Posts Tagged ‘SAHM’

Care and Feeding

Monday, February 25th, 2013

I am in a mood, by which I mean I’ve got a serious case of the why-do-I-even-bother’s? Some days nothing feels as pointless as being a stay at home mom, especially when it’s February and we’ve barely left the house in days and neither kid is sleeping through the night and they openly scoffed at the super cute macaroni craft I was counting on to keep us from strangling each other on Monday. Stop rolling your eyes at me and make a damn necklace already. 

The second I pick up a room it gets destroyed. As soon as I make a snack it’s gone and Caroline needs “somethin’ else eat”. I get 90% of the clothes laundry done and realize every sheet and towel in the house is filthy and needs to be washed. 60 seconds after I scrub the bathroom floor Evan has peed on it. Again.

It doesn’t help that I am losing – desperately – the fight against clutter and kids’ toys. For every box I take to Goodwill or basket I drop off at the consignment shop with a note that says “DONATE ANYTHING YOU WON’T TAKE FTLOG GET IT AWAY FROM ME” it seems like 5 more things appear in the house. I am totally out of places to put toys, so piling them up and shoving them into corners is the current strategy and that strategy sucks. Permanent removal is the only feasible plan of attack. I need 3 uninterrupted hours, a dozen trash bags and a memory-wiping device so Evan doesn’t ask “Mommy, what happened to my broken fire truck? I LOVED my broken fire truck!!!”

But that’s not going to happen. Instead, I’m going to put clean clothes on children, wash dirty clothes, feed children, wash dirty dishes, put away clean dishes, clean floor, clean other floor, clean other floor, clean first floor again, wash dirty children, put children to bed, clean the kitchen, wash myself, collapse. Because even though at the end of the day I have practically nothing to show for it, I’m exhausted. And that’s the worst part – nothing to show for it. I don’t have a spotless house or an organized pantry or a freezer full of meals or anything else beyond a headache. How come I can never get ahead?

I realize most of my angst is a result of a long, cold winter and a particular stage of childhood that requires maximum assistance. (Obviously a newborn requires a lot more full-time care but a newborn is incapable of dumping 200 Legos out on the floor. I’m looking at a ratio here.) There’s only so many cleaning-up games they’re willing to play before they realize those aren’t very good games at all. Closeness and familiarity are the enemies this time of year and a change in routine is the only solution. We need to be out of the house, if only so I can end the day with the same mess I woke up to, not one that’s 10 time worse. I’ve pretty much given up on February and I’m hoping too much TV, too many granola bars and too many dust bunnies don’t do the kids any permanent harm for the rest of this week.

C’mon March, I know you can do better.

p.s. We did manage to get Caroline’s room clean today – floor vacuumed and everything! – which is enough of a dent in the disaster that I’m already feeling better. This is how the kids “helped” me clean:

cleaning day

Moping

cleaning day-5

Hiding

cleaning day-2

Posing

cleaning day-3

More posing

cleaning day-7

Reflecting

cleaning day-8

Rocking

cleaning day-6 copy

Resting

cleaning day-9

Playing

p.p.s. The gingers can even make February bearable. I love them to pieces.

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A Letter To Myself To Be Read On Bad Days

Friday, June 15th, 2012

Dear Suzanne,

Hey. Hi There. How are you? Your hair looks nice like that. And you’ve definitely lost weight so don’t get discouraged, but also don’t forget to eat dessert sometimes because you’re kind of awful when you don’t get dessert.

In case you’re already wondering what this is about, it’s not the letter version of repeating affirmations to yourself in the mirror every morning (because I know you never remember to do that – it makes you feel silly). This is a letter to remind you of how awesome your life is on the days when you can’t do anything besides throw some crackers at the kids and hide in the bathroom until your husband comes home.

Today, Evan woke you up by climbing into bed and giving you hugs. Then he played on the iPad while you dozed and checked email and put off starting the day as long as possible.

