Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Time Warp

You may recall, I wrote about being a working mom and the questions people often have for me. Since being laid off in June, I've once again noticed a strange phenomenon happening when people first hear that I am temporarily without work.

The world turns black and white. I am suddenly wearing a polka dot cotton house dress and pearls, my hair perfectly coiffed. And my neighbor/grocer/nurse at the doctor's office/whoever is before me bats his or her eyes upon hearing I am unemployed and says "Well golly, that's terrific!" 

That's right, we've traveled back in time. 

I know that we have entered a time warp because, after sharing I have been laid off, the first sentences from conversationalists after "I'm sorry" have been:

"That's so great that you get to spend more time with your kids."

"I suppose you'll be staying home with your kids now, huh?" 

"What a wonderful opportunity to watch your kids grow up." 

"Now you can be a full-time mom!" 

Then there's the awkward part of the conversation where I mumble the words severance, daycare, finances, looking-for-a-new-position....

And here's the reality...will you join me in 2015 again?

How awkward would it be if my husband were laid off and he got those same comments? When a father is laid off, do we assume he is going to become a stay-at-home dad? No, we assume he will make job-searching his new full-time job. 

And so it is with me, a mother looking for work:

I have continued to send my kids to daycare to maintain consistency in their schedule and to give me ample time to find a new job. If they are home, I have about one hour per day to look. (Job searching should take about 30-40 hours per week.) Being laid off has given me more time with my kids. In an I-feel-guilty-that-I'm-not-looking-for-a-job-on-a-weekday, what-if-I'm-missing-job-postings, my-patience-is-short-because-I'm-so-stressed-out kind of way. And those opportunities have come up because daycare was closed, not because I have created them.

On those days, I am staying home with my kids. However, sudden and unexpected unemployment was not the "opportunity" my husband and I were looking for in order for me to be a stay-at-home mom. Being laid off did not cause us to look at our finances for the first time and say, "What have we been doing? We can TOTALLY afford to live off of Gerrit's income! I can't believe we never knew!" You may have guessed that being unemployed can come with a lot of financial questions....even if *gasp* you're a woman!

Finally, the other working-outside-the-home moms and I have ALWAYS been full-time moms and we ARE watching our kids grow up...too fast. Just like our stay-at-home mom companions. While we're on that, can we ban the term "full-time mom?" It's hurtful. 

And so dear friends, let us learn together. When you feel yourself about to pull a phrase from your 1947 edition of "A Guide to Comforting Friends," just pause. Take a breath. And simply say, "I'm so sorry. That really sucks." I might even recommend, for my God-fearing friends, to leave out the phrase, "I'll pray for you." Instead, go home and pray. And AFTER you have prayed, tell your friend, "I prayed for you today." No empty promises, but instead a reminder of a faithful Friend (not you, silly. You're so vain. God is our Friend.)

There ya have it. No assumptions of current life situations. No time-warping. No empty promises. Easy-peasy. 

Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go put on my pumps and make a pot roast.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Come One, Come All!

To the greatest show on earth!

Yes folks, Addie and I went to her first circus. 

Life changing. 
 Toddler dreams coming true. 

The way I see it, the circus is one part depressing dazzling, two parts magical.

The animals were on their second show of the day. (We were reminded by the lone protester on the drive into the stadium that "Circuses are Traveling Torture Shows." So, that felt good.) The tigers seemed a bit lethargic. Sunday night, people. Don't we all feel that way?

As the stuck-in-an-80s-hair-band lion tamer performed, Addie asked if he was going to kill the tigers. 

When the lady acrobats performed, Adeline made a keen observation, "She's wearing special pink underwears!" Special indeed. I'll be cleaning the house in a similar pair from now on. 

Intermission was three rings of temptation. Elephant rides, bouncy castles, face painting, hurrah! Naturally, Addie wanted her picture taken with the acrobatic Elsa and Anna. But the bedazzled non-Disney posers charged $10 per Polaroid. I'm no dummy, I paid for the $10 camel ride instead. Making a memory to last a lifetime, you know. (And the line for the elephant was too long.)

Part Two began, and out came the miniature horses. They pranced around the ring whilst their tiny saddle poofs bounced to and fro. 

Life changing. 
Cassie dreams coming true. 

I will own a team of miniature horses one day! And they will be the delight of the neighborhood! Mark my words.

Next a crew of adolescent stunt boys performed. They flipped and spun in ways that can only make one question everything about one's life. I mean, what am I doing with mine? I can't do any of that. This kid is 9 and he's IN THE CIRCUS! And he's the best at it! I did yoga once....almost.

