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Posts from the Work Category

I used to look at weekday stays in a hotel as a sweet luxury.   Especially during both our newborn stages, a night of full sleep was magical.  Feet up, remote was firmly in my control, no tears, no one to nurse back to sleep, no walking the halls with a crying newborn, no baby shit to scrub out of my nails.  Pure magic.  But back then, it was a once a month occurrence.  Currently, I’m booking a stay once a week.  The sweet luxury has been replaced with normalcy.  Here are a few interesting bullet points about my work stays in hotels.

  • In Cleveland, I forgot my favorite pair of black heels. Yes, I wore heels once.  No one returned them to the front desk.
  • I’ve left at least a dozen bags of breast milk in tiny fridges all over Ohio, Michigan, and Indiana.  After the twelfth or so forgotten bag, I started storing all of it in a huge red thermos.  That’s hard to forget.  No one returned the bags to the front desk.
  •  For a while, I had to participate in a fire drill every time I stayed at a Hampton Inn.  Once it happened three times.  On the fourth time, I didn’t care if I went up in flames.  I don’t stay at Hampton’s any longer.  But I’ve got better reasons.  Keep reading.
  •  I thought I would have one of the boys in a Courtyard and was 99.8% convinced I was going to have Becket prematurely at the Drury Inn in Troy, MI.
  • One woman in said hotel glared at me with pity and said, “You look really uncomfortable and in pain.  I hope you have the baby soon. “  I was six months pregnant.  I didn’t kill her, but no one would have blamed me.
  • I was also convinced a “Creepy Same Side of the Booth” couple at the same hotel’s restaurant was going to kidnap me and steal the baby by cutting me open.  I told them I was only six months along and they looked deflated.  Can’t go cutting up a woman for a 24 week old fetus.  That’s super wrong.  They were creepy and asked even creepier questions.  But I was exhausted, so I might have read the situation wrong.
  • I’ve only heard one couple having really loud porno style sex.  Not bad for 12+ years of hotel stays.  But I fell asleep to them doing it and they woke me up twice throughout the evening.  So I’m taking liberty and counting it as three times.
  • I’ve heard a room of at least three men get back really late and I’m assuming they were very drunk.  Because only very drunk men order porn and take turns masturbating in the bathroom.
  • Hampton Inn’s might have the thinnest walls of all the hotel chains.  Final reason for the boycott.
  • I frequently forget my room number if I have two stays in one week.
  • Front desks have given me strangers’ room keys twice.  Thankfully both times, I only walked in on a suitcase.
  • The most disgusting thing I’ve ever found in a hotel room is a pile of clipped toenails.  It must have been an entire family worth of nails.
  • I did walk past two maids wondering how to clean up all the blood on a pillow.  I’m guessing someone had to keep their leg propped up.  Or someone was shot in the face.  I never found out.
  • If I were brave enough, I’d search the internet for “Hidden Hotel Camera Naked Girls.”  After a few Stone Phillips reports, I used to search the shower/mirrors/closets/fire alarms/air conditioning units for hidden cameras.  After all these years in hotels, I don’t care.  It might be funny to see me pop up online with my bits and pieces all pixellated.  And those crappy cameras probably hide the flaws of a body that carried two big babies.
  • After 9/11, I was certain terrorists would spend weeks smuggling in explosives.  And then one random night, they would “kidnap” the hotel and blow it up.  I’m not sure where this scenario came from, but it terrified me for months.
  • Currently, I stay at the same hotels because they’re walking distance to a decent restaurant or because they have a free happy hour.
  • Some of those hotels now say, “Welcome back” which is nice and sad all in one moment.
  •  There is nothing better than pulling into a hotel’s parking lot, shuffling up to the front desk, and saying, “Reservation for Ray.”  Those three words signal the end of the day.

I haven’t romanticized hotel visits in forever.   I don’t get gooey when I see a clean room and tiny shampoo bottles.  No jumping on the bed or reading the room service options.  The view from my room is usually an industrial park.  It’s just part of my job.  And some weeks, I don’t enjoy it.  For almost three months, I’ve spent at least one night a week in a hotel.  That’s not an easy thing to do with young children.  Today, I got a call from Coop’s school because I wasn’t there to pick him up.  It was an early release day for Spring Break.  When I asked him if there was a note, he told me “They sent it home on a night you weren’t here.”  Mark saves everything from the book bag, but I’ve been tiredly flipping through the stacks assuming it was the same “Great Job” or starred assignments.

But with that little bit of complaining done… I wish every Mom had to do some out-town-work trips because as a Mother, I’m very lucky to get that night in a hotel.  It makes me a better parent because I’m forced to take a night off.   I can’t do dishes, wipe another human’s butt, do laundry, make dinner, or any other Mom duty.   My husband effortlessly holds down the fort.  And even though I still have a hard time falling asleep in hotels and often wake up wondering where the hell I am, I’m rested.  And that makes for a happy Momma.

