Overheard on Santa’s Lap

Santa: And what would you like for Christmas this year?

A: Magic.

The Startup Wife

Over at Forbes.com Meghan Casserly ran a series about the “Startup Girlfriend.”  I was going to comment, and then decided that my comment was long enough that it was deserving of its own post.  Because you see, I was once a Startup Girlfriend, and am now a Startup Wife.  Which is nothing like a Stepford Wife, I promise.  And as I’m about to wrap up my 14th year as a Startup Wife (Gah!  How did THAT happen?!?), I wanted to let the women behind me know that there is hope for their relationship, if you are committed and able to forgo some of the more established traditions (like a honeymoon where you actually spend time with your new spouse).  And so, I present my musings around the Startup Marriage (Love you M, I really do!  You may not want to read this, however…).

  • Accept the fact that you will be alone more often than not.  If you aren’t comfortable hanging out at a cocktail party by yourself, or spending evenings on end on the couch alone (maybe even watching Dora the Explorer, because you are just that cool), or will always be resentful of women whose significant others are present at events such as the first ultrasounds, the first day of school, and the weekend baseball games, then this may not be the life for you.
  • Be independent.  Your spouse is probably not going to be around to deal with the plumber, the mechanic, or be a shoulder to lean on when you move into a new house and end up with a flood in your basement.  Also, he will probably be traveling every time your driveway needs to be shoveled.  He will most likely not be around if you have to call 911 because your baby isn’t breathing, or if you find yourself in the emergency room when your first-born splits open his chin on a Sunday afternoon and needs stitches.  But also, know that no matter what happens, you can handle it on your own and be confident in your ability to do so.  If you don’t have the confidence at the outset, you will develop it.  I promise.
  • Take advantage of the times when your spouse is present (this is a hard one).  Don’t automatically launch into the laundry list of must do’s right away.  Take a few minutes to reconnect and then launch into that list (which should be highly prioritized).  Be prepared to only get through one or two items before he dives back into whatever the crisis de jour may be.
  • Don’t be afraid to use the people around you to convince your significant other that you are in fact in need of a little support and focus.  For example, if you are about to deliver your first child, and your partner thinks he has time for one quick trip to Boston, have your OB/GYN call him and explain that no, he really can’t go.  Because even the most committed of entrepreneurs will have some regrets if they miss the “big stuff.”  A corollary to this rule: make sure before you commit that your significant other is in fact capable of heeding a strong “This is important.  You NEED to listen/be present/do something.”  A second corollary to this rule: make sure you only make a stand when it it truly important.  Birth of your first child?  Yes.  Showing up at the preschool’s auction? Not so much.
  • If you decide to have children, know it is going to be a very hard road. There will most likely be no sharing of the middle of the night shifts with a colicky baby.  If you stay at home, there will be no break for you at 6pm, or 7pm, or even 11pm on many nights.  You might frequently find yourself wondering why you gave up your perfectly lovely career, and then remember that you did it because you had no other choice given your spouse’s chosen profession.  If you work you will still be the primary parent, no two ways about it.  Other parents may be surprised to find out that you are not in fact a single parent when your spouse shows up at a school function (when your oldest child is in 3rd grade).  Find yourself a really superb support network of similarly afflicted parents and some really good childcare, and don’t be afraid to use them.
  • It may turn out that those children you have will be just as creative and driven as their parents, complete with a love of the powerpoint presentation.  Be prepared to run not only lemonade stands, but also apple cider stands and hot cocoa stands.  Don’t be surprised if you get frequent communications from their schools that start with the sentence “Dear Mrs. Startup Wife, I have NEVER seen this in my 25 year teaching career BUT.”  Also be prepared for every item in your house to be fair game for whatever the invention in progress may be (and, please remember that it is not just your children who may see be snapping up your prized possessions to create the next best thing.  Some startup parents will even condone the taking apart of a perfectly good computer).
  • Know that your spouse will be incredibly positive about all of your endeavors.  If you decide to start up your own business, go for that promotion, lead a community initiative, he will be your biggest cheerleader and use his knowledge and network to support you, even if you decide to apply for a new job and he only finds out about it because you announced it on your blog.  But remember that this support will be mainly virtual.  If you have kids, don’t forget about that really good childcare from above.
  • Your spouse will eventually learn a little bit of balance.  One Saturday morning you may wake up to find that he caught a red-eye home and has taken your children off someplace.  You may find yourself a bit taken aback, and flip out because he forget the water bottles/the sunblock/the baseball glove.  You may even come to realize that you are just as much as a control freak as he is, and that is why your particular relationship works.
  • Someday, hopefully, that startup he spends all his time on will become a bonafide company.  With employees who are competent and can in fact manage on their own for a few hours.  Point out to your partner that he has turned complete control of his non-work life over to your capable hands, and the world didn’t come to an end.  Convince him that he can in fact go on a vacation.  But, be realistic.  Don’t go for that utterly romantic island with no connectivity.  You’ll spend your vacation standing outside a payphone booth eying the couples walking hand in hand and trying not to be bitter.  Save yourself the pity party and make sure to check out the wireless coverage maps before you book.
  • Finally, remember this.  Once that startup has been a bonafide company for a while and you start getting used to having your partner around a bit more, don’t be surprised if one day he locks himself in his office and emerges a few days later looking a bit like he did when you first met him.  Because apparently, bonafide companies are not nearly as much fun as startups.