That right there – the first 20 minutes of your whole day – should be more than enough to make you realize how lucky you are. Your son is healthy. He slept in his own room last night. He is able to climb. He is able to hug you. You have a bed. You have a room that is a pleasant temperature. You have an iPad. You have an iPhone. Your daughter slept in her own room. She is healthy. She is always excited to see you, even if you make her wait while you get dressed. You do not have to rush out the door for work. You can wake up at 7 am, and at 7:15 decide today is a beach day or a zoo day or a baking day or a library day or a stay-at-home day. Billions – literally, BILLIONS – wish they had a life like that.

Every single day for you is like a weekend for most people. You can shop or get coffee or work out or lie around doing nothing. Your bank account has money in it you did not have to earn but you get to spend. THINK ABOUT THAT. Yes, you are working in a zillion different ways at all hours of the day and night and yes your work as a wife and mother is important but in this country, at this time, that work is worth zero actual dollars. Too bad Target doesn’t accept blood, sweat, tears or poop. You have plenty of those.

Your biggest problem this week is that you double-booked your plans for Tuesday – you promised one friend you would meet her at the Seaport and another that you would be her event photographer at a party for your kids and all your kids’ friends. Oh noes! Your life is SO HARD, but only if by hard you mean “really really freaking awesome.”

Parenting a child is a challenge, and some days it’s a really challenging challenge and some days it feels like a challenge that will never ever end but always remember: IT WILL. Be glad the bad days end but remember the good ones do too. Today will end, tomorrow will end, your children’s youth will end. It will end and you will wonder why you didn’t enjoy more of it.

So go ahead, have a bad day. Feel sorry for your plight as an over-worked, over-stressed, under-appreciated mom. Count the minutes until you can pour a glass of wine or collapse into bed. Everyone’s allowed to have bad days. But when you wake up tomorrow with a snuggly ginger playing Angry Birds and a day of nothing but fun ahead of you, stop feeling bad and start appreciating how great your life is.

Love,

Past Suzanne

p.s. Don’t forget to eat the strawberry freezer jam. You tend to forget stuff you put in the downstairs fridge. Speaking of which, it’s probably time to throw out the egg nog.

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Happy Days Are Here Again

Thursday, May 17th, 2012

I forgot to take my Zoloft over the weekend – three days in a row total – and I started to feel pretty lousy. Not losing-my-mind crazy but irritable and anxious and unfocused. I thought maybe I was overreacting but decided it (probably) wouldn’t kill me to take an extra pill to get back on track. So on Monday I took one at noon and one at bedtime – which is when I usually take it. Oddly, if I take it in the mornings I have really vivid crazy house on fire naked Christmas farm animal Barry Manilow pregnant high school war opening night Hunger Games dreams. And that’s even if I DON’T read dystopian fantasy novels while I fall asleep. So I took two and hoped I wasn’t over medicating myself into a coma or a heart attack or something.

INSTEAD, I did ALL THE THINGS in the past two days. And in a good way, not a “I’M BORED, LETS CUT BANGS” way.  I finally dealt with the mountain of baby clothes in Caroline’s room and organized her summer wardrobe (because yeah, girl has too many outfits). I bought plastic totes and put away craft supplies and decorations from Evan’s birthday party that happened *ahem* more than a month ago. I steam mopped all the floors. But not only is the house clean, I’m competing in an imaginary contest for Mother of the Year Week. We did puzzles (I HATE puzzles) and put on boots to splash outside and blew a billion bubbles and went to the library and read the same books over and over and over and over and over and tracked down all the balls to all the toys and let the kids them jump all over me and sang songs loudly and let them ride the elevators even though we didn’t need to and let them eat the last giant marshmallow. Even when I was annoyed I calmly explained to Evan he needed to listen better or I would have to use my angry voice – and I KNOW, saying stuff like that sounds RIDICULOUS but when my 3 year old says “Mommy, I can’t want you use your angry voice and I can’t want use my angry voice so let’s have hugs and kisses” I dies of cuteness so I don’t care how ridiculous it sounds. Plus, it worked. He now recognizes my angry voice AND his angry voice and knows how to stop them.

