#39TilYouGetItRight

I’m feeling reflective in the last few minutes of 2015.  Although this has been a year of loss and frustration, 2015 has turned out to be one of the most remarkable and memorable years of my life.   Like the #39BucketList, I’m really sad to see it go.

The #39BucketList started on the night of my 39th birthday.  I found myself alone in New York City on a business trip for a brand new job. My new boss had dinner with me, but once he headed home for the ‘burbs, I was alone for the rest of my birthday.  The city and evening stretched out ahead of me.  Was I going to go back and sit in my hotel room? Hell, no!

On that night, I decided to take advantage of as much of the city as I could. I wandered all over midtown Manhattan alone. I sat outside for a while watching the ice skaters at Rockefeller Center. I went to the very top of the Empire State Building (yes, I paid extra to go to the 102nd floor). I went to the really cool Blue Bar at the Algonquin Hotel and had a drink (try the Matilda!). I went shopping at H&M after midnight. Crazy, I know!

#39BucketList was never a specific list of things that I wanted to do before I turned 40. It was about saying “yes” to things that are important, that feel right and that make me happy. While it may sound juvenile and a bit selfish, it was a frame of mind to help me become more comfortable in my own skin and get me and my family on a better path. Instead of simply enduring life, I wanted to enjoy it.  It’s not that I’m not incredibly grateful for everything that I have. I am lucky to have a wonderful family, healthy children, and (while it’s not anyone’s ideal apartment) a roof over my head. For me, happiness means appreciating everything that I have, but also dreaming that there’s always something exciting around the corner.

As painful as it was to turn 40, I truly had an INCREDIBLE 39th year in 2015. For the first time since I was in my 20s, I traveled all over the country. In one year alone, I took four trips to NYC, two trips to DC, and trips to Houston, San Francisco, Cleveland, Chicago, the White Mountains, the Walt Disney World Resort (of course!), and more trips to Atlanta than I care to remember. On each of the business trips, I had the opportunity to meet, present to, and get to know all kinds of people. As much as a natural introvert as I am, I always feel a little sparkle inside when I’m out there in front of people.

I had the opportunity to be on TV, to the delight of my inner teenager, who was convinced that she’d dye her hair blonde, move to LA and become an actress.  I had a blast coming up with nonsensical soundbytes such as “the bustle of the city” and “gotta have these peppers,” all while showing off one of my favorite places in the world.  It was an AWESOME experience, even with the ridiculously frizzy hair and the wardrobe malfunction issues.

I found my voice on social media. I have come to love Twitter, a mini virtual universe where something is always going on. I have quite an eclectic Twitter network, made up of approximately 40% Disney enthusiasts, 30% social activists (many of whom I discovered during my #NoBoston2024 days), 25% professional contacts, and 5% spam accounts…well, ok, maybe it’s 25% spam accounts, and 5% professional, but whatever. Most of the time on Twitter, I feel like I’m the weird girl sitting alone at a cafeteria table talking to herself, but it is really fun to connect with people you’d never actually meet in real life.

I didn’t think anything would top the TV experience, but it was a spur of the moment cruise to the Cape that truly topped off my summer.  My husband and the kids were staying with my inlaws on the Cape, and as I had to work in the city, I planned to meet them later in the week.  Rather than take the bus (which was really the most cost-effective and sensible option), I decided she need to take the Provincetown Ferry, declaring it a #39BucketList item.  And I’m so glad that I did.  There I was, sitting in the open air on this ferry boat, my legs propped up on my suitcase in front of me.  The water was a little choppy that day and the boat was just speeding along, rocking in the waves, the ocean spraying in my face every so often.  I had no little people to care for, no worries that Bree was going to jump overboard, or having to take Owen to the bathroom.  I was completely relaxed, listening to my favorite playlist on my iPod, and just watching the as the city faded away into the place where the sky met the ocean.  The sun started setting, and I thought the ride couldn’t get any better.  Until I saw my first whale!  I’ve never been on a whale watch (that I recall) and so I just watched this whale in amazement. And then I saw another whale.  And then another. And I could see more in the distance – a random tail shooting up, a spray of water.  I think I saw about 10 whales in total.  Completely amazing and an experience I’ll never forget.

