Archive for the ‘AP and Working Moms’ Category

Mommy Fatigue Syndrome

The Symptoms:  Running on fumes. All the time. And when you should and can sleep at the end of the day, you suddenly have a second wind that keeps you up past 10 pm.

This is me. And has been me since my first child was born four years ago and has been more so since my second was born two years ago. I haven’t wanted to fully acknowledge or deal with it because I’m stubbornly attached to my “I have to” list.

Last summer, my friend Lois saw me and told me it was critical that I start paying attention to myself and my health.  She said something to the effect of, “You’re one of the most vibrant people I know and looking at your eyes now, you’re so run down you’re hanging on a thread.”

Both naturopaths that I’ve seen over the last year, along with an acupuncturist echoed each other in saying, “your adrenals are completely shot.”

I had no idea what that meant other than knowing that I’ve been addicted to adrenaline rushes most of my life and that maybe my current perpetual lack of energy or odd late night surges of energy within myself was out of whack. Each person I saw had similar advice as well: Go to bed at 10:00 at the latest. (Why am I still not doing this??). And carefully tend to my diet — avoiding high glycemic foods.

Yes, Ok. Will do! And then off I go to tend to my children, my new job, my blog….and everything on my “have to, have to, have to” list.

When I got home from work tonight at 6:00 pm and wanted to collapse on the couch with fatigue — but couldn’t because I had to take care of my children and finish putting dinner together and help them to eat and clean up and help them to bed — I came up with the Attachment Mama topic du jour: “Mommy Fatigue Syndrome.”

Predominantly impacting mothers, the true term for my physical state is called Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome.  Thirty seconds on Google brought up numerous sites offering helpful information.

The symptoms:

  • Fatigue, lethargy:
    • Lack of energy in the mornings, and also in the afternoon between 3 and 5 pm.
    • Often feel tired between 9 and 10 pm, but resist going to bed.
  • Lightheadedness (including dizziness and fainting) when rising from a sitting or laying-down position.
  • Lowered blood pressure and blood sugar.
  • Difficulty concentrating or remembering (brain fog).
  • Consistently feeling unwell or difficulty recovering from infections.
  • Craving either salty or sugary foods to keep going.
  • Unexplained hair loss.
  • Nausea.
  • Alternating constipation and diarrhea.
  • Mild depression.
  • Decreased sex drive.
  • Sleep difficulties.
  • Unexplained pain in the upper back or neck.
  • Increased symptoms of PMS for women – periods are heavy and then stop (or almost stop) on the 4th day, only to start flow again on the 5th or 6th day.
  • Tendency to gain weight and inability to lose it – especially around the waist.
  • High frequency of getting the flu and other respiratory diseases – plus a tendency for them to last longer than usual.

Then I looked at the recommended solutions which included diet changes, of course. Because diet is everything!  And dang it, wouldn’t you know my nightly glass of red wine that I’ve been treating myself to since life got stressful 2 years ago is one of the no-no’s. Duh. Knew it. Haven’t wanted to deal with it.

Having read through all the dietary and lifestyle recommendations, I’m now going to sign off and do my best to get at least seven hours of sleep tonight.

Posted in AP & Self Care, AP and Working Moms | 2 Comments

Top 10 Efficiency Tips to Simplify the Mama Juggling Act

When I wrote my last post I felt like I was on the verge of complete and utter implosion with my personal Mother-Work-Home juggling act. I took the last week off from Attachment Mama to clear my head, to look into ways to make life easier for our family and to finally, once and for all, re-incorporate regular exercise into my life – which has always been my sure-fire magic pill for stress management if I make it happen.

I sought out suggestions and received a ton of great ideas — most of which came from women I didn’t know (how cool is that?) — and I have already incorporated a few of the tips into our routine.

On the exercise front, starting tomorrow, I will be riding my bike to work! This may seem like piddly exercise to many of you — but for me, it’s huge. I haven’t ridden my bike since before I was pregnant with my first child — which was 2005! My exercise routine in general has been abysmal, if it happens at all. My husband got the bike tuned up for me and with a sassy new pair of mint green Keens — I will be pedaling with a lap top on my back in the a.m.

On the “how to make life easier” front —  I reached out for advice from a fantastic Austin Working Mother support group I joined this Spring called Business and Balance founded by Renee Trudeau. Renee wrote the book, The Mother’s Guide to Self-Renewal. Women all around the country are joining together in personal renewal groups to go through Renee’s book together.  Similar to Artist Way groups — but instead of coming together to clear creative blocks, you discover how to create life balance post Motherhood together.

