Monday, May 26, 2008

Tough decisions

On this beautiful Memorial Day, hubby and I just spent some time watching a slideshow of photos of the stickies. The photos brought me to tears. On the one hand, I can't believe how big they've gotten. They've grown out of their newborn outfits and diapers, their head control is getting better and better by the day, and their smiles. Oh, their smiles. I melt. I mean, look at this:

And, something occured to me this morning. It occured to me as I sat on a conference call. On this beautiful day. During the UNPAID portion of my maternity leave. What occured to me is this: I hate my job. Or, at least, I don't love it. Not nearly enough to justify allowing it to keep me away from these beautiful little kids for a minute longer than I have to. And in the pre-sticky era, I was away from home a lot. I worked long hours, and spent way more time battling traffic--sometimes as much as five hours of traffic a day--than I will have the stomach for now. So today, after the conference call (which I swear was a repeat of a conversation I've had ten zillion times over the past three years), I came downstairs and told hubby I wanted to leave my job. I told him that I just don't have it in me to, for the fourth year in a row, have the same conversations, manage virtually the same projects, defend the same decisions, and do the same things day in and day out. All while someone else raises my kids. Kids it took us so long to have.

Unfortunately, we need my salary. We can't make ends meet without it. Not only that, the stickies and I are all on my insurance. And we need to be. If we were to be insured under hubby's plan it would cost us a prohibitive $1,400/month. (His job sucks. They pay for 0% of any family member's insurance. It's so crappy and un-family friendly, I could scream.) So, for me to leave work--or even to take a pay cut--we'd have to add $16K after taxes to the total amount of money we'd be losing out on. And we just can't afford that.

And so I feel stuck between a rock and a hard place, and I just don't know what to do. Do I try to convince my current employer to let me go part time, knowing that I can't do my current job part-time? (And knowing how impossible it is to cut back when people across the organization already know you as the go-to person for certain projects.) Do I look for another job? Do I just try to cut back on hours or travel in my current position (knowing it will compromise my ability to do the job)?

I hate having to make these decisions, these trade offs. Why can't we all just be independently wealthy?*

*I recognize having money comes with problems of its own. But man right now it seems like it would make things easier!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

It's the sleep deprivation talking...

Just when we thought we were getting things figured out, Sweet Potato and Monkey Girl throw monkey wrenches into our systems. First, over the past week or so, Sweet Potato has started a new nighttime fussiness routine. This is more than a little upsetting, not just because it's heartbreaking not to be able to soothe your own child, but also because from everything I've read, fussiness is supposed to peak at six weeks and then get better. Sadly, it seems that Sweet Potato hasn't read the books, because his has been getting worse, not better, and the stickies are about eight and a half weeks now.


And, if that wasn't bad enough, last night's dual meltdown was an exhausting, utter and complete disaster. One or both babies essentially screamed bloody murder from 6:00pm until 11:00. And we were powerless to stop it the entire time.

Then, because their nighttime routines were so f'ed up, Sweet Potato woke up at 12:45, and Monkey Girl at 2-something, which meant that we couldn't string together a stretch of sleep of more than just over and hour all night. (Basically, unless they get to almost 3am, we're in for it because they never sleep as long after they go back to bed as the do during the "first" sleep of the night.) And that was the second night in the row that one of them woke up early and frequently. And the thing is, it's not like a "good" night sleep involves getting a full night's rest anyway, so after two nights like that, I'm pretty sure I'm starting to hallucinate. (Wait, was that a purple elephant outside of my window??)

And, the fact that, around the third hour of screaming I really start to loose my sense of humor just makes me feel like a crap mother. I mean, not only can I not soothe my children, but now I'm losing my patience? I suck.

But, can someone tell me who was the mastermind that decided that humans would start their lives with no ability to communicate (well, that is, except the blood curdling screams of an inconsolable infant who can't express what's making him or her so sad) and limited ability to sleep more than a few short hours at a time? Because either one of these things in isolation wouldn't be so hard to deal with, I don't think. I mean, sleep deprivation--it ain't fun, but we've all been there and could cope. And inconsolable crying? Well, I think if I were getting more sleep I think my patience level wouldn't feel so fried.

But, taken together, well, they test the limits of even the most sainted mother. Which I'm not.

I should say that, on the upside, Sweet Potato had at least one rock star night's sleep--8 and a half hours! (And another 7-hour stretch.) So, I feel like we might be getting *close* to turning a sleep corner. Now, if we could just get Monkey Girl to sleep longer! And if we can get Sweet Potato to replicate that sleep more often--then we'd be in business.

Of course, I confess that I got nowhere near 8 hours sleep despite Sweet Potato's rock star stretch both because Monkey Girl didn't sleep well that night and because after about his 5th hour sleeping, I woke up every 15 minutes or so to make sure he was still breathing.

So, yeah. I'm a little paranoid.

Thankfully, they're a very forgiving pair and don't seem to notice when I can't make it all better. In fact, they are both having longer alert period and are smiling up a storm at us. It's the best feeling in the world. Of course, it breaks my heart that one day they're going to push my hugs away and make me drop them off a block away to avoid the embarrassment. But, in the meantime, it's really fun to be able to play with them, and to see them smile and coo back. I mean, does it get cuter?