Posts Tagged ‘working’

16th February
written by Michelle

The problem when you juggle too much is your bound to drop something.

And lately, I feel like I’ve been dropping things.

Friendships that I wish I could invest more in, writing that gets drafted in my head but never typed on the screen, boxes of stuff that are (yes, still!) not put away from our move, photo projects and gifts that I want to make but haven’t even started and time that could be used to exercise or cook better meals is spent holding my sweet sleeping baby who still hasn’t learned how to nap in her crib.

Because of our work and ministry, Gerber’s usually gone at least a week a month. I work outside the home part time and try to work from home the other half. Some days it goes better than others. We have a sitter stay with Elena in the mornings. Afternoons I’m usually home and we juggle our evenings depending who has to go with one of the groups. But stuff gets dropped. Our time together becomes a little more scattered, a lot more focussed on what’s happening tomorrow then on how we’re actually doing. Our text messages become a way to share information “She’s sleeping. Can you bring home burritos?” instead of a way to say sweet, wonderful. “I love yous.”

Maybe this is how all moms or families feel? Maybe part of being a parent means that the very things in your life that used to have order, now feel chaotic? Or the things that used to easily flow in and out of your days, are now thrown up in the air to juggle back and forth?

Sometimes I realize it’s just hard to admit that I thought… oh, surely by 8 months we’ll have this parenting thing figured out. We’ll have a good routine and our baby will nap for 2 hour stretches and we’ll eat dinner together and watch movies and be sleeping like we used to. Ha! Boy was I wrong. We continue to juggle and learn and change and argue and say I am sorry.

I think the hard thing about juggling, is it doesn’t feel sustainable. We can all juggle for a season. But then you get tired. Or you start dropping pieces. Sometimes I convince myself I just need an extra hand, or to have a few less pieces to juggle. Probably both. But then I realize this is simply a season when we are both going to be juggling a lot. 


So this last week we made some *small* but significant changes.

+ We left Elena twice at night and went out— with 24 other people from our medical/dental team- but we went out, nonetheless. And it was fun. I wore a necklace that the baby wasn’t pulling on. And we held hands and ate dinner without jugging a little one back and forth. Given some culture differences on leaving our baby + the fact that she has gone to sleep almost every night while being breastfed, this felt huge for us! I mean this hasn’t happened in 8 months people, 8 months!

+ We brought Elena to the community where we work for 2 days this week, instead of us staying at home. It’s a 90 min drive, temps above 100 degrees with humidity that makes you sweat the whole day. I was a bit nervous about bringing her, wondering how she would do. …but she loved it! And it was rejuvenating for Gerber and I to work together again. To be in the same community, talking, translating, driving, organizing and knowing what needs to happen without having to say it. Instead of juggling 2 different agendas for the day and communicating via texts and phone calls we were physically there together. We fell in love while working together and we both haven’t been in the community together for 8 months.

 + We’ve been honest. We have talked with our director and have asked for help. We sent out an enewsleter to friends and supporters and were honest about how we’re really doing. And I have been overwhelmed by how people responded. Such encouraging, heartfelt emails that make us go, ok, maybe part of this is normal. We’re not along. 

+ I have set aside some time for me. I know I need some time during the week to read or paint my nails or write or pray or let’s be honest…sleep. When Gerber’s home we usually trade off mornings so one of us gets to sleep in. Our early morning riser is not rising as early (she was waking up in the 5 o’clock range for months- whose child is this?!) and now she’s entering the wonderful world of 6 or 6:30am which is still early in my book, but so so much better.

+ Accepting and enjoying this as a season. My mom kept reminding me of this when she was here, as only a mom can. With the wisdom and experience of a someone who has raised 4 kids and worked and served in ministry she somehow knows this is a season. A sweet, challenging season that does in fact involve a lot of juggling.

And maybe what I am learning is that juggling isn’t so much the problem. It’s learning to give myself grace when I do drop things.

How do you respond when you feel like you’re juggling too much?


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21st January
written by Michelle

Dear Mija: 7 months

I could write about how you’re on the verge of crawling and how your sweet gummy grin now has TWO tiny teeth poking through. Or I could mention how you love bath time and sticking your hands under the running water and how you’re leaning to feed yourself sweet potatoes, avocados and bananas.

But I want to write about something else.

We’ve been getting in a bit more of a routine around here and most mornings between 9am and 12pm I leave you with the babysitter. At first, Daddy preferred I bring you and the sitter to the office. But that got to be too hard. You’d see me and every time you cried I’d run out and feed you. Obviously, I didn’t get that much done and you had no place to play. So, now we started leaving you at home. And overall it’s been much better for all of us.

Until last week.