So I asked the savvy entrepreneur moms that are in the Biz and Balance group if they had some tricks for making the Mama juggling act easier — both at home and at work.  If any of you share the “How the cuss do I do it all?” question on occasion, here’s some of the highlights of the suggestions I received:

1. Weekly Meal Planning and Dinner Short-Cuts. My creative idea of trading room and board for cooking support during the week fell flat as our live-in cook moved out 2 weeks after I went back to work whole time due to too many other commitments. She was a great help while we had her and we’re happy to figure things out on our own now.  Ideas to make putting dinner together easier:


Posted in AP & Self Care, AP and Working Moms | 10 Comments

When All You Want to Do is Yell

My next goal in life is to be a book author and speaker. Just typing those words right now I almost laugh out loud as I battle my dominant inner voice that says, “Yeah right, when in the world are you going to write a book? And, “What could you speak to people about? You’re not an expert in anything!”

Holding the space for the desire for now. I guess technically I have enough material that swims through my head daily and can be found on this web site to write a book.

But when I imagine myself speaking and try to drum up my inspiring presentation topic, the only thing I can come up with right now is, “Attachment Mama’s 101 Ways to Unravel as a new Parent” or “Attachment Parenting, Full-Time Work and Self-Care? Best of Luck!”  Not that inspiring!

Today is one of those Mondays where I really would love the social freedom to stand in the middle of the street, on top of my desk at Whole Foods and in the middle of a meditation or yoga class (yes, all three) and yell at the top of my lungs.

Yes. I would find that enormously satisfying. And then after I let go of each of those yowls, I would like to be transported instantly to Colorado where I could hike for three hours to the top of a mountain and yell some more.

I could go into my personal sob story on why self-care feels utterly impossible to me and how challenging my personal juggling act is and how I’m running on empty consistently. But I feel totally lame doing that because I know every mother has her own version of spinning plates. And not to mention single mothers out there that are doing all of it without any help!  And, worse than that, there are mothers who are dealing with a lot more than figuring out how to stay sane while feeling over-extended.

Most the time at work, I keep to myself because I have 1800 (feels like) projects to manage and can’t afford to get distracted by small talk.  For the same reason, I rarely if ever get on the phone any more with my girl friends.  I’m sure I come across as unfriendly at work and lame to my friends, and that sucks.  I’m working on figuring it all out…

So last week I decided to reach out to a woman at work that I had secretly labeled “rough around the edges.”

I asked questions about her job, her expertise on certain products and then noticed a picture of a teenage boy on her shelf.  So I asked if it were her son.  She said, “Yes.”

I then asked how old he was.

She said, “He was 14 in that picture, but he was 23 when he died.”

I quite literally started crying on the spot as I told her how sorry I was.

She went on to say through her own tears that if I’ve overheard her being short with people on the phone that even though it’s been three years, she still has trouble coping and being present in the world.  Good Lord, of course.

Can anyone imagine anything worse to have to live with every day?

When I then think about the work-house-children-childcare-diet-marriage-no exercise rut that I’m in, I think, Thank Your LUCKY stars for the health and well-being of your children and husband, for your health, and for your job.

Now, just because I know that other women are facing life challenges far, far, far bigger and deeper than mine — I still believe that we all have feelings of frustration that come up that we need to process and allow to move through us so that our emotions don’t come out sideways if you know what I mean.

According to Carrie Contey, when you feel like upping the volume with your frustration about something related to your children — do it!  It’s healthy and normal to express frustration and anger. But here’s the trick.  Don’t unleash ON them.  She recommends letting the emotions flow UP and out of you and avoid scaring or shaming them directly.

So, instead of yelling at their little faces about whatever they’re doing in the moment that’s driving you crazy, tilt your head up and yell at the ceiling or the sky with “I” exclamations.  “I’M SO FRUSTRATED!!!”  or “HITTING HURTS PEOPLE and I WANT IT TO STOP!!”  or “THIS IS NOT OK WITH ME!!!”

And then our Littles can learn that feeling and expressing emotions like anger is normal and parents feel them too — but they’re not put in a place of being traumatized by it.

I think the greatest possible gift for our children would be to grow up witnessing and experiencing their parents expressing frustration, anger, and disappointment and modeling how to get to the other side to resolve issues and support each others feelings in the process.

My husband and I hold the vision for it every day and we’ll continue to practice until we get there.

