Parental Job Sharing

Posted on January 20, 2010. Filed under: Single Mom | Tags: , , , , |

Let’s face it.  Some things are just easier to get done without children in tow (i.e. errands, working out, doctor appointments, bra shopping, home organization projects, grocery shopping, etc.).  Households with two adults typically figure out a system that works for them (a la you go to the gym in the morning while I drive the kids to daycare; I’ll go to the gym in the evening while you pick the kids up).  Single adult households, however, are missing out on the swap-op.

…but we don’t have to be!

Put on your business hat for a minute.  When companies have to cut cost, one option to consider is job sharing.  Essentially, two people accomplish the same amount of work that one would, but exhaust less resources.   If you think about it, running your home is much like running a business.  Money comes in, money goes out, you aim for profit (savings), you manage your staff (spouse and children), you maintain your facility (home), you service your clients (family, friends, pets) — and in tough times you downsize (get divorced).  And when that happens, much like with business, the help and the cash flow decrease, but the workload does not – so you absorb it.  Well, it’s time we stop thinking about running our home like a business, and actually start running our home like a business!

Parental Job Sharing – Get on Board!

It doesn’t take a revolution for women friends to help each other out.  I’m not claiming that I have a novel idea here.  But I am proposing that we look at it from a new perspective.  Now, I’m sure if you really needed a sitter, you could call your sister or best friend and they would help you out.  Right?  But I would venture a guess that you spend your babysitting favors wisely.  Just as you wouldn’t buy an ugly pair of pants because they’re there and you need pants, you’re not calling in a sitter so you can go to the grocery store.  That baby’s in your back pocket for a night out on the town!

So why don’t we take a cue from corporate America and start job sharing?  Why are we duplicating efforts?  Why are we missing out on yoga class?  Why are we chasing our little dressing room escapees through the department store in our bra?  Because we’re not job sharing!

Why not form your own Parental Job Sharing Circuit?  Find other moms in similar situations as you and collaborate to improve efficiency in your homes.   Here are some ideas how:

  • One of you watch and feed the kids while the other goes to Tuesday evening yoga class, and then reverse roles on Thursday evenings.
  • Call your job sharing partner before running to the drug store, with or without kids, so that you can grab whatever she may need.
  • Perhaps you both like cosmetics from Sephora and books from the library.  Put one of you in charge of restocking the makeup bags and the other, the book shelves.
  • Form a large circuit and swap Saturday afternoons “off”.   Half the moms host a playdate together with all of the kids while the other half go to the mall to get some shopping done, and switch roles next Saturday.
  • If you’re making lasagna on Sunday night, make two trays rather than one, and bring one to you job sharing partner.  Next Sunday, switch.

You get the idea.  If you form a group and create a system, you all benefit, and no one feels like their need is too petty to call a sitter.

When it comes down to it, I just don’t want to bundle up and strap in my four-year-old just to go get a bottle of cough medicine.  Five minute errand?  POOF!  Thirty minute ordeal.

Won’t you job share with me?

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MLI Discussion: The Ring

Posted on January 13, 2010. Filed under: divorce, MLI Discussions | Tags: , , , , , , |

I was home alone.  I was sitting at the top of the stairs.  And I was bawling — er, whaling like a banshee.  My wedding ring was gone.  I was sure of it; I’d looked everywhere.

It was 2005 and I had been married for almost three years.  We were expecting a baby in just a few months.  I was enjoying a fantastic pregnancy and was a happy mommy-to-be.  My pregnancy was so delightful that I rarely had any “crazy pregnant lady” moments.  But this was one of them.

I retraced my steps a hundred times.  I unscrewed drain pipes, pulled back carpeting – YES!, pulled back carpeting.  I pulled all of my clothes out of all of my drawers.  I dumped my baskets full of toiletries.  If that ring was in that house, I would have found it. 

After hours of frantic searching, I collapsed to the floor and the tears began to fall.  Thinking back on that day, I remember feeling like I had lost an absolutely irreplacable possession.  This wasn’t about the diamond.  My ex purchased the ring when he was waiting tables at Bob Evan’s.  It was a beautiful ring, but the monetary value was minimal. 

