Tuesday, May 19, 2009

I Am The Peacekeeper

And no, I'm not talking about this crappy 1997 B movie. (Okay, I've never actually seen this movie, but I think I can safely assume any movie starring Dolph Lundgren and Montell freakin' Williams is probably pretty crappy.)

After a conversation with a co-worker this morning in which I referred to myself as a "peacekeeper," I had a small moment of self-discovery. I seem to be having a lot of them lately and wonder if it has anything at all to do with the fact that I'm getting closer to turning 30. Anyway, we were discussing the fact that, in our office of three women, I have somehow become the one that the other two both confide in and am sort of a go-between for them (they don't really get along due to an unfortunate screaming match that apparently happened while I was out getting lunch one day and, therefore, not here to "keep the peace.")

It dawned on me that my work situation is a lot like the relationship I had growing up with two sisters, "Big A" and "little c." Big A is almost 3 years older than I am and little c is almost 6 years younger. So, the age gap between Big A and little c is almost 10 years. My co-workers, "Big D" and "little m," also have quite a large age difference - Big D is 45, little m is 23 or 24, I'm not quite sure. Adding to the similarities is the fact that Big D was here first, I came about 2 years later, and little m started here just a few months ago. So, that makes me the middle child.

I was curious to see if this "peacekeeping" mentality was inherently ingrained in me due to my birth order position and hopped on google to research more into the topic and the theory of Middle Child Syndrome. What I found was fascinating...

According to this article, peacekeeping is just one of the traits I have that I can contribute directly to being a middle child. I can also blame it for my lack of direction, my indecisiveness, and my detachment from most emotional relationships. Additionally, this article goes on to explain that my birth order may be the reason I was always more of a loner and prefer to stay behind the scenes rather than bathe in the limelight.

All of that sounds pretty negative so far, right? Well, I'll have you know that middle children are also known to be more creative and artistic types and usually have a go-with-the-flow mentality. And who doesn't like those kind of people? I've always gone through life with a "whatever's clever" kind of attitude, which can be a good quality or a negative one depending on the situation. On one hand, I'm fairly adaptable to change and my feathers aren't easily ruffled. On the other, and I hate to admit this, I can be somewhat of a doormat at times.

In any case, this is all just one example of the never-ending nature vs. nurture argument, but I really think there's a lot to be said about the Middle Child Syndrome. And I'm not just saying that because I am one. Really, I'm not!

Side note: During my extensive google research on the topic, I came across this site and thought, "Wow! A whole site devoted to the Middle Child Syndrome! It must be a wealth of information on the topic." And, while sadly it wasn't the fount of facts I was hoping for and I'm still not real clear on what it has to do with MCS at all, it was still an amusing respite from today's mind-fuck, self-discovery moment.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Word to Your Mother

Note: I meant to post this yesterday, but with all the Mother's Day festivities and a toddler who decided to completely skip a nap, never had the time. So, a day late and a buck short, a Mother's Day themed post...

Today is Mother's Day. All week I've been reading quotes and poems about mothers and motherhood. One that I've seen often is this:

A man's work is from sun to sun, but a mother's work is never done. ~ Author Unknown

I can't help but think of how hopelessly outdated that quote is and yet, so true at the same time. From what I've heard from other mothers I know in real life and online, I'm extremely fortunate to have a husband who is, for the most part, an equal partner in the parenting of our son. He changes diapers, kisses boo-boos, and reads that bed time story for the thousandth time without a hint of boredom in his voice. He has been a fantastically involved father from Day One and the relationship he has with our son shows this.

It's easier to expect a sharing of the parenting duties when both of us work full-time jobs. Neither of us has an excuse for not working what I like to call "The Second Shift." Just because you've worked an 8.5 hour day, plus time spent sitting in traffic, doesn't mean you get to come home and sit on your ass for the rest of the evening. Dinner still has to be made, laundry washed, dried, and put away, dishes cleaned, a toddler to bathe... the list goes on. At the same time, those few short hours in the evenings are all we have with our little boy during the work week and I'd hate to waste them on chores. I'll be honest, my house is rarely (if ever) spotless, our clothes are clean, though not always immediately folded and put away, and we get take-out far too often.