 Finally the Wheel of Death (where no one has actually died) wrapped up the show as the last bit of blue raspberry icee was slurped up from the straw.

And life will never be the same.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Questions for the Working Mother

The following is a sample of a conversation I frequently have when getting to know new people outside of work: 


Me: My name is Cassie. My husband is Gerrit. 
Newbie: Nice to meet you. Who are these little people?
Me: These are our kids, Adeline and Reyer. 
Newbie: What do you and your husband do?
Me: My husband is an IT Manager and I am an HR Generalist. 
Newbie: Do you work full time? 
Me: Yup. 
Newbie: Oh....huh...... What do your kids do while you're at work?
Me: They go to a daycare that we really like. 
Newbie: Wow, that must be really hard to drop them off. 
Me: Yes, but they are very social, so that makes it easier, knowing they enjoy it. 
Newbie: Do you think you'll stay home one day? 
Me: I would, but it's not an option right now or any time soon. 
Newbie: You must be so busy. How do you do it all? 
Me: Ha! I don't. You should see my bathroom. 

And then we laugh and laugh.....


Me: My name is Cassie. My husband is Gerrit. 
Newbie: Nice to meet you. Who are these little people?
Me: These are our kids, Adeline and Reyer. 
Newbie: What do you and your husband do?
Me: My husband is an IT Manager and I am an HR Generalist.
Newbie: Do you work full time?
Me: Well, I sure do! Can you believe it? Sometimes they even let me use the computer at work.
Newbie: Oh....huh....What do your kids do while you're at work? 
Me: Oh my gosh....I don't even know. Am I supposed to provide childcare for them? We usually leave them home and hope for the best. 
Newbie: Wow, that must be difficult to leave them all day. 
Me: No, it feels good shutting my heart off when I walk out the door. But the uncomfortable business casual outfit makes up for it.
Newbie: Do you think you'll stay home one day? 
Me: No way. Kids are gross. I just had them for the tax benefits.
Newbie: You must be so busy. How do you do it all? 
Me: Drugs....so many drugs. 

Alas, I cannot answer the way I would like to because it would be rude...just like the intrusive, pointed questions. 

Here's what I find interesting:

1. No one asks these questions of Gerrit. "Do you work full time?" and "What do your kids do while you are at work?" would be odd questions to ask a man. Why? 

2. Women, and I think Christian women in particular, are somewhat expected to stay home at some point in their child's young life. However, the woman so many others look to as an example in the Bible is the Proverbs 31 woman, who was herself a working mom. The Bible says she rose early to sell her goods, she bought and sold property, she supervised servants, she kept her home in working order, and was called blessed by her husband and children. 

All mothers are working mothers.

Throughout history, there have been many mothers (and fathers), who love their kids and who stay home with their children. That's amazing! What a great opportunity! 

AND there have been many mothers (and fathers), who love their kids and who go to work either because of financial necessity or because of a desire to be in the workforce. That's amazing! What a great opportunity!

So, dear friends, let's stop asking the intrusive questions of strangers. Let's support one another through healthy choices made and healthy choices made for us. 

Saturday, December 20, 2014

The Night Before Christmas

(As read by Cassie and Adeline)

'Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house, 
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse;

What? Where? 
No where, there's no mouse.

The stockings were hung by the chimney with care, 

Where are the stockings?
Right there.

In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there.
The children were nestled all snug in their beds. 

Are those the kids?
Is that the mommy and daddy?
No, those are more kids. 

While visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads. 

Who is that? 
That's the baby.

And Mamma in her kerchief, and I in my cap, had just settled our brains for a long winter's nap;
When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter, I sprang from the bad to see what was the matter. 

What's the matter?
Nothing, he just heard a noise. 
Outside his window.

Away to the window I flew like a flash, tore open the shutters and threw up the sash. 
The moon on the breast of the new fallen snow, gave the luster of midday to objects below. 

Right there. On the lawn. 

When, what to my wondering eyes should appear, but a miniature sleigh and eight tiny reindeer. 

What are those? 
Those are the reindeer. 
What's on them?
That's their fur. 
What's that?
Santa's sleigh.
Santa's sleigh. 

More rapid than eagles his coursers they came, and he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name: "No, Dasher! Now Dancer! Now, Prancer and Vixen! On Comet! On, Cupid! On, Donner and Blitzen!" 

Where's Blitzen? 
Right there. 
That one?

To the top of the porch! To the top of the wall! Now dash away! dash away! dash away all!" 
As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly, When they meet with an obstacle...

There. The house is the obstacle.