I was holding you on one hip and carrying my shoes in the other hand. There was coffee to be re-heated, a diaper to change and a pump to put together in order to leave you a bottle.  In walked the babysitter, with her jeans and red zip-up hoodie, her hair swept up in a ponytail. She smiled at you and you squirmed your little body away from me and reached your two chubby arms right out to her.

And my mommy heart broke a little bit.

You wanted someone else, besides me. You reached for her, away from me.

Of course, my head says I should be thankful. We have a babysitter who takes such good care of you. She plays with you and reads you stories and holds you up so you can see yourself in the mirror above the dresser. It’s what every mom wants. Someone who they trust, someone who their baby likes. It would be so hard to leave you if every morning you cried when the sitter walked in.

But I never anticipated the opposite.

I texted my friend: “Elena reached for the babysitter this morning, right out of my arms. I know I should be thankful, but of course I feel like a bad mom.”

Should I stop working? Am I am bad mom for leaving my daughter? What if she always reaches for the babysitter over me?

One day Mija, if you’re a mom, you too will probably have some of these thoughts and questions. I don’t know much about motherhood just yet, but I do know there is not just one way to do things. Moms do lots of different things, some moms stay home with their kids all day long, and some moms work from home. Although I think all moms work, just some moms get paid. A lot of moms work outside the home and leave their kids. And some Dads stay home with the kids and sometimes it’s a little bit of everything.

I often hear moms talk about this thing called work/life balance. Sounds like some perfect equilibrium that others have found, but I haven’t. The truth is I don’t think life is like a scale, it’s not something to be categorized, weighed and measured. Especially not things like motherhood and work and home and family. I think the moment you chose to be a mom you automatically give up any idea of balance.

There should be a brochure that reads—warning: this journey of motherhood may lead to or cause a full, beautiful and very unbalanced life.

Elena, I know you’re still little, but I want you to know why I am choosing to work outside the home. The truth is I like working. I like that my ideas and knowledge and gifts are being utilized. I want to keep serving with our organization because I believe good things are happening for Guatemalans and North Americans and I get to be a part of that.

But the truth is, I also want to be an example for you. I want you to see me teaching, planning and leading. Especially since we live in a machista society, I so desperately want you to know that women can work and lead outside of the home as well as, inside the home. I want you to see women who are directing schools and programs, women who are leading and pastoring and practicing medicine and engineering and accounting. I want you to know that women can cook and clean and stay at home, but not because they have to, but because they choose to. And there may come a time when I’ll chose to be home with you all the time. But right now I am choosing to be your mom and keep working.

 So today, I am thankful that I have the privilege to choose. I am thankful that we can afford childcare. I know there are many moms who would like to work outside of the home, but the cost of childcare is so high it doesn’t make sense. And there are probably other moms who would love to stay-at-home with their little ones, but have to work outside the home. Both situations seem hard.

My sweet girl, deep down I trust it’s good for you to have mornings with the babysitter and some evenings with Daddy.  I have to trust that some afternoons when I plop you on the carpet and try to pull out my computer it doesn’t mean you’re going to grow up feeling ignored.  I have to trust that when you kick your little legs in excitement and reach for the babysitter, it means you’re going to have many adults in your life who love you and teach you things. And I think that’s a good thing.

And I have to trust that no matter how old you get or how ever many babysitters or teachers or coaches you have in your life, you will still need me, your mama.

You know, maybe this letter is just as much a reminder for me, as it is for you.

With all my love,



31st October
written by Michelle


One of the things I like about blogging and the internet for that matter is that there is a feeling of connectedness. Another person will write something that makes you go take a deep breath and say, oh, good you too? There’s some solidarity despite being worlds away. Earlier this week my friend Robin wrote about A Day In The Life of a Work-at-Home Mom post and invited a few others to link up.

Lesley and Becca posted their days yesterday. And I decided I’d link-up as well.

So here is my A Day in the Life of a new mom, trying to go back to work and learn that not getting everything done is ok.

But you know what’s funny. I find myself wanting to edit or alter how our day actually went. pathetic, huh? I worry that if I write what I did or didn’t do or how long it actually took Elena to fall asleep somehow you’ll see me not as a good mom. I find myself wanting to make all kinds of excuses- oh, she’s had a cold and is coughing. I’ve been sick. Or we just moved. If I am honest I really wanted to document a “good day”- one where I feel efficient, and she’s happy and rested and we have time to see friends and exercise and make dinner. But that’s not the kind of day we had.

