Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Mountain Climbers

Wow. It's been nearly a year since I last posted on my blog. Wow. A couple things have happened since then.

First things first. The oldest two boys (that belong to me) are at Grandma's. For the week. (As I type this, I hear loud, thunderous banging and hammering and a compressor and nail gun. Hardwood floors. Hence the week at Grandma's.)

But, also as I type this, my youngest and newest addition is happily playing on his playmat. True irony, since I'm about to post how important it is to pay attention to one's children. He has me 99% of the time; my blog can have me 1%, right? Just kidding. I will stop and start this post about 457 times.

Back to the point at hand. I had a third baby! That in itself is definitely news. But the bigger news is that I am, for the time being, continuing to stay home to care for him. And the 3.5-year old son. And the 6-year old son who now believes he's pretty much in charge of all of us.

Why is this news? Because of the constant, unrelenting reminder from our society that when you are a Stay-at-Home-Mom, you are pretty much WORTH LESS THAN A PAID PROFESSIONAL. My time is worth less. My ideas are worth a bit less. And my salary; I guess that is truthfully much less.

When I was in the hospital having this third baby, I got into some interesting, high-brow discussions with some of the medical staff. The anesthesiologist. The nurses. The attending. The OB about to perform my Cesarean surgery. Then, after this beautiful, adorable and otherwise healthy baby had to go to the NICU (intensive care) 4 hours after birth, the neonatalologist. I had a very intense discussion with her. The spellchecker wants me to change that last one to "neocolonialist."  Isn't that funny?

Each of them--EACH, asked me the same question in the middle of or after said stimulating conversations, "What do you do?" 

What do you do?

It's an expectation. My husband said I should be flattered, at that assumption. I wanted to retort, "I DO a lot of things. Mostly, I THINK." But the question kept coming, over and over. "What do you do?"  I felt this undue pressure, to recant all of the impressive and amazing things that I DID do, previously, in my professional life. Data analysis. Risk management. Finance and accounting, budgeting, cash flow analysis, HR and PR and marketing and communications -- and a million other skills / buzzwords.

We went to visit a friend in their new house in Suburban Denver, CO. She told me that when they first moved to the neighborhood, a new neighbor came over to meet them that was an OB/GYN. And a Mom. She asked my friend, "What do YOU do?" And my friend told her she was staying home with her girls.

"Oh."  She said, clearly disappointed.

Sorry, I didn't realize staying at home made you stupid, ineffectual and lacking in fodder for stimulating conversation. 

I had another very good friend admit to me that when she heard about a mutual friend (who attended a prestigious, private university) staying home, her immediate response was, "I was surprised! I mean, she's realllly smart."

Sorry, I didn't' realize staying home made you stupid, and a waster of good private college money.

For the past two years, I've gone as my husband's guest to an annual Economic update and happy hour of the DC Alumni of his prestigious (but grounded) Business school. Each person there probably at the top of their career game, each earning.. well, let's just say a lot of them are 1%-ers.

Everyone I spoke to asked what I did. I was dressed like a professional, I acted like a professional, I made jokes like a professional. I longed to still be a professional during those conversations. I simply stated that I started a small business and that I had (at the time) two young boys. 

When I'm in line at a food establishment that is in a busy area with many professionals, and I'm out with my boys (hoping to procure a meal of some sort with them), and I'm dressed as "myself"? Lord, help me. I will be cut off and brushed and jostled. Nobody--and I mean, nooooooobody, will assist me. [To be fair, I assume this depends on what part of the country you live in, and we live in a very high-powered, high-income, high-self-importance area.]

But the point is, I am not respected. My time is not respected.

And that doesn't feel good!

But I'm not bitter. 

No, seriously. All sarcasm aside, I'm not bitter because I get it. I remember being on the other side, being swamped with work from work and having work dominate my entire psyche. Work is hard, which is why we named it aptly. 'Work'.

