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Mommy Truths: April 2008

Mommy Truths

The Hard Learned Lessons and Eye Opening Realities of Raising Young Kids

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Drive Up and Dial

Recently a group of friends and I were lamenting the hassle of running errands with young kids. It’s a royal pain to unstrap them from the car seat, hoist them up and haul them in for a short stop at say, the dry cleaners or drug store. Witness my recent Nightmare in CVS episode to pick up Amoxicillin for two year old Daughter with ear infection:

“I’m sorry Ma’am, we don’t have it.”

“But I heard the nurse call it in!”

“Oh, here it is, but has your insurance changed?”

“Not since I picked up her fluoride vitamins last week!”

All the while Daughter is screaming in pain and lunging out of the cart or my arms. Put her down and she grabs candy from the toddler-height racks and cleverly rips it open. (Smart chick.) I vow never to return. Where is the new drive-through pharmacy in town?

Of course, the other secret solution is to leave your children unattended in the car for just a quick run into the store. Both illegal and dangerous, this option is only used in the most dire circumstances when your eyes can be on the kids from inside the store. And, anyone who’s ever tried this knows what a nervous wreck you are the entire time. First, in case Daughter or Son might be screaming even though you put favorite Barney CD on and opened books on their laps. But actually the greater fear is getting busted by a passerby who calls the cops. Even worse: a write up in the local paper’s Police Log that details said Irresponsible Mother who left children in car in the Store parking lot and claimed she was just “running in to get a few things.” Tssk Tssk.

The 2008 solution? Drive up service. Yep, my friend D. presented this ingenious solution at our girls’ night out. It’s perfect for dry cleaners and even her example, the liquor store! She pulls up front and dials the store:

“Hello, this is D. and I’m out front in the car with my kids. Would you mind bringing me two bottles of chilled Kendall Jackson?” That’s it. Easy as pie. She hands them her credit card or sets up a store charge. Works like a charm.

So, the other day, faced with sleeping Son and soon to be sleeping Daughter, I pulled up to a local vacuum repair shop. How am I going to do this? What if Daughter screams and wakes up Son? And then I remembered D.’s trick and decided to give it a try. I dialed the shop:

“Hi, this Heather Levy. I dropped off my vacuum the other day. Is it ready? Oh, great. Listen, I’m out front in my car with two sleeping kids in the back. Would you mind bringing it out?” He said sure.

And that was it. I handed him cash, he went in and made change and brought that out.

Now, I’m a convert. I realize my new trick’s only appropriate with certain merchants in certain settings, but imagine if stores starting marketing this service as a value added option? They’d corner the Mom market and keep our kids – and reputations – safe.


Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Mommy, Inc.

The first day of April brought a nice warm evening and I sat on our front porch with a cup of tea. Contentment. The kids fell asleep early (there is a God) and I felt a certain peace. With this moment to reflect I realized that in the four years since my first child was born, I've gotten the hang of this new job, Motherhood. It's been so crazy learning the ropes, I'm just now feeling my groove.

Learning on the job of motherhood is overwhelming for all of us. One moment you're a busy career woman, juggling multiple business priorities, and suddenly you find yourself an inexperienced mother juggling the minute tasks of caring for a new life. It's the biggest career transition women experience and yet we get no training. None. Not one class, entry level position or tutored-for test prepared me for the most important role of my life. I was a newbie yet expected to succeed and thrive as a mother. The hurtling fall from experienced executive to floundering, deer-in-the-headlights mother caught me by shocking surprise. Within a heartbeat (literally) the identity and skills I had so carefully cultivated for myself over the years, were useless. Or were they?

Welcome to Mommy, Inc.

I've come to think of motherhood as the career change that thrust me into my new role at Mommy, Inc. In the first days and months of motherhood, I was lost. The baby books I poured over focused solely on my little one – not solutions for my overwhelming feelings of inadequacy and isolation. Yet, as I slowly developed a schedule for my days, a network of mothers, and a new identity; I realized that I was rebuilding systems and processes I had developed for my job. For example, I needed a specific time management system to keep track of play dates, activities, household operations, shopping, calls and tasks. I learned to proactively network to make friends for myself and my children. I wanted a philosophy and guidelines for managing childcare, housecleaning and other service personnel - in other words, outsourcing.

As the family has grown in size, so has my job managing household operations and infrastructure. As my children have grown in age, I've used the fine arts of negotiating and diplomacy to spare us as many battles as we've suffered. And, of course, I've drawn on every ounce of marketing and sales experience to pitch just about everything they need in their lives. (Would you like to try this yummy apple bread? Not, Try this healthy zucchini oatmeal bread made with applesauce.)

My growing proficiency at Mommy, Inc. gives me a feeling of mastery. It's taken four years to figure out how to maneuver my new role and this new company. That's about what it would take in a new job. But most other jobs don't include a sweet hug and I love you at the end of the day.