Perspective

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So it's been a little over a month since I last checked in. When we last spoke The BadAssMama, The Hubs and the tiny assassins had just relocated from New York to Northern California. As usual, my perfectionist-Type-A-borderline-OCD personality had taken what should have been a relaxing, unprecedented month off with the fam and turned it into a scream-filled stress-o-rama.

After realizing that I was pretty much insane to think that I could move 14 years of my life + a family of four + over 40 years of stuff from The Hubs without a few bumps in the road, I settled down enough to enjoy a few quiet moments before jumping into the uncharted waters of a new job, at a new company, in a new industry for the first time in nearly 15 years (wow, that was a run-on sentence. oh well...)

The good news is that it's 3 weeks into the new gig and I haven't completely lost my shit. True, I had a partial meltdown mid-way through last Friday, but that was understandable and completely excusable. But before we get into that, let's take a moment to take inventory of the current state of affairs at BadAssMama Central:

  • The boys have started their new school and absolutely ADORE it
  • We closed on a new house in record time and have begun a few renovations before we move in (hopefully at the end of next month)
  • I am head-over-heels in love with my new gig - 14 hour days and all (more on that in a moment)
  • The Hubs is starting to fall into a routine in our new city
  • We see my family at least every other week
  • For the first time in 14 years, I live within 45 minutes of just about everyone in my immediate and extended family
So, in short my life is AWESOME right now. 

I try to remind myself of this when I encounter moments of exasperation, like I did last Friday. I may have mentioned that I'm a bit of a perfectionist. Well, let's just say that starting a new job after knowing your old one like the back of your hand is the picture perfect set up for a perfectionist meltdown sooner or later. Or, in my case by the end of week 3. After a near-miss on an important assignment (completely understandable as the new kid in town, but completely unacceptable in my Little Miss Can't Do Wrong brain), I spun into my standard what-else-am-I missing tizzy on Friday night. My stream of consciousness self-flaggelation went something like this:
  • I can't believe you didn't think of that before anyone else on the team. True, most of them have been on the project for 18 months to 3 years, but you should have known EVERYTHING there is to know in the first 3 days!
  • If I'm forgetting things at work, clearly I'm not on top of things at home. I spend all my time at work - what am I missing here?
  • I haven't found a pediatrician, or a dentist, of a pediatric hematologist or pediatric neurologist and we've been here 6 weeks already. WHAT KIND OF MOTHER ARE YOU? Let's go to the health insurance website and find all of our doctors RIGHT NOW
  • Victor needs inside slippers for Kindergarten and the Safeway delivery forgot to bring hash browns and french fries. I must go to Target RIGHTNOW RIGHT NOW. 
Mind you, right now was 9:35pm on a Friday night. I told The Hubs that I'd be right back (the Target is conveniently located directly across from our temporary apartment, so it wasn't exactly a stretch). After a pause, he looked at me and suggested that maybe we could go in the morning. I spat back that I had to get ONE THING RIGHT before the week ended (drama much?). 

I then realized that I didn't know the EXACT location of Victor's medical record transfer form (some super-secret privacy paper that had to be filled out just-so to ensure that the old hematologist could send 5 years of records to the new hematologist...whenever I could get around to finding one, that is). That was enough to send me straight over the edge into boo hoo land. I looked through my go-to folder from the move. Wasn't there. Then I was convinced that I was THE WORST MOTHER ON THE PLANET.

I wiped the mascara from my cheeks and grabbed the car keys. On the way to Target I called my best friend Phillis, who always understands my crazy. Turns out she had been through it this week as well. We talked each other off the ledge, and I wound my way slowly through the aisles. After about 20 minutes, I found everything that I needed (clearly my mind was molasses to take 20 minutes to find three items). At the check out, the young woman at the register commented that she'd had a long day. I tried to reassure her that the day was almost over (the store was set to close in 30 minutes). She said that was true, but that she hated working so late. She never got to see her children. Thinking that I'd found a compatriot in working mother grief, I mentioned how hard it is to see my kids for roughly 10 minutes in the morning before rushing out the door, and maybe 45 minutes at night before they went to bed. 

She told me that I was lucky.

With the unpredictability of her shifts, her two kids stayed at her mother's house during the week. She didn't get to kiss their sleepy heads before rushing off to work, or give them a kiss at night before they went to bed. Breakfast and homework and dinner were handled by her mother as she juggled 2 jobs to make ends meet. 

I left feeling like a complete asshole.

Here I was complaining about my first-world problems, and this woman was only able to spend 2 nights per week with her own children. I stressed over which high-priced medical specialist I would choose to complete my children's specialty care, while so many have to choose between putting food on the table or paying for medicine that month. I was worried about not getting everything perfect, while so many women (and men) are just trying to hold it together.

