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This blog is about the intersection of wife, mother, and employee.

Set boundaries. Find balance. Experience joy. Explore new technology.

Write your own definition of success.

Sunday
Jul182010

"Because you told me not to."

Earlier tonight my son drank water from the kiddie pool in our backyard.  Let me repeat myself.  My son drank the water from the kiddie pool in my backyard tonight. Before I go any further, allow me to explain he was well cared for today.  He was not suffering from lack of attention, dehydration or malnutrition.  At the time of the incident he had drank plenty of clean water, eaten many healthy snacks and two of three meals for the day.

I have been told that many kids have had a drink of pool water, or worse, and survived.  That does not change a thing.  I am still beside myself.  It is not only upsetting because my son drank water that he had been playing all day, but due in part to the conversation we had shortly after the incident.  Allow me to share an excerpt as follows:

Mommy asks, "Why did you put water from the pool in your mouth?"

Child's reply,  "Because you told me not to."

Mommy, (complete with feeling of brain exploding), "Because I told you NOT you, you decided to drink pool water?"

The child replied with a tentative look.  "Yes."

I was bewildered, sad, worried he would get sick and ANGRY all at the same time.  I am typing while my son eats his dinner.  My brain craves to have a discussion with an adult version of my preschooler right now.  "What on Earth were you thinking?"  The logical part of my brain understands that kids must test boundaries and experiment, but what is the right response when they do something wrong ON PURPOSE?  My son is no stranger to time out, but I usually understand his behavior.  This act seemed to be ludicrous and purposeless to me.

I realized standing next to the pool with the sun beating down and my last nerve in danger of frying that I was at a parenting inflection point.  Instincts were firing off commands to my brain as I desperately clutched for a clue.  I silently sorted through my thoughts one by one:

Of course, the first instinct was to scream.  Quickly passed over that one.  What good would it do?

The second instinct was to take a few seconds to mentally kick myself for all the nights I did not let him cry himself to sleep.  I did not want him to know an extra moment's sadness.  Funny where your brain goes, isn't it?

The third instinct was to punish.  Time out?  Send him  to his room without dinner? Cancel the next Disney trip?

Nothing felt right.  After a few silent moments, the oxygen made it's way back to my brain.   I realized that although frustrating ( infuriating), this is behavior is mostly normal.  What is important is to calmly explain that we are done in the pool for today and that tomorrow I expect that he will keep the water where it belongs.  I think that was the right choice for me, my son, and his (inevitable) future therapist bills.

Life has moved on.  Routines have taken place.  Shoes in the drawer. Hat on the hook. Hands washed.  Dinner prepared and eaten.  My son seems to have forgotten the whole incident and I am left wondering if I made the right choice.  I am strangely comforted at this moment to be a working mother.  Not because I won't miss my angel, tests and all, tomorrow.  I will.  That said,  tomorrow at work, even if someone does something I told them not to do, they likely won't inform me they did it just because I told them not to!
Sunday
Jun202010

Father's Day  

Father’s Day Blog Post.

I was out and about with my family yesterday and I popped into the boutique next to my husband’s favorite coffee store.  The sign hung over the register.  “Shop today for you, celebrate Father’s day tomorrow in style... if Mommy’s not happy nobody is happy.”  I could not help but smirk.  A ladies specialty boutique that only has women’s jewelry and handbags had done their best to boost sales on a tough weekend for them.

It is Sunday afternoon and after a delightful day at a local beach, my son and husband sit watching the US OPEN golf tournament.  The other man in my life, my brother, is playing in a golf tournament in another part of the state.  Golf was my father’s game too.  Me?  I never understood the affection people have for the game.  I learned how to play at a very early age and played the requisite Mother/daughter, Father/daughter tournaments growing up.  I have only played in a handful of charity matches since.   With the right company on the right day is can be almost fun, but it is usually played in warm weather (hot and humid) around water (buggy) for hours.  Hmmm, no thanks.   Yet, I would not trade any of my experiences with my family at the golf course.   It is part of who I am.

