A glimpse into suburban mom life

September 30, 2009

Generally,  I work full time. I may be self-employed, and may get to make my own hours, but I tend to put in nearly 40 of them during a work week. Or more.

My kids attend school in a rather affluent neighborhood, and sometimes I feel like one of the only working moms at the school. All the other mommies seem to have time to volunteer for field trips, drive their kids to activities right after school, and personal time, for stuff like manicures and boot camp workouts. I barely even get to the class, since I often drop the kids at before care and always pick them up at aftercare. I know I sound petty and jealous, but well, I guess I am.

Don’t get me wrong — I couldn’t be a stay-at-home mom. I know my own limitations. I love my kids, but if I couldn’t go to work, or at least have the intellectual escape of work, I’d go nuts. I don’t have the stamina or patience to be a stay-at-home mom. Many’s a day I wish I did, but I don’t.

Still, I partly envy the other mommies at my school. They have time, now that our kids are in school, to do stuff by themselves during the school day. They can shop alone, they can workout, and most of all, they have time for other mommies, time to make and nurture friendships. I don’t, and I often feel quite left out when all the other mommies gather and giggle, and I don’t get the jokes.

Anyhow, last week, I mentioned this in passing to a mom from my son’s class, and she was very understanding. In fact, she suggested that perhaps I could join her and a couple other moms for a weekly exercise class. Normally I would have had to say no, but this one actually fit into my schedule. At least it did last week. So I came. And I feel like I entered another world, a world of suburban moms which I had only ever glimpsed or seen on tv before.

This class, a 75 minute boot camp (not as hard as it sounds!), is taught by a mom in her converted garage. It’s a great workout studio space, packed with balls and bars and weights and stuff. And a dozen moms turned up for this class. They were all fit and trim. During the class, we paired up, and every pair chatted away as they did the circuit. I eavesdropped a lot, and heard about soccer, girl guides, school fundraisers, canning, and other mom talk.

It was a fun class, and I enjoyed spending time with the mommies I knew and meeting the ones I didn’t. But it all seemed kind of surreal, like I was allowed temporary entree into another world, a world we working moms don’t get to live in. Yes, I take my kids to soccer and lessons, and I even cook and can food sometimes. But I don’t normally get a lot of time to discuss any of it with other mommies. Because I’m too busy working. And to prove my point, about 45 minutes into the class I took a water break and glanced at my blackberry, only to find an urgent message from a client. So I had to step out of class for five minutes to call the client, call a reporter, and deal with a work matter. Then I reentered the other world and finished the workout.

I think I’ll go back to the class next week, because I like the workout and I enjoyed the chance to step outside myself. Maybe if I do it often enough I might find a way to feel a part of the suburban mom life, instead of just feeling like an interloper.

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To bike or not to bike, the rain is a question

July 6, 2009

I have taken lately to biking to work. No, not the work I do at my home office. It would be very hard to bike from the kitchen to the playroom nook where my office is located. No, twice a week I work at a client’s office in Burnaby, which is 16 km from my home.

At first I couldn’t imagine doing the commute on my bike. I started this 2-day-a-week gig last September, right when the weather turned cold and wet. I had no interest in driving, since the drive takes about 45 minutes, so I bussed, which took me about 55 minutes, but I got to sit and read a book the whole way (and yes, I bought a blackberry so I could keep on top of work, both the client’s stuff when not at their office and my other consulting work when on the bus or at the client’s, but no, I rarely gave up my reading time on the bus to work on my handheld computer).

But in May, the ads for Bike-to-Work Week hit me, and I decided to give it a try. After all, I wasn’t a horrible cyclist, and the worst that would happen is the commute home (uphill) would be too much and I’d stick the bike on a bus). Besides, if  biked to work, even one way, I’d get in a workout, which would free up more time for the rest of my life, saving me from having to hit a gym or worse, go for a run (yuck!). So I tried it. And I found that it wasn’t too hard.

I found a terrific route to and from work that pretty much avoids the big hills — along the tracks by Arbutus, then along the new bike route that runs under the Skytrain, right to my office pretty much. It takes me just 55 minutes to bike to work (if you’re keeping track, that’s the same time it takes me to bus), and about 60 to bike home. So it isn’t taking any extra time, and I get my workout in while commuting. I’ve been biking out to Burnaby at least one of the two days every week for a couple months now, and loving it.