Not only am I not bitter, I've started enjoying all the myriad moments in my life, since many are fleeting (baby toes and baby giggles come to mind) and I've had the internal debate about when I'll return to work. Traditional work. For now, I have an incredible opportunity to shape three little lives that have forever changed me, and my outlook, and my goals and dreams. And savings plans. 

And the biggest news yet? With all my buckets of free time (sarcasm here), I've decided to write a book. Fiction. I've floated the idea to a group of my respected reader friends, and they loved it.

Why not climb a mountain or two, while I'm hoisting my children above my career? I'm strong enough. 


Monday, September 3, 2012

The Big Time

The Big Time (on the Eve of Kindergarten)

First, you were a peanut
As small as small can be
Painted with a wisdom - Large!
Not average mediocrity.

Your tiny mind was turning
From the time you looked around
It dawned on me - quite suddenly
I had to show you what you'd found.

You found cords and plugs and tears
When I took those all away,
Your fascination with the Electric
(I know), is never going away.

Getting bigger, you found friends,
And fun in your imagination
I hope we can always pretend
(Not be stuck on this Earthly station.)

So, my darling son and Firstborn,
With your breathtaking mind and gifts,
Knowing you are ready
My anxious spirits lift.

For I picture that one clear moment
When I send you on your way -
The great big yellow school bus,
Your first Kindergarten day!

I'll try really hard to stay cool
And stop the tears from flowing
It's just: I love you so much,
Time is fast - and you keep growing.

I see the curiosity in your eyes
Your knowing eyes not knowing
What lies ahead, what to expect
When all that knowledge comes a-flowing.

And so you begin a new path
Somewhere all of us once start
My joy, my love, my inspiration, my wrath,
Pride is bursting from my heart.


Thursday, June 14, 2012

We Are Young in Life, Still

On the Eve of my oldest child turning the big FIVE, I blog. 

It has been a very long time since I've posted. There are many reasons for that, I won't list them all here because it would take me one week to type that many words; I don't have that kind of time. 

I've written this post in my head several times over the last few months; tweaking it and mentally editing it.  The thing about putting your raw, unfiltered, brutally honest thoughts and feelings out for public dissemination is, well, you never know how it will come across. 

I've been told my writing style is very "conversational."  I like that.  I like sitting here, having a conversation with all of you.  I like to think it's very J.D. Salinger but a little more socially engaged.  Today, the conversation is about the issue nearest and dearest to my heart. And I assume social scientists will study it; likely are studying it.

The effects of staying home to raise your children. 

I'll let that sentence stand alone.  Give it some thought.  I have, over the last four years and 364 days, given it much thought.  I've cursed it, sworn at it, blessed it, thanked it, looked in and around all the letters in that sentence, debated it, encouraged (and discouraged) it, and I've come up with one conclusion:  whatever anyone does for their family, is the right decision for their family.  Period. 

That said, let me let you in on a little discovery of mine.  It's kind of big.  Are you sitting down? 

By way of background to my ground-breaking discovery, let's talk about having kids.  I would argue that the person you are after you have kids is very similar to but astoundingly different from the person you are after having kids.  Kids make you aware of every single little thing about you. 

Why?  I call it The Mirror. 

Not literal, of course.  But those little tiny people, growing up before your eyes and ears, become Little Mirrors.  They imitate you.  They learn and regurgitate from you.  They react to things the way YOU react to things.  They yell at the dogs they way you yell at the dogs.  They can spit out, word for word, exactly what you said three days ago, when instructing another child who is younger.  It's amazing.  It's breathtaking!  It's horrible! 

And it's a mirror.  So what, what happens when we look into a mirror?  Really look into our own eyes?  We see ourselves.  Completely

Here's the funny thing about seeing yourself, over and over again, whether or not you want to...  you DISCOVER things about yourself.  Maybe they were there and you knew about them.  Maybe they were there and you didn't know about them.  Maybe you've been... ignoring some of them for a while.  Maybe you celebrate some with gusto, thanking your lineage for being so kick-ass.  But with a mirror, you see them.  Those.. tendencies about ourselves that we hate and love. 