Overheard at Dinner

Chichimama: “8-12 inches of snow!!!”
M: “I have no idea what you are talking about. I see no snow on my weather app.”
Chichimama: “Look! Right here!”
M: (Looking at forecast) “That is NOT at ALL what my Weather Channel says, see…oh. Hmm.”
Chichimama: “What?”
M: “Ah, well, apparently my location is still set to Chicago. No snow there!”
Chichimama: “Well, there you go then.”

Mid-October, Really?

I just realized that it is mid-October and I have yet to start on my holiday knitting.  Do you think this year’s batch of teachers would notice if they did not get a hand knit goodie?  I mean, just because there are now several teachers wandering around in lovely knitted goods that magically appeared during the holiday season, and just because A volunteered me to teach knitting for Colonial Day, perhaps the other teachers won’t know who knit them.  And really, how would they know, right?

Or should I go for the bulky knits this year?  Maybe a felted something, potholders?

I am headed off to assess the stash and start in on the family knitting while I contemplate my ability to complete a sweater, and American Girl winter wardrobe, four stockings (prior to the holidays), a scarf, a hat, and now, three+ additional knits…

Life List

run a 5K/bake my way through The Bread Baker’s Apprentice/knit through my stash/find a signature cocktail/see the penguins, in Antarctica/dance at my children’s weddings/watch all the Harry Potter movies back to back/play in a golf tournament/spend a year living at the beach/organize our digital photographs/own a pair of really fabulous shoes/write a book/visit San Francisco/hike the Appalachian Trail/run a winery/plant a beautiful garden/sail through Glacier Bay/learn how to blow dry my hair like my stylist does/work at the Museum of Natural History/learn how to accept a compliment/make a difference in someone’s life/bake a pumpkin cheesecake/see the Grand Canyon/learn how to polish my own nails/organize my iPhone apps logically/create the ultimate Christmas playlist/get certified to teach Pilates/do a back bend and a split/renovate my kitchen/have a laundry room off the kitchen/

To be continued…

Tap Tap Tap

  • I’m not even going to try to write a real post right now, so might as well start off in bullets!
  • We survived Hurricane Irene.  The contents of my fridge and freezer did not, but hey, it needed a good scrub anyway.  The bigger issue is when grocery stores will actually have stock again.  While the one closest to us was open the day after, pretty much all it had on the shelves were cleaning supplies (useful, as I hadn’t a very good supply of those, and my floors are super muddy thanks to the big white dog) and some less than choice cold cereals.
  • We were incredibly lucky.  There are many folks still without power and who had significant flooding.  I hope that their lives can return to normal as soon as possible, as 24 hours without power was rough, and the seven to ten days that they originally quoted us would have called for some extreme creativity in meal planning..
  • Clearly I need to rethink my disaster planning techniques.  There was not nearly enough wine, non-perishables, or non-electronic diversions to keep us fed and occupied.  Well, in all honesty, I had enough yarn to keep me knitting for a good year (although I hadn’t printed out the patterns to go along with the yarn, so I would have had to start designing), and C had enough books to keep him going for a while, but I think A was seriously regretting her decision to clear out her bookcase a few weeks ago because she “would never ever read those books again.”
  • M probably would have been OK, except for the fact that while I had a way to boil water, and a french press, I did not actually have any caffeinated coffee in the house.  He resorted to breaking open some k-cups, but apparently the coffee quality was ehh at best.
  • Also, my plan for recharging cell phones using emergency battery-operated chargers failed miserably and we had to resort to charging in the cars.  At least I had the foresight to put gas in those.
  • On a completely different note, assuming that things in the school district are running somewhat normally, which I assume they are since the BOE is still meeting tonight, the kids should get their teacher assignments tomorrow.  Which makes it feel almost official that school will be starting next week (assuming that the school gets power back, it looks like it is on one of the blocks still out).
  • We are all ready for school and a routine.  It has been very clear this summer that no one in this house operates well without a routine.  For all of their bluster, the kids never really strayed from their school-year bedtime, and the weeks that there was no camp or other activity to give some structure to the day made us all a bit fidgety.
  • How are all of you doing?  Any of my knitting friends up for a back to school knit a-long?