(Extra bonus cuteness: Evan had to have a blood draw for his anemia test an he was REALLY sad – although again, I handled it a zillion times better than I normally would have – and afterwards I asked if he wanted a Happy Meal and he said “No Mommy, I need a Sad Meal”.)

(Double extra bonus cuteness: Evan has stopped calling Caroline “Baby Sister” and started calling her “Stinky Pants”…which, oops, but when he yells “COME BACK STINKY PANTS!” across Target I can’t stop laughing long enough to breathe let alone feel bad about the nickname.)

ANDPLUSALSO I gave myself an at-home hair treatment – honey and olive oil, which sounds like a crazy mistake but actually did wash out and made my ends softer – and finally tried no heat curls (my hair says “MEH”) and I’m feeling pretty good about myself in general, despite eating too many ice cream sandwiches.

So now I’m wondering if I should call my doctor and ask to raise my Zoloft dose or just blame my sudden productivity on the domino effect of accomplishment – you know, where you get that happy buzz from seeing an empty kitchen sink so you decide to wipe down the cabinets and then the floors and then BAM you’re suddenly hoping the UPS guy shows up just so you can be proud of your super clean house when you open the door. I don’t think two days is long enough to definitely say my medication is why I’m doing so well but with everything else still as stressful as it was last week (E hasn’t seen the kids since Sunday because he’s working such long hours, rainy days, Evan is still three) I am desperate to keep it up. I LIKE being productive and happy. It’s definitely preferable to anxious, grumpy, shouty and tired.

WHAT SHOULD I DO, INTERNETS? Please come over to discuss, so I can show you my spotless kitchen counters.

p.s. Anyone still interested in a home tour link-up/blog hop/whatever? I should show off this place before it all goes to crap again.

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What’s In A Choice?

Tuesday, October 18th, 2011

Obviously, by now everyone has heard of Occupy Wall Street. The other day, a friend posted a link to this chart, which is a great summary of what OWS is about and why they feel that way.

I’m not going to talk about the movement itself, but I am interested in something my friend said in reference to the data in that chart: “…to say that more women {with children under the age of 18} work today because they have no choice and not because they like having a career in a society where it is acceptable and because discrimination has been drastically reduced is silly.”

And my immediate response was: Well yes. But also no. And definitely. But really not at all. Why do women work? Or more specifically, why do MOTHERS work?  Can there possibly be a more complicated question?

The stickiest part of my friend’s statement is “no choice”, isn’t it? On the one hand, yah for feminism and the opportunity to have careers outside the home that aren’t just placeholders until we can snag a husband! On the other hand, pretending your cashier at Target would rather be making $8 an hour ringing up your face cream and Funions instead of at home with her own kid is bullshit.

I know plenty of moms who love their jobs, love their work, love having adult conversations around the water cooler about The Real Housewives of Wherever but who would quit and stay home with their kids in a HEARTBEAT if they suddenly won the lottery and could never work another day in their life. I also know that if childcare was free and I could have any job I wanted in the whole world I would absolutely leave my kids to be raised by strangers (said in your best judgy voice) a few days a week while I trained dolphins at Sea World (hey, sometimes your dream at 6 years old is STILL YOUR DREAM).

But real life doesn’t give everyone those options. If you’re a single mom? You have no choice. In a lot of cities there is no way to support a family on one income. Sometimes your partner gets laid off. Or maybe their job doesn’t offer health insurance. Or maybe they’re in school pursuing their dream and you’re supporting them – so you have no choice but to work to put food on the table but it is BY choice that you have chosen that choice.

There are days where my choice to stay home doesn’t even feel like a choice. SOMEONE has to watch these kids and we can’t afford a nanny. I mean really, if I had my CHOICE I’d spend one day a week at the spa getting massages and drinking cocktails so I could be the super calm, zen-like mother I aspire to be.