Even though I’ve crossed the threshold of 40, I am going continue the Bucket List idea.  One of my friends posted the perfect hashtag on Facebook that cemented this all for me:  #39TilYouGetItRight. Obviously, 40 is not an end point,  and while I can’t use #39BucketList anymore, the purpose and idea behind it doesn’t have to go away.  Maybe the next decade will be about pushing myself to really explore what excites me and what I’m really passionate about. More than anything, I want to feel more of that “sparkle” that I felt a few times over the past year. I’ve always admired people who knew what their dream was at an early age and chased it. It finally occurred to me this year that the reason I haven’t found my “dream” is not because I failed, but it’s because I never identified what that dream really was.

I am sad to see 2015 go, but can’t wait to see what adventures await in 2016.

 

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40 Reasons Why Being in Your 40s is Fabulous (really)!

  1. All the bands you loved in college are now on reunion tours and you can afford to get the really good seats.
  2. You can listen to Maroon 5 without embarrassment.  You score “cool” points for singing in the car while driving the kids to school.
  3. And, it’s not at all weird to crush on Adam Levine because at least he’s in his mid-30s.
  4. You can relate every guy you’ve loved in your life to a Taylor Swift, Katy Perry or Pink song, and you can’t help smirking while you sing along.  Jerk.
  5. You’ve figured out that simply wearing activewear gives the appearance that you work out.
  6. Same deal with a FitBit.
  7. Shapewear not only becomes socially acceptable, but expected and welcomed.
  8. Anti-aging skin products are now fully justified purchases as they are medically necessary.  They may not fly with the IRS as FSA-approved purchases, but your spouse cannot protest the cost.
  9. You are that much closer to retirement.
  10. Yet you are still smack in middle of the most desirable TV demographic.
  11. And you are still not *quite* yet at the age for bifocals or scary tests that end in “-scopy.”
  12. Do you still own any clothes, shoes, or purses from your 20s?  If so, congrats!  They are now vintage.
  13. You’ve figured out how to hide a bag of fun size Kit Kats from your family and so that you “forget” to hand them out to trick or treaters.
  14. You remember to hit up Target the day after Halloween for the 50% off Kit Kats and hide those too.  Beach season is over, anyway.
  15. If you have children, you stop feeling like the camp counselor or babysitter and more like a mom.
  16. If you are single, you can now *usually* spot and resist the allure of a “bad boy” — he may be exciting, but you have no time for that drama.  Been there, done that, have the T shirt.
  17. You finally got over that guy that ripped your heart out in your 20s.  Jerk.
  18. And you’re mature enough to be friends with said guy without getting sucked into a Vortex of Emotion.  He’s still a jerk though.
  19. You’ve forgiven your old boyfriend (one of the nice ones) for the whole “unanswered prayers” comment he made years ago because you’re there now too.
  20. Even as you grow tired of your own bull$hit, you have the optimism that there’s still time to change.
  21. There’s no shame in falling asleep on the couch by 8 pm.
  22. Or getting up at 4 am.  They have all those “early bird” sayings for a reason.
  23. You stop feeling like you need to compete with other moms.  They are going to better at some things, you’ll be better at some things, and it’s just best to find some to call friends.  All moms need good friends.
  24. Speaking of moms, you don’t have to wear mom jeans. Cute jeans nowadays do all the lifting and tucking for you.  Or come with stretchy waistbands.  Leggings?  Yeah, they ARE pants as long as your top covers your butt.
  25. You’ve finally figured out which clothes look good on you and you stop trying to make maxi dresses happen.
  26. You’ve learned to accept swim skirts, cover ups, and modest suit cuts, and for the first time since you were a little kid, you feel a bit more comfortable at the beach.  And you don’t miss being ogled at by gross old guys.
  27. You don’t have to worry about getting carded, unless you just ran to the liquor store and forgot your license (damn it, I’m 40!).
  28. You no longer get pressured to do shots at a bar.  Unless it is your husband’s 40th birthday and you are still in your 30s.  In which case the night may take a sharp, nasty turn and we shall never, ever, ever think about that again.  Like ever.
  29. You have fewer, but closer, friends.  Which is good because the limited time you have to socialize is too precious to waste on anything less.
  30. You really do stop caring what most people think of you.  It could be because you are just too damn exhausted to care, but it still counts.
  31. You have more credibility at work, no matter your field or job, if for no other reason than you’ve been in the working world for at least 20 years.
  32. And you are *that* much closer to deciding what you want to be when you grow up.
  33. You mentor the high-potential junior staffer at work because you used to be that girl.
  34. You also mentor the hot mess at work because, at times, you’ve been that girl too.
  35. At least one person looks up to and admires you, whether you know it or not, and even if you still feel like a hot mess most days.
  36. You finally settle on a title for your memoir.  And it doesn’t have a hashtag!
  37. You own at least one pair of nice sunglasses, a watch, or a great piece of jewelry that came in a robin’s-egg-blue box.
  38. You drive a car that has four hubcaps, both side mirrors, and is absent of major dents or rust.  (Oh, this one doesn’t apply to ME per se, just generally to people in their 40s).
  39. You have fun on Facebook watching friends, old and new, living their lives.  Some married their high school sweethearts and now have teenagers of their own.  Others are on second marriages becoming the modern day Brady Bunch.  Some are welcoming brand new babies at 40.  Others are world travelers, pursuing careers & dreams.  And all of these are valid places to be in life.
  40. You appreciate the meaning of “it all happens for a reason” because you understand that every heartbreak, missed opportunity and closed door put you closer down the path to where you are today.  And you are mostly satisfied with where you are today.

