Friday, October 7, 2011

Every moment captive

FMLA. Aw, sweeter letters have never tickled the ears of a post partum, bleary-eyed mother; each letter dripping with feelings of maternal bliss. 12 weeks went by though, 84 days as required by law to be exact, and my new found motherly world and the professional world that I'd lived in for 6 years collided in what at first presented to be a talespin of hormones, legalese, lactation rooms and undercaffeinated coffee.
There's a verse in II Corinthians that talks about taking every thought we have captive to Christ- not allowing even one to get by without accountability. I dare say that the life of a working mother is challenged with taking every moment captive. Not one can be wasted. Some people ask me "Jordan, why don't you clean your baseboards?" "Jordan, why don't you train for the Boston marathon?" "Jordan, why don't you make pillows out of table mats and batting?" Because, my gosh, there isn't time!
Let me give you, as an example, a day in the life of me. For dramatic emphasis, I'll revisit a day when I was nursing my son to give you a full view of why every moment must be taken captive.
5:45- wake up
5:55- pump
6:15- shower, dress, make-up
7:15- wake up my son
7:20- breastfeed my son
7:35- dress son, spend 10 minutes of bonding before the mad dash out the door
7:45- leave for the baby sitter
8:00- drop son off at baby sitter, drop off bag, exchange of food, last minute instructions
8:10- leave for work
8:30- arrive at work
10:30- pump in the super awesome lactation room that my company provides
10:45- back to work
12:00- work through lunch if I'm busy or do something productive like go the grocery store over my lunch hour
1:30- pump again; call or text my baby sitter to see how son is doing
1:45- back to work
3:30- pump yet again
3:45- back to work for the home stretch of my work day
5:30- leave work
6:30- arrive at baby sitter to pick up son
6:50- get home
7:00- feed son
7:15- make dinner if husband home, if not eat a bowl of cereal and salvage the remaining hour and half that I have of the day with my son
8:30- feed son
8:45- pajamas, bed time story and bed time for son
9:00- dishes, wash bottles and prepare diaper bag for the next day
9:45- quality time with the husband
10:30- pump one last time for the day
11:00- lights out

Whew- I'm tired just recalling all of that. But that was my life- and the life of many other working mama's. And much to my benefit and unlike a great deal of mothers, I have a very supportive and helpful husband.

If I had to think of one word to sum it all I would say "spread". I know, I know, that doesn't conjure up great images, especially for the place in life where a working mama probably was just a few short months priot. BUT that is indeed how I felt. Spread so thin that there were days that I felt I wasn't a good mama or a good employee. There were days that felt like one ill placed red light or one extra press of the snooze button could throw my whole life out of whack. And it made me realize just how sweet those beautiful four letters were; oh to be back on FMLA.

Friday, June 3, 2011

The new soapbox

It has been a while since I have posted! I am sure that I have been sorely missed. Well, wipe your teary eyes, folks, cause PolkaDot Soapbox is back! The reason for my absence has been twofold: Fold one being that life has gotten in the way…and I have spent my time posting adorable pictures of my sweet baby boy on my family blog. Fold two is that I have not known what my “schtick” is. I knew I wanted a blog that was about SOMETHING and this certainly wasn’t intended to be a picture/story blog. I also didn’t want to be the idiot with two pointless blogs.

So as the months have passed, I wondered what I was passionate about. What gets me excited to the point that it becomes a soapbox? The first thing (besides God) is my family…but I already have a blog about that. Before I had my child I thought “I won’t be that woman whose life is consumed with having her kid. I will have WAY more to talk about than poop and what cute thing he’s doing now and how much he’s eating." Well, I was wrong. Now that I’m a mom, I’m pretty much a mom. If it weren’t this pesky little thing of having to work for a living, I’d pretty much be happy hanging with my little man 24/7 with the occassional date night or girls night out to keep my sanity.

But alas I am a working mother- which made me realize another passion of mine. There are so many of us out there! And I've got to tell you- it's tough! Working mama's ain't no sissies. We have more of a day before 8:00 am then most people do by 5 pm! And what's more- if you haven't figured this out by now- the working world wasn't built around working mothers. Shocker.

So this is my new schtick. My new overriding soapbox from where all subsequent soapboxes will come forth. My soapboxes are the diaries of the "every woman", the working mother, the full time mama, wife, professional, volunteer and multi-tasking extraordinaire. Hang on to your hats, folks. Polkadot soapbox is back!

Friday, February 4, 2011


I am sitting here on this wintry afternoon staring out my window at an evergrowing blanket of snow. With more snow then this mid-western girl has ever seen in my own backyard, Day #4 of our "snow in" is looking like it won't be the last. There's no mistake about it- this is the dead middle of winter. While winter can be beautiful, whimsical and is actually necessary for other seasons to have their full effect, winter is also cold, lonely and can be filled with the despair that you will never dig out.