Let’s say I can give you one night in a hotel.  What would you cram into that sweet luxury?

I’m not going to lie, this was a tricky one for me. Work. Where do I draw the boundaries of what ‘work’ is for me? I don’t fully belong in the SAHM category, nor am I logging hours at a nine to five. I’m a chronic student. I have one master’s degree and I’m working on another, and throwing in a PhD just for fun. I’m also teaching an undergraduate class. I guess that’s work, but that’s also fun (if you remind me that I said this during finals week, I’ll cut you). I’m also attempting to raise two semi-well adjusted boys (success tbd). Straight forward enough, right? I like to think so, because all the above makes me sane. What follows below might make me a little less so.

First: an anecdote.

I recently saw a list of characteristics shared by “high achievers” and this one jumped off the page:  Usually feels anxious when engaged in a task, wanting to finish it and get on to the next one. “That’s totally me!” I thought basking in the joy of affirmation, and not a split second later that’s when it hit me (again). I’m a nutcase. I had literally just finished calculating the number of minutes it took to complete a square for my quilt top, multiplied it by the number of squares left, and divided it by the number of nights I was allotting myself to finish it. Yeah, this is what I do to fun things. I know, you want me at your next party, don’t you. Get in line.

I have a whole host of things that fall under the fun category. I do my best impersonation of an 1800’s homesteader. I sew, can, quilt, you name it.

I take pictures and convince myself that one day I’ll master photography, damnit. Alongside my husband we renovate a turn of the century house (“renovating” is just a fancy way of saying our front door looks like it belongs to a crack house).

If you get close enough, it's artsy. See? Not an invitation for a mandatory tetanus shot. Instead it's a beautiful work of old nail, chicken wire, and plaster art.

You thought I was exaggerating didn’t you? Admit it.

In thinking about what ‘work’ meant to me I realized I can’t separate it from fun. Not only because I love what I do, but also because I approach work and fun the same way. I list and I tackle. Then I bask in the accomplishment.

Work. Play. Employment. Hobbies. All enmeshed, scribbled into never-ending to do lists. All contributing to some warped sense of accomplishment, and thus joy. I sure Buddhists are writhing in pain at my un-zen-ness but it is what it is. And truth be told, I kind of like it that way.

Tell me I’m not the only one. Or am I? Are you all blissed out with your oneness of your true self when you’re not working, or are you buckling down and plowing through fun with fierce determination?

Now if you’ll excuse me I’ve got to go check this off my list.

p.s. Just in case you’re reading my list closely and see “look into abandoning children” I want you to know this is school related. Now if you see abandon children and it’s crossed out, then there’s a problem.

in this house work is not synonymous with 9 to 5,  i’m a stay at home mom, so that’s a given. aside from that “job”, i work at developing my skills as a photographer with the hope that i’m turning those skills into something that is (somewhat) profitable. matt has a regularly scheduled job, but by no means is it typical. his job allows him time off to pursue his own endeavors whether it’s showing his own work, teaching sculpture or traveling for commissioned jobs.  we are fortunate to have found ways to express our artistic selves  and call it work, even if at times we were just scraping by.

as adults we strive to feed that craving we have in ourselves to create something and we do our best to keep that same desire thriving in our children. it is such a natural and integral part of who they are and it manifests itself in so much of what they do every day (and we love to play along, too!). some days that creativity is expressed through song, personal style, full on body art or just good old play. as parents we believe it is crucial that they keep these creative desires alive. we hope to show them through the work that we do and the passion we have for it, that they can choose to do what they love. we want them to know that work can be synonymous with creating (in its many, many forms). though it is likely they will not  go down the same paths that we have, our wish is that their love to create will be of service to them no matter what road in life they choose and no matter what that road is, they can always be creative.

“if your work isn’t what you love, then something isn’t right.” – talking heads

how do you work at unleashing your creative beast or doing what you love?

Years and years and years ago, if you were a little girl, your options for a career were limited to these choices: nurse, secretary, or teacher. If you lucked into something that wasn’t one of those three, you were looked at as odd or different. I grew up in the whole Free To Be, You and Me generation and knew I was destined for something better . . . like hell I was going to be a nurse doing what a doctor told me or a secretary who willingly grabbed the coffee or, god forbid, a teacher . . . what fun was that*?! Then, reality slapped me in my face, and I took on a job that no one warned me was even a possibility: motherhood. Because, you know, motherhood isn’t a job; it’s just the end result of a birth.