I'd love to say that I got my act together immediately after that conversation, but I didn't. I moped a bit more, drowning my sorrows in a pint of Salted Caramel gelato while I took a bath. And then I reflected on my privilege. It is a privilege to worry about doing it all perfectly, when so many can barely do the minimum. It is a privilege to go to an amazing job, that provides amazingly for my family. And it is a privilege to care for these tiny assassins who make me crazy and happy and angry and delirious and elated every single day. 

At the end of a challenging week, The BadAssMama got a good old fashioned dose of reality. I hope to keep this perspective as I head into a new week, with another set of challenges. But I can remind myself that it is a privilege to have the challenge (and choices) that I do. 

And I am forever grateful...even if I forget sometimes. 

Lowering My Expectations

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I can't help but wonder if I've written this post before.

It's an on-going theme, really. I make plans, set expectations (invariably too high, both for me and for everyone around me). Then when life intervenes and falls short of my expectations of perfection, I beat myself up (and often everyone around me).

It should have been obvious, really. As I wrapped up my time in New York and zipped the final suitcase to get onto the plane, my expectations were sky high (no pun intended). I would have a full month to relax, re-connect with my family, decompress and re-center before beginning my new career adventure - and the next phase of our family life on the Left Coast. Every time there was a frustration or set back in New York, I told myself that everything would be better as soon as we got to California. I had images of Mary Poppins-like family bliss as The Hubs and I spent countless days bonding with our boys in the humidity-free splendor. I dreamed that the few excess pounds I'd picked up in the pack-a-palooza stressfest would fall off as I dedicated myself to eating clean and training dirty so that I could begin my new job in peak physical condition. I imagined rejuvenating our marriage as we had the time to slow down and truly enjoy each other, without the pesky day-to-day details of schedules and commute and homework and the like.

I am an idiot.

It never occurred to me that moving across the country was actually a BIG F*CKING DEAL. That the stress of leaving everything that anchored each of us, both individually and collectively, would naturally result in reversion for each of us. The boys immediately took to whining, complaining and using baby voices (my single biggest pet peeve is a fake baby voice). The Hubs is taking it all like a champ, but he's been thrust into a new environment after an ENTIRE LIFETIME living and working within the same 30 mile radius. And while it's great for me to be back home, the last time I called this place home was nearly 15 years ago. I was a grad student with no job, no mortgage and no real responsibilities - just starting out on the next phase of my career.

So today, The BadAssMama is lowering her expectations.

This isn't about admitting defeat. It's about being more realistic. Moving is tough. Moving across the country with a family of four is insane. To expect that we could have backflipped our way into a perfect life as soon as the last box was unpacked in our temporary apartment (or ever, really) was ludicrous. Today, I'm going to let my kids be kids (in all their whiny, at times irritating splendor). I'm going to give my husband space to find his way in a completely new environment. And I'm going to try to give myself the space and time to settle in - without the consistently playing perfection tape running in the back of my brain.

Wish me luck....

Family First

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Today we laid my grandfather to rest. While it was an incredibly difficult day, I found joy being surrounded my hundreds of family and friends. I particularly found joy watching my children play with their first and second cousins. While they may not have met many of them before, it didn't matter. Family knows family, and they were fast friends.



A Love Story

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This Saturday, we were set to celebrate my grandparents' 70th wedding anniversary. Last night, I had the honor of being with my 93 year old grandfather one last time before he went to be with the Lord.

One of my assignments for the anniversary party was to chronicle my grandparents love story - how they met, how they fell in love, how my grandfather proposed. With the craziness of the past few weeks, I only completed a draft yesterday morning.

While it may not be my best work (and I am too distraught to attempt an edit), it is the best tribute I can imagine to the love of a 93 year old man who raised a family of ten children with an 89 year old woman whom he called "his best girl" until the day he died.

I love you, Grandmom and Granddad.



Samuel and Barbara Smith – A Love Story


When we think of love stories, most often the plot lines of classic romantic films or Elizabethan sonnets come to mind. The love story of Samuel and Barbara Smith, however, is much more simple than that. And after 70 years, I think you can agree that the best things can indeed be the simple things.

Samuel and Barbara met in a school cafeteria in Oklahoma. Barbara, who was 13 at the time, was introduced to Samuel by a mutual friend. Barbara had never seen Samuel at school because, at the age of 17, he was regularly pulled out to work - as was common custom at that time.  After their introduction, the two had a casual friendship, occasionally meeting at school basketball games.

