Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Finally free

For two years, I was the President of one of the MOMS Club chapters here in town. At first, it was fun! It was a great way to be involved with my kids' social schedule and connect with other moms in our city. I really loved it, but it didn't last long.

Being in an organization of 50+ women, there is bound to be some drama. In each of the three years that I served on our board, there was some kind of nonsense to deal with. Moms having power trips and becoming playgroup nazi's, moms throwing tantrums because we needed to re-organize playgroups and they were no longer in the same group as their best friends (god forbid they try and make other friends), moms who felt like they needed to email International board members to complain about our chapter, and moms who would complain about anything at the drop of a hat. It got old and tiresome. It drained on me as a person and on my family. I began to dread board meetings and decisions that needed to be made because there was certainly somebody who was going to bitch about something and nobody gave a shit about the effort I put into our chapter.

The straw that broke the camels back for me was during the organization and planning of our annual charitable fundraiser. This year was the biggest, most involved and most successful fundraiser our chapter had ever done. It was a children's fashion show and silent auction to raise money for a non-profit in our city that helped single parents become financially independent and free from government assistance. There were tickets to be sold, items we needed for donation and more work than I ever imagined. It was so successful mostly in part of our Admin VP who put her head down and trudged through the challenges, overcoming obstacles and powering through the drama. She was amazing and it wouldn't have happened without her leadership.

I mentally gave up after people started complaining about it.

What got to me the most was when people were complaining about how they were asked to help sell tickets and promote the event, by a member who is known for her blunt and curt personality. Because they were not asked as they felt entitled, people began to boycott and protest the fundraiser. I wanted to knock some heads together, hoping it would spark some common sense.

"Here you are, bringing your Starbucks coffee to playgroup every week, being a stay-at-home mom, living in a $300,000 home, driving two cars and taking family vacations and you're going to punish single parents and children in our community, WHO HAVE NO IDEA WHERE THEY ARE GOING TO SLEEP THE NEXT NIGHT, just because you don't like how you were asked to help sell tickets????"

I actually said this to people. I wanted to scream at them. I did scold one person pretty harshly. It was the most petty, ridiculous, selfish complaint I'd ever heard from a grown woman.

And I gave up. That was it for me. I was done.

I did a half-assed job for the next few months until my term ended on July 1st. It's been a month since I haven't had to field complaints or go to board meetings to make decisions that people didn't care about. It's been a month of freedom! So much less stress, so much more time to focus on things that are positive in our life. It's been eye-opening, to say the least.

We're still members of the chapter, but I'm not going to hold another position in any organizational aspect. This chapter in our life is closing and I feel like I'm finally free.

Saturday, July 03, 2010

First Family Vacation!

I felt my heart swell and my soul sing in Oregon; one of the most amazing and beautiful stretches of land in our Country.

With both boys growing and becoming more independent, they are easier to travel with, thus us deciding it was time to take our first family vacation. Portland was the first place I wanted to go after living there for a number of years and immediately falling in love with the scenery. On the plus side, my sisters still live there and the boys hadn't yet met their cousins. So it was sure to be a fun trip for all.

On the drive to the airport, we were filled with anticipation and excitement. The boys were all about it and got their groove on in the back seat.

Our flight out there wasn't very fun, though. Logan was an awesome travel companion, set with his videos on the lap top and various activities to keep him entertained. Carter, however, was that crying baby on the plane. He actually started his hysterics in the airport while we were checking in. We were waiting in a huge line that moved slowly and Carter was screaming bloody murder the entire time. Being a seasoned mom, I was not bothered, nor flustered or angry that he wouldn't calm down. I'm callous to the worst terrible-two's tantrums imaginable.

Knowing that he was tired, there was no consoling him and my repeated attempts to shoosh him were futile. I just waited to him to conk out. That didn't stop some of the other people in line who thought they could calm him better than I. I just looked at them and shrugged my shoulders as they tried to unsuccessfully charm him. After taking off, he cried for another 10 minutes and passed out cold.

We stayed in Seaside which ended up being pretty cold. The first night we settled into the hotel room and then drove to the beach. Logan walked along the shore, experiencing the ocean for the first time. He immediately loved it. After years of not hearing the sound of the ocean, it was shockingly loud, yet comforting at the same time. It was an interesting realization that the sound is not gentle but amazingly powerful. I loved and missed it so much.

Later that night we drove up on to the beach at watched the sunset from our car. The beach was speckled with headlights from cars doing the same thing. It was breathtakingly beautiful.

The next morning we went straight to Cannon Beach and Haystack Rock. There were tide pools to explore and sea creatures to show the boys. It's a protected area so there were environmental specialists there to educate the public about the rock. They had binoculars and telescopes set up for people to bird watch and they gathered animals from the tide pools for kids to get up close and personal with. We watched a Bald Eagle grab a Puffin from the rock and fly away.

We spent most of the morning walking along the beach barefoot, getting soaked in the ocean waves, and enjoying every minute we could. It was pure bliss and some of the happiest family memories we share. Later that day we fed the seals at the aquarium and looked at huge, aggressive octopus.

The next day we drove down the coast to Tillamook. Driving along side the vast blue ocean with the road hugged by lush green forest, I was choked up and teary from the gorgeousness of it all. We stopped at Cape Mears Lighthouse that had recently suffered some damage to vandals, but the area was amazing, nonetheless.

Sadly, we weren't able to check out the top of the Lighthouse, but we did walk around and looked at the Octopus tree before heading to the Tillamook Cheese Factory.

The cheese factory was the lamest tour ever. They weren't even making any cheese while we were there. But, we did stay for lunch and I ate some delicious clam chowder and a milkshake. Tillamook makes a damn good ice cream.

The next day was Saturday, where we spent the day at Saturday's Market with my sister J and brother-in-law C. We browsed the tents for interesting finds, eating sugary elephant ears and Logan got to hang out at the carnival for the Rose Festival. He rode rides and played in ball pits with Bill. They shared some father-son time while I walked Carter around in his stroller to sleep. He also got a snazzy new shirt from his Aunt and Uncle because he spilled grape juice all over the one he was wearing.

We spent our 11th wedding anniversary at the zoo, in the rain, jumping in puddles and mesmerized by the dinosaur exhibit. Both boys are obsessed and loved every scary minute of that part of our day. Logan knows quite a bit more than we were aware of! He's totally into carnivores because they are "killing dinosaurs". Such a boy.

We played at The Children's Museum and also the Science and Discovery Center, where we met up with my other sister R and her kids, cousins that Logan and Carter have never really met. They all had fun splashing in tubs of water and playing in imaginary forests.

We drove over to the Columbia River Gorge with brilliant green mountains spotted with graceful waterfalls. We ate ice cream in Hood river and watched Kite Boarders. On the way back, we stopped at Multnoma Falls, powerful and gorgeous, with campfire smells drifting through the warm summer evening air filled with soft fluffs from the cottonwood trees. A summer snowstorm.

This week vacation, our first family vacation, was filled with some of the best memories that I will never forget. What a way to begin a family vacation trend! We plan to go on a winter vacation and I'm sure it will be just as magical.