On the eve of mine and my husband's 6 year wedding anniversary, winter isn't just the state of affairs outside my window, but in my heart as well. Earlier this week, we just found out that a dream that we have been pursuing for 3 years will not come to fruition. A dream that we invested time and money in, but more than that, we invested hope for our future. There was no selfish ambition in this dream, no ill-intent or unrealistic expectation of things to come. I can't tell you why God, in His great wisdom chose not to allow our dream to come to pass any more than I can tell you why the snow won't stop falling. I can't tell you why God would say "no" when we felt so strongly that it would be a "yes". What I do know is that God said if He is for us, then who can be against us. He also said that His plan is to prosper us and to give us an expected end. I learned a long time ago that "prosper" doesn't always mean "give us what we want" or even "what we think we need."

The promises I clung to throughout the past year- before my little baby was even a twinkle in my eye, before we knew what the year would hold- were promises of God's faithfulness. A long time ago, God took Abraham away from his home, away from what he knew and loved to send him to a land that he had never seen and gave him the ridiculous promise that he would be given a son. God promised something that was beyond conventional thinking, beyond logic and beyond what man could ever plan- but in that promise, Abraham and Sarah "considered Him faithful." From their obedience grew a blessing that has affected generations and eventually became the Hope of all mankind. Throughout 2010 God reminded me to "hold fast to the confession of His hope without wavering for He who promised is faithful." (Hebrews 10:23) I have to admit that with this week's blow, I am wavering a little.

As I've stated before, I'm a control freak. I like a plan and I like to stick to it. Right now I have no plan, I don't know what the next step is...and to be honest I feel too tired to make a plan. Instead of making a plan for what I don't know, I will rest in what I do know- that winter is just a season and that God is faithful.

For today, as the as the bite of the cold wind chills and the snow is coming down, I know I can't change the fact that the snow is falling. I can't wish the cold away. I can't chase away the tug at my heart that says I may never dig out. But I can choose not to waver in the wind. I can know that the One who made winter, also made the spring and that one of these days, spring has to come. It has to, right? It's a lot easier to type that than to live with the reality of it. I can be still and know that He is God...and that the God who made heaven and earth, winter and snow also made me and has a plan.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Forever December

I have always wanted to be a “crafty” person. In elementary school I watched in envy as the other kids created masterpieces in art class while my projects always seemed to look like a catastrophic collision of glue, popsicle sticks and construction paper. Throughout my life I’ve made attempts at being crafty. In high school I went through a very exciting modge podge phase where anything and everything I touched was modge podged with magazine clippings- you name it- picture frames, frappucino bottles, plastic cups, even a Zio’s bread server. It was a very cool hobby. More recently I have tried other projects that are somewhat hit and miss, but none the less, I would call myself a very uncrafty person.
I have always made the excuse that I’m not crafty because I just don’t have time. I have always worked full time and don’t have time to devote to creating magical items with my own two hands. That’s been my same excuse for housework. I’d love to care about dusting, cleaning my baseboards and scrubbing my oven, but I just don’t have time. That’s at least what I tell myself and my husband. And for the most part, we don’t really care that much. In my darkest hours of self doubt, that's what I was scared being a mother would be- something I would like to be good at, but that I'm not. Whether it's because I just don't have the time or I'm just not a natural at it. Early last year, I started a little experiment to see if that was the case...

For the past 9 weeks, I have been able to stay at home, thanks to a federally mandated regulation called the Family and Medical Leave Act. My husband and I brought home our handsome prince of a baby and Boom! the world changed forever. The first 4 weeks I just tried to keep my head above water. There were days that I wondered if there was a world outside the corners of my house and sunshine seemed to be something only seen in pictures. After a few weeks though, this new life started to seem more manageable and I started to realize that I can leave my house, take my baby, wear makeup, and all of those things that I wondered if I would ever do again. With the weird awkwardness of being a brand new mom mostly behind me, I entered the month of December and...ah, bliss.
I will say with unabashed, anti-feminist, sap-dripping honesty that I have loved every moment of being home with my two gentlemen over the month of December. I always thought that I would get bored if I were to stay home. How can you find enough to do with a 2-month old? I mean, all they do it eat, sleep and poop, right?! No one could ever have told me how head over heels in love I would be with this new little man in my life. No one could have ever told me how much my heart would melt when he smiles when he looks at my face or how much pride I would feel over hearing him say "nnn ga" (I'm not kidding- he really says it).
With the new year comes an end to this honeymoon and the "back to reality" moment I have been dreading since I saw the plus sign on a pregnancy test. I will always look back on this month as being the woman that I never thought I would be..but loving it.
I tried my hand this month and making my own Christmas gifts. I mean, how can you mess up giving a family member pictures of your newborn? Apparently I can. So I found that the factor that makes me uncrafty isn't not having the time to do it-it's just apparently that I'm not talented. But I hope that being a mom will stick. I hope that I will always love laying in the floor playing with my baby, memorizing where all of his little fat rolls are and racing my husband to see who gets to wake our baby up first in the morning. These are the precious moments that I have loved in the month of December and the things that I feel like I will lose in just a few short weeks. The months ahead will be filled with bittersweetness- getting to watch my little boy get bigger and smarter and even more handsome, but knowing that I will have to miss many precious moments of his life while I'm doing something far less important- like ensuring compliance with state and federal labor laws and investigating sexual harassment complaints. Nice.
Even though my days may be cut short, God has given me the gift of being the constant in my little boy's life. So as the days of December fall off the calendar, this month turns from something ahead to a memory that I will treasure with everything I have. I didn't know that being home with "mom" and "wife" as my only titles could ever make me feel so accomplished. December, 2010: the most meaningful month of my life.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Just trust your instincts...