My attachment to the ring was in what it symbolized:  It was the day he proposed to me while I was in my pajamas.  It was shopping for my fairy-tale wedding dress.  It was the moment he slid it on my finger before all of our friends and family.  It was our first apartment, our new home, our unborn baby — all captured in that circle that belonged around my bare left ring finger. 

I can clearly remember feeling like I didn’t know how to go on without that ring.  A replacement just wouldn’t do.  I spent the next 24 hours replaying the day before in my head.  When did I last have it on?  Where was I when I took it off?  What did I do with it? 

I could picture myself setting it on the bathroom counter before my shower.  WHY WASN’T IT THERE!?  And then, as though God had decided I’d been tortured enough, it came to me.  I ran up the stairs, pulled my maternity jeans from the upper shelf in my closet, and the ring fell on the floor in front of me.  The jeans had been sitting on the bathroom counter when I took the ring off.  Unknowningly, I had set the ring on the jeans and it slid down into the cuff of the pants. 

All was right with the world.

Two and a half years after splitting with my ex, that ring sits in my jewelry box.  I keep thinking I’ll sell it, but never get around to it. 

I have a new passion for life and I welcome all of the opportunities that await me in this new chapter.  I thank God everyday for leading me to Doug, the perfect partner, best friend and love for me.  Yet, the ring is still symbolic of all the same things it was when I wore it.  Only now, it takes on a new meaning as it serves as a reminder that there was good in my marriage.  My husband, and our union, was important to me.  I do not view those years as a waste, and maintaining this perspective helps me be the best mom I can to our son.

 

Do you still have your wedding ring?  If so, why do you keep it?  What do you plan to do with it? 

If you got rid of it, what was the thinking behind that decision – and if you sold it, was it worth it?

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The Icing on My Divorce Cake

Posted on January 10, 2010. Filed under: divorce | Tags: , , , , , , , , |

If you haven’t figured it out by now, I have a pretty sweet divorce.

After five years of a fairly decent, yet disappointing marriage, Ex-Husband and I  split up.  Once I got past the brief period of post-divorce insanity and worked through the awaiting rotten emotional garbage, I was exactly where I wanted to be:  On my own, starting over, with endless possibilities! Ahh… delicious divorce.

Now, a few years later, Ex-Husband and I have a respectful relationship, that even somewhat resembles a friendship.  Braden, Ex-Husband and I all benefit from the rewards of our cooperative, drama-free co-parenting arrangement. Braden’s dad and I have both moved on and found more fulfilling relationships with new significant others, and we’re genuinely happy for each other.  It’s not uncommon to see any combination of the five of us at an event or one of our homes.  (Well, one combination is uncommon: My boyfriend and Ex-Husband’s Girlfriend alone together might raise an eyebrow…)

It wasn’t until recently that I’ve had the pleasure of getting to know Ex-Husband’s Girlfriend.  They have been together for a little over two years now, but she and I only just started to interact beyond a brief “hello” within the last couple of months.  I never imagined our relationship would blossom into what it has.

It began on email.  Then we exchanged digits.  Next, a dinner “date” (as Ex-Husband calls it, to poke fun at her).  We had such a great time at dinner that we sat at that table for three hours!  Did I call it dinner?  I meant to say “at bottle of wine with some food on the side.” We shared stories, laughter and even a few tears.  Going into the dinner, I was a little worried that it might be awkward — but it turned out to be anything but.

We found out that we have a lot in common, which I think was a surprise to both of us.  We also learned about our extreme differences in upbringing and adult lives.  I talked about coming to the decision to divorce and the struggles and rewards associated with that decision, and she discussed the decision to enter into a serious relationship with a single dad and the struggles and rewards associated with that.

Our dynamic is so interesting, so rewarding and so amazing that even I can’t find words to explain it or express my appreciation for it.  Because this wonderful woman has entered my son’s life with an open mind and an open heart, we have been able to spend time together on each of the last three holidays – Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day.  Today, she, Braden and I went out to lunch and then to see The Princess and the Frog.  We had a blast!  Braden beamed with excitement the entire time.  We agreed to have these girls’ days with Braden on a regular basis.  Family takes on a whole new meaning when it’s one you choose.

Ex-Husband’s Girlfriend isn’t a mother, nor an ex-wife — so coming into our situation was a huge life adjustment.   One that I am so grateful that she committed to making.  Through my relationship with her, I’ve learned that we can find some of our most amazing blessings in the most unexpected places.   Hers are not easy shoes to be in, but she wears them so very well.