Posted in AP & Self Care, AP and Working Moms, Conflict Resolution | 3 Comments

Ain’t Gonna Sugar Coat It

I’ve been absent from Attachment Mama for 2 weeks now.  I’d like to put a PR spin on it for you, but the reality is — my transition back to work has been no cake walk for our family and I’ve been too tired to maintain my midnight blog posting routine. I’m working out a new system so that I can remain faithful to this important creative outlet and get some much needed rest.

After looking at four different preschools with summer programs in Austin, we finally decided on a summer camp which is conveniently either a nice stroller walk or a 3-5 minute drive from our house. The camp doesn’t start until Monday. So my first few weeks on the job, I opted to have my Eldest stay at her school until 5:00 and get baby-sitting support from a friend for my Littlest.  This past week with school out and both girls at home, I’ve had minimal baby-sitting support and had to tell the guys that I simply wasn’t going to be available.

Finding the childcare that we felt good about has been stressful for sure — but the bigger stress has been fretting about all the separation. Their feelings. My feelings. All of us missing each other.

Double tears in the morning. Double melt-downs in the evening that last off and on for 2 hours. A new trend of grouchy, demanding toddler talk with frequent hitting and kicking spells. Me considering returning to night-nursing because of my sadness and guilt that my connection with my almost 2 year-old baby is so minimal. Complete Sleep Fairy Bomb. My 3 year-old dropped all interest in the fairies in favor of me lying with her until she falls asleep again.  She had grown out of the need for parental pre-sleep spooning when she turned 2 — so it’s been over a year 1/2 since we’ve had that routine.  And I willingly accepted the regression.

The other night when I thought it would be safe for me to leave her bed before she fell asleep since we’d had so much time to connect over the long weekend, she started to weep, begging me not to go.

I said, “Sades, I’m just going to be downstairs and do some work on my computer and then I’ll be back to sleep with you for the rest of the night.”

In between sobs she cried, “Mommy please go really fast.”

“OK sweetie, I’ll be as fast as I can.”

“As (sob) fast (sob) as (sob) a cheetah, ok?”  Sniff. Sniff.

My cheetah days are long gone.  The last time I moved my body rapid-fast was when I saw Izzy falling off one of our bar stools and I moved like lightening to catch her mid-air.  Mark who witnessed the save was stunned and said, “Wow – I don’t think I’ve ever seen you move that fast!”

But in response to her tearful request, I said with a stoic straight face:

“Yes sweet angel. I’ll work like a cheetah and come back to you really fast.”

And she let me go.

Being at Whole Foods has been inspiring and invigorating in many ways and I’ve experienced unexpected sadness whenever I take a lunch break in the store by myself.

So much of what I’ve loved about Whole Foods in recent years has been sharing the food exploration experience with Sadie. She might love that place as much as I do now. We dance in the isles together if they’ve got a good 80’s tune playing (which is often at our store), we relish in indulging in every single sample they offer, and she reminds me of things we need that I’ve forgotten. (She’s always right.)

The first two weeks of work it was all I could do to get both girls ready for the day with their lunches prepped and get us out the door by 8:00 a.m.  I consistently forgot to pack my own lunch and would think, “Ah well, I’ll just grab something at the store.”

And every time I left the corporate office and went downstairs to the store to buy something I would inevitably see a mother shopping with her baby. By the end of the second week with all the emotions exploding on the home front every day, my ability to contain it all began to crumble.  I ran into a friend in the prepared food section one day and within a second of her asking, “How are you?!” I started crying in front of fifty other shoppers.  Good times.

Now I’m not so naive to believe that being apart from my girls will always feel this hard. I find myself remembering something one of my best friends said to me about working full-time when you have small children.  She said, “You just have to detach; that’s how you deal with it.”

I understand what she means now and I still find myself clinging to the possibility that some level of attachment parenting and working can co-exist.

My work in its current form means too much time apart. I’m attempting to give 30 hours/week to Whole Foods and 8-10 hours/week to a copy-writing client. I’m not willing to give up my consulting business altogether because it pays considerably more. In order to do both well translates into more than 40 hours/week because most people, including myself, are incapable of being 100% productive for 8 hours straight a day.

For right now, it’s important for me to keep going as is to get momentum going on income generation. And I hold the intention of ultimately finding a better balance of time apart from my girls where I can stimulate my mind and bring home some bacon, and time together that is a more than just breakfast, dinner, and bed-time stories.

My apologies for abandoning the Attachment Mama ship the past few weeks!  I fully intend to return to “regular programming” next week with articles that are less about me and my rambling back-to-work angst and more in service of my fellow Mamas (and Daddy’s too!).