 

#39bucketlist

I had to give something up this year.  So I chose the gym.  Even though I’m probably three slices of bacon away from a heart attack, I accepted the fact that it is better for me to just allow myself to work out on weekends or when the opportunity strikes than having to feel guilty for not making the time to go to the gym on a regular basis.

Last year was the year to Just Say No (please refer to last post entitled “Just Say No”).  I was overwhelmed by having my two girls in public schools for the first time, taking on a teaching job, juggling work and home life and trying to prevent my husband from nominating me for Hoarders:  Buried Alive.  I said no to joining Parent Council, I said no to putting Emma in Orchestra and generally put the brakes on extending myself any further.  I even stopped writing my blog, which must’ve been sad for the three of you who read it. (Hi, Patrick!).

What a difference a year makes.

I am turning 40 this year, and this year is about saying yes to things that are important, that feel right, and that make me happy.  Yes, this is something that I shouldn’t need a milestone birthday to prompt me to do, but my 20s were kind of a mess and my 30s were about finding myself, so I hope that my 40s will be about me feeling comfortable in my own skin and enjoying my amazing family.  #39bucketlist is a frame of mind that I use to make choices that will help get me and my family on a better path.

Where has this journey taken me so far?

I changed jobs.  Like three times in one year.  I’m no stranger to moving around professionally, but even this surprised/embarrassed me.  It was so sad and painful to have to leave the other jobs, particularly because I really liked and respected my bosses, but in the end I arrived in the right place.  The funny thing was that I didn’t even apply for my current job – I decided to say yes to a call from a recruiter for a position I felt I was overqualified for and didn’t think I wanted.   It’s only been a couple of months, but it’s amazing what a difference the right job makes.  I’m doing work that I love (even when it makes me want to pull my hair out – my fellow HRBPs will understand what I mean) as part of an incredibly talented, smart and hardworking team of Type A personalities.   I don’t know where my career will go from here, but I absolutely know that I am in the right place right now.

I said yes to Parent Council at Emma’s school.  I figured that if all three of my children end up going there, it was worth my time and energy to get involved.  Now as a Parent Council Secretary, I help creating flyers, stuffing mailboxes and taking meeting minutes.  But I also get an insider’s look at the school, access to the administration and an opportunity to voice my opinion.