....mount to the sky, So up to the house top, the coursers they flew, with the sleigh full of toys and St. Nicholas too. 
And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the roof, the prancing and pawing of each little hoof. 
As I drew in my head and was turning around, down the chimney St. Nicholas came with a bound. 

Where's St. Nicholas? 
There, in the red suit.
That's St. Nicholas?

He was dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot, and his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot. A bundle of toys he flung on his back, and he looked like a pedlar just opening his pack. 

What are those?
What are they doing?
Helping Santa, like elves.
What are those?
The toys.

His eyes-how they twinkled! His dimples how merry! His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry! His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow, and the beard on his chin was as white as the snow. 

Who is THAT?

The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth, and the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath; He had a broad face and a little round belly, that shook when he laughed, like a bowlful of jelly. 

Who is that? 
The dad.

He was chubby...

Right there?

...and plump--a right jolly old elf--and I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself. 
A wink of his eye and a twist of his head soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread. 
He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work, and filled all the stockings; then turned with a jerk, and laying his finger aside of his nose, and giving a nod, up the chimney he rose; 

Up the chimney. 

He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle; and away they all flew like the down of a thistle.
But I heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight, "Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night." 

What is that? 
A twisty tree.
I wanna read another book......

Tuesday, September 9, 2014


by Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros
(slightly modified)

Alabama, Arkansas, 
I do love my Ma and Pa
Not the way that I do love you

Well, holy moly me oh my
You're the apple of my eye
Girl, I never loved one like you

Man, oh man, you're my best friend
I scream it to the nothingness
There ain't nothing that I need

Well, hot and heavy pumpkin pie
Chocolate candy, stars at night
Ain't nothing please me more than you

Home, let me come home
Home is wherever I'm with you
Home, let me come home
Home is wherever I'm with you

La la la la
Take me home
Mama, I'm coming home

I'll follow you into the park
Through the jungle, through the dark
Girl, I've never loved one like you

Moats and boats, and waterfalls, 
Alleyways, and payphone calls
I've been everywhere with you (that's true)

Laugh until we think we'll die, 
Barefoot on a summer night
Never could be sweeter than with you

And in the streets you run afree, 
Like it's only you and me, 
Geez, you're something to see 

Home, let me come home, 
Home is wherever I'm with you
Our home, yes, I am home, 
Home is when I'm alone with you

Home is when I'm alone with you
Home is when I'm alone with you.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Bubby and the Bean

Since Reyer was born, he and Adeline have become as thick as thieves. She often shares with us, "He's so special to me. I love him." 
 She likes to be near him at any cost.

He seeks her out too, since she has a lot of wisdom to impart. She has taught him to roll and sit and follow her. Who needs a puppy when you have a little brother?

Adeline likes to be in on the action of comforting and feeding him, too. She's so proud of him. When people ask his name, she chimes in, "That's Reyer Simon! He's my brother!" 

Reyer is finally starting to play in ways that are fun for Adeline. She has liked forts for some time, but he is enjoying them with her now. 

"Adeline? Are you in there?"

 "I think she's lost forever."


 "It's cool, guys. I found her."

 Bubby and the Bean. Best Buddies.

And Adeline, too!

 So, we have this other kid that's growing like a weed, too!
Here's what she's been up to. 

 Adeline got her first hair cut back in January. Her hair had finally reached the point where it wouldn't look like a mullet if we cut it. We took her to this adorable kid's salon and she was in the height of her glory. They distracted her with toys and movies and glitter! The girl enjoys the finer things in life. Can I get my hair done there, too?

She looked so mature to us afterward. She's a new woman. 

Adeline is a wee bit obsessed with sleeping on the floor, with or without permission. Sometimes, when we check on her before we go to bed, we'll find her toddler bed empty. We look down and see that she has built a little nest for herself to sleep on. Crazy kid. 

We had a few adventures through the winter and spring. She and I made this incredible snowman. Don't see it? It's on the right. The snow was too hard to pack. BUT...you would have though we built Olaf himself. She was perfectly satisfied with our little snow friend. 

Gerrit and I took her on a special day out to the zoo for her birthday. Her favorite part was not the exotic African creatures, but the fish they feed to the polar bears. Go figure. She knows what she likes. 

We had so many birthday celebrations, due to our long-distance families having different availability, that she started to think everyday was her special day! And to her, it really is. 

She's a lesson in contradictions. One moment she is pushing us out of the doorway of the bathroom yelling, "No! Wait your turn!" 
The next she is rubbing our hair, saying, "You're so precious to me. I love you all the time." 

This is Addie's world. The rest of us just live here.