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We are two working mothers — Lauren Rose, the director of business development for Name Bubbles, and Betsy DeMars, the assistant managing editor at The Saratogian. Try as we may to be really good at both, balancing motherhood and career can get pretty messy. As professionals, work schedules and mommy schedules often collide. So, we plow through, hoping at the end of the day, our kids — Lauren's 5-year-old son and Betsy's 11-year-old son and 9-year-old daughter — know how much we love them.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Never a good time for Mom to escape (but necessary)

A couple months ago when presented an opportunity to travel with my church's music ministry to a conference in Connecticut this month, I was gung-ho.

On top of the enriching experience the conference was offering, I also would have the opportunity to spend some time with my sisters, who also were planning to attend as much of the conference as their schedules would allow. And, I'd get to share some time with my pals from church. It was all sounding so perfect.

Then, one by one, the commitments for that weekend started rolling in. My husband had scheduled a fence installation for friends of ours for that weekend. Our daughter had soccer practice and team photos at 11:15 a.m. Our son's baseball game was set for 11 a.m. And it also was the weekend of the fishing tournament our son won Best Sportsman at last year.

But I had made a commitment to my church group to the point where my sister would be hosting some of us in her home. So I had to find a way to make everything run smoothly in my absence. Thankfully, the fence job got postponed. A quick phone call to a friend's mom on the soccer team and voila ... my husband didn't have to be in three places at the same time.

For moms (and dads), it can sometimes seem impossible to get to do things (like my church conference) that actually add value to our lives. Leaving our spouses to do all the juggling with the kids while we recharge our batteries can make us feel a bit guilty about our getaway. I think as long as your spouse knows it goes both ways, there won't be any animosity. We should encourage our spouses to take opportunities for a little healthy getaway.

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It's OK, I'll take the blame for everything

I've come to realize that no matter what I do for everyone in my house, I'm always going to get blamed for everything. I'm finding that directly or indirectly every mishap or misplaced something-or-other -- it's always Mom's fault.

A couple of examples:
Yesterday my son had not finished his spelling homework and said he would do it on the bus. I had packed my fifth-grader's lunch in his bag and put his all his papers and books in. I even threw in a notebook because I knew he'd need some paper to finish one part of his spelling homework. I was doing all this while he went outside to shoot a few hoops before the bus came. As the bus was approaching, he grabbed his bag and asked me, "Did you put any pencils in my bag?" When I told him I did not, he proceeded to tell me that he wouldn't be able to do his spelling because I didn't pack him a pencil. Therefore, it was my fault he was going to get in trouble for not finishing his work.

A couple days ago, my daughter, who had been dilly-dallying instead of getting ready for school, was in stocking feet with uncombed hair and unbrushed teeth when the bus showed up. She told me right away, "It's your fault, Mom!" I asked her how that was possible. Her reply: "Well, you didn't tuck me into bed early enough and then I didn't want to get up in the morning and then I couldn't get ready in time, so I missed the bus because of you."

Even my husband gets in on the blame game. When he couldn't find his paycheck: "Betsy, you probably threw it away, didn't you!? I know you like to throw everything away." (In his defense, I had moved it from the spot on the counter next to the stove to the table because I was cooking and didn't want to get food on it.)

So there you have it. I am responsible for everything that four people forget, lose or are late for. Guess that's all part of the mom gig. Come to think of it, I'm pretty sure I did the same thing to my mother. It was usually her fault that the printer was running out of ink as I was trying to print a report that was due that day two seconds before I had to leave for school. Oh, the things we put our mothers through. Happy Mother's Day, Mom!

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Too soon for organized sports?

I signed my son up for t-ball. Although he's not quite five years old, the administrator told me he'd be fine to begin this year. I paid the registration fee of $75 ($25 of that was a late fee), the concession fee, and uniform fee. As the nearly $200 left my bank account, I couldn't help but wonder if I was doing the right thing.

On opening day, we all headed to the ball park excited. Well, two of us were excited anyway. My son, was not. We'd played t-ball in the backyard, so why did we have to "go somewhere" to do it? That's what I figured he was thinking anyway.

Turns out, it was fun. We picked up the uniforms, took individual and team photos, played on swings and in the bouncy bounce and ate hot dogs. It was all falling into place. Or, so we thought.

The first practice was a totally different ball game (pun intended). It turns out four of the seven members of my son's team have been "training" for the month prior to opening day. Training? They're five years old for goodness sakes. One kid's wearing eye black and a batting glove. All but two, our kid included, are wearing cleats. Cleats? Isn't t-ball where you learn about the game? These kids (And, let's face it, their parents) are seeking little league mastery!

My son, being the youngest and least experienced, is essentially more interested in the field than the game. There's dirt and grass and cushions (bases). He's doing his best to pay attention, but he's not really getting it. "Keep your hat on" and "Put your glove on" are just two of the instructions he hears from his coach. In spite of coach's attempt to keep him engaged, our son asks "Coach, how much longer is this going to last?". "23 more minutes" coach replies with a smile. About half way through, my son - arms outstretched - announces that he would really, really like me to come out on the field to give him a hug. When I reply "Stay focused, please. Listen to your coach", he turns his body to face his father and asks "Dad, I'd really like a hug. Please?" Although our initial instinct IS to run out on the field, my husband and I do our best NOT to disrupt the game. We share a laugh and nod in agreement to stay put. We're a team after all.

Toward the end of practice, our son starts to get the hang of hit. Turns out he's a pretty good hitter. The last play, he makes his move and gets in the game. He reaches for the ball and, wait for it, a kid steps on his hand. With cleats. Coach gives us the nod to meet him coming off the field to inspect the injury (there's swelling, at a minimum). Surprisingly, our kid is pretty tough. He wipes his tears and meets his coach and team for one last inspirational huddle. Practice breaks up and my husband and I offer up a hot dog and ice cream on the way home to make his first impression of baseball a positive one. By the time we get home, he's his old self again.

It's too early to tell if he'll make it through the season. It's raining now, so game one may very well rain out. Like everything else in life, it's going to be day by day. Or in this case, game by game. As much as I want to instill a "you need to finish what you start" philosophy in my son, I don't want him to turn his back on organized team sports too soon. I loved sports growing up and look back fondly on those early childhood memories. If we need to wait another year - or try another sport for that matter - so be it. Our goal is not to strike out.

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