How I survive as a working mom

How I survive as a working mom

Over on my Instagram, I get this question a lot:

How do I handle work/life balance?

I have a love-hate relationship with this question. On the one hand, it’s an honest question. I work full-time out of the home and I have a family and other stuffs going on that need my attention. How do I manage this someone might wonder. But on the other hand, I know this whole balance phenomenon is really another way to make women feel badly about themselves because we go straight into the comparison game. Because the truth is, what works for one family and one working mother is different than what works for another family. Balance is a myth, an illusion. Because everyone’s balance scale is made differently. How we divide our hours or household duties or parenting responsibilities is completely unique to each family. So now that that’s out of the way, I can tell you what works for me.

I’m always learning and our situation is always changing and our stage of life is ever-evolving, so this is what works for me right now. (Legal disclaimer - I have no idea what I am talking about. Okay, maybe not a legal disclaimer, just my general motherhood motto, ha! *upside down smiley face emoji*)

Get all our stuff ready the night before.

Heading out the door, I’ve got to grab my lunch, the kids’ lunches, pumping parts, purse filled with my planner and wallet and anything I’ll need, jackets, spare diapers, tuition checks, breakfast, etc. I have found that our mornings run much more smoothly when we have things ready the night before. Emma lays out her clothing. The lunches are packed. Bottles are clean. My outfit and accessories are folded nicely in a little pile. That way, I can wake up early, get ready in the bathroom, then wake the kids and feed them breakfast and head out the door. It’s much easier than wondering WHERE THE DANG SHOE WENT. You know what I mean.

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Well, that was scary

You know that expression my life flashed before my eyes...

Well it's true.

This has been quite a week and I don't really know where to start but here it goes. 

About a week ago (last Thursday, 20 July around 2pm to be exact) I experienced one of the scariest moments of my life, if not THE scariest.

For some background, I work in Oakland, CA in the Fruitvale district, an area with an infamous reputation for crime. I work for a non-profit health care organization with multiple locations serving low-income families and patients.

I love what I do. I mean, I REALLY love it. Public health was not something I envisaged for my career when I applied for dental school but flash forward from that carefree, 21 year-old to now to a wife, mother, and passionate, public health dental provider for my patients.

But there are inherent dangers in working in this environment and at this location and I won't get into all of them now. But you can only imagine what they may be in the most dangerous city in California. I'm not naive to them. But I sometimes the realities sit on the back burner of my brain when I am treating my patients and providing oral health care. 

Well, last Thursday I had a reality check. Right across the street from my office door is a sweet woman who sells fruit and other Mexican street food. A coworker and myself had a hankering for some fruit with chili when our lunch break started. As we were paying for our food, I heard arguing and yelling down the street. Usually I tune out the specifics of yelling on the street because honestly, it's every day. But this day was different. 

As the yelling and shouting came closer and closer, my coworker and I proceeded to cross the street back towards our office door. We were fewer than 15 feet away when a man rushed to our sides shouting at a group of men on the corner. While shouting profanity and threats of, "you're going to have to pop me" over and over, he grabbed my coworker's arm. 

And I was staring down the barrel of a very real and very scary gun. My blood froze.

What we did not realize initially was that the reason this man rushed towards us was to stand behind us. As in, use us as a shield. Because... he was arguing with a group of men posturing and pointing a handgun right at him, also known as US. 

My coworker yanked her arm away from him and the group of men quickly got into their car and drove away. 

With tires squealing and my heart pounding, my feet, almost on their own accord, hurried me to the entry way of my building before I let out a big, OH MY WHAT JUST HAPPENED, followed by about four signs of the cross. 

A gun. 

A real life gun pointed at my face, close enough for me to see the whites of that man's eyes and his finger on the trigger.

During my lunch break, my coworker and myself relayed what had happened to our other coworkers who shared our lunch room, just a few people. I am sure I seemed frazzled, but I (surprisingly enough to myself) kept calm, ate my lunch and said, I can't believe that just happened over and over again.

The reality of the situation did not really strike until I returned to the clinic and was ambushed (in a professional way) by the chief dental officer, the assistant to the CDO, a representative from HR, and one of Oakland's finest patrolling the outside of the building. After taking our statements and offering the phone number of our Employee Assistant Program, they let us go home early.

I drove home in a daze, walked up my stairs, fell into Paul's arms, and utterly wept. I squeezed my kids harder than I could have imagined. And I thanked God for my life.

This is going to be a process. I've heard things like "PTSD" and "war zone" and "trauma" thrown around. But the reality is, I'm not okay. I don't know exactly how I feel, but it's not good.

I have had panic attacks and cold sweats. My sleep is interrupted. But I have my life. I have my husband. I have my kids. I have my family. I have my friends. I have my faith in God's plan. And thankfully, I had all my guardian angels on overtime that day. 

I celebrated my 6th wedding anniversary and my 28th birthday with this reminder of my mortality looming over it all. But I am grateful for so many things. And being able to come home to my children and husband is the biggest one. While this is something that will take me a while to work through, I will continue to show up to work. I will continue to serve. And we will see how things go from here. 

Birthday breakfast with my best people. 


From the hive

Well, well, well what do we have here? It's a blog post! (Hi mom.)

Considering there have been a few changes around the hive, I thought I'd pop in to give a little update.

The biggest change in our household is my job

As you may know, for the past year and a half I have been working part-time at a community dental center serving low-income patients. I was also working one day per week at private practice. Both positions are rewarding in their own ways. 

But recently, I was offered a full-time position at the community clinic and I enthusiastically accepted. And while I had to say goodbye to the lovely people at the private practice, I am tremendously excited about this opportunity for my family. 

In practice, I am only working one more day per week than I was previously. But the ultimate change comes in the form of benefits. 

I will now be able to receive vacation, education, holiday, and health benefits that were previously out of reach to me as a part-time employee. This will be a huge help to my family and to my peace of mind. 

Let's see, that was the biggest news, but here are some other tidbits 'roud these parts. 

Emma is thriving at school. She is pure energy and sass all rolled up into this incredibly tall and vivacious three year-old. While she tests me on the daily (hourly if I'm honest), I am in awe of her development. Henry will be one (ONE, WHAT?!) at the end of the month. And I'm kind of in denial. And I'm not crying, YOU ARE. He's also walking, teething, and pooping around the clock. Oy vey. 

Paul is my constant rock. This year he was promoted to Assistant Controller and while he is always busy, he manages to keep our house running with me. He's dreamy. 

Well, I imagine you are now wondering how you could have ever gone so long without an update from me. Well I apologize for my absence here, things are busy and buzzing in our hive. For daily updates, tickles, musings, and photos, pop over to my Instagram