I said yes to applying to the Disney Parks Moms Panel.  Yes, that would be a third unpaid “job,” but it would allow me to write AND would legitimize my obsessive love of planning Disney trips!  I only made it to the second round but met some awesome people who are equally obsessive about planning Disney trips and learned a LOT in the process.  For example, nomenclature is very important to Disney.  I like to think that I did not make it to the third round because I forgot to put the “Disney’s” in “Disney’s Hollywood Studios,” and not because I wasn’t “magical” enough!  It was fun to see who made it through to the Panel, and I look forward to trying again in the future.  It also inspired me to restart my blog and to become more active on social media.

And coming full circle back to quitting the gym, I said yes to running again.  Specifically, I picked up the hobby popular with so many of my similarly aged and situated friends:  running races.  Please be clear – by “running races,” I mean to say “finishing races,” and short ones at that.  I’ve done two 5ks so far, and would love to work my way up to a half marathon by 2016.  By the way, if any of you have training plans that can get you shape to run 13.1 miles when you can only run once or twice a week, please call me!

I may not be a fast runner or on the Disney Parks Moms Panel, and I may have set myself back years in my career trajectory, but I know that all of these steps I’m taking are at least keeping the heart attacks at bay.  Which is good, because I’m not ready to say no to bacon.

 

“Your presence is gift enough…”

Since I didn’t have “mom friends” until I actually had children (and even then, those friends were also on their first child), I didn’t have a mentor to help guide me through the politics of motherhood (Momitics?). I had a large 1st birthday party for my oldest daughter, Emma. We rented a hall on our favorite beach, brought in catered food and a Little Mermaid cake from Konditor Meister. Emma didn’t really have a lot of friends then, so the guests were mostly our family and adult friends. Plus, my future brother-in-law who was meeting all of us for the first time (brave guy!) and proved himself useful in hanging decorations from the ceiling. The pile of gifts Emma received was overwhelming and it quickly became clear to me that we’d have to find space for all of that stuff in our tiny apartment.

Anyway, I wasn’t savvy about children’s birthday parties then.  It never dawned on me that perhaps we don’t need to invite sixty people to a first birthday.  And it never dawned on me that a child that young doesn’t need to receive a million gifts, particularly when all she really cares about is the wrapping paper.  On a side note, I also didn’t know that you aren’t supposed to open gifts in front of the other kids (not sure when that started, but maybe it’s an age thing).  That was back when we had ONE child. Now we are in the same apartment, but with two additional children. We have extremely generous family members who love to shower their grandchildren/nieces/nephews with gifts. I too enjoy buying gifts for the kids, especially at Christmas.

So, to proactively battle the inevitable clutter, I became a fan of the “no gifts, please” trend starting with Emma’s 2nd birthday.  The grandmothers didn’t like it.  Some guests ignored it.  And some people approached me, feeling bad that they did not bring a gift when others did.  Now it’s become yet another  thing to track for the multiple birthday parties we attend any given weekend:  is this a “no gift” party?  Are siblings invited?  (Seriously, we note all these things on our calendar).

The wording on the invite comes in many ways:  “no gifts, please” or “your presence is gift enough” or “no need to bring gifts; just bring yourselves.”  I am always happy to buy gifts for the kids’ friends (all 40 of them), but I always honor the parents’ request if stated.  Now that the kids are older, they always ask about it which can be quite awkward when they ask in front of other parents and their children.  At one “no gifts” party we attended this Spring, we were saying goodbye to the birthday girl and her mom when Emma asked loudly, “What did we get Jane for her present?”.  Errrrrrr, I was not sure how to respond to this, especially in front of the birthday child!  Somehow “we didn’t buy a gift because her mom asked us not to” didn’t feel appropriate.  Luckily, the birthday girl’s mom, who oozes effortless social  grace,  simply said something like, “Oh Emma, you are such a good friend to Jane; we didn’t have gifts from friends today, but Jane has many gifts to look forward to opening at home with her family.”  Good enough!