So then, back to the person that you were, taking the serpentine path through to the person that you are now, and knowing that you will choose to continue becoming the person that you want to be, that Self Discovery starts to happen RIGHT IN FRONT OF THE MIRROR!  Right in front of your own child, every single day, they are getting to know a person (and you are getting to know them) in medias res.  In the middle of the journey of Self Discovery. 

And that is it, right there.  That Self Discovery.  That is what makes staying home to raise your own children the most magnificent experience.  In all its ugly, banal, brutal, agonizing, rewarding, happy and joyful glory. 

Your children get to know you in the middle of you getting to know yourself.  They get to participate.  They get to help.  And Wow--do they love to help.  They're holding up that little mirror whether or not they want to.  It's how we are; it's part of our humanity. 

And they get to discover that we have discovered a whole new level of Love that we never knew existed. 


Monday, January 16, 2012

Time IS On Our Side

Hi, beloved readers. And accidental blog-finders (those are the best.) I don't blog a lot. So, when I do, I try to go for a "Silent Bob" kind of angle.

It's hard, when you're in the thick of something, to really step back and appreciate what it is. But I've discovered something.. something amazing, and fun, and just astounding.

Aging is FUN!

That's right! Getting older. All those anti-aging creams, potions, lotions, pills, and the multi-billion dollar Entertainment industry that would have you believe that aging sucks - is WRONG!

Here's why. You just can't get this one thing from anywhere else BUT from getting older.. perspective. It's impossible to get anywhere else. Only time gives it to you. And here's the funny thing, even when you think you have it, you don't! Maybe a little, but not as much you think you do. My freshman year in college, I was strolling around the main quad at UNC-Chapel Hill with a few Seniors who were about to graduate. We sat down on the steps of Wilson Library, gazing out at the campus, which is stunning. It was dusk, quiet, beautiful. One of the Seniors sighed, deeply, and said, "man am I going to miss this. All of this." I looked out, nodding. Trying to understand. And I thought I did!

The semester after I graduated, I really understood him.

Now, I understand him even more.

Perspective gained from time is different from a huge loss. OR from grief. Perspective from grief is like tripping and falling into a hot tub. Not the way you planned to get in that deep. Not at all comfortable. Actually, very painful. And, probably, you don't want to be there. (When you figure a way out, you're very cold. And that's not comfortable either.)

Let's back up a bit. Why is perspective so important? Because, in the grand scheme, it gives us freedom. Freedom to think of the "big" picture.. the giant, time-filled picture of our entire lives.

Those of you who are older than me reading, congratulations! You have more of it than I do.
Those of you younger than me: you have less. You just do.

That's why aging is fun.. getting older is a gift, a gift of perspective which gives clear-headed thoughts on a muddled world.

One more thought.

This morning, my son invented a new kind of vacuum, pictured below. It runs on solar power (the first Stackadoo), it sucks up dirt which is then converted to energy (second Stackadoo), and it sucks up water which is then converted to energy (third Stackadoo). Last Stackadoo is the battery charger.
What does this have to do with Perspective? Nothing. It's just flat-out the most adorable thing, ever.

And in time, I'll have more Perspective to appreciate it even more.


Sunday, December 11, 2011

This Day: to My Beloved

Such a long road to get here
Let it go (surrender)
Don't judge it later
I want to remember this day

You're a baby! It's exciting and new
We got all of the things, the emotions
We got all the bling, and the blue
You ripped my iPod out of my hand at 13 months
And I knew.

You challenge me. You push me.
Test me. And learn.
I want to remember these moments.

You're a big brother! It's exciting and new.
New competition, new challenges.
New tests for the Mommy patience.
I want to remember this phase.

Channel my Mom. Converse with God.
Channel my inner artist. Get creative.
You question. You reason. You resist reason.
I want to remember your mind.

