Working Mom Doesn’t Mean Uninvolved Mom

I love my son’s preschool. It’s progressive and open-minded and very supportive of play-based learning. But even in the best situations, the occasional negative assumption can break through. So at the recent parent-teacher conferences, I couldn’t help but bristle when the teacher commented how great it would be for me to attend an evening open house, where my son would “see me involved in his school.”

I know that she didn’t mean anything negative by it, but it hurt all the same. I am currently the sole provider in our household while my husband completes an online degree program to change careers. We approach parenting as a team effort.

I work on the same college campus where my son attends preschool, and my hours are relatively flexible, at least insomuch as I can take off when he’s ill or take a half an hour to attend a special activity at school. Still, my husband — by virtue of setting his own study hours — is the one who drops our son off at school each morning and picks him up.

Does that mean I’m not involved? I chose the school. I researched it, filled out all the enrollment forms, attended the orientation sessions. I keep his schedule in his head to ensure that he has on the appropriate clothes each day, along with permission slips or supplies for activities and field trips. I get up early each morning to help him get dressed, to make breakfast and pack lunch and start the evening’s dinner. I read the daily reports (I make my husband snap a picture of the class’s white board on his phone so I know what’s going on), as well as the weekly blogs. Each evening, I ask my son detailed questions about his day and his friends and his favorite activities.

Oh, and I read to our son daily, create fun projects and activities for us to do on nights and weekends, frequently take him to the beach or zoo while my husband studies, and participate in twice-a-week mom-and-son swim classes.

I know how incredibly important parent involvement is in schools — to help the teachers and to support children’s engagement and learning. But no, I can’t be available at 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. each day for pick-up and drop-off, because I’m busy making sure we can afford the clothes and the food and the enrichment activities … and, oh yeah, the tuition that allows him to attend in the first place. There are many ways to be involved in a child’s life, and my son is lucky to have two parents who are very interested in his learning and his play — no matter who is actually driving him around.

Gestational Diabetes and a Long Road Ahead

I was 13 weeks into my second pregnancy when I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes. Though Type II does run in my family, I’ve never had any indication of problems with my sugar levels, even during my first pregnancy, so I was pretty surprised by the diagnosis.

And, honestly, I was pissed. Everything had been going so well. We had, literally, been “trying” for about 5 seconds before I got pregnant — it was so fast (compared to the nine months we spent trying for our first pregnancy) that I didn’t even think it could be real at first. Sure, the nausea was considerably worse this time around, but I was seeing my family practitioner for prenatal care and she actually called me “an easy one.”

Until.

I’m lucky that my healthcare system provides a class for gestational diabetes. Taught by a dietician and a nurse, the class is an afternoon with no more than four students, all women recently diagnosed with GD. We talked about our feelings about the diagnosis (I was not alone in being less than thrilled), our approach to managing the disease, the biology of the situation, and the nutrition and exercise plans that would help us along the way.

I’m still not thrilled. After all, most GD diagnoses come in the third trimester, not at the end of the first, so I have a long road ahead. And the idea of getting through not just pregnancy (did I mention I gained about 50 pounds last time around), but also the entire holiday season, on a strict, low-carb/low-sugar diet does not sound fun, any more than pricking my finger four times a day.

But I’m also trying to look at it as an opportunity: an opportunity to get in shape during pregnancy instead of trying to drop pounds afterward, an opportunity to learn to take better care of myself and my family, an opportunity to learn how my body works and develop better habits for the future.

That’s not to say there won’t be pissy days — I guarantee there will. But I’m going to go into this with the best attitude possible and determined to do my best for myself and my kiddo.