Birthday parties in the city are a big business.  Most of us don’t have apartments big enough to invite guests over, much less the whole class of 20 children, plus siblings.  Some people opt to have birthdays in the public parks, which are great but  require a gamble that the weather will cooperate.  So most of us end up using facilities – Gymboree, My Gym, the new one called Jump On In!, gymnastics and ballet studios.  The kids love these locations and the structured activities that they provide, and the parents love the convenience and extra set of helping hands, but the costs for these parties really add up.   I can only hope that the birthday party gift giving does not become like etiquette for weddings – i.e. it costs X dollars for each child to attend, therefore you should spend Y on your gift.

Fast forward to Emma’s fifth birthday.  I thought I was so on the ball by reserving the party location and sending the Evite over a month in advance.  Unfortunately, I forgot about the whole “no gifts” thing, and we received a ton of presents.  But as we were opening them, I was really touched by the thoughtfulness that went into the gifts.  Our guests selected things that they knew Emma would love:  art supplies, crafts and drawing kits, musical toys, beautiful jewelry, dress up clothes and great new books.  One thing I can say about Emma is that she is very gracious  – as she opened each gift, she said, “oh, what a nice present!  I love it!”  Now, if only she was old enough to write out all of the thank you notes!

In the end, I don’t know what the right answer is for the “no gifts” issue.  I don’t like our friends to feel pressured to buy gifts for our children, but I also don’t want them to feel awkward with a “no gift” request.  I guess that all we can do is to teach our children to be gracious and appreciative of what they receive, and hopefully keep them from becoming spoiled by expecting a tower of gifts.  No one really knows what the “right” rules are for birthday parties, so I guess we will all continue to do what’s right for our family, and hopefully not feel pressured to outdo the last party we attended or the gift we receive.

We did, however, have another Konditor Meister cake for Emma’s party (Sleeping Beauty this time).  And it was delicious!

Emma's 5th bday cake

You can pick your friends and your nose, but can you pick your school?

While we are waiting to find out what Emma’s school “choices” are, I’ve been reflecting on what a strange experience it’s been to research and apply to private schools.  We’ve finally completed all of the required tours, prospective student visits and parent interviews.  Well, except those for the Catholic school that I’m ironically praying that we won’t have to apply to.   I’ve been treating the whole thing like a job search/interview process.  Making sure I’m acting engaged during visits, asking thoughtful questions during the tours…and not giving what Patrick lovingly refers to as my “bitchy” face when I hear something I don’t like.

We’ve had an odd experience with one particular school.  As I’ve mentioned previously, I’m a big fan of alternative education styles and think that Emma would do really well in that type of  environment.  The school itself is just beautiful.  And so clean that I wouldn’t have to spend nights and weekends there with my Clorox wipes and steam mop.  But there’s an odd undercurrent/vibe that I’ve been feeling there.  And it’s not just because I found out that the fourth graders watch and analyze Hitchcock’s “Rear Window.”  First, there was the prospective student visit day.  They whisked Emma off to a classroom to let her experience the teachers and materials while I sat with 15 other parents in the library.  Really, the 16 of us were sizing each other up.  I counted about 4 or 5 Louis Vuittons (I’m more of a Marc by Marc Jacobs on Clearance at Nordstrom kinda gal), and one woman’s nametag read “Chessy.”  Seriously.  I don’t mean to offend any ancient prepster families, but that alone made it clear that I was out of my league.   The Assistant Director kept stressing to us that this “was not an interview” and that our children “were not being interviewed” but also seemed a little put off by the fact that we weren’t asking enough questions.  One parent leaned forward and asked, “so what is your acceptance rate into Harvard?”  We all laughed nervously.  “No, seriously,” he continued “what is your acceptance rate into the exam schools?”  Of course he was referring to Boston Latin.  Somehow over the past few months I’ve gleaned that the “other” exam school, Latin Academy, doesn’t have the same level of perceived prestige as Boston Latin.  Please note that I have no data to back that up…and also?  Am I supposed to be thinking about junior high already?  I just want to find a good, safe Kindergarten for my child.  During our discussion, the head of admissions came in, asking for Jose’s “grandmother.”  Apparently, Jose was struggling with his visit.  Jose’s mother stood up in a grumpy manner, saying, “I didn’t realize I looked like a grandmother!”  The rest of us felt awkward for her, but secretly  happy that our own children were faring better.

