Friday, December 31, 2010

Judgement-Free Zone

Shawn and I decided to cancel our gym membership for 2011 and purchase an elliptical for the home instead. Over the year, for the amount we were paying for our membership plus childcare (while I worked out), the cost of the elliptical was considerably less. There were a slew of other reasons why the convenience of having an in-home machine was better for our family. Plus we figured that if the big ole machine was sitting smack-dab in our bedroom, we would feel guilty not using it and it would motivate us to exercise more.

This morning, Shawn broke in our machine. In a slightly different atmosphere than what he was used to at the gym. His lovely wife lounged in bed, sipping her coffee and reading her latest book, How to Tuck in a Superhero by Rachel Balducci (HIGHLY RECOMMENDED to those moms of boys out there!). His two equally-lovely little girls were perched on the side of the bed watching Daddy exercise and offering words of encouragement. (I had put on a show for them to watch, but Shawn was apparently much more interesting.)

"Dada doing? Dada doing?" (from Violet)

"What are you doing, Daddy? Is that your exercise machine? What's in your water bottle? Why are you breathing like that?" (from Clare)

The one-sided conversations continued for the entire length of the workout. Towards the end, Clare was standing alongside the elliptical, moving her arms and legs like Shawn was and she mimicked the huffing and puffing perfectly. I'm thinking that tomorrow, we're going to be locked out of the bedroom during muscle hour.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Charity Case

I am experiencing "all-day" sickness in the first trimester of this pregnancy. I have had some level of "morning" sickness in all my pregnancies, but it always seems to get worse. I remember with Violet's pregnancy, I actually vomited frequently, which I have not done this time. So I don't know if the sickness gets worse or if it just gets harder because each pregnancy finds us a much busier family! In either case, I am slowly starting to feel better, but am still very tired by the middle of the day and the act of creating meals is very difficult for me. The mere thought of chopping up vegetables or touching raw meat makes me gag. There are nights when I cannot even stand the smell of Shawn cooking dinner, so I stay far out of the odor's reach in my bedroom until all remnants of dinner are cleaned up. Thankfully I can usually manage breakfast for the kids and, as long as lunch is sandwiches (which are usually somewhat odorless), I am okay. Shawn has been awesome about picking up my dinner slack, so we've been chugging along fairly well. Until the week before Thanksgiving.

Shawn began a new job at the end of October, which involved four weeks of training. One week prior to Thanksgiving week and three weeks after. Three weeks in a row! I paled at the thought of three weeks by myself with the four kids. That week before Thanksgiving, the kids lived on cereal, pancakes, and mac & cheese. We did one night of Burger King (them, not me) and I thought I would throw up. How was I going to survive?

I hate asking for help. With a passion. I like to be independent. I like to know that I can do this by myself. Be strong. Be this cool mother of four kids who can handle anything thrown her way. But, in reality, I really could use a little help. Shawn is a big contributor in the school drop-offs and pick-ups since he normally works out of the home. A friend offered to bring Jamie home every day from school. I felt so bad about the inconvenience for my friend, but even that one thing made a huge difference. It meant one less trip getting kids in and out of the car and allowed Violet to actually have an afternoon nap. Then another friend organized some meals for me. Another huge help. It was a comfort to know that not every night would be cereal or pancakes for the kids. And, on those nights I just was not up to making dinner, I did not feel so bad doing something simple because there would be other nights where a prepared (more balanced!) meal would be brought to our door.

It took me a long time to get over the guilt of accepting help from people who have equally busy lives. (And I still feel a tad guilty because it's not like the kids would be dead of starvation by the time Shawn comes back home.) But then I read a great article in Faith and Family magazine (and I apologize that now I cannot find the magazine and give the author to proper credit). It was about a mother who had to rely on help from others after her husband left her. She spoke to those out there who are in a position to help those in need and to those who needed to accept help. She basically stated it was my Catholic duty to allow others to help me. That by doing so, I was helping those people enact corporal works of mercy in a very real, livable way. We can't all volunteer at the soup kitchen and feed people. We can't all set up a prison ministry or visit nursing homes and hospitals. These days, (even when not sick and single-momming it for a few weeks) it takes everything I have to keep my own children clothed, fed, happy, and healthy. But I can cook extra food one night for a family who just had a new baby. And I can babysit for a friend so she can volunteer at her daughter's school. And I wouldn't want those people feeling guilty about accepting help from me, so I need to stop feeling that way about others. So to all those who have helped out while Shawn has been gone, a big thank you from me and you are one step closer to heaven!