SAHM

I Say “Forget it” But I Really Mean . . . Five Minute Friday

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Photo Credit: threephin via Compfight cc

“Oh, forget it!” I say. But what I really mean is “I can’t muster the energy to repeat myself again.”

“Never mind.” I grumble. But I really want to say “It isn’t fair that I have to do all of this work on my own. Listen for once and come help me.”

“It doesn’t matter.” But it does matter.

Deep in the trenches of the crazy season of an active almost four year old (how can he be almost four already?), a sassy, six year old and a five month old who’s needs are changing daily; it’s easy to feel alone.

Because the buck always stops with mommy. Yes, I have a loving and supportive husband who is an involved dad. But he is only here a few hours a day. I am the default parent. The twenty-four hour kin keeper.

Sometimes it takes too much energy to repeat myself again and I just give up trying to communicate. When no one else (by which I mean my children) can be motivated (through encouragement, cooperation or punishment) to help with the daily tasks needed to keep the house going, it falls on me.

I am neither happy homemaker nor bitter martyr, at least not yet. I’d rather toward being the former than the latter. Because, yes, I want to train them up so they can care for themselves and their households one day. But other times I don’t want to referee one more fight over whose turn it is to use the toilet brush or threaten removal of privileges just to get clothes put away and toys picked up.

I say forget it, but what I really mean is “Remember me? I don’t need a parade or a medal, I’d at least like appreciation and respect, or perhaps a little cooperation. I know I’m not owed it, but it would certainly help make these long days a bit easier.”

 

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Categories: Five Minute Friday, Parenting, SAHM, Stay at Home Mothering, Uncategorized, Writing | Tags: , , , , | 3 Comments

No Mom Alone: Five Minute Friday

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Photo Credit: Arsh_86 via Compfight cc

For a long time I thought I was the only one. The only one who lived for nap and bedtime. The only one who cringed at the pounding sound of little feet running through the house and the inevitable crashes that followed. I would look at them at as they slept at night and wonder how children so beautiful could produce such anger, frustration and resentment during their waking hours.

Now child three is on the way. Another boy, and likely, I fear, to be as wild and crazy as his older brother. As I share my body daily with this little one, I long for the occasional moment of solitude. Because the truth is I haven’t been alone for the last eight months, (though I’ve probably only been aware of that fact for the last three or four).  After this little one joins the world, he’ll be attached to be almost as often as when he was in utero so I can’t anticipate too much time alone, except for the occasional shower.

But since my first child, I’ve discovered the truth. I am not the only one. Lots of moms feel the way I do and we are not bad moms. We can debate how the pioneer women survived or why moms in the fifties seemed to have it all together. (Personally, I think it was a combination of cocktails and sending kids out to play all day long from the time they could walk). We can only figure out how to help each other now, in the world we live in. Whether it means encouraging healthy use and attitude toward social media (especially Pinterest and Facebook) or looking for ways to get each other out of the house without the kids whenever possible. Rejecting comparison in favorite of connection. We don’t have to do this alone.

 

I want to take this moment to encourage you to find a support group of moms near you. If you haven’t heard of MOPS, check it out and see if there is a chapter near you. I’ve been involved with my local MOPS group for six years, from the time my daughter was three months old. I’ve been a leader at times and right now I’m just an attendee. But the group has been a source of support for me in my years as a mom and I can’t imagine continuing on without it and the relationships I’ve built through it. 

Want to join us? Find out more here.

 

Categories: Family, Five Minute Friday, Parenting, Pregnancy, SAHM, Stay at Home Mothering, Writing | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment

Accepting the Season

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Photo Credit: “Matthew” via Compfight cc

After the last year of feeling like I was finally getting a handle on life again, my husband and I decided to have another baby. When we made that decision, I knew I’d be giving up a lot of what I had done to build a life for myself, in addition to my primary role as mom and wife. I’d worked hard to build my blog, even building a small affiliate income that had become a semi-necessary stop-gap against unexpected expenses in a stretched tight budget. I was finally finding a rhythm in homeschooling my daughter and we had even joined a homeschool co-op. When we found out we were pregnant, I was ecstatic and then the morning sickness hit.

Strike that, it came like a tsunami and tore up my life and expectations. This is my fourth pregnancy and I thought I knew what to expect. Yes, I’d be tired. I would need to make sure I got plenty of rest. Eat every few hours to avoid nausea, balance my proteins and carbs to help prevent another round of gestational diabetes. But that wasn’t what happened. After spotting, bleeding and an emergency ultrasound, baby was Ok, but I most definitely was not. I squeaked through my last week or two of free -lancing for my old job, including two very long days putting our biggest event of the year together and then I collapsed, both physically and emotionally. I was so sick I could barely eat. I rarely showered or got out of my pajamas. My kids made due with cold cereal, PBJ and fruit. I lived on goldfish crackers and after a while, not even those. After two weeks, and a positive ultrasound, I decided I needed help, so my doctor prescribed medication. I felt defeated, but I was desperate. At least now I could eat, though I was still living primarily on Ensure and pretzels, but at least I was eating a regular meal or two each day.