I don’t think “why women work” is something that can be measured or put in a pie chart or even summed up in a sentence. There is no box on a questionnaire that says “all and also none of the above” so using it as part of a your political movement can be tricky. I think the only thing you could get everyone to agree to would be that in an ideal world all women could make the choice they WANTED to make and not the choice they had to make.

So, why do you/do you not work?

Here’s my answer – I always planned to be a stay-at-home-mom eventually. We are able to afford it right now. I became a military spouse right after college and never established a career I would have wanted to go back to post-kids and I haven’t found anything I can do from home (besides blogging, obviously, which doesn’t exactly lead to BUCKETS OF MONEY.) So I think it is about 80% by choice and 20% not by choice although that’s the least scientific percentage ever.

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Don’t Wanna

Tuesday, September 20th, 2011

Diagnose me, interwebs. I need you to tell me I’m normal. Or maybe just a quick kick in the ass and someone to drag me out of this giant hole of ennui and laziness I’ve fallen into. I don’t really feel like doing anything anymore. And I really mean anything. Getting dressed is boring. Going to Stroller Strides is too much work. Taking the kids to the grocery store is exhausting. Washing my hair is pointless. My diet plan sucks. Talking to people is hard. It’s too hot. It’s too cold. I don’t wanna and this couch is so comfortable and no one actually cares if I get off it.

As a stay at home mom, I have the option to just…stay home. And lately that sounds more and more appealing.

I can complain about being So Busy with the best of them – “Oh yes! I’m So Busy! I’m on a diet and exercise plan, plus I’m really into making soup from scratch these days. And the blog! People are counting on me to…write stuff!” – but really? Besides providing basic food stuffs and making sure the laundry piles don’t get too high (and you know, keeping two children alive) I have no mandatory activities. So when I’m exhausted and in bed at 9 pm it’s my own doing. I’m not busy. I MAKE myself busy to make myself feel more important.

(Insert paragraph about how raising human beings IS important! I am creating loving, kind, functional adults who might cure cancer or fly to Mars or invent calorie-free dark chocolate! Now insert massive eye roll because all I’m actually doing these days is wiping butts and filling sippy cups.)

Lately, when we’re on our way to somewhere I start fantasizing about how I could just NOT. I can seeeeeeee us, all NOT DOING THINGS, and we are are enjoying it. I can feel my desire to be still and quiet pulling on me, whispering in my ear that my kids are too young to even remember these places so why bother? For the blog pictures? That’s stupid.

I’ve given in to my laziness a few times over the last few weeks and it is kind of fantastic. Kid’s TV for the toddler, stretchy pants and a Diet Coke for me, grapes and a teether toy for Caroline and we can all do nothing until E gets home from work. But it makes me sort of nervous because there is a fine, well walked line between taking a few days off from regular life and becoming a shut in whose kids no longer know how to interact with the general public. How deep can I let my hole get?

Also, my desire not to do stuff has also started creeping into stuff that’s slightly less optional, like dinner and laundry. How about pizza for dinner? Why put these clothes away when they’re just going to get dirty? Who cares if the half of the house we don’t use is a mess? None of the other people who live here seem to. And then a teeny tiny thought that says Why don’t you just not get up with the baby? You can let your husband do it. You can just stay in bed. He would HAVE to deal with it eventually. It only takes a few seconds for me to shake it off, but the idea showing up in my head at all is like having your grandma show up in your sexy dream about George Clooney. That’s weird, Grandma. Go away.

I’m afraid it’s only going to get worse, since the colder weather means fewer places to go (mall, aquarium, children’s museum, mall, aquarium, lather rinse repeat) and bundling up two kids is about as much fun as bundling up two rabid badgers. And when it’s snowing, staying home is allowed – encouraged, even! – so the people I see on a regular basis won’t even start to wonder where I am. Which might be nice for a while, since I can’t seem to hold a normal conversation without talking about my toddler’s potty training efforts or my baby’s habit of biting my nipples and NOBODY wants that mom at their party.

The irony of all these words is that I didn’t explain myself very well, but because I am so filled with ennui I can’t be bothered to explain any better, which might actually be the perfect example of what I meant in the first place.

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