Here is our day:

{A Day in the Life of a new mom, trying to go back to work and learn that not getting everything done is ok.}

 6:05am I hear cooing and baby babbles next to me. I roll over in bed and smile with my eyes still closed. Gerber gets up with Elena and changes her and goes downstairs. I get an extra 45 glorious minutes of sleep

6:50 Gerber comes back in and hands me the baby in bed. I nurse her lying down. She smiles and talks to me. This is one of my favorite parts of our morning. I just wish I could convincer her to snuggle and go back to sleep with me. But she is wide awake. Gerber leaves for work.

7:15 I get up. Get baby dressed and put her on our new rug! Let me tell you, carpet in Guatemala is a BIG DEAL. Elena plays, I get dressed and we head down stairs for breakfasts


7:30 I make a smoothie-half to drink now and half for later when I’m starving and don’t have time to make something. I check email, scroll through Facebook and Instagram. Elena is usually content on her activity mat for awhile.

8:00 Elena stars getting fussy, so I put her in the ergo. This is how she takes her morning naps- always.

8:15am I start walking and bouncing until she falls asleep. I start a load oflaundry, do my hair and put on mascara and a quick brush of blush and powder. My getting ready routine has gotten drastically shorter. After 40 min her little eyes pop open and she looks at me, like she’s saying “ok, now what?” I know the sleep experts say that doesn’t count as a nap, but that’s all we got these days.

9:00am the baby sitter comes and we load up the stroller, diaper bag, my laptop, etc into the car. I put Elena in the carseat. Ah, almost forgot the bottle. I run back into the house.

9:15-12pm-ish I’m try to go to the office 3 times a week. I used to work mainly from home, but I find with a little one I just get distracted. So now I’ve been taking Elena and the babysitter with me (its a cultural thing- most people don’t leave their babies with a sitter, you take them both with! Who knew? I’m trying t0 adjust expectations.) While I talk with our director, make some phone calls to set up meetings for next week and respond to a few emails as we plan for 2014 group, Elena goes for a walk in the stroller and then takes a bottle. The sitter usually carries her in the “original maya wrap” for her 2nd nap.

On days when I’m not in the office, we use this time to go the market or the bank or run errands in Antigua.

12:15pm I try to get home in time to put E down for a good afternoon nap. I grab the rest of a my smoothie in the fridge and head up to nurse Elena and put her down for a nap.

1pm 45min later she’s nursed and we’re rocking in the Rocker Glider. She’s tired, but not sleeping. I’m tired and feeling frustrated I resort to laying on our bed next to her, basically being a human pacifier :) Sometimes we just take nap together. Can’t say I’m complaining.

1:45pm She smiling, rubs her eyes, coughs and starts getting fussy. I give in and put her in the ergo.

2pm: She’s asleep. I’m starving. I go downstairs heat up Pad Thai leftovers from Sunday and make a salad.

2:45pm She’s still sleeping on me. Since nursing makes me always a little bit hungry I like having snacks on hand that are easy to grab. Feeling ambitious, I get everything out to make banana muffins.

3:00pm I start to mash the bananas. She wakes up. I resolve that the muffins will have to wait. I poor myself an iced coffee. I keep a glass jar full of strong decaf coffee in te fridge and add ice and milk. It’s my usual afternoon treat.


3:15 I change her, feed her and we lay down on the new carpet to play. We read (well, lets be honest, Elena chews.) She’s trying hard to sit up. I take a few pictures to send to family back in CA. We take a walk outside. I love watching her look around. She’s always so alert. I look at my watch and realize we’re not going to make it to Antigua. I call my friend and have to cancel our coffee date. Maybe next week.

4:15pm- Daddy cones home! And takes Elena. She smiles and grabs his beard. It’s the cutest thing. I finish mashing the bananas and put the muffins in the oven. It’s the easiest, healthiest recipe I know. I’m getting hungry and I realize I haven’t planned dinner. I pull out some frozen lentil soup from the freezer that I made on Monday. I take out the first batch of muffins and put the other ones in.

5:00pm- Gerber gives E back to me and I go upstairs to start bath time. Gerber works on installing curtain rods. I yell down the hall, Can you take out the muffins? They’re a little burnt on the bottom. Bummer.

5:45pm Thankfully Elena always loves bath time. We sing, say goodnight and began the usually routine—

6:00pm I nurse her and rock her. She falls asleep on me. I pray for her. And smell the top of her head. This is actually one of the sweetest moments of my day. What I don’t like is what happens 45 min later when I lay her down in her crib, she wakes up. Starts fussing. I pick her up rock her a bit more and give her the boob.

7:00pm I do a limp arm test. She’s asleep. PTL. I lay her down ever so gently and walk out. I hear nothing in the monitor except the steady stream of white noise.

8:00pm I hear her cough. She wakes herself up. I try a stomach pat and head rub ,but she’s not having it. I pick her up and start the whole process over again . Nurse, rock, try to lay her down. She squirms and her eyes open. Gerber gets me the maya wrap and I plop her in and start swaying so I can eat dinner: lentil soup and grilled cheese on cinnamon raised bread. Yes, an odd combination, but we didn’t have any other bread.