This is where the 2-man parenting team really comes into play. While I'm getting dinner started, Mr. Shoes will be down on the living room rug wrestling with Littleshoes or explaining the fundamental differences between Spiderman and Wolverine (which is very important). After dinner, Mr. Shoes will clean up while I play Jaws with the rubber ducky in the bathtub. Bed time always consists of lots of hugs and kisses from both of us. These are the things that will (and do) mean the most to us when the boy's all-too-short childhood is over. Not to mention the fact that it's so much easier to actually get the chore stuff done without feeling like we're neglecting him and his development in the process.

On the other hand, a mother's role is so dynamically different from a father's, as is the connection a mother has to her child. To further illustrate my point, another quote:

Mothers are fonder than fathers of their children because they are more certain they are their own. ~ Aristotle

Mothers spend nine months growing and nurturing the child in their womb and begin to make the sacrifices necessary to become a parent right from the start. When I found out I was pregnant, I immediately began to put myself second because that little person depended solely on me to make sure he had every possible chance at survival. Pregnancy was an amazing journey. Feeling your child move and kick and hiccup inside you is an indescribable sensation and one only a mother can know. A mother knows more about her child before he or she is even born than anyone else involved in that child's life. That bond, that physical, emotional, and spiritual connection is present from the very beginning and only grows stronger as time goes on. It makes me sad to think that father's can't experience the same thing.

That connection, that overwhelming love a mother feels for her child, no matter what, is why a mother's work is never done. I will spend the rest of my life living and breathing for my child and hoping that I can raise him to be kind of person who believes the impossible can be possible. It's a tough job, but it has its perks.

And, although the sentiment is nice, I don't need an entire day devoted to appreciating the mother I am. I'm lucky enough to have a husband and son who make me feel like a goddess every day, from sun to sun.

Friday, May 8, 2009

First Things First

Since this is the first post to my brand spankin' new blog, I guess I should do the obligatory introductory post.

Let's see... I'm a 28, soon to be 29-year-old working wife and mom living in the 'burbs of Dallas, TX. Sometimes I feel that my life is pretty typical for someone of that description and sometimes I feel that life is anything but typical. For the most part though, things are pretty routine and I like it that way. I will most likely be blogging about life with my 2-year-old son, my husband, a cat who hates me and the daily grind. Or just anything that pops into my head. Whatever.

And, since I use paperbagshoes as a handle here and there around the internets and get asked this question a lot, I'll go ahead and get this out of the way:

What is the meaning behind Paper Bag Shoes?

When I was a wee little girl, maybe 5 or 6, I was waiting on my mother to get off of the phone so we could go do something. I don't remember exactly what I was so anxious to go do, but I remember being really exasperated at the fact that I had to wait for her to get off the phone. She was on the phone with her mother, my g-ma, so you know how long those conversations can go on for.

Anyway, to pass the time I decided to do a little craft project. I grabbed a couple of those brown paper lunch sacks out of the pantry, some kid-safe scissors, and some good ol' Scotch tape. Then I went to town making me some shoes (basically, I just stuck my feet in the bags and then taped them up around my legs). I thought they looked pretty good and wanted to go test them out in the yard. I went shuffling around in the driveway and down the sidewalk. Turns out, once they get wet, paper bags don't make the best material for footwear. After just a few minutes my toes were sticking out the ends and there were shreds of soggy brown paper falling off every where.

So, I go back inside to check and see if Ma was any closer to getting off the phone and/or see what else I could get in to. As soon as I walked in the door, Ma was looking at me inquisitively. She had heard some strange shuffling sounds from me walking around outside and was curious to see what it was. When she caught a glimpse of my paper-wrapped feet, she immediately started laughing hysterically. Laughing so hard she had tears streaming down her face and my g-ma on the other end of the phone was terribly worried that something was wrong.

She finally calmed down enough to tell g-ma everything was fine and got off the phone. She ran to get the camera and had me pose for a few pics, as she was sure she wanted to document this moment for posterity. (I would totally post a pic if Ma could find it.)

It's become the stuff of legend now and Ma loves telling the story of my paper bag shoes. She still giggles when she tells it. It's a little like one of those defining moments in my life, I think. I like to think I'm somewhat of a creative person and I love to make people laugh and maybe it all started with those paper bag shoes.