Tuesday, June 30, 2015

The nine circles of Costco hell

If only Dante had known how applicable his famous text would be to the act of taking two children under three to Costco for groceries. Everytime I venture out to Costco with the girls, I find myself saying (not yelling, never yelling) "this is an exercise in patience girls!" before I have even parked the car. Oh the parking limbo dance you do at Costco! Will this be the lane where you spy a coveted end spot, only to find an oversized SUV hugging the line so tightly there is no way you could open your door, let alone manage the gymnastics it would take to get your child out of their car seat. So you drive and drive until you find someone inching, creeping, crawling out of a spot in the first three lanes by the entrance and you call it a win. "Yesssss!" with a fist pump in the air.

But that is where the wins end my friend, because now, as you look around in envy as other shoppers simply grab a cart on their way in and breeze by the greeters without a care in the world, you decide which of the two options you have is the least unappealing. Do you strap one child into the cart, wrestling with her to get her legs in the right slots without breaking her tibia and then strapping the other smaller child into an ergonomically friendly carrier which will not allow you to grab large boxes or taste anything hot and delicious? Or do you take the stroller with the baby in the seat and the toddler riding shotgun on the glider board, which limits a normal grocery shop to 20 items, but a Costco shop to three?

Neither choice is a great one, believe me.

Once you've managed to tie everyone down and get through the door (and not gouge anyone's eye out in the process), toddlers' eyes light up with every possibility they see before them. Costco, by its very nature, is a physical manifestation of gluttony. Huge hunks of meat, bags of popcorn the size of a 2-year-old and 1,000 roll packs of toilet paper? Yes please! And if you're a toddler, why not try to scale those packs of TP and hide behind flats of tomato sauce? I mean, why not give mom or dad a heart attack by disappearing into the black hole that is an empty space in the housewares aisle? And while they're at it, they might as well take up camp in the shed display near the bread, because lord knows you are not getting past that one without some sort of a negotiation.

I'm not sure which sin comes out more when doing the actual shopping - greed or lust? Does she need a full princess dress up set (that should read "another") or a 100 pack box of chocolate milk? According to the toddler, she needs it, she wants it, she must have it. As she lays out on the floor or halfway out of the cart wailing when you don't put it in the cart, angry and violent "I WANT IT!!!", all pride goes out the window and you cannot get to the cashier's line fast enough. Don't worry, you're nearly there. You just need to get through the separation drama which comes at checkout time.

"Almost done," you think, "I can do this," you whisper, as your eyes glaze over and you contemplate a drive-thru treat for yourself and maybe even the kiddos if you're feeling generous. But one little hand, one chubby reaching creeping baby hand is out of the carrier before you can say boo and has grabbed ahold of the $10 organic salsa and in slow motion horror the hand pulls the salsa off the conveyor belt and did you know that hard plastic shatters just like glass when dropped from the right height? You thought you were all on the same page, the same team, the same side trying to all get out alive but no, treachery has occurred and you are staring the enemy in the face, all six teeth and dimply grins of it. 

As you finish your walk of shame out the door, there is a light at the end of the storm. The greeter at the door who puts happy faces on the receipt! Never have you lusted for someone so much in this moment! Someone who can turn it all around, turn those frowns upside down with the simple swipe of a Sharpie :) You give the privilege of holding the receipt to the toddler, who can barely contain her excitement on route but then turns mute when the destination is reached.

You all emerge from the store and as you load the jumbo prawns and one million packs of wipes into the car, you swear this time will be the last. It's not worth it, you think, I just lost years off my life. And it's not worth it. Until you run out of milk and diapers and wipes and toilet paper. Then the circle begins again. Thank goodness for the samples. 