But let’s face it, the weather has been lovely, until today. Today it threatened seriously to rain on me on the way here. Now, I don’t care much for biking in the rain, but I’m hard core enough now to do it anyhow. On the way home. Because when I get home, I can hop in the shower, warm up and dry off. But on the way there, not so much. At my small office, there is no shower. It’s not usually a big problem, because I change clothes and am never terribly sweaty getting here (It’s more downhill on the way in, and cooler in the mornings. Nothing a few baby wipes can’t clear up.) But when it rains, I’d get very wet getting in, and while I can certainly dry off and change, I’m unlikely to warm up.

At least, that’s my story. That’s why I didn’t bike in this morning. Of course I feel like a woos for not biking. Especially since my next day in the office, it’s also threatening rain. And I won’t have time to work out much this week, so I do need to get in some biking on the way to something.

Would you bike in the rain if you didn’t have a shower on the other end?


A family walk — up Grouse Mountain

June 28, 2009

My family did the Grouse Grind yesterday morning. Yes, all of us, even the 8 year old and the 6 year old. And before you laugh at me too hard, yes, I was the last one up.

This wasn’t the kids’ first time climbing Grouse. Both climbed it a couple times before — the younger did it at age 4 (and yes, he did it faster than me then too). But it was the first time I climbed with them. Dad has always been the one to go with them before. In fact, two years ago, after my then-six-year-old did the climb in a reported 90 minutes, I went up the next weekend with a girlfriend trying to just beat his time (I didn’t, I tied it. Stop laughing!).

So this weekend we all climbed together. In my own defense, I have asthma, and it’s exercise-induced asthma, so when I climb a lot of stairs (and in case you’ve never experienced it, the Grouse Grind is described as Mother Nature’s stairclimber — it’s a mile straight up a mountain after all!), my heart rate skyrockets and I need to take a lot of breaks to slow my breathing down. The boys can just scramble up easily, even using their hands for the steeper steps. I can’t.

Anyhow, I told the boys to go on ahead with Dad and not wait for me until they reached the top, but they took a few long breaks and I managed to keep up with them. In fact, their time was 83 minutes, and mine was 86. Not too shabby for an old lady, right?

While it may not have been a crowning moment of athletic achievement for me, for the kids, it was an amazing one. They’re only 6 and 8, and they climbed Grouse Mountain in under 90 minutes. I am so proud of them, and so proud to have been able to do it with them.

And okay, none of us could even dream of doing it more than once, let alone 13 times like this superhero, but still, those two boys are my heroes.


Call me "coach"

June 17, 2009

Sorry I’ve neglected the blog for the last couple weeks. Between business trips and a long weekend with the family, I haven’t been as diligent as originally planned. I’ll try to fix that now.

My eight year old had his last baseball game for the season last night. It was a heart-breaker of a game, with our team making a few minor errors and their team making a few lucky catches, which left us one run behind at the end of the game.

It was so sad when a bunch of the kids started crying at the loss. I was surprised at the tears, frankly. Not from one of our girls who is very emotional, or one of our most competitive kids who hates losing. But one of our more mature boys was in tears. And perhaps the biggest surprise is that my son didn’t get upset. He just took the loss in stride.

Anyhow, my favourite moment of the game came before the 12-year-old umpire shouted “Play ball!” to start the game. We were warming up with the kids before play started, and I had grabbed the bucket full of whiffle balls (the lightweight plastic ones) and was throwing practice pitches at kids in turn. One of the coaches from the other team came over and asked to take half the whiffle balls, which is fine, I was happy to share. But the way he worded it was shocking. He came over to where I was working with the kids and said:

Mom, I’m just going to grab half these balls.

Now, I had had a long day and was kind of tired, not to mention nervous for the team, so was perhaps a bit distracted, but pretty sure he had just called me “mom.” So I asked him:

What did you call me?

And yes, he repeated “mom.”

So I stared him down and said quite emphatically:

Call me “coach.”

I know it’s petty and childish of me, but just because I’m a woman doesn’t mean I am just a helpful parent. I am one of only three women coaching in Minor B in our little league, but I’ve done a great job keeping up with all the men and I know the kids — boys as well as girls — love having a woman coach too (my son tells me this regularly!). I’m not some jock (stop laughing — I could be a jock if I wanted to. Well, I could be sporty at least. It’s not THAT far-fetched!), and I wouldn’t dream of coaching soccer since I know nothing about how to play it. But I know baseball, and I’ve been coaching my kid for three years now. The men on my team treat me with respect as a coach, as do almost all the other coaches, umpires and league organizers I’ve run across.

So the other coach’s chauvinistic assumption just got on my nerves, and I told him off.

And okay, his team won, and we lost. But I didn’t cry.