Tuesday, January 31, 2012

(2 Karats and a Kid) Everything I needed to know about life, I learned from my Cocker Spaniel

On Sunday morning I did something that I never thought that I would ever do. 

I gave my Cocker Spaniel to the Anti-Cruelty Society. 

Even writing it makes my heart hurt.

You see, I’m what you would call a “dog person”.   Since my childhood, I’ve had lots of dogs - 1 German Shepherd, 3 mutts, 1 Akita, 1 Labrador, and 1 Cocker Spaniel to be exact.  Although all of the other dogs technically belonged to my parents, Capone – my cocker spaniel, was all mine. 

For all intents and purposes he was my first child.

By now you are probably thinking, “I thought this chick was cool, but what type of person gives up her first kid?” 

I’ve asked myself that same question for the past three days.

I got married three years ago, to a man who for all intents and purposes is NOT a dog person.  But out of his love for me, he married us both accommodating years and years of having his clothes peed on and his shoes eaten up.

As my dog grew older, his bladder became weaker and weaker, and waking up to “puddles and nuggets” became a more common occurrence.

We found ourselves bleaching our hardwood floors daily and shampooing our carpet weekly.  We tried walking my dog before and after meals.  We tried locking him in his cage during the night.  We tried a gluten free diet.  We tried thyroid medicine.  We tried everything.

Even with the introduction of our son into our lives, we continued to try to make things work.  

Unfortunately, my dog couldn’t help himself.

So on Sunday morning, my husband did what I could never do, but what also needed to be done.  I had always told him that he would have to be the one to take him if it ever got to the point where it became unbearable. 

So he asked me if I wanted him to go get some coffee.  He left out the house.  An hour later, in panic, I realized what had happened and I cried.

And though it hurts me deeply, I don’t resent my husband and I know that this was the best decision.  So for now, I try to appreciate all the little lessons that Capone taught me.

He taught me that good things happen when you least expect it:
He was given to my parents unexpectedly.  At the same time, my sister and I were moving out of the house for the first time and they gave him to us.  In return, I received eight years of unconditional love.

He taught me that you protect the ones that you love:
When I moved into a place on my own, my cocker spaniel turned into a vicious guard dog when he sensed danger.    He had a heck of a sense of discernment.   He often tried to attack people who wore their pants down low.

He taught me that the only things that really matter are food, water, and love.

He taught me that sitting in the sunlight makes you feel great.

He taught me that dogs, like people, like the taste of a good martini.

He taught me that sometimes, no matter how much it may hurt, relationships change and that no one is to blame.

He taught me that sometimes, the best way to love something is to recognize when you can’t love it the way it deserves to be loved.

He taught me that in life, sometimes the introduction and expansion of love in one aspect of your life calls for the end of love in another.

So I love you my Capon-y Macaroni.  Thank you for being a great friend.  I pray for you every night.  I hope that you are adopted by a millionaire who will feed you filet mignot for the rest of your life. 

Friday, January 13, 2012

(MommyJD) Taking a Break

MommyJD? Wtf, where you been? Well, let's see- my husband's motivation and drive to own our very own home in the suburbs meant I had to pack up an entire house in the hottest month of 2011- while 9 months pregnant. Three weeks after settling into our quaint house in the woods enters my lovely lovely Ladybug. She's my princess doll baby and she is now almost 6 months old. Man, time flies! She is so spoiled and in love with her big brother. How's big brother? Well he's had quite a few adjustments with a new house, new school, and new little person in his life.

So now that we've gotten all caught up, let me tell you why I'm taking a break to write this post. My partner 2 Karats and a Kid is making me look bad! Lol. She is getting her 2012 ON and I am so proud of her. I just caught up on all her blog posts so naturally I have to counter with at least one.

Life is super hectic but I have to remember that we decided to write this blog as an outlet. So even though it is few and far between that my 3 year old takes a nap anymore, I still have to sit down and vent a little bit. Usually if I get this time to myself I try to clean up, catch up on my coupon blogs, fold laundry... oh yeah, and EAT (still have to do that). Sadly when people send me links to good articles and blogs I find myself only skimming them to get the gist because I know my free time is limited. I just wanted to echo 2 Karats sentiment that this ish is HARD, but it is the most rewarding job a woman could ever have and we are so blessed to be able to spend time teaching and shaping our children into wonderful people.

On that note, hope to see you more in 2012. I gotta go put something in my own kangaroo pouch before Ladybug wakes up from her cat nap!