8:30pm- Shes asleep so I lay her down in our bed. Still wrapped up in the sling, she stays asleep. Her little arms resting above her head. She looks so small and precious in our queen size bed. I position pillows on either side of her.

9:00pm- I come down to see new curtain rods and a mirror hung in the family room! Gerber rubs my shoulders. I remind him that we need to finish our newsletter by tomorrow. I stare at the boxes and piles of stuff on the table

9:30pm- We sit on the couch and talk. He reminds me it will all get done, little by little. The piles and stuff doesn’t stress him out as much. So, the group comes on Saturday right? Yes. Ok, you’re going to buy the groceries? I’ll take Elena then. We move between what needs to get done around the house to how much our life has changed in the past few months.

10:30pm- I put some dishes in the sink and leave them until the morning. I get the breast pump. Gotta make a bottle for tomorrow. I scroll through blogs and facebook while I pump. I type up the rest of this post. I rinse off the pump and put the bottle in the fridge.

10:50pm- Start another load of laundry. I’ll let it sit until the morning.

11:00pm - We tip toe upstairs and around our room. Elena is still sleeping and not waking her is the goal. I lay down in bed and pull her close to me. She’s qute cuddly when she’s sleeping. I realize I forgot to brush my teeth. I’ll do it in the morning, I say.


What’s your Day In The Life post look like? It’s not too late to link up here.

19th October
written by Michelle

Before I had Elena I knew I could not keep doing everything I was doing, and take care of a baby. But some stubborn, let-me-try-part of me said, “No, I can do it.”

And I’ve been trying for the past few months, but lately I’ve had to admit, I can’t. I can’t love and take care of our daughter and keep working.  I can’t go to the market and disinfect vegetables and freeze fruit for smoothies and spend time with my sweet husband and take care of myself. We have tried juggling our schedules. We’ve agreed on the, “I’ll do nights, you do mornings” trade off. But it hasn’t been working. I’ve tried keeping up with emails with one hand via my iphone while nursing with the other. I’ve brought Elena along to meetings and bounced her in the ergo while trying to talk to our site leaders. We’ve had more take out dinners than I’d like to admit. And I know I can’t keep staying up late trying to finish everything that I didn’t get done during the day. It’s a bad cycle to get into. My body has been battling being sick and my mind has been fighting the false mantra that says, “I can do it all.”

It’s the probably one of the most dangerous lies to believe, huh?

So often I imagine God, lovingly looking at me, shaking his head…who told you you had to do it all?

•  •  •

So, without wanting to get into the whole working outside-the-home vs stay-at-home mom debate, the truth is I think both involve a certain amount of sacrifice. Moms who choose to or out of necessity need to work outside the home, sacrifice time with their kids. The day-to-day, mundane, yet absolutely precious moments of child raising are often missed out on. Stay at home moms may inherit time and with it the fullness of being around for each and every moment, but there is a weariness in having your day be defined by your child’s nap schedule and not speaking a sentence with more than 3-syllables.

But this mother’s heart is having a hard time with both. I want to keep working, and I want to be home with Elena. I want both/and, not either/or.

I left my teaching position for the next year, because there is not much about teaching that is flexible. And even though my heart will always be in the classroom, I want to teach my daughter first during these precious early years. But I also work to coordinate all of our short-term teams and groups that come down to Guatemala. On a good day I plan and meet with our site leaders and get to remind eager college students and adults that serving is not just something you do one week out of the year. Missions isn’t a trip, it’s a lifestyle. I’d actually like to get rid of the whole phrase “mission trip,” but that’s for another post. On most average days I fill in excel spreadsheets and respond to lots of questions about “What is the weather like in June?” and “Can I wear sandals?” The truth is I like what I do and generally have a lot of flexibility, but having a newborn has changed all of that “flexibility.”

•  •  •

I remember reading a great post awhile ago by Laura over at the Hollywood Housewife, about how hiding help is like denying botax. I am not so much hiding help as realizing that I am having a hard time admitting that I need help. So we’re looking into hiring a nanny or a sitter. Not sure what to call it yet or how many hours or who it will be, but it’s a start. A start at admitting, that I in fact can’t do it all.

And I have so many mixed emotions about it. Both about hiring help and being honest with the fact that I need it.

But isn’t that how motherhood is, a wonderful existence of mixed emotions about, umm… everything?

 •  •  •

So, other Moms…how do you do it? Do you do childcare exchanges? Hire help? Have family watch the kiddos? Any one out there been a nanny or a baby sitter for a family? What was your experience?