Here’s where moms get it wrong (and ladies, we do get it wrong, so hang with me for a second, OK?). We try to justify why the work that we do outside the home is better or more fulfilling or harder than the work that we do inside the home and vice versa**. If you’re a working mom, you spend half your time “convincing” your stay-at-home-mom (SAHM . . . I truly didn’t know there was an acronym until a few years ago) friends that you have it sooooo much harder than they do. You take your kids to day care. You work all day answering calls (possibly some from the day care), taking meetings, locating your kiddo’s beloved toy in your brief case and shoving the guilt of being at work deep down, scarfing down lunch so you can do whatever the hell it is that you do for your paycheck more efficiently, and then you pick up your little poppette and head home only to begin the same process for a slightly smaller client base. You go to bed tired as shit, only to get up and repeat the whole shebang the next day. But wait: before you repeat that process, you realize that you don’t have a clean shirt (do the damn laundry) or coffee (better set that alarm clock for 30 minutes earlier or pack the kids into the car and go through the drive-thru right now and microwave the coffee in the morning) or breakfast (yup, it’s the alarm clock – joy). So, working moms clearly have it harder than the SAHMs, so quit your bitching if you aren’t picking Cheerios out of your purse prior to your first morning meeting.

However, being a SAHM has its own special blend of hardships. Enjoy Dora the Explorer? Ummm . . . you better because if your little lovely does, you’ll be watching that crap for hours on end. If you ascribe to the “Oh, television rots their brains” theory of parenting,  you won’t have the boob-tube on 24/7, but you’ll come to treasure a blessed 30 minutes of respite, you know the ones where you give in,  from the mind-numbing questions that come from a 2-year-old learning how to talk. “What that truck do?” will seem like a good interrogation tactic that Homeland Security doesn’t know about, and you’ll offer up your pride-and-joy for some hands-on training after a day with The Big Book of Trucks. And when you finally get the playroom cleaned up and begin a carefully thought-out, wholesome, nutritionally balanced meal, you hear the tell-tale sound of the Barbie bin (insert LEGOs or whatever gender non-specific toy your kids play with because by God, they will not grow up with specific gender labels, dammit) thundering to the ground. Dinner or a clean playroom? Maybe you can bribe the kids to clean – it worked so well in the past – so you head down that garden path. Over dinner, which goes over about as well as a fart at a funeral, you regale your partner with tales from Sesame Street that day and how Elmo really pulled one over on Bob. God, how you wish you worked outside the home because it is so easy.

See where I’m going here? Neither side has it easy. I know because I’ve been on both sides of the fence. I stayed home with my daughters until they were in school, and there were days that I thought I would lose my fucking mind. I ascribed to the “only 30 minutes of television” a day philosophy and only upped it to a full hour when they could handle Sesame Street. And even then, I thought the Street would be my undoing since Elmo and Telly were my main source of entertainment (this post brought to you by the letter C for Crazy). My kids – really, only my oldest – would taste my food and tell me that it didn’t taste good and couldn’t I go to school to learn how to cook good food. I envied my friends who actually got to leave the house every once and a while for a J.O.B. because clearly I didn’t have one. Being a SAHM wasn’t a job . . . it just wasn’t.

When I finally went back to work (ahhh . . . went back to work . . . clearly being “just a mom” wasn’t a job), things didn’t get any easier. Oh, my daughter has an ear infection? Lemme finish here, and I’ll be right over to get her. Time out? You need a dozen cupcakes for school tomorrow?! Guess I’ll stop at the bakery on the way home from work and pick some up. The Girl Scout leader quit . . . hmmm, I’ll step in and do that now. For the love of god, if Boston Market and Subway would have closed down in my town, my girls never would have eaten. By the time I got back from my job and then from running them around, I was beaten and battered and ready to sleep for days on end. One catch: this was Monday, and Friday seemed like light-years away.

So, ladies (and gentlemen), here’s my plea: knock it off. Your job is hard enough – they all are – without trying to figure out who has it harder, working moms or SAHMs. “But you don’t have the guilt of not being with your child,” says the working moms. “Time out . . . what about the guilt about not being true to yourself,” counter the SAHMs. You both work hard, trust me, I know. And both roles are thankless. It doesn’t make any sense to start tallying up the amount of time that a woman puts in at home and at work; when there are children involved, there never is enough time to do it 100% even when you think you are.

Truly, who has it harder? Are you a former SAHM who returned to a paying gig and figured out the grass wasn’t greener? Or did you trade in that two-hour commute for early morning snuggles only to find out that they really just wanted to throw shit at you before the coffee was ready? Thoughts and views . . . I can handle them. If I can watch a Wee Sing video while cooking lentil meatloaf with spaghetti squash and grapefruit meringue pie and only one glass of wine, I can handle this. Share them with me.

* Ironically, I’m a teacher, and it is a ton of fun. I can’t even dream of having a different career. And I am well aware that nurse and secretaries don’t get nearly the respect that they deserve . . . some of my best friends are!

** Clearly, I’m talking about women who have children. I’m only speaking of what I know, and considering I’ve been a mom my entire adult life, it’s all I know, but seeing as how my kids are juniors in college, it’s even more interesting to just be a working woman.