Push it away. Go away for an afternoon, see an orange moon.
Make sense of why you. Why now.
What happened to the old me?
I want to remember this.

I want to remember this post.

I want to remember this role. My role.

I want to remember this.

I want to remember my everything.


Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Just Like Heaven (You Know, The Cure!)

Whoa, is that Fingers&Paws on my Google Reader / FB News Feed /(fill in blog reader here)? Why, yes.

I had a flash of brilliance on the treadmill today. You are about to read it, and you'll leave breathless, amazed, and exhausted, like you just read a novel.

Maybe not. But I had the opportunity last weekend to fly off to Sanibel Island, FL, with several girl friends (I am a girl.) It happens that I am married with children. Those hangers-on were not with me. It was five days of just worrying about myself. No nap-time, no snack time, no meal time, no breaking up sibling fights or picking crushed blueberries off the tile floor. Just me. I got a chance to LOOK UP. Otherwise known as


Other Moms know how it is. The daily drudgery, 12-plus solid hours of child-rearing, day after day.

Here's how I imagine it is, to run a marathon. Not that I've actually run a marathon. I have, in fact, run two Half-Marathons and I doubt I have to do the math for you. There are 25,000 people around you, you are all standing and waiting in line for an eternity in your corral. The gun goes off, the fun begins. You feel great, life is good! Your body is a fine-tuned machine, and the sky is clear and blue. Feet turn into miles, everyone is happy and smiling.

This is what it's like, right?! You had the baby shower. You are SO PSYCHED to have a baby, you cannot believe it. And then you got through the agonizing last three weeks where you listened to the clock tick off every minute of every hour, because sleep wasn't happening.

Around mile 5-6 your body starts to remind you that there's hard pavement underneath. It's hard. Your body begins to feel soft.

Then you decide--this kid needs a SIBLING! So, on we go to having #2. You've read the baby books, you had the shower so your family and friends ain't throwing another one of those. You're on your own.

Mile 7-8-9, and your shoulders start to droop a bit. Your body is trying to conserve energy as best it can, but it's dying for some water and--face it, some walking. You focus on not shuffling your feet, try to imagine picking them up a bit more off the ground. Your breath is coming harder now.

You make it through that impossible first six months where Older Brother (or Sister) just wants to TOUCH the baby, and HOLD the baby, and ROCK the baby, and FEED the baby a raisin or other suitable choking hazard. Or, my favorite, PUSH the baby down some steps in the stroller. Ok, let's all try to survive this until baby is at least able to crawl away.

You can feel your head hanging a bit lower now, your breath is decidedly uncomfortable. When did breathing get this uncomfortable? Short puffs. Focus on the feet. Try to lift up those shoulders. Keep running!

The baby can finally stand up, turn around, and walk.. and then RUN away from Big Sibling. Doesn't change or alter the Sibling Rivalry, in any way. Big Brother still knows how to get a hold of each and every mound of Play-Doh, Lego, block-o, name-it-o. Mommy attends a Sibling Rivalry parenting forum.

Man, around mile 13.1 (I know this from experience), your Body, your Brain, and your Soul scream out, "THIS SUCKS!! WHY DID I DO THIS?" and Oh my Good Gosh, I have so much further to go.

Well, here's what I THINK happens from here:

You are tired. Really tired. C'mon, you've just run a Half Marathon for Pete's Sake. Your body is crushed, spirits are down. But you want to keep on, and plus.. there are all those people cheering for you! Look at them, waving flags, jumping up and down, ringing bells and donging things. They know you can succeed! Do it for them!

There are days you grit your teeth. Frantically call a babysitter for a chance to go to the bathroom. You educate, entertain, educate, pacify, take care of. Take them to a park, to an indoor gym, to an outdoor theater. Take them on a trip, or two. Notice it gets easier (hey! Now we can hand them things, and drive during the day!) You help out watching others', and they help you out back. You are even able to look up, take a sip of your Starbucks, and wonder at the Mom you've grown into. A loving, caring, albeit tired, but really great Mom. You get tears in your eyes typing a blog post. You go home to relieve said babysitter or Mom friend. Older Brother pushes Younger Brother, the young Jedi fights back. All-out War begins.