Monday, January 9, 2012

(2 Karats and a Kid) The working mom/stay-at-home mom conundrum..(Part 1)

Mommy-ism #21: Don't freak out if you question everything that you thought you knew about yourself after having a baby.

So I started this post around in February 2011 right before I returned to work from my maternity leave. And by "started", I simply mean that I named it and saved it as a draft. Ten months later, as I find myself returning back to my poorly maintained blog, it's funny how my perspective and my reality of being a working and now, non-working mother has evolved.

In February, I was wrapped up in the allure of being a new mother. My baby boy was (and still is) pretty freaking cute, seemed to be a very laid back kid, and had a congenital heart issue which meant that he was sewn to my arms for the first few months of his life because I never wanted to put him down. Just as a eigthteen year old girl can't imagine leaving her first love for college - the thought of leaving the pint-sized version of the love of my life to return to a job that I loathed seemed unimaginable. In fact, it seemed damn near like cruel and unusual treatment. I was pissed at my husband for reasons that I couldn't articulate. I had anxiety of leaving my sweet little baby in the care of someone else - even if it was my parents and only for two and a half days a week since I was returning to work part time.

Yet, when I returned to the real world of actual adult conversations, lunch meetings, and coffee breaks, I quickly realized that having time away from my baby was not only welcomed but much needed. Yes, I still hated my job and my boss at the time - yet, I found myself looking forward to dropping my baby off in the morning so I can hurry up and get my latte and be "me" - even if it was only for 4-8 hours, two days a week.

In many ways, it was the perfect setup except for the fact that I was often too exhausted on the days that I worked to cook for my husband. So when my project ended and me and MOFO (my boss) came to a mutual agreement to part professional ways, I wondered whether I had what it takes to become a full-time stay-at-home mom (until I transitioned into a new job).

I imagined that I would finally find time to write, and would have endless joy gazing into my infant's eyes throughout the day just as I had ten months ago when I was on maternity leave. Very quickly, I realized that was the far from the reality.

Being a stay-at-home mother is without a doubt the hardest job that I have ever worked in my entire life. 

I have worked since I was 16 years old and have had more jobs then most people have had in their lives. I've worked with Chicago politicians for peet's sake! But I soon realized that caring for a crawling, growing, curious, and hungry little boy is not for the weary or meek of heart.

I quickly had to grow accustomed to vacuuming, cooking, and washing clothes while holding a baby or while holding his hand simple because he wanted to work on his standing and walking skills. And writing? Fat chance.  There was no possibility of opening my laptop or picking up my iPad without my curious little boy seeing it as an opportunity to bam on the keyboard or try using them as chew toys.

Being a stay-at-home mother also changes the dynamic of a marriage. With my husband as the primary financial contributor to our household (and by primary, I mean the "sole" provider to our household) there was a self-imposed pressure to increase my domestic skills from nill to awesomeness.

Cleaning - not cooking - has always been my domestic skill of choice.  Yet, as my husband bravely stepped into the role of sole provider I knew that I had no choice but to do the same in the role of Awesome Domestic Goddess/Mother/Wife.

Starting between 5:30 and 6:00 am everyday I play lead in feeding my child/cooking for my husband/cleaning the house/walking the dog/going grocery shopping/and trying to teach my child how to say "hi", clap his hands, walk, and recognize the letter "a".

Most times, our television remains off (which the exception of the Discovery or History channel) because I don't want my child to develop ADD from watching too much television. On the days that my husband is not working, which are few and far between, I continue to play the lead in feeding my child/cooking for my husband/cleaning the house/walking the dog/going grocery shopping/and trying to teach my child how to say "hi", clap his hands, walk, and recognize the letter "a" because I want my husband to rest since he "works" so much.

There are no days off.

Yet, the silver lining is this...I have began to re-learn the lesson of being present. Even when I'm about to put a chicken in the oven, and the water is about to run over in the sink, and the dog is barking like crazy because he needs to be walked, and I want so badly to be able to complete SOMETHING, when my child begins to cry everything must come to a stop. Rather he is hungry or fell off of the couch, or accidentally ate something that is typically used as currency - things come to standstill when he needs me. And though this is sometimes annoying and inconvenient in it's own way it has been a reminder to not fight against the current of my life and to trust that at any given moment I am exactly in the place and space where I am supposed to be.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

(2 Karats and a Kid) The subject of my (x-rated) dreams...

Mommy-ism #20:  Even when you don't like him, it helps to want to have sex with your husband.

