14 May 2023

That's What A Mom Does

 This day is "Not My Day" or "Happy You're Not A Mom Day" for me.  A few years ago I wrote this post.  I've edited/added a bit to reflect the now.

Last year's update:

I phoned my mom last night about Mother's Day.  We were going to go out this morning before my family was visiting to avoid that Whole Thing.  Welp, my mom had/has Covid.  She tested positive "on Easter"  Well, first she said Christmas then corrected herself so there's that whole thing.  She says she's fine, it was just like a cold but she still sounded snuffly.  

And, oh, thanks, family members, for letting me know. btw.  You're *super*.  My mom even said "I didn't know no one told you."  "Yeah, that's how it is now, mom" I wanted to say, but I didn't.

Instead, I will go down during the week to see her for a little while.  She said that it was fine and that today is "Just another Day" so that will give you insight to the dynamic as well. 

So, the pandemic has given me distance from unhealthy family dynamics and for that I am strangely grateful. 

We bought Kevin's mom a flower arrangement because she can't care for her flowers anymore and that is sad. However, on a happier note:  Kevin chose the card and it's nearly exactly the same as her birthday card that we gave her eleven days ago.  We're pretty sure that she won't notice and because we're horrible children, we laughed about it. 

This year's update:

My mom is currently on speaker phone. I phoned her to say that we weren't coming down for the "holiday".  Before I could say anything, she said "It's just another day, you don't have to come down" which made me eyeroll.  I wasn't going down there anyway, I had just told her we were at the day-by-day point of our hospice adventure. Also, I looked it up: 96 days since we last spoke and it was again me that made the call.  After polite/nosy update about my mother-in-law, the conversation flipped to all about her.  So, the usual.

For what I now call my Other Mom, we met with hospice yesterday.  We are near the end now, but like, for real.  She went semi-conscious last week, for the entire week.  We thought the process had started and was feeling a little relieved/guilty.  Then on Monday, she woke up like nothing was wrong and stayed that way for two days.  Now we're back to the semi-conscious state.  We are to now keep her sedated as much as we can and to let the natural process do its thing.  So, not a happy Mother's Day this year in that aspect.

With that unhappy update, the annual repost for this particular day:

Having been raised by wolves, as I've regularly described my childhood, other women stepped up to make sure that I was parented when my parents couldn't or didn't know any better.

As a baby/toddler, it was my mom's best friend.  As I was a trauma birth, she was the one who cared for me the first months of my life.  In fact, she made sure I was taken care of the first part of my young life. She sees me as the daughter she never had.

Even as an adult, she had that presence.  I remember arriving at a family function years ago and it had been a crap day. I was spewing all the reasons why I was late and it was an awful day and in mid-sentence she stopped what she was doing, turned and hugged me tight.  Like a mom would.  

My paternal grandma helped while she was alive.  She died when I was five, but I still remember her babysitting and making sure that I was spoiled and had what I needed: ceramic figurines from the tea box, scrapbooks, napoleon (neopolitan)  ice cream, and affection.

During grade school, my mom became a volunteer firefighter with a group of stay-at-home moms.  Those women also stepped up and made sure I was okay over the years, as well.  Equipping me with wedding shower gifts and handwritten advice when I married the wrong man, with kind of an unspoken understanding about the decision I was making. I didn't understand it then but I've since realized their support.

Where we lived when I was a child, the houses around us were summer homes.  The mom in one family was such a hippie; she did yoga and meditated and seemed quite strange to me.  She was a gentle mom and I liked her very much, even though she was a mom the likes of which I had never seen.  She passed when Kevin had Covid so I wasn't able to attend her memorial. It broke my heart a little.  The beautiful obituary that my friend wrote for her described her as Soft.  As in everything about her was soft and gentle. It clarified why she was an important presence when I was young: she was soft when everyone around me was hard.

My grade/middle school best friend's mom was also just a quiet presence.  They were poor, I mean, really poor and she was overwhelmed with all these kids and the things that came with that.  I didn't realize it then but I do understand now. But I just became another one of her kids, like it was no problem at all.

Mostly I remember my high school best friend's moms.  At sixteen/seventeen, I was working, going to school, paying bills, and driving.  I was an adult mostly but I still felt their watchful eyes on me. They made sure I got home, school, or to work on time, had what I needed, fed me, answered my questions.  Parented me when I needed it.

As of next week, I will be married thirty-years.  We lived in sin for three years prior so it's been a long time that we've been a family.  My mother-in-law didn't understand me at first, having been raised by the aforementioned wolves.  (Sidenote:  recently she said wolves are good mothers so I had to think of another animal)  In turn, I didn't recognize how she was in life was, indeed, normal.

Now, perhaps in some respects too late, I've realized the presence she has had in my life. The mediator, the dinners she made, the flowers she gave when she "bought too many" or as a thank you.  The mom she was to Kevin.  Yes, she made me want to drink on many, many occasions but from what I've read (joking) That's What Mother's Do.  I just didn't recognize it at the time.

So, today I'm giving a shout out to those moms who take care of kids who aren't theirs.  Not just the foster moms or the step moms.  The moms who just take in the friends of your kids without a thought.  You might not think they notice but they do.  You  may think it's nothing or just a little thing that doesn't matter. But it's not.

I appreciate every meal, every hug, every correction, every thing they did to step up and fill the gaps.  Even now.

04 May 2023

On Marriage

This is one of the best descriptions of marriage goals/rules I've read. 
As I enter into the 30th year of being a wife this month, I've learned that the scope keeps changing. And will continue to keep changing.  