You don't want to admit it, but you COULDN'T CARE LESS how many people are up against the ropes, cheering for you and all these other Schmucks running with you. They aren't running 20+ miles. You are. How did "marathon" get its name again? Some dude ran 26.2 miles and then.. your thoughts wander off. Thoughts are too hard now, like the ground. All you want to do is lie down on the cold hard ground and take a rest, and have nobody speak to you for about a year (these are the teenager years.) You take a turn too hard and turn an ankle but.. MY GOLLY, keep on truckin'. Running hurt is the perfect metaphor for this metaphor.

Things do get easier, as kids grow.. and get taller and less likely to drown in the 3-FT end of the pool. Eat more things and play with other children more nicely, and learn things and then do things all on their own. They grow and grow until they are the little people they always were deep down in there, just bursting to come out. And then they start to drive you around, picking up your Starbucks and texting you to let you know they are fine. And college is great.

And all of a sudden, it hits you. You were waiting for it, maybe for miles now. The last water station didn't do it, the thousands of cheering fans on the sidelines didn't do it. Your body did it. You hit the runner's high. You feel like a million bucks, because you are a million bucks. You could literally do anything right now. You have run 25.5 miles and you OWN this whole TOWN. The steps come easier, and easier, and you run a bit faster. You almost don't want the finish line to appear because it's gotten so easy.

I'm telling you what. I know there must an Afterlife, because one lifetime is not going to be enough with these children of mine. These boys, they are Heaven.

copyright 2011 Colleen D. Bucher


Monday, March 21, 2011

No Day Like Today

I'm grabbing it.. the one minute I have. It's so important to me at this moment to write (with whatever time I have. Or lack thereof.)

I realized something important about myself today. Kind of simple, really. I realized: I am compelled to write when I am unhappy. I am compelled to take photographs when I am happy. I am passionate about both mediums, I truly am. And I feel equally alive, communing with my creative spirit, when I am doing either venture. Especially when I match the amazing, perfect image that has formed in my mind with the correct setting on my camera to.. capture it.

However, it is on days like today, when I have no choice but to organize my thoughts into words, my words into emotional responses, those responses into coherent sentences, and type.

It's so easy.. it's like it's all sitting out there for me, basking in the sun (or darkness) and all I have to do is wander out there and pick it up and devour it. Like my black Lab watching me now, glancing up at the open door of the pantry; all that food, just sitting there, within his reach.. all he has to do is just devour it.

Today was one of those days that was so horrible at times that it was impossible to imagine a day could exist that was unlike any other day like today. This type of day, today, has always existed, exists today, and will always exist. No matter what external factors change. The fact that it is means that it will be.

This is preposterous, of course. No such thing is possible, in an ever-changing world as mine currently is. Happier times are behind and ahead of me, at the same time. And, what compelled me to write here and now, is the other: equally sadder times are behind and ahead of me as well. That is life. That's what we signed up for, when we became grown-ups.

The very short way of paraphrasing that long last paragraph, is to say, parenthetically:
Life is not that hard at all right now. It just pretends to be, on days like these.


Wednesday, February 2, 2011

The Present

They say it's all prioritization, this thing called life. How do we do it, as Moms? How do we keep them fed, and entertained, and educated, and confident? And shuttle them to preschool and playgroups, but make it home in time to nap? How we have dinner ready for everyone at the same time, but have the toys picked up off the floor so the early walker doesn't trip (or the eager-to-please Labrador pick it up to present it to us?)

How do we juggle all that.... and also dive off the bridge into Start-a-Small-Photography-Business waters far below?

Well, we have to sacrifice some things. Reading. Writing. Arithmetic. Strike that last one. Writing on one's blog, for which one was so faithful, for SO long.