Suddenly, I have found myself to be an accidental stay-at-home mom.  I didn't like where my career was progressing and fortunately, I'm no longer working at a place that I loathed more than anything else on earth.  Yet, my husband works more.  Which leads to less time to be intimate and more time to figure out how to teach my son how to talk, or how to identify his body parts, or that electrical outlets are bad things. 

At times, I am angry because this is not what I saw for my life.  I was supposed to be someone doing something very important.  And regardless of how much I clean, or cook, or wash the clothes, or remember important family dates - nothing can take away the guilt that I feel about my husband working more to help sustain the family.

As a result, my husband is more tired and I am more tired.  I can't count how many times I have randomly yelled, "THIS SHIT IS HARD!" to myself, in my house, when no one (or when someone) was there to listen.

Needless to say, this does not help one's sex life.

Between my ever growing postpartum kangaroo pouch, being exhausted from being with the baby all day, and struggling insecurities as I navigate through my career purgatory -- good ole' fashion hard core sex is many times hard to come by.

One night, in the midst of a combination of anxiety and anger and exhaustion, I closed my eyes hoping that I would have a good x-rated dream about someone like Brad Pitt (pre-hideous facial hair) or John Legend, or even a single and younger version of Barack Obama .  As I closed my eyes and fell into a deep dream, I was excited about the mere thought of going to a fantasy world where some hunk was going to throw me up against the wall and tear my clothes off.

I awoke the following morning feeling relaxed and happy, so I tried to recall the identify of the man that I had a scandalous tryst with the night before.   After a few moments, loe and behold...I realized that my costar in my x-rated porn dream was my husband. 

I breathed a sigh of relief because at the end of the day, even in the crevasses of my mind, my husband is still my biggest crush and the sexiest guy that I know.

Monday, January 2, 2012

(2 Karats and a Kid) Sometimes you come across forks, spoons, and knives in the road...

Mommy-ism #19: Sometimes the only way out of a storm is to go through the storm.

My first anxiety attack happened three years ago when I was fresh out of graduate school working at a public sector consulting firm.  I felt out of place there and despite the director's persistent efforts to bring out the best in me, I always felt like the "project of the month" when I was continuously asked to do improptu policy speeches and presentations to fine tune my public speaking skills.  Every Wednesday I walked into the team meeting about to piss my pants because I didn't know who and what I would be asked to talk about in relation to the arbitrary and oftentimes complicated nature of Chicago politics.

One day, on a particulary uneventful afternoon, I found myself in a washroom stall incapable of breathing.  My brain knew to stay calm but my chest continuosly retracted inward until I thought I was going to pass out.  I wanted to yell for help but the closest office to me was the Mayor's office and I refused to be forever known as the little Black girl who was taken out of the Mayor's Office in a gurney.  Eventually, I walked into my manager's office and discretely told her to call an ambulance who gave my "episode" an offical name -- anxiety attack.

Since then, I have made pretty huge strides at keeping my anxiety abay.  Breathing, for one, has helped tremendously.  "Being present" or at least trying to be has done wonders as well.  Yet suddenly, about four months ago I, again, felt the weight of all my fears weighing down on me like a ten ton elephant.

I hated my job.  I hated my career.  I didn't know how to use my degree to get into a different job but I knew that I couldn't continue to do what I was doing.  I felt like I was dying every single day that I went into work - completed my projects within 45 mins - and sat looking at the computer screen for the remaining seven hours of the day. 

But how could I leave or change the trajectory of my poorly planned career now that I have a son?  Would my husband resent me or even worse...loose respect for me?  I felt physically and mentally stuck.

For months these questions seemed to swirl above my head to no avail.

I always said that I wanted to write but I could write nothing.  No blogs. No pitches. Nothing. 

My fear had me stuck. No -- it had me frozen in place.

It would be much easier to have this post-quarter life crisis if I weren't married, with a child, with a condo, and a car note.  But no such luck. 

I wish I could say that as I write this - six months later - that I have figured out the answer but I have not.  The only thing that I know for sure is that fear is an illusion which is the only reason why I am about writing at this very moment.  My favorite author Paulo Coelho aptly states, "the fear of suffering is far greater than the suffering itself," and I believe that to be true. 

Though I am no longer at the job that I so deeply hated, I don't know what the next step is yet -- which is a scary thing.  Yet, even in the midst of the uncertainty of my future, at this beginning of this new year, something makes me think that I am moving in the right direction.
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