exactly what I always want. So, each year, he makes  a big deal out of my birthday. I do believe he does this for me, but I also know deep down, he’s no dummy. If he makes me the star a few days prior to the Columbus trip, I am less likely to bother him while he’s away–or complain that I’m stuck home with The Buba.  Smart tactic, and a win-win.

For more than a decade, the guys’ trip has resembled a bachelor party. Upwards of 10 guys sharing hotel rooms, and doing whatever it is guys do when they’re not with their wives. Again, to my knowledge, no strippers are involved at this bachelor party, but I may never really know. As the years have gone on, the bachelor party has become smaller as obligations take over and, this year, the bachelor party became more of a family party. Perish the thought!

I never thought it would happen, but I was actually invited and welcomed, to this year’s Columbus basketball extravaganza. DO NOT GET ME WRONG–I was not there for the basketball. Another one of the wives and I used this opportunity as a quick overnight getaway, a chance for us to spend some overdue quality time together, and of course, a bit of shopping. All three were achieved and much appreciated. We relived our youth a bit at the one and only, Varsity Club, where we watched young, college-aged girls start a random dance party (a joyous past time of mine), and we, too, had a chance to let loose and enjoy a few cocktails. It’s amazing how easy it is to revert back to your college ways.

What Michael always mentioned about this cherished weekend was the people he would run into, year after year, and how this was a tradition for so many. I would nod my head as he explained this, but what I didn’t realize was that my husband was the ringleader for this circus. I wasn’t surprised that he was a ringleader (he usually is when it comes to his social life), but I was more impressed with what a brotherhood this weekend is for everyone. Even the same bartenders come back to spend the weekend with these die-hard high school basketball fans. They’re like trekies–just not as geeky.

I may be invited back next year and I would consider making the quick trip down to Columbus again. My only regret? That I didn’t know about this when I was single! It’s the perfect place to meet what I consider to be a quality man. So, single ladies, save the date–every year, the last weekend in March, Columbus, Ohio. Don’t tell them I sent you.

{March 4, 2010}   Daycare Nightmare

As we all are very aware, all I never wanted to be was a stay-at-home-mom. For years, I would insult my friends who told me they were going to be their own daycare provider. I thought (often out loud and very bluntly), “I could NEVER stay home with my child. I would go CRAZY!”

Therefore, to no one’s surprise, as my business grows, I’m constantly evaluating daycare options. There are many things about daycare that I am all for. I absolutely love the idea of The Buba interacting with other children, having organized learning activities and simply getting out of the house. These pros are all brought on by my neurotic side, who constantly threatens that my son is not stimulated enough, socially inept and going to end up unhappy.  But, fortunately, my realistic side also kicks in reminding me that most people in their late 20’s and older never went to daycare, and “we” turned out just fine.

Daycare opportunities are numerous; however, as usual, I am high maintenance. Really, this time it has nothing to do with my personality, just Hubby’s and my non-traditional work schedules. Long story short, we do not need full-time daycare. So, formal daycare institutions do not allow toddlers who are still in need of a crib to attend part-time, Nannies are an option, but they require part-time schedule be consistent (which ours will likely not be)–same goes for home-based daycares, and I feel it’s too much to ask family since we all have lives. So, for now, I work from home with a 14-month old by my side. Although at some times, a nuisance, it’s become a routine. I truly believe I am the ultimate multi-tasker.

To at least provide The Buba with some stimulation and a shortened daycare experience, I finally decided to utilize our community recreation center’s baby care. This seemed like a perfect option. I can go workout, take The Buba with me, and he can have some fun with other kids. It’s inexpensive and only an hour. A win-win, or so I thought.

Yesterday, I made my move. I enter the baby care with The Buba and his diaper bag in tow. The impersonal baby care lady greets us, “Are you a member? Have you been here before?” I answer her questions and hope to see her reach for my pride and joy. But, she turns around and brings out an umbrella stroller. “I’m here by myself until 9:30 a.m. (it’s 9:00 a.m. when we arrive) and it’s too dangerous to allow him to crawl around,” she explains. “When my co-worker arrives, we will be able to allow him to play.” I’m a little deflated at this point, surrender the idea of watching My Buba interact, laugh and play with others for a half hour, and lean down to kiss him goodbye. But, he’s already been wheeled over to the other toddler in the stroller, who apparently can’t walk yet either.