I recently attended a parent visit there, during which I got to observe the Kindergarten class in action.  My first observation was that the class was stunningly, and almost eerily, quiet.  The children were sitting cross-legged on a circle mat, quietly eating homemade, all-natural, milk and nut free cookies, listening to the teacher read from a chapter book.  During pauses in the reading, one little boy made comments about the story.  At one point, the teacher said to him, “Joe, I will ask you to keep all your comments to the end.”  It felt a little firmer than I would expect of the situation, but I didn’t think about it too much of it at the time.  Later, the teacher was explaining a game the class would play and asked if anyone had any questions.  Joe said, “so, if you get all the spaces marked off and say Bingo, it means that you win.”  To which the teacher replied, rather curtly, “That’s not a question, Joe.”  My very first thought was:  there is no joy here.  Worse, it was a situation I could see Emma getting into.  While Emma could use a bit of self-regulation, given all of her recent antics at school, I don’t want her to become a Stepford Child!

Later, the Director met with the parents for a short interview. I was expecting this to be a private experience, but we were joined by another mother…funnily enough, it was Jose’s (grand)mother, who seemed completely disengaged and annoyed throughout the visit.  The Director asked us both to tell our family’s “story.”  I made the mistake of letting the other mom go first…it turns out that she had a complicated and very sad tale about her struggle through childhood (including immigrating to the US, growing up as a non-English speaking illegal immigrant who was forced to work in a factory from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. every day in order to pay for her mother’s medical bills, and being responsible for bringing each of her 8 siblings over to the US).  Then it was my turn – what could I possibly say after that?  Ummmm…..my husband and I grew up in comfortable, middle-class surburbia and went to good schools?  I did take a minute to talk about how I feel that Allston is at a disadvantage as most of our neighborhood schools are considered to be poorly performing, and that I feel it’s overlooked because people forget that it’s not just BU students who live there…to which Jose’s mother replied, “Oh yes, the schools in your neighborhood are bad.  And I know because I work for the school system.”  Now if that woman with everything she had to deal with growing up thinks our schools are bad , they must be really bad!  Not to mention the small detail that all families are expected to contribute to the school’s annual fund and other fundraising efforts.  I was so grateful that Patrick refrained from asking out loud, “do you mean ON TOP OF the $30k tuition????”

Contrast this with our another private school we applied to – there is so much life and energy and light at the other school.  The academics are stellar, they have very small class sizes, and a low teacher turnover rate.  They offer reasonable tuition rates  good school hours.  The school is housed in a cute brownstone in Back Bay.  Even Patrick liked it.  It is quirky, of course, but quirky in a very charming way.  The environment is so impressive that families have actually taken their kids out of Boston’s most coveted public schools when they got into this school.  Unfortunately,  the unusual admissions process and waitlist procedures are keeping this school out of our reach.  They fill their Kindergarten class 18 months in advance, so I needed to apply this time last year.  The director of admissions confirmed at the end of our parent interview/tour that there are no spots for Emma and that we will get a letter saying we are on the waitlist.  And to make matters worse, even my Holy Cross alumni connection with him wouldn’t help us get off the waitlist –  they select families off the waitlist not by number, but by how a certain child would “fit” into the current class.  So, if another caucasian girl from Allston happens to drop out WE ARE IN!!!

So we will wait, checking our mailbox every day, to see what our “choices” will ultimately be.

Bracing for the storm

Avian pox - skin affected (chicken)

Image via Wikipedia

Whenever I hear of a potential snowstorm, I always think about families with school age children. I imagine the children giddy with excitement, sleeping with fingers crossed. Then I imagine the parents, up late in the evening deep in negotiations about who would take the day off. Perhaps they are panicked and already calling local babysitters, grandparents or friends.  Perhaps they are lucky enough to work for a progressive company that allows them to work from home.  Even then, they are still probably strategizing about how they can possibly get work done and be responsive with stir-crazy kids running around the house.