Much Love to Everyone!!

Posted in AP and Working Moms | 10 Comments

Mama-Back-to-Work Update

I remember my first job in an office when I was seventeen.  The youth pastor at our church hired me to be his receptionist over the summer after my junior year. It was a start-up plastic injection molding company. Seriously exciting stuff. Especially to a teenager. I was challenged to step up to office-level professionalism and understand the concept of compartmentalizing a relationship with one person into different roles. When you’re playing the employee role, you act this way. When you’re playing the youth group teenager, you act that way.

His relationship to me up until that point, in my view, had been Director of Silliness all through middle school with some religious counseling here and there. I remember one day in particular during the first week or two on the job when I wasn’t able to resist shooting a rubber band at him. I had perfect firing aim from my reception desk to his office across the hall. And I’ll never forget the stern look he shot me that I had never received before from him and the flushed embarrassment I felt for weeks afterward.

I’m almost 40 now and have all these years of professional work experience behind me with wisdom gained from a myriad of trial and error mistakes and the gray hairs, crows feet and ongoing teeth-grinding issue to prove it.

This past week — my first week back in an office environment in 8 years — I felt like a teenager all over again. Not because my Stay at Home Mom chapter  left me challenged to act like an adult again. The energetic vibrational difference between the kind of stress you experience at home with small children and the kind you feel in corporate America is definitely different.

But I have actually felt a surge in my “adult-ness,” working in an office without hearing my children.  And I’ve had no trouble compartmentalizing my relationship with Rip as we transition from long-time friends to him giving me a list of things to take care of every day.

The teen regression feelings were three-fold. First, it was like the old feeling of yearning, practicing, working to get off the bench and play on the varsity team and then the coach suddenly says, “OK, you’re in!” You walk out on the court with the girls that have been playing all season and are wondering if you’re going to screw up the play. It’s a solidly dig deep moment in life.

Whole Foods feels like a working world varsity team to me. You get a job there and people say, “Oh My God! How did you get in??”  or “I’m so jealous! Lucky You!”

I express gratitude every day.  And thankfully I’m in a relatively low-pressure (depending on how you define pressure) position with the opportunity to fully dig into the Engine2 message and make it my own — but the initial awkwardness of walking onto the court is there regardless.

Second teen regression. Day one on the job immediately transported me inside a recurring nightmare I’ve had since I was in high school.  The metaphor is achingly obvious — but basically I’m lost in the school and can’t find my locker and when I finally do I can’t remember the combination and then when I get my books I can’t remember what my next class is and where I’m supposed to be.

I’ve still got that feeling at Whole Foods Global HQ after being there for six days now. The first two days were ridiculous. I went up and down the elevator God knows how many times — at least a half a dozen times purely on accident. You’ve got to use your coded name badge to access the office floors and if you’re not conditioned to have your badge out, ready to scan across the the badge button within 5-10 seconds of getting in the elevator — the elevator typically goes the opposite direction you intended.  And you go for a solid waste-your-time ride until you can get back into the game.

In addition to the random unplanned rides, I’ve been to visit the IT department six or more times with one technical challenge or another. Password. Network cord. Intranet Access. Phone. Dialing Out. Accessing Voicemail.  You name it. I try to come up with some line that I pray is charming every time I go back in and with the exception of the lead guy, most of them respond to my cheerful, “just been missing hanging out with you guys so much” with a blank look on their face.

The IT group is located on the “plaza level” or the first floor above the grocery store.  My “work station” is on the sixth floor.  So up and down and up and down I went.

This kind of thing would definitely tire me before having children — but after having my girls, wasting time feels maddening to me.  I really feel like if I am going to sacrifice time away from them and go through the heart-wrenching extended separation that I know is hard for them because I experience their increased angst and neediness when we reunite —  I need to either be accomplishing something or practicing some kind of critical self-care.

Third chapter of the teenage regression.  I gleefully followed the recommendation of Adam, another friend on the Engine2 team who suggested it was fully possible to transform a cubicle into a window office.

You simply deconstruct the cube panels and create a window for yourself.

My uber-handy husband came in over the weekend and made it possible and it ROCKS.  And, because apparently I can’t escape my teenage rubber-band shooting guilt and desire to avoid shame at all costs, I find myself fretting about “getting in trouble.”

Time will tell.

And something else totally random for your entertainment.  I came across this site called awkward family photos tonight.  Phenomenal.

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