For these reasons, Ex-Husband’s Girlfriend is, without a doubt, the icing on my divorce cake!

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A Week of 2009: Memories Made

Posted on December 29, 2009. Filed under: Stories | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , |

This has been a fun-filled year!  This post may be a little bit more for me than for you — but I hope that it will at least inspire you to reminisce about your good times had during 2009.

 

I’m pretty sure nothing memorable happened in January.  In fact, I’m positive nothing memorable happened — or I’d remember it.  So I’ll skip to February…

February

This is the month I met the rest of Doug’s family.  You can read about that in yesterday’s post

March

My favorite weekend of the year was the one when Doug and I went with another couple to St. Louis to watch the Redbirds play in the Missouri Valley Conference.  Oh my God, did we have a blast!  The games were awesome and the weather was amazing.  It was the beginning of March and it was 70 degrees.  We ate and drank outside and just had more fun than I did the rest of the year!

My mom started an email exchange of family memories.  For about a week we were all just sending emails with lists of new memories that popped into our heads.  It was such a nice long distance bonding experience.  I didn’t want to lose them, so I compiled them all into one and posted them as a note on Facebook.  (I think I’ll go read it again after I’m done with this post.)

Nothing memorable in April…

May

I went to three Cubs games in May, which means it was a great month!  I should mention that I have four favorite things to do in the summer:  1. spend the day at the race track (horses)  2. listen to live music outside  3. go camping  4. go to Cubs games!  One of these games was particularly special because it was Braden’s first game!  He was sooooo excited to “go at the Cubs” with Mommy, Doug and Mimi.  He actually paid attention to the game — for about 5 minutes.  And then he took to crushing peanut shells.  First ours, and then any that he could find.  We ultimately resorted to brushing them off the ledge of the next section up onto the ground so he could crush some more.  Also of note, after about four trips to the concession stand and/or bathroom, he was pretty confident that he knew the way.  So the next time he had to go to the bathroom, he told me he was going to go by himself because “I know how to go there.”  I was like – “yeah right!” but he climbed over the seat to head off.  I followed him, about three feet behind.  He didn’t know I was there.  It was so cute watching his little three-year-old body from behind, manuever around people and make his way to the lind for the men’s room.  I was actually pretty surprised that he found his way and politely got in line.  Then, of course, I stood there with him. 

Doug, Braden and I went on vacation to visit my parents in Florida.  We go to Florida two or three times a year, so this is no novel event – it’s just always so nice to do!

June

Months of preparation came to a head one awesome Friday in June.  Doug moved into his house in June of 2008.  He has been making improvements to the interior of his home since day one.  However, the exterior left a little something to be desired.  There is a wonderful front porch that was going to waste and as a lover of the outdoors, home decor and spending money, I just couldn’t let it go on for one summer longer!  So week by week I gathered items and stored them at his parents house.  Then I took a day off work on a Friday and my crew (his mom, sister-in-law and my friend) and I got a 5:30 a.m. start.  We spray painted white wicker furniture to a luscious brown and donned them with beautiful cushions, hung ferns, painted the rail, painted the old wood rocker cream, layed a rug and a door mat, spray painted all metal things bronze, hung a clock and thermometer and a decorative ledge, potted plants to set on the new plant stands, filled the galvanized tub with ice and beer, played a playlist of Doug’s favorite music and awaited his arrival from work.  His surprise when he stepped foot on that porch was worth every penny and hour spent!  And then, because his porch was so beautiful, we decided we had to paint the rest of the house…

July

Braden and I spent independence day alone together.  It was an AWESOME DAY!  We laid out a blanket the night before so that we could have a front row seat at the parade.  Doing the things that I did as a kid with my son is such a rewarding experience.  I just love experiencing childhood through his eyes.  We spent the rest of the day doing fun stuff.  We walked to the festival downtown, we ate bratwurst and then we watched the fireworks.  He fell asleep in my arms during the finale.  It was the perfect day.

August

I got to share one of my favorite summer activities – going to the racetrack – with my boyfriend in August.  He had never been to the horse races.  I was so pleased that he loved it as much as I do!  We didn’t really win any money — but then, that’s not what I go there for anyway.