Shortly after their friendship began, there was a tragic car accident involving several students from Oklahoma City High School. Many of the students involved in the crash passed away, and the funeral became a focal point for the city. Barbara’s mother attended the funeral, and on her way home saw Barbara walking home with a young man. Upon further inspection, she noticed that the two were holding hands. The young romance was now public, and Barbara’s mother quickly made her displeasure clear. When Barbara returned home, her mother asked, “What do you think you’re doing?” At  the age of 13, Barbara’s mother felt that she was much too young to be in a relationship.

Time passed, and Samuel eventually moved to Northern California to begin his career as a carpenter. Barbara was accepted into the University of California, Los Angeles to begin her undergraduate studies. She moved from Oklahoma to California to attend school, living in the home of family members who owned property in the area. While Barbara was studying at UCLA, Samuel asked for her visit him in San Francisco. Their relationship strengthened even with the distance between them.

While Barbara enjoyed her studies at UCLA, she became increasingly uncomfortable travelling alone to-and-from school to her relatives’ home. She eventually returned to Oklahoma to be closer to her family. After her return to Oklahoma, Samuel asked for Barbara’s hand in marriage. She happily accepted and took a final solo trip to California by train to join her soon-to-be husband.

Seventy years, 10 children, 20 grandchildren and 21 great-grandchildren later, the love story of Samuel and Barbara Smith continues. While not the epic drama of your typical romantic novel, theirs is a love that has stood the test of time – standing as a testament to the power of simple, true love.


Just Another (Brand New) Day in the Life of a BadAssMama

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Oh, hey there! Remember me? It's been about three weeks since I've been here. But let's be honest - it's been more like 3 months since I've written on anything that might even slightly resemble a consistent basis.

Let me explain.

As I mentioned in my last post, I've taken a new job. After 15 years in the entertainment industry, I've decided that it was time for a change. There are lots of reasons for that change that I won't go into here, but suffice it to say that when this particular opportunity came up, The Hubs and I had a heart-to-heart and decided that I would be an idiot to not go for it. And these folks must have decided that I'm as awesome as my moniker on this blog, so they offered me a job!

The great news is that it's an AMAZING company, with an equally amazing opportunity to contribute and learn and grow and show all of the professional stuff that I'm good at (including, but not limited to grammatically incorrect run-on sentences). The crazy part is that it required relocating The Hubs, the kids, Bailey the cat and Fishy Torres from New York to California.

Sounds great in theory. In practice, that shit was insane.

The past 6 weeks have been an object lesson in perpetual motion - even more so than my typical perpetual motion-filled life. There was the expected clean-sort-purge-a-palooza involved in any move, but the last time I did this I was a single 27 year old moving from a 1 bedroom apartment to a room in a two bedroom apartment. I could pretty much fit all of my crap into one big suitcase and limited my company-sponsored relocation package to a bed, dresser and 12 inch TV.

This time, there was a house to sell, a new house to buy, 2 small children, 2 pets, an unreasonable number of cars (both people-sized and of the Hot Wheels variety), a 4 bedroom house worth of 15 years of stuff to pack and ship. There were doctor appointments and summer camp deadlines, wrapping up one job while prepping to start another. True, most of the packing was done as party of my new company-sponsored relocation, but there was still an inordinate amount of crap to do before our flight took off for the left coast on July 17.

And now we're here. While the journey was insane (I'm going to need a few more weeks of decompression before I can even THINK about describing the utter hell that was our actual cross-country move day), the landing has been remarkably smooth. The boys are adjusting nicely (who couldn't get used to a weather forecast of 80 degree days with 0% humidity as far as the eye can see?). The Hubs is slowly but surely finding his footing. And while I'm still in a heightened sense of alert (kind of hard to go from 60-to-0 in 10 seconds flat if you're not a Ferrari), I am beside myself with glee to be back home.

Last Sunday, I had a dinner meeting with 4 of my 10 aunts and uncles, to plan my grandparents' 70th wedding anniversary. This week, The Hubs and I looked for houses then got down to the serious business of re-connecting as a family after 6 weeks of pure insanity. We've gone to California's Great America, Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk and spent today lounging by the pool at our temporary apartment. I hope to spend the next few weeks before I start work continuing my East Coast decontamination shower (no offense), reconnecting with family and friends and preparing to throw myself into the new job.

I'm writing this from our roof deck (partly because it's awesome, but mainly because the Wifi only works here  or in Victor's bedroom where the router is. So much for the advanced tech of the Silicon Valley). The kids are sitting next to me eating Oreos in their pajamas after showering from the pool. The sun is shining, there is a gorgeous breeze, and not a cloud in the sky.

I could get used to this.

Just another (brand new) day in the life of a BadAssMama...