It is the little things that give me hope

Today, someone in my house who is under the age of 10 needed to throw something out.  At the exact moment that this person needed to discard his or her trash, I was taking out a full bag of garbage and had yet to replace the bag in the can.  And, for the first time EVAH, someone under the age of ten reached under the sink, pulled out a new trash bag, and put it in the trash can BEFORE disposing of their trash.  I cannot begin to tell you how incredibly happy I was to return to the kitchen and discover that my 40 billion lectures on proper trash disposal etiquette had finally paid off.

There may be hope for them yet.

Because Life Doesn’t Really Work Out as Planned

While I am basically done with my job, less than a week after handing over the reins to my successor, my father was diagnosed with cancer and my mother drove off the road a mile from home and wrapped her car around a tree.  She is thankfully fine, and I think my father will be as well.  But it has been a rather stressful 48 hours, and my grand plans of resuming my blog writing have been put on hold temporarily.

So, in lieu of a real post, I give the following “overheard” conversation with C.

C (after waking up the morning after a sitter had been here for 6 hours the night before): “Did you get a good report from Favorite Sitter?”

Chichimama: “Um, not particularly.  She said you were difficult.”

Silence.

Chichimama: “Were you?”

C: “Well, that kind of depends on your definition of the word difficult I suppose.”

Chichimama: “Ah.  Well, my definition in this instance is ‘Did Favorite Sitter have to yell at you?'”

C: “Well, if you are using THAT definition, then yes.”

Chichimama: “And which definition should I use if the answer were to be no?”

C: “I’ll have to get back to you on that one.”

Once Upon A Time

I went back through my archives this evening looking for a specific post, and got totally sucked into both the memory of what my life used to be like, and the startling revelation that once upon a time, I used to write.  Most of what I wrote, quite honestly, was navel-gazing drivel.  But, in amongst those posts were a few of which I was proud.

For the last two years I have been immersed in my “old” world, the world of (non-family related) budget management, board management, personnel management, and crisis management.  When I took on the job, I (rather stupidly, upon reflection) did not set up any consistent system for childcare or for “housecare.”  As a result, I tried to be a full-time, stay-at-home parent and a full-time, totally engaged leader/manager.  This system did not work very well for anyone.  On the upside, my kids have learned to make their own breakfast (put some pancakes in the microwave, heat for 1 minute, try to sneak maple syrup while mom catches up on overnight email), my husband has learned to do his own laundry (buy new undergarments before a business trip, make liberal use of the hotel dry cleaning service), and my dog has learned, well, he hasn’t really learned anything because he is a dog, and not a particularly smart one at that.  I  stopped exercising, put on a significant number of pounds, and became a huge fan of internet shopping for EVERYTHING, including coffee and toilet paper.

I was lucky in that, for the most part, I could schedule my own hours and do the work that needed to get done via email at 6 am or midnight.  I was able to schedule about 50% of the meetings I needed to have while the kids were at school, and another 25% were done via conference call once they were in bed (or, at least, watching their evening allotment of television).  But, there were still at least a day or two a week that I was unable to be home for bedtime, or that the kids were forced to miss an after school activity to spend some quality time together doing homework underneath a conference table.

In less than six weeks, I will be (for the most part) done with this particular job.  And, I have nothing lined up to take its place.  I have contemplated taking a different job, and I have contemplated spending a year doing nothing beyond knitting and watching daytime TV.  I have even contemplated becoming a gym rat and making a concerted, several hour a day commitment to losing weight.

Instead, I think I am going to spend a year writing.  And, contemplating my navel.  Do you think I should get it pierced?

9

My baby is nine today.  Of course, as A points out, he is not really my baby, SHE is, and as C then retorted, SHE is almost 7 and not a baby either.  Sniff.  My baby is nine.

I went to find a picture of him to post, and realized that he wore the exact same shirt he is wearing today on his 8th birthday.  And on Christmas this year.  It didn’t surprise me at all, as he is a creature of habit and familiarity.  But I am going to have to make him change so I can keep the years straight when I am old and confused.

Nine.  I find that rather astounding.