September

Doug and I took a road trip to Panama City Beach with another couple.  We had a two bedroom condo with a big balcony that overlooked the beautiful ocean and white sandy beach.  It was my first real vacation (not visiting family, no kid in tow) in seven years.  Let’s just say it was hard to get on the return flight…

I started My Life, Incomplete in September, which is step one of chasing a dream of mine.  It’s a small step, but I have to start somewhere.  I’ve said this before, but I’ve gotten so much more out of this experience than I bargained for.  I’m looking forward to watching it grow and reaching my goals!

Braden and I moved into our new home, which is a life event symbolic of planting roots.  After two years of up-in-the-air, we have a home of our own — which has become a peaceful sanctuary to me.  We deserve this!

October

I attended the wedding of a dear old friend and was moved by this perfect union.

My uncle took Braden and I to the zoo to see the dinosaur exhibit.  It was such a nice day spent together.  Braden was hilarious in that he wanted nothing to do with the dinosaurs.  At first he cried and begged us not to make him go.  So we went to see some animals instead.  By about an hour into the day, he was begging to go see the dinos.  He actually really enjoyed it and talked about those dinosaurs for weeks to come. 

My cousin came to visit from Colorado.  He is eight years younger than me.  We have not had the opportunity to spend much time together at all.  In fact, I was in my early twenties the first time I met him and his two younger brothers.  (They are actually the sons of my cousin, whom I do not know.)  We spent six days together and had a great time getting to know each other better, visiting the city (amazing how much more you see when visiting as a tourist rather than a suburbanite!), hanging out with my friends, killing it on Rock Band and eating lots of pizza.

November – What a packed-full month! 

A historic event happened in November.  I had dinner with Ex-Husband’s Girlfriend.  There was no reason for this dinner date other than to get to know each other.  We shared a bottle of wine, stories, laughter and tears over our three-hour sitting at WildFire.  It was a perfect night!  The waitress thought we were crazy, we’re sure.  There began a much-needed connection and friendship between us. 

I had the pleasure of packing food with my coworkers at Feed My Starving Children.  The experience propelled me into action and I am now committed to giving more of myself than just my pocketbook to those in need.  I look forward to a year of giving in 2010!

Doug’s family came to my house for a birthday party for Braden.  I live two hours from them and they had never been to my home.  I was so thrilled to have them as my guests.  It was amusing, packing that large family plus my mom, my son and me into my tiny townhouse – but a wonderful day that Braden and I will always remember. 

Thanksgiving.  Too many personal details would be necessary to explain this day.  Let’s just say it was both good and bad.  But the best part was that Braden had the experience of sharing a nice holiday meal with his mom, dad and dad’s girlfriend.  And that was something to be thankful for. 

December – Another busy, busy month!

So many fun events took place this month, but I’ll just mention the monumental ones here.

I had the pleasure of attending two of Doug’s sons’ high school basketball games for the first time.  Watching them play, I could see their dad in them.  They are awesome athletes and adorable boys.  It was an honor to see them play in person, and definitely worth the three and half hour trip!

I got news that I will be published in print for the first time in my life!  This is definitely the most exciting news I got all year!  Keep your eye out.  I’ll be sure to let you know when my essay runs in Chicago Parent Magazine during the first quarter of 2010!!

Braden and I had the most lovely Christmas, spent with Doug’s family at his parents’ house.  Braden was thrilled — I think he had his best Christmas yet!  We don’t have any other little ones on my side of the family and his cousins on his dad’s side live in another state.  So he had a blast playing with the other kids and sharing their new toys.  I was filled with joy, witnessing him experience the holiday as a part of a big, happy family — something my ex and I can’t give him.

Thank you for taking the time to read about my year.  Now, tell me about yours!

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A Week of 2009: New Relationships

Posted on December 28, 2009. Filed under: Relationships | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , |

The days are numbered, indeed.  2009 is on its way out and I thought it a good time to pay it some respect and due credit.  So this week on MLI will be a week of 2009. 

When I first typed the title of today’s post into my WordPress post editor, I typed “A Week of 2009: Outstanding People in My Life.”  And then I decided that I might offend the fabulous people I know and love who may not have made mention.  So rather, I’d like to share some of the new, rewarding relationships that have blossomed for me this year.