No. I did not inherit my Father’s love for golf, but he did bequeath to me his tenacity and his work ethic.  Unfortunately, I inherited his lack of patience and his temper, too!  (That’s another post altogether).

Happy Father’s Day to all the great, yet perfectly imperfect Father’s out there!
Sunday
Mar142010

The World is FLAT

Scientifically, I admit that the Earth is round. This blog does not ascribe to conspiracy theories such as a flat Earth or that Americans have never landed on the moon.

When I say the world is flat, I mean the corporate world.   The traditional hierarchy of class systems has changed.  Inside corporations the world has become, if not flat, then at least flatter. Today, CEOs receive emails from individual contributors. Fans can twitter some of their favorite music stars, actors, or celebutantes.  At EMC, we see this play out over and over again.  People who are willing to ask, and have the credibility to see things through are given amazing opportunities.

We see examples of extraordinary things happening to people who are willing to ASK in the world as well:

No idea if the event (below) was truly spontaneous or planned.  It could have been a publicity stunt, but I want to believe it was someone who took a chance.  As women many of us feel that we should not risk it unless we are 100% certain of the outcome.  I say, ask yourself what is the worst that could happen?  Careful what you wish for it might come true!

As a mother I was happy for Austin.  I was even more proud of his Mom.  She taught her son to Believe that with hard work and preparation ANYTHING is possible.  Rock on, Austin!

John Mayer & young fan Austin - Belief


Sunday
Dec202009

The New Village

This post is from my Working Mother Experience blog, but I wanted to cross post it here.  Enjoy!

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The Working Mother Experience is a 250 page exploration into the culture of EMC’s working mothers.  It is one example of the many ways in which women are finding to connect with their created communities.

The saying that it takes a village to raise a child is still valid, if you are willing to have your village closer resemble a building in Second Life than a pueblo in your town center.  The internet and social media makes it possible for women everywhere to band together on topics that are important to them.

Circle of Moms on Facebook and Twitter are great examples.  You can connect with Moms around the world on virtually any topic from kids with reflux, resume help, or World of Warcraft tips and tricks.  Co-ops and babysitting clubs form online for free or you can try one of the fee sites like SitterCity or Care.com.

The world was never smaller for me when I was instant messaging with one of my closest friends from college while I was waiting for MRI results at the hospital with my two year old son.  My son was asleep in the room with me, while one of my best friends and I "conversed".  BTW, he has lived in Japan for the past 15 years.

The workplace is part of the new village for working mothers.  We spend so much time in and connected to our offices.  Of course they will become resources for us to tap in times of need.  Women have gone before and will come after you in a work-based circle of life like any other.   There is a great network of support in good times and bad between the working mothers at EMC.    The camaraderie was summed up best by essayist Jeannene Austin.   “Some people have role models and some people ARE role models.  Knowing that someone has lived a similar life to yours in a similar culture (EMC) and survived infertility, breast cancer, miscarriage or death in the family helps you chart a path back to normalcy.”

Corporations that embrace community halls, real or virtual, are part of the tapestry of the new village will thrive.  They will be in a position to capitalize on the best working mother talent.

On December 10, 2009 EMC sent a number of women to the Massachusetts Conference for Women. The day's lineup was just amazing.  Speakers ranging from Marcus Buckingham to Suze Orman gave motivating speeches of empowerment and self-reliance.  Marcus talked to women about finding what makes them happy and doing more of that.  Ok that may sound like (DUH!) obvious right now, but it was a terrific message for women of all ages to hear.  Figure out what makes you happy and do more of it.  Focus on your strengths and stop spending so much time trying to fix your weaknesses - work around them.  Suze Orman gave financial advice that had everyone at my table scribbling like we were back in college!  I thought I had a handle on things financially (and I do), but as with any discipline it takes practice and presence - you can always get better.

As amazing as the speakers were for the day and the copious notes everyone scribbled are valuable, the highlight of the day was the open Mentor/Match program.  Women lined up to speak to volunteer mentors about topics ranging from resume support, career advice, and executive presence.  A few women from EMC were chosen to mentor.  Being a "speed" mentor was a great honor and I got much more out of it than would have ever anticipated.  What does this have to do with the Working Mother Experience?  Everything!  Connecting women makes the sum greater than its parts.  Mentors shared their knowledge with Mentees, cross- company connections were made and it was clear NONE OF US DO THIS ALONE.