02 May 2023

You Won't Know if You Don't Ask

 Right now I am eating coco puffs, listening to Eddie Izzard "Dressed to Kill" with all the curtains and windows open.  I am on Day Four of working full-time in addition to all.the.other.things that are happening right now. Because: sigh.

My work is having a federal review so everyone is Super Extra ON TASK.  Also: panicking because they need to have their caseloads/work loads in ORDER.  Meanwhile, there's me who's like the janitor: sweeping up behind them, tidying that stack, ordering that thing, and monitoring everything from behind the scenes.

In addition to the review, it's now May and this is the month where advocates remember that the school year is ending and they have to have everything wrapped up.  Cue panicked emails and requests to me.  Every May I get busy at work and then wonder what's happening, then I look at the calendar and go "Ohh..."  

Along those same lines, kinda, I was asked if I wanted to increase my job responsibilities in the Fall.  My reward would be....drumroll, please...an increase in hours. Not what I want at all. Job Partner told them that would probably not be an option for me but would make the offer to me.

Here's the thing: I do have time on my hands two-thirds of the school year, so extra tasks aren't a very big deal.  However, some of it is during start-up when I am at my very, very busiest.  Also, my Need to Help is triggered so I kind of wanted to say yes; yet I'm thankful that my Job Partner said "Probably not but I'll ask."

Also, I'm tired of the whole "But you get more hours as a reward" nonsense.  I don't want more hours and have been so clear about that from my interview.  And yes, I know that I'm the anomaly that isn't motivated by money.

So, I thought about it and a few days later emailed my job partner with this offer:

 With the assumption that additional hours would be the reward and not a wage bump, :) the thing I need is working from home like I have been.   If the working from home thing is not possible, then my answer is Thanks But No, and it’s going to need to be a bigger conversation.  

Now we're in the middle of the review and a further conversation is not possible. I probably won't have an answer until summer and that's okay.

Then about one week later with perfect timing,  I had to complete and submit the "Intent to Return" form for the next school year, the first step of my contract renewal.  Another opportunity to say:

 I request to work from home for the foreseeable future.  My job satisfaction & performance and mental health have greatly improved since WFH began.  I need to sustain that.  I will commit to the job until my retirement (10 years!) and will complete whatever requirements are needed to make it possible.

So, I offered a long-term commitment and implied that I would not necessarily be interested in continuing to work if WFH is not an option.  That's quite a spectrum.  Also, if I need to do a hybrid schedule of being in an office once a week or whatever, that's not the end of the world.  However, I gave up an office to work from home so that would need addressed.  (between the need for confidentiality - legally, and the alphabet brain, I need a private space.  I'm not being all "But I need a corner office!")

Anyway, still no feedback and I saw everyone yesterday. But: federal review.

Also, I'm receiving a COLA wage with the new contract and a bonus when I get my COVID booster so...while I can't say "Give me a raise" with a straight face, I can also more comfortably say "I'm good, thanks."

It occurred to me that I've never been in a position to negotiate my job before.  Then it nearly simultaneously occurred to me that Yes, I Have.  I just wasn't in the headspace that I am in right now.  Right now, I'm in a Make It Worth It to Me mindset versus Thank You for the Job mindset.  I think that just comes with age and experience. (also, my privilege is showing a little bit. Will just tuck that back in, out of sight)

SO THEN, as part of the federal review they want to know systems.  Specifically, beyond policy, how people do their jobs.  This required me to make a "How-to" manual for my job.  As I worked on it, even I was surprised at how much there was included. AND I know I've forgotten some little things AND I didn't include a new monitoring task because it hasn't been solidified yet.

Something I had forgotten was that this was a brand new position within the organization.  No one had it before me, it didn't exist.  The way that this position was designed was BY ME.  I mean, literally they gave me the requirements and a pat on the head and "Figure it out".  Now six years later, there's a thick manual explaining how to do this job.

(this isn't ego stroking, I have a point.)

During my part of the review I had to explain how I gathered information and made a determination.  I explained that I receive medical records, review them and - sometimes using my medical insurance billing knowledge - make determinations as to a child's health status and needs.   

THEN I gave my job manual.  Tah Dah.

So I'm driving home from the review and I have an epiphany.  I just added another layer to my negotiation: I created this WHOLE SYSTEM and I can take this system elsewhere and probably be paid more. Without this Whole System That I Built, this review might not have gone as well as it did for that particular section.   When this next comes up, I can now reference all of that.

Okay, so what's my point, after all of that.  It's back to the Negotiate. You won't know until you ask. Post-pandemic employers are more willing than before to negotiate.  Know your own worth and make sure others know it too.  Have good work boundaries. If the pandemic gave us anything, it's better working negotiations and possibilities.

Babbling Brook

Time is both going too fast and too slowly right now. It's been a hellishly long week and it's only Tuesday.  (Nothing has changed at all, we're just trudging along with the hospice situation)

I realized it was the 2nd of May and that I needed to sit (back) down at the computer and get my bloggity on.  Also, I remembered my childhood BFF's birthday was yesterday and I forgot.  Sigh.
(Happy Birthday, Toad!  :) )

This months insta share is the creek at the park near our house.  I love going there and I love watching the seasons change; it's green even in the winter.  This was last May when it was unseasonably warm for a day or two.  I think I also have a video on the tickytock app from this shoot.  (same user name)  

I have hundreds of photos of this little park and it's one of Lucy's favorites too.  Although off an old highway that is sometimes busy, just a few feet into the park and you're in an old-growth forest.  The creek is the boundary and it's a salmon spawning creek.  Lots of hawks and eagles, sometimes a deer and to Lucy's delight: squirrels.

Take a moment and breathe, friends