1. Doug’s Family – I met Doug in 2008 because I knew his brother and his sister-in-law.  I did not, however, have the pleasure of getting to know the rest of his family until this year.  I have never known a group of people as warm and inviting as the Xxxxxxs.  The first time I stepped foot in his parents’ house, I was greeted with a hug, a smile, and a face lick (from his mom, his dad and their dog – in that order).  I bonded with his mom and other sister-in-law instantly, and Braden with the children.  I am so blessed to have all three of these women, their husbands and their children in my life.  They are such a fun (and loud) bunch – and I look forward to any time I get to spend with them.  My son and I have been treated like members of the family and we could not be more thrilled to play the part. 

2.  My Work Girls – I started my job at the end of 2008, and over this past year have had the pleasure of making friends with five fabulous women.  I think to make one real friend at work would be noteable, but five!?  My good fortune is evident in this truth.  These are not just eat-lunch-together friends.  These are girls who I laugh and cry with.  We share stories, meals, life events and funny graphics.  These are my friends — and I am so grateful to have them in my life!

3.  My Online Community – This sounds very cheesy to those of you who know me in the flesh, rather than digitally.  But this is where the old cliche “don’t knock it ’til you try it” comes in handy.  When I decided to start this blog in October, I had no idea what to expect.  I thought I would write some stuff in hopes that “the right person” would read it and I’d land some freelance work or something.  What I got instead was this online community of friends: writers, moms, single parents, divorcees, entrepreneurs.  These are not the people I’d go to if I want to get out of the house and have a good time.  They are not the people I call when I need a shoulder to cry on.  But they are people with similar interests as mine, and a supportive nature that helps make chasing my dream seem a little less ridiculous.  I am grateful for the online relationships I’ve formed.  This goes for all of you, but a few in particular who stand out are: Los Angeles Single Mama, Jamey Stegmaier and Tiffany Noth.

4.  Ex-Husband – True, I’ve known him for almost 13 years.  So how does he fall on my list of new relationships formed in 2009?  I have had the pleasure of forming a new relationship with a known entity over the past year.  In the first 10 years, we dated, we married, we became parents, we divorced.  All of those stages were very difinitive.  After the divorce, however, our lives and our relationship took the symbolic form of a big question mark.  2008 was a mess for me, which rendered me unable to, and uninterested in, dealing with defining my relationship with my ex.  Though the road to the present was rocky, the 2009 journey is ending in a good place.  Our relationship, in my opinion, has been redefined.  We are now co-parents, in the truest form.  We are friends by circumstance, who support and respect each other and have vowed to work together as a team to provide the best possible upbringing for our son. 

5.  Ex-Husband’s Girlfriend – There is another woman in my son’s life.  This was hard to absorb and accept at first.  I never doubted my ex’s judgment in who he chose to bring into Braden’s life – that wasn’t the problem.  I just had a hard time accepting that when he wasn’t with me, he was with another woman.  But over time, as I began to repair my relationship with my ex, something interesting happened; I began to develop a relationship with his girlfriend.  Now, I have a new friend and Braden has an ideal child-of-divorce situation.  We are truly an odd, but fortunate group!

6.  Courtney – There is nothing more exciting that reconnecting with old friends.  If you’re like me, you probably duck your head in the neighborhood bar when people from your younger days walk in.  Often, it’s just easier to pretend you don’t see each other than to have to put on the niceties.  But sometimes, there is a gem out there — someone who got lost along the way for no reason other than your paths leading in different directions.  And when they cross again, you couldn’t be happier.  Courtney was one of my best friends in high school.  We lost touch after graduation until Facebook brought us back together 13 years later in April 2009.  We have been friends again ever since.  It’s like we never skipped a beat (well, barring the death of her father, our college education, both of our marriages, my son, her two sons, my divorce, her mother’s marriage, two job losses and her at-home daycare – but who’s keeping track?).  The reunion was meant to be; we get together as often as we can, our kids are the same age and enjoy playing together, her husband is awesome and we both love to write.  I’m so happy to have her back in my life!

2009 has been a great year for relationship building and connecting with others for me.  I can’t wait to see what happens in 2010! 

Finally, I ought to add the disclaimer that if I met you this year and I didn’t mention you here, it’s not because you aren’t important to me, it’s just because I forgot you.  (I shouldn’t have to explain my humor here.)

What new relationships have you formed this year?  Who has come into your life and made an impact?

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