~ H
P.S. I know I missed Heresy and Fraud. But I got the rest. So cut me some fricking slack ;)

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Taking a leap

I did it. I made a choice. Or rather, we made a choice. As a couple, as a family. Yesterday I gave notice that I would not be returning from maternity leave. A flood of emotions has been washing over me. I'm terrified and happy and sad and scared. I cannot believe I left a job with benefits, something many people would literally die for. I cannot believe I thought benefits might tip the scales to keep me satisfied in a role I have outgrown. I took the leap because waiting on the edge of the cliff was exhausting, mentally and physically. We couldn't have anymore conversations, I couldn't make anymore budgets, I just had to take action and see how it all unfolds.

Choosing to stay at home with my children while I look for work has changed the course of our lives, according to one of my friends. She is right. I have made a conscious decision to put my career on pause for a little while, though I won't stay I've jumped completely off the ladder. The beauty of my field is the contract market, should you choose to market yourself. Now I have the ability to work in different areas (photography, writing, editing, social media management) on my own schedule. The chance to spend more time making these and these. The opportunity to perhaps take an online course or two. So many doors and so many windows.

I have never left a job without having another one, except for my post-college summer break right after I finished my Bachelor's degree. But as I write that I think "I have another job! It's being a mom!" I'm not leaving to sit on the couch and eat bon bons (although I do have a box of Maui Caramacs on the counter which are calling my name). I will be colouring, painting, exploring nature and checking out Science World and the zoo. We will be swimming and having playdates and learning more counting and singing songs. We will be going to the library to get our weekly stamps for summer reading club and checking out what's going on around town. I will be helping to run my husband's growing business. I will learning. And should an opportunity to work out of the house come up and it fits with our family, we will explore that too.

A big thank you to those who been listening ears, who have offered advice or told me about your own decision and challenges. I haven't been able to talk to everyone who has offered, because in the end I needed to take some time to think about what I want, what my husband wants, what our girls are needing right now. But everyone's kind words have been in my heart.

Enough with this, let's move on. Next week's post will be about the trials of a Costco shop with two kids. Back to the funny already!

~ H

Friday, June 19, 2015

Know when to fold em

I am facing a dilemma. As maternity leave draws to a close, my future as a working mom hangs in the balance. I am at a crossroads. I applied for a management position and didn't get it, based on two specific areas of experience, so my options are to stay in my current role and most likely gain no more experience in those areas while paying the cost of full-time daycare for two children, or leave my job and stay home for the next year and two months until The Babe is in Kindergarten and childcare costs drop dramatically but it creates a hole in my resume, or leave my current role and begin full-time job hunting for something where I can continue to gain the experience I need and want and if found, decide whether or not to put the kids in full-time daycare or have my husband stay home until school begins. No path is right or wrong, black or white, and each has its pros and cons.

To say it is consuming me would be an understatement. I play out each scenario as I am brushing my teeth, flipping the laundry and planning my next few weeks. I am creating budgets, reading articles and consulting a few people who have been in this scenario before. On the one hand, I read somewhere that if you have been lucky enough to receive a post-secondary education, you owe it to the institution to follow through and use that education. Which to me means working in my field. On the other hand, countless people have taken me aside over the last year and told me that you don't get this time back, your babies are only babies once. That if I have the opportunity to stay home for a little while, I should seriously consider doing it.

I am reading article after article about the mass exodus of educated women leaving the workforce after becoming mothers and I feel a kinship to this unnamed mass. With no family nearby to take care of our girls during the day, daycare is the only choice. Our daycare is on the more expensive end, but it works for our lives and we have a bond with the staff, which is worth the money. Changing daycares to save money so I stay in my current role is not the way my priorities work. I have yet to explore the freelance and contract world, this is on my task list for next week.

I feel as though I have spent the last two days in a fog, not entirely present for my husband and the girls. I am sad and confused. But perhaps this is a good thing. It is forcing me to sit down and work out exactly what my priorities and goals are. It is forcing me to write about it, always a cathartic process. As I go through this weekend, Father's Day weekend, I will be thinking about my own parents and the decisions they made. I will spend the weekend with friends and family and then I will approach next week with clarity and a positive outlook.

If you have found yourself in a similar situation, please feel free to weigh in with your process and outcome here.

~ H