This is exactly how I feel when I hear about contagious illnesses going around at our daycare center.  It’s always the same.  If it’s not your child who is sick, a notice is sent home saying that a child in such-and-such classroom has such-and-such illness.  There is often a helpful flyer attached, outlining symptoms and reminding parents that we cannot drop off our child if he has a fever, or is vomiting, or is covered with oozing sores.

Within one week, we received three notices for:  (1)  hand, foot and mouth disease, (2) chicken pox, and (3) head lice.  P and I have debated the relative merits of each.  Out of the three, he’d probably be most horrified with the lice situation.  He’s already talked about shaving the girls’ heads if they get it (this is the one time I can be grateful that they barely have any hair on their heads).  P did not go to public school most of his life and apparently never lived through the experience of everyone having to put their coats/hats in plastic bags on their coathooks.  I’m not alone on that one, right?  There’s also the social stigma that you and your children are presumed dirty, and people gossip that you are also an animal hoarder and turned down an offer for a TLC reality show.   Finally, there’s the sheer exhaustion of not only having to de-louse the family, but also washing, vacuuming and bagging every soft item in your house.

I’ve already done some preparatory research on this one, and was thrilled to find out that you can OUTSOURCE lice removal!  This is a definitely a problem that I’d be happy solving by throwing some money at it.   I’ve also learned that tea tree oil is a natural “deterrent” to lice.  For what it’s worth, I’ve bought out Target’s entire stock of California Baby Tea Tree and Lavender Shampoos.  Finally, I am going to ask the daycare director why on earth the Toddler 3 classroom has what B affectionately calls “the hat box” where all the children’s hats are thrown in willynilly to teach the children how to locate their own outdoor gear.  Seriously, am I the only person who ever had to do the bag the coat and hat thing at school???

Personally, I would have thought chicken pox was the worst.  I’ve never had it, and I don’t think any of the three children are fully immune.  O’s never been immunized (you have to be 12 months old), and neither E nor B have had the booster you receive at four years old.  And I’ve heard that getting the Pox is 1000 times worse when you are an adult.  At the end of my last pregnancy,  I learned more than I ever wanted to know about the Pox and shingles after my midwife went into panic mode when someone I work with was diagnosed with shingles.  And, for the record, I now have medical proof that I have NO immunity to the Pox.  Mom.

Unfortunately, it was a friend of mine’s baby who got the Pox.  And she had to stay out of day care for ten days.  I am planning to return to work on Monday after having been out for over SIX WEEKS; any of us getting the Pox would probably be tantamount to having my personal items currently in my office shipped home to me with a note thanking me for my service.  Of one month. Every time I’ve seen any spot on me or Owen, I’ve freaked out and totally analyzed it.  O had scratched himself on his nose, and I had what could actually be a tiny stretch mark.  Sorry, TMI sidenote, but how is it possible that I have had three pregnancies and never had a single stretch mark and now suddenly developed one after my baby is five months old???? 

So, while we would’ve voted for hand, foot and mouth disease (which is also our Pediatrician’s “favorite” because, and I quote, it is a “sign of fall”), I’m now starting to back off it as a preferred issue.  A mom friend recently recanted her tale of its intrusion on her family.  Apparently, you get all these sores in your throat that make it impossible to drink anything.  In her mind, all three afflictions are equally bad.  I don’t know, but that sounds like at least one more trip to Childrens Hospital to me whereas the others you probably recover at home.

And so we all wait and brace for the storm.  With three kids in full-time day care, one or more is bound to be sick at any given time.  As one of my Facebook friends noted in her status update today:  “There is no fear in life greater than that of a healthy parent in a house full of stomach bugs.”  Or, in my case: there is no fear in life greater than that of a working parent who has been on disability for over six weeks in a brand new job in a daycare full of sick children.

Keep your fingers crossed for us.  As my sister said to me last week:  2012 can be someone else’s crappy year!