Success is knowing when to ask for help and having smart resources to tap!  Hooray for networking and the NEW Village.
Sunday
Nov012009

Disney Magic

My husband and I recently took the plunge and brought our 3 year old toddler to Walt Disney World.  About a year ago, I started reading up on Disney and what it had to offer for preschoolers.  I read three travel guides and trolled "mouse" related websites for untold hours.  Two great resources were the Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World (paperback) and the Disney Mom's Panel (online).  I learned a great deal about the parks, touring plans, meal options, and of course the resorts themselves.  In the end, I ended up calling a professional travel agent to book the trip.  I sent our agent a detailed list of things I wanted to do and amenities I wanted at our hotel and she paired it with a terrific package.  We ended up staying at the brand new Bay Lake Tower which is the Disney Vacation Club option associated with the Contemporary Resort.  We are not DVC members, but until the Bay Lake Tower sells all of its time share slots it was available as a hotel.  I had heard from other parents that the Contemporary Resort was very convenient (on the Disney Monorail system and close to Magic Kingdom), but very loud.  Chef Mickey's is a very popular character meal and they can serve until 11pm at night.  I was glad to have the benefits of the Contemporary without the noise of Chef Mickey's.

My husband and I visited Walt Disney World in 2002 as part of our Honeymoon.  I was amazed how much the parks had changed in just 7 years.  Of course as two adults without children, we focused more time on Epcot and the Disney Nightlife.  This trip we were more Dumbo focused and asleep every night by 10pm!

There are many schools of thought around Disney and toddlers.  I found myself confused and concerned at first when trying to debate whether or not to go.  Would my son like it?  Would it be overwhelming? Is it worth the money? etc.  In reality, it is like everything else around having children.  Your kid is unique and different.  No book or pediatrician can tell you what will work for your child (in terms of likes and dislikes).  Parents have to go with their gut.  A pricey proposition if you are wrong.  I always tell new Moms that they know so much more than they think they do.  Most Moms I know are experts on their children.  Trust in that - especially when it comes to planning vacations!  My husband and I ran a few "tests" before booking the Disney trip.  We took our son to local amusement parks and shows to see how he reacted.  The reaction at Disney was similar (except on steroids).

He liked the local parade in town.  He LOVED the Disney parades.  He likes the local playgrounds and sandboxes.  He LOVED the Disney playgrounds.  He loved the local amusement park and same went for the Preschool geared rides at Disney.  His favorites were the Carousel, It's a Small World, and every train (several in the parks).  What we did not know until arriving is that our son does not like the dimly lit rides.  Even though the subject matter was geared to him (Peter Pan, Winnie the Pooh) the rides were inside dark theaters.  He did not like those one bit and hid his little face in my side.   To my surprise he loved the teacups and although a rather shy boy by nature, he adored meeting the characters!  In fact, one of the first days we were visiting, one of the characters in the Celebrate parade took my son by the hand and brought him into the parade.  My son beamed and I realized that you can't plan the moments that make Disney "the happiest place on Earth".

We attended Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party complete with a special Parade "Boo to You".  My son adored the Boneyard at Animal Kingdom.  The trip was an amazing success.   A success until we were packing to go home.   I had been pleasantly surprised that my son had not asked for any of his usual toys, friends, or his special toddler bed.  My fear was that he was going to ask to go home long before our trip was over.  The opposite happened.  He was upset that I was taking him from what he called his "new home".  He did not want to leave Disney.  I was shocked.  In retrospect, I should have thought this could happen, but my son has always been a homebody so I thought 8 days would be his maximum away from home.   Then again, from a three year old perspective why *wouldn't* he want to live there?  Luckily he has had lots of great adventures since we have been back home and visits from his adorning Grandmothers.   He still asks about Disney every day.  Maybe I should look into the DVC?

Disney has something for everyone.  I can say it was magical for my family and I hope if you choose to go, it is for yours as well.