With a little trepidation, but hope that in a half hour and when I return, I will witness the picture in my head, I tend to my workout. At 9:30 a.m., half-way into my “experience” on the treadmill, I exhale knowing my baby is crawling around, knocking into other kids, maybe getting pushed around himself, and just having fun. At 10:00 a.m., I race downstairs towards the baby care, excited to see The Buba. When I walk in, he’s still in the stroller. I could no longer hide my emotions, “He’s still in the stroller?” I asked. Without hesitation, the same baby care lady explains there are too many children in the center right now and for The Buba’s safety they had to keep him in the stroller. Not cool.

Needless to say, I will not be taking The Buba back to community center baby care until at least he’s walking. I was appalled. I didn’t need to pay $2.50 to have my son pushed in a stroller inside–I could have done that for free.

This was my first “daycare” experience and like any first time mother, I cried as I drove him home. Therefore, it’s extremely important to be picky when choosing a daycare and ensuring you get a warm and fuzzy feeling from those who will be caring for your child.

Apparently, I’m more of a “stay-at-home-mom” than I ever thought I would be.

{February 25, 2010}   Chew On This

How long can you blame drooling, irritability, sleeplessness, etc…on teething if there’s still a lack of teeth? For the past month, The Buba has shown text-book symptoms of teething, and we are still awaiting another pearly white. He was a late bloomer in the teeth department–he’s 13 months and only has 4; however, so was I. According to my mother, I did not get my first tooth until I was 1. And, in fact, I had to have 6 baby teeth pulled because they wouldn’t fall out. Side note, at age 59, my father still has one baby tooth. Congratulations Hubby, this one you can confirm, he gets it from my side!

In addition to these text-book teething symptoms, we’ve recently witnessed a new one. While I can call it gnawing, the best way to describe it is to say that my child may have some beaver descendents. For awhile now, we had been noticing scratches on his wooden crib. Although the crib is a good one, we were fairly certain this was just a sign of wear and tear. However, after a quick glance into The Buba’s monitor, we realized that it was, in fact, our baby boy chewing the paint right off the crib. And now, after some time, it has successfully affected three sides of his crib (for some reason The Buba has decided to spare the backside) This crib, which had me agonizing over its purchase because I wanted the best, now looks like I got it out of the garbage can. This was one of the buys I was so excited about. This was to be an 18-year investment…a crib that turned into a day-bed, then into a double bed? Seriously, kid, thanks! This is The Buba’s first lesson in taking care of your belongings–Mommy’s not buying you another.

Now, should another baby be in my future, I vow to not buy the most expensive anything. Well, don’t quote me on it 🙂

{February 20, 2010}   As You Wish

When I started this blog, I told myself that I would not fall into the same bad behavior I usually do when it comes to my intentions. Translation–I wouldn’t start something I wasn’t prepared to finish. However, I’ve accepted the fact that building my own business creates ebbs and flows in everything I now do. Therefore, as with my workload, this blog will likely have busier weeks than others. The good news is that in these past 12 days I’ve been swamped. I’ve kind of learned to enjoy the thrill of the hunt and the satisfaction of landing new clients and projects. Today I am very thankful.

I also have every reason to be thankful for my personal assistant (aka Hubby). Please don’t think I’m being condescending by my calling him my PA–he actually created this label himself. Who doesn’t long for a PA to be there to pick up the pieces and ensure that everything is neat and in order? I am behind lucky. Despite the fact that Hubby is in the midst of transition himself, he constantly puts me, and the children, first. I know he thrives on doing for others and let me tell you, the four of us benefit immensely. At our wedding, our best man quoted the movie, “The Princess Bride,” advising Hubby that whenever I make a request to respond with, “As you wish.” Fortunately for me, my Hubby took this to heart.

The latest example of this devotion came this morning. I volunteered to take Daughter #1 (so as not to confuse, in addition to The Buba, I have two wonderful stepdaughters who I love like my own) to her Saturday swim practice. I enjoy this hour of “freedom” where I can focus solely on my work (or on my blog). As soon as I arrived, I received a call from home informing me that our iTouch is currently being programmed with my music (for working out) and synched so I may receive email. After hearing that, I am confident my PA rivals Oprah’s. However, I would never want to put that to the test. Oprah, he’s all mine!

I keep mentioning the transition my family is experiencing and without going into detail, I just have to say that life altering situations often result in troubled relationships. However, I am so proud that throughout these past 8 months we have not let anything overshadow the importance of love and family. I know that we would not be able to get through these challenges without each other and frankly, I wouldn’t be able to organize my life without my PA.

Now that I only have 30 minutes left in my one-hour work session, I’m going to get back to drafting press releases for the newest client I landed yesterday. Agony of defeat? Yeah, right.

et cetera