Sunday, January 10, 2010

"I love you, Mom"

One of the great moments of parenthood is when a child says I love you, without saying the words. Tonight I played a fun round of Super Mario Wii with my 6-year-old. Afterward he climbed into bed and told me, "Mom, if you were my age, I'd be your best bud!"

Monday, January 4, 2010

How did I get here? Part 2

A third child meant some hard decisions had to be made. Could my husband and I afford day care for three kids? No. Did my husband or I want to give up one of our jobs? No, but one of us would probably have to. Could we afford to? We had absolutely no idea. It took the entire nine months of my pregnancy to figure out what we were going to do.

We spent hours at the computer trying to rearrange our budget. We spent more hours comparing each of our company's health insurance plans. We had to read deep in the fine print to see if a change in coverage would affect our oldest son's care for his gestational scoliosis. Since his birth, we have made bi-annual trips to see a specialized surgeon at a hospital two hours away. At that point, my job was providing our coverage. If I walked away from my job, we had to know we could still get the same care at a price we could afford.

After hours, days and months of number crunching, we decided I would quit my job a few days before the baby was due. My husband's insurance was comparable, his salary was higher and his earning potential was greater. All of our planning and rearranging came down to a leap of faith. On paper, our plan looked feasible. Realty is sometimes different. We gave ourselves a year to financially and emotionally adjust to the change.

That first year was tough. We tightened our money belts, and I made a bumpy emotional adjustment from having a professional life to having none. What we gave up was worth the return, though. The investment we were making in our family outweighed the financial risks we were taking.

Reality didn't set in until the second year.

How did I get here?

I am a babysitter. I didn't use to be. In my former life, I was on my way up in the world. I spent four years in college earning a degree in journalism and media. I worked on the college's newspaper as a reporter and editor for two years. Then I spent a year on the production crew of a local television station. After graduating, I moved to a job as a copy editor at the local newspaper. Fast-forward a few years to when the newspaper's editor asked me to write a blog for the paper's Web site. He wanted me to begin a parenting blog, which was a new idea for our newspaper and it's parent company. I was the mother of two little boys. My editor figured I had a lot to say about being a parent. He was right.

By the end of my first year as a blogger, the blog had morphed into a weekly newspaper column, become a podcast that could be downloaded from iTunes and won a national award from our newspaper's parent company. It was the first blog to be syndicated by our parent company. Nine other newspapers were either posting it to their Web sites or running it in print. It also had received mention on a few Web sites, the local television station I had previously worked at and a local radio station. Parents seemed to connect with what I had to say.

Then I got pregnant a third time. It was the beginning of the end of my life in the fast lane. I was soon to be moving at a crawl's pace.