I always thought that I was ambitious and that at some point I would end up, at least, VP of Communications in a big company. I therefore studied hard, got my Master and worked in big and well-known organizations. My goal was to gain as much experience as I could. That was until … I became a mom and realized that I preferred leaving work at 4 pm and spending time with my family. Being a mom made me realized who the real me was … A person who does not mind hanging out all day wearing large t-shirts and yoga pants, covered with left over vomit. This is definitively the “cool me.” During my time as a stay-at-home mom, I got to know all the Disney movies and even build opinions. For instance, Anna from Frozen is way cooler than Elsa (come on girls, stop with her, she is so annoying and needy). I ate kids’ food, drank out of sippy cups and over used the words: “pee pee”, “peekaboo,” “boo boo,” and “ba ba ba.” The good side of being a stay-at-home mom is all the time you get to spend with your child. Seeing them growing, getting independent, being around for every laugh, smile and step. The bad side is all the time you spend with your child; crys, tantrums, diapers that overflow with diarrhea, running noses and catching your child blowing it with your favorite shirt… Yes, it sounds contradictory … but there is really a mixed feelings. At some point, I needed an activity that would take me out of the house … but at the same time, not too far. Yes, still very contradictory.
After 18 months as a stay-at-home mom, I am back on track! Yoga pants stay home, working pants and clean shirts on, I am ready to rock the outside world. So was the transition easy? No, it was hell … first, I have to wake up early. Then, as soon as I open my eyes, the morning marathon starts: getting ready, preparing the girls, lunch boxes, finding the missing shoe, bottles, the hubby, the missing phone, the wrinkled shirt, me, what to do with my hair … getting everybody in the car, rushing to the daycare, rushing to the school, applying mascara in car, rushing to … oh no, no more rushing, I forgot to mention that I work at my girl’s school (5 minutes away from my place). Yes, I know, a dream job for any mom. I drop my girl in her classroom, chat a bit with her teacher and walk to my office. At 4 pm, I am done working and at 4.20 pm I am home with my two girls. My work environment is fun and challenging, but why would it not be, I work in a school. Everyday is different, with different issues and an UH-MA-ZING team to work with.
So back to the question, was the transition easy? I was kidding, it surely was. I even enjoyed it. The main issue while not working was the lack of interaction with other adults. Now, every day, I face challenges that require me to use something that I forgot I had … a brain. Yes, I have a brain that I stimulate everyday. Sometimes I forget that in a working environment, we do not go “pee pee” but we “use the bathrooms.” I also meet great people with whom I can relate. Of course, my routine changed. My 9 month old goes to daycare instead of spending the entire day with me. But at the end of day, we are happy to be together and keep on hugging and kissing. I also feel that I have something that drives me, something that is just for me.
Do you miss the old time when you could scream in the middle of a store without being stared at ? or pee in your pants without being judged ? and even being cheered up for just using the potty? The terrible twos were fun ... so let's be toddler again for just few minutes!
On Sunday mornings, church parking lots are crowded and stores empty. There are approximately 400 churches in Toledo area. 400 wooow, that’s a lot! I guess there are as many churches as there are fast foods. People expect you to attend service. I was not asked if I go to church but where do I go to church. Why are churches so important? Is it because people are real believers or is it because going to church means being part of a community?
Needless to say that we are all social. We need others. We are not made to live alone. We need to interact, drink wine and complain (well, French people at least). This is the essence of being human (and being French). What if you do not go to church? Where do you meet people?
In Europe, our « social groups » are co-workers, school buddies, old friends, friends of friends etc. We go to the gym, interact with others and if we find common interests we end-up having a drink. My best friends are former coworkers. Here in Toledo, religion takes a big place. The other day, I was in Barnes and Nobles with my girls. I started talking with a man that was interested in my accent. He wanted to know why and how we ended-up in Toledo. He started to make some jokes about the fact that he has a hook to replace one of his hands. For instance, he joked that he cannot play « paper, scissors, rock » anymore. That was a good one! You never know if you should laugh at this kind of jokes but I did. At the end of our conversation, he said: « God bless you ». My answer to that was: « babeu heuuuu ok, you too ». I was so surprised that I got completely confused.
Few days ago, we received a quotation from a plumber. At the end of the form you can read: « Jesus is the Lord ». Also, it is very common to see cars with stickers that display religious thoughts, such as “honk if you love Jesus” or “do you follow Jesus this close” or even “elect Jesus, your life leader”.
In France, we do not display our beliefs and it is one of the biggest cultural gaps that I face here, in Toledo.
To the question, where do you go to church, I gave the same kind of answer that I gave to captain Hook at Barnes and Nobles: « babeu heuuuu no heuuu church ? heu don’t go ». Sometimes, I even feel I should apologize…
United States is not one of these countries where government offers lot of help. Social benefits are low and many people are struggling with hunger.
Because we all have busy schedule between work, kids, playdates and so on, it is complicated to dedicate time to an organization and I wish I could do more. Today I had the surprise to find in my mailbox an empty paper bag.
National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC) launched a campaign to collect non-perishable food. People just need to scan their kitchen and fill-in the bag with cans, soup, cereals or whatever they think other may need. I have just done it and tomorrow I will leave the bag next to my mailbox and the postman will pick it up.
What a great idea!
I love the fact that the US post office and NALC work together in this regard. I love the idea that the organization comes to you. And on top of that, it is a great activity to do with your kids. I personally filled-in the bag with my 3 year-old and explained to her that some kids are not as lucky as we are and that it is crucial to help others.
I wish I would have received the bag a couple of days ago to give me more time to do my grocery and fill-in the bag a little bit more. And I wish there were more initiative like this one.
So tell me, have you donated today?
Here, it is all about food, children and me.
Claire, mom of two adorable girls. Montessori believer.
A few pounds overweighted and a few inches too short. Sometimes too French for Americans and most of the time too American for French people. Rarely down to earth but often out of my mind.