I realize that I promised to blog about the making of my other two Thanksgiving dishes. Well, clearly that didn't happen. So sorry- I made the food, people ate it, blah blah blah. Really not that interesting. All I will say is that potatos au gratin should not be cut the night before and then made the next day- bad move. We'll just say that it made potatos au gratin look like potatos au black. Not apetizing. Enough said on that.

I realized through that cute little project that I am not made for commenting on cooking. My writing style is meant more for meaningless banter, narcissistic revelations and useless sarcasm. I shant detour again.

Today I would like to explore the cliche that is "just trust your instincts." Never is this phrase heard more than with the process of birthing and raising a child. No matter what the topic, the inevitable "end all, be all" answer that the expert seems to resort to is "but just trust your instincts." Here's how it goes:

Question: When will I know that I'm in labor?
Answer: Just trust your instincts

Question: When should I go to the hospital when I'm in labor?
Answer: Just trust your instincts

Question: How will I know if my baby has eaten enough?
Answer: Just trust your instincts

Question: How will I know if it's okay to let my 1-month old cry or if I should go comfort him?
Answer: Just trust your instincts

While this answer might be very helpful for the majority of the people out there, my instincts seem to be broken. Not just when it comes to child rearing, but pretty much any other decision I've ever been faced with...but for the time being, I'm pretty caught up in the whole child-rearing situation. Furthermore, I think that the "experts" say this to be empowering- like a whole "you're the mom, you'll make the right choice" type of thing...but for me, knowing that the ultimate choice of what to do in situation is up to me is just a tad bit terrifying. I'm the mom equals there's no one else here more qualified to make a better decision. Eeks.

For example, my instincts would tell me not to put my child in a straight jacket to sleep...however every night, we "swaddle" our baby boy..and without it, he inevitably wakes himself up. I mean, the swaddle is even Biblical (Luke 2:12). My instincts would also tell me that if I want my child to sleep at night, I should keep him awake in the evening. Oh contrare. Apparently sleep begats sleep, so if your child gets "over tired" he will not sleep well. Hmph. My instincts also told me that when I went to the hospital in labor that I was going to have my baby within 6 hours...and then I found out I was dilated to a 2 and endured a 19 hour labor! So, the instincts..they are no good.

Maybe I need, like an instinct "tune-up" or something. I'd really like to be a "natural" at all of this. I'd really like to know the innate answer to all of the hard questions, but I have a feeling that if I don't have it now, I'm never going to. And from what I hear, the questions only get harder: Should we let our child have a cell phone? Is our child making good friends? Are we disciplining our child the right way? You can look in all the books, but all of the general examples in the world don't seem to give me the concrete answer that I need. And whatever the answer is that I picked, there always seems to be a secret "door number 3" that I should have picked.

The other night after a series of quandaries, all of which I seemed to have the wrong answer to, I asked my husband "How do the idiots do it?" I guess it makes me hopeful that not every decision is life changing...that maybe that if I accidentally hold my baby too long, or not swaddle him tight enough or don't feed him long enought that just maybe I won't ruin him for life.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Julie, Julia and Me- Part 2

Messes was right. Today was a day of messes. Ay yay yay.

I have never prided myself in being a great cook. I am an okay cook and I can make a few things really well, but as far as being known as a good cook is not really a way that someone would describe me. I would describe myself as a haphazard cook. I make messes. I don't clean up as I go along. I get easily frustrated. So I guess you could say that my cooking life matches my personality :).