I had an epiphany, in the midst of various parenting crises this week. I realized they are living their childhood--and it's RIGHT NOW. I realized my childhood was what it was, for better or worse (mostly better.. really, and I'm lucky) and that their childhood is happening right in front of me! This is the one that they'll remember for the rest of their lives, that will shape them into the people they will become. Right now! And they're happy!

Right before my eyes, little minds are being shaped, little hands are playing and having fun, little ears are listening and understanding the love that I give them. Love that I show them.

I have a Junior League newsletter to edit. Photos to go through for a client (two, actually), but a great song came on that spoke to me.

It told me to write on my blog today. Capture it all. Remember it all. The song? "Polaroids" by Shawn Colvin.

It's over now, and the kids are up.

NOte: I'm shutting down my 365 blog soon, as it served it purpose, but I'll continue to write on here as I have time. Ha.


Sunday, December 19, 2010

Roads Less Traveled

I am still here. I'm no longer standing at the 'Y'. I am too busy to blog (who isn't?) and have written this post 1,000 times. In my head.

Promise, I really have. I blog every day, as I make and eat my breakfast. Shoo the dogs away from the fallen Cheerio's. I just don't always get it down on screen.

Anyway, there's a poem by Robert Frost. You may have heard of it. It starts out,

"I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference."

That's it. In a nutshell, that is what I've done. What I'm doing. It's thrilling, and confusing, and frustrating, and limiting at times. But I've chosen to remain at home with my two young boys, during the formative, challenging, so-impressionably-young years, and start a portrait photography business.

Corporate America-->Small Internet Startup-->Hard Right Turn, Pause in the Y. The Y of the path (in the woods, silly.) I've been standing here for years, at the Y. And someone finally nudged me down the less-traveled path.

Let's see how it makes a difference.


Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Shock and Awe

Today I want to talk to you about the "emergency key word." If you're a parent, you get it. You need no further explanation. Skip paragraph two and read on.

The Emergency Key Word is something, as protective Moms and Dads, we all cling to as insurance. It's one word, or maybe two together, that you can state (yell, scream, shout, grunt, plead or otherwise communicate) QUICKLY to your child in an urgent situation that requires attention. Their attention. On you. Keyword here is 'quickly.'

It's easy to imagine what some common Emergency Key Words likely are, for the typical parent off on a woodland stroll that falls and twists an ankle and needs his/her child to come back to him/her, while laying helplessly in pain on the ground: Look, Suzie! A SQUIRREL! (Stop and stare.)

Or you have an infant sitting on the sidewalk and a toddler wandering around.. a bee comes by and lands on your infant at the same time the toddler starts to toddler off the curb into a very busy street. Look, Johnny! An AIRPLANE! (Stop and stare.)

Or, let's say your child is old enough to swim, and standing next to a pool in their freshly changed, totally dry clothes, and a friend is urging a dry-clothes jump in the pool. Look, Billy! BROWNIES! Stop and eat.

Different motivations for different kids. Every child has his or her favorite things they are drawn to.. toys. Animals. Fancy things that fly. Tiaras. Whatever.

Now let's talk about what my Emergency Key Word has become. He's about to run through the "exit only" automatic door at the store. He's about to walk into someone. He's wandering down the sidewalk away from me. "PLUGS."

Yes, that's right. The kind that are attached to a cord, and plug in. My 3 year old is obsessed with nothing other than the one thing every grown-up he has ever met has told him to stay away from, lest he meet his death via electrocution.

(Luckily he's obsessed with the plug side, not the outlet side. For now.)

A quick mention of whether the building, store or home we're standing in has a plug. Where they are. What kinds of things would possibly need to be plugged in? Why do they need electricity, do they have a motor? Or an engine? Et cetera.

Yes, we have engineers in the family. And yes, he might certainly be headed that direction. But in terms of "normal" emergency key words, my son shocks most everyone that overhears us. (Get it?)




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