However today I proved to myself not that I can cook, but that I can be in control of my emotions...for the first time in a very long time. I have LOVED that I have had the excuse of either being pregnant or having new mom hormones to excuse my emotional outbursts and overall weirdness, but the truth is, more of it has to do with me just being me then the fact that there may or may not be hormonal imbalances going on. Since my son was born, I have found that I am less and less able to keep my composure- thus resulting in public embarrassement of myself from yelling at people who didn't see me coming. It's probably a good thing that today I didn't leave my house whatsoever.

I did start with my first of three items to make for Thanksgiving. The Chocolate Cake Roll which is basically a giant Little Debbie swiss cake roll. The picture looks so pretty and perfect and chocolatey. Well screw the dang picture because that's not what mine looks like.

To make the "roll" portion of this dessert, you have to place the baked cake onto a towell, role it up and let it cool. On my FIRST attempt to place the baked cake onto the towell, I missed the towell and the entire thing landed and broke on my stove top. Nice. The normal me- pregnant or not- would have done something awesome like throw the pan on the ground (which was not an option as I had a sleeping child about 15 feet from where I was) or cry while I put the entire cake down the disposal. For some reason I had the composure to take things in stride and very calmly see if I could correct the broken cake...which I could not. I carefully put the broken cake in the trash and started to make another one.

One would think that the lovely moral to this story would be that as a tribute to my calmness and collectedness that the second cake turned out lovely. That's not the story of my life. It never has been and it wasn't today. I made my second Chocolate Cake Roll attempt and happily made it a few steps further than I did with my first one- however as I unrolled the roll to put in it's filling, the entire cake fell into five peices. The story of my life.

Other messes that occurred today- the new "usual" being spit up on, being pooped on..and my new favorite...being pee'd on mid-diaper change. And who says being a mother isn't glamorous.

So as item one of my three Thanksgiving items comes to a close, I can only thank God that I was able to keep in control of my emotions a little more than usual...and hope that my next two items are a little more successful. And I also vow that I will never make any other food item that has the word "roll" in the title. Oy.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Julie, Julia and Me- Part 1

My favorite movie of almost all time is Julie and Julia. For those of you who haven't seen it, you probably won't like it. I don't think that it got great reviews and everyone that I've ever talked to about it said that it was slow and anticlimactic. I can see all of those points, which some might say is a betrayal to say about ones favorite movie. It really is an odd choice for me as I usually like very whimsical movies- like White Christmas- or very suspenseful, thriller type movies. The reason that I think that I have fallen in love with Julie and Julia is that I feel like I am watching myself on on the silver screen- the Julie parts- not the Julia parts.

The movie of Julie and Julia-for those of you who haven't seen it- follows Julia Child and Julie Powell as they find themselves in their passions for life- cooking and writing. Julia was a stay at home wife who loved cooking and wanted to learn to master French cooking and write her own cookbook. Julie was a 29-year-old, never-finished-anything-she-started, aspiring writer who felt that life was passing her by. Julie decided to give herself a project which was to cook her way through Julia Child's French cookbook and blog about it. During the process, her blog aquired many followers, she became a "writer" and eventually wrote a book about the experience...and here we are talking about her today because of the experience.

Some say the movie is a love story about food. While there are some beautiful looking meals in the movies and some things that I wouldn't mind eating myself, I missed the whole food love story. To me, it was a movie about pursuing your passion and finding a sense of accomplishment in it.

I have lots of similarities with Julie- first and foremost being that I am a spaz. Completely. I am one of the most emotionally volatile people that I know- as evidenced by the many people that I have yelled at since my baby was born because they either weren't doing their jobs fast enough, weren't aware that I was a mommy to a 2-week old, or told me that I still looked pregnant. Nice. There is a scene in Julie and Julia in which Julie is stuffing a chicken, it falls on the floor and she has the emotional meltdown of a 2-year-old laying flat on her back on the floor crying about how she can't do anything right. Now, I have never stuffed a chicken, but I have done all of those other thing. The second similarity that I have with Julie is that she has an uber supportive husband, that (most of the time) instead of being annoyed by Julie's lack of self control, he finds it endearing and loves her through it. The third similarity is Julie's love of writing; however I've never remained committed enough to the idea or art of it to actually do anything worth merit.

So in honor of my favorite movie, I am going to pay tribute through the Julie, Julia and Jorda project. My son was born 4 weeks ago tomorrow and I have yet to cook since his birth. In my romanticizing of what a maternity leave would look like before he was born, I vowed that I was going to be Suzie HomeMaker- complete with making heaping dishes that I have never made before and bringing culinary masterpieces to Thanksgiving and Christmas. As Thanksgiving approaches and my baby still doesn't go down for his regularly scheduled naps, I am skeptical; however I will TRY.

So I will cook and blog about the making of my three Thanksgiving masterpieces: Potatoes and Mushroom Au Gratin, Stuffing and Spinach ball, and a Chocolate Swirl cake- all dishes that I have never made before. Stay tuned and we will see what messes I can make.