All my grand goals of a fit pregnancy where I would be active, eat healthy and continue to move along at my usual rate, was gone. Right now I just want to survive the first trimester and hope for an easing of symptoms in the second. I want to get back onto a more diabetes friendly diet (all the sugar in those Ensures makes me cringe every time) but I also know that EATING period is my priority right now. I’ll have to deal with the rest later.

It’s been very hard to set aside ongoing projects. My blog has been quiet with me not even having enough energy to type most of the time. My thoughts come in hazy bursts between exhaustion and nausea.

But this is the season I’m in. It won’t last forever. Lamenting it and blaming myself doesn’t make it any easier to cope. I have no control over how my body is handling the rush of hormones this time around (or the fact that I was in maternity clothes at 10 weeks because none of my normal pants would close). This is just where I’m at and I need to accept it. It does not make me weak or a failure. Accepting that has actually made all of this easier. Yes, the guilt is still there. When my overworked husband comes home exhausted and then makes dinner, cleans up the house and puts in the kids to bed. When my kids watch more TV in a week than they usually do in a month. But I just keep telling myself, this will pass.

Categories: Parenting, SAHM, Self-Care | Tags: , , | 1 Comment

Going from SAHM to WAHM: How I Accidentally Became a Work At Home Mom

I accidentally became a Work at Home Mom. No, you didn’t misread that. When I left my job as an administrative assistant for a small non-profit two years ago just weeks before the birth of my daughter I really thought I was walking away forever. That fall the assistant they hired to replace me quit, so they asked me to help out for a few days. Then I came to help with the biggest event of the year in January. That spring they were without a full time assistant again and asked if I would consider coming back to work part-time. My daughter was still not weaned and my husband didn’t really like the idea of me going back to work. To be honest, I didn’t either. But I still felt some sense of loyalty to the organization and the extra money would have been nice. But after talking and praying about it, I said no. I returned again last January to help out with the big event, satisfied that my involvement would be limited to once or twice a year. Then this past March I received a phone call. Would I come back to work just two days a week? I said no again. A few weeks later my boss offered me a compromise. Would I work from home and come into the office only as needed during major events until they could hire a new assistant? This was something I was willing to consider.

I will admit it felt kind of good to know that I was valued. I never thought the job was all that challenging, but three other assistants had quit or been fired in two years time. I worked from home for two months and while I enjoyed the extra money, I also found it hard to balance the part-time work with the full time plus job of being a wife, mother and household manager. I always thought working from home would be easy. It isn’t. At the end of May I helped produce a large event for a local business leader and supporter of our non-profit. After the event ended my boss asked if I would continue to work from home indefinitely. “When you decide you can’t or don’t want to do it anymore, let me know and I’ll hire someone,” she said. I wasn’t surprised, but I was a little unnerved. This would mean I was officially a working mom. Yes, I’d be working from home and mostly setting my own hours, but it would still mean one more thing to manage. Deadlines would have to take priority over household tasks as well as my own projects, my novel included.

So far it’s been doable. My mother has graciously watched my daughter on the few occasions where I needed to be in the office or coordinate an event. I’ve been able to make a couple of small extra student loan payments on my husband’s sizeable student loan debt and set aside money for future car repairs and Christmas presents. I don’t know how long it will last, but for the time being I have to stop referring to myself as a Stay at Home Mom.

How do those of you who work outside the home or from home manage to get it all done? Any organization tips?

Categories: Finance, SAHM, Stay at home mom, Stay at Home Mothering | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment

Being a Stay-At-Home Parent is a Huge Sacrifice and I Did It Anyway

I recently read two articles that address the long term financial difficulties of being a stay at home parent. Katy Read’s Regrets of a Stay-at-Home Mom presents the view of a now divorced single mother without a full time job, lamenting her choice to stay home and/or work part time 14 years ago. She blames herself, society and pressure from family members for a choice that she now says has crippled her career and financial future, possibly permanently. Jonathan Liu of Geek Dad responded with his own take in Stay-at-Home Parenting Backlash: “Opting In” or “Opting Out?”.

This is a loaded issue for many parents, particularly women. But I think what it emphasizes most is that how you raise your children is not a decision to take lightly but it is still YOUR decision. I tend to lean more towards Geek Dad’s opinion that parenting is a huge sacrifice and only the seriously naïve and deceived among us fail to acknowledge that going in to it. We know it could theoretically cost us millions of dollars (assuming we have the kinds of jobs that would net those high wages anyway). But we are willing to lay all of that down for the sake of our children.

There is nothing wrong with continuing in your career path and sending your kids to daycare, if that is what you really want. I never sought to be a big time career woman. I went to college because I love to learn and I recognized the importance of a college education in both future job possibilities and becoming a well-rounded human being. But I didn’t go into deep debt to do it. I studied English not because I thought it would net me a high paying salary but because I love to read and write and I couldn’t imagine doing anything else. I knew that if I wasn’t willing to work in a major city and work the tough novice reporter hours I wasn’t going to climb the ladder. So I opted to work low paying jobs, many of them not in my field, in favor of supporting my husband while he went back to school. I could have commuted 2 hours of Philadelphia or 3 hours to New York City, but my quality of life mattered more to me. My work was just my work, it wasn’t my life. I always knew that if we were blessed with children, I would be a stay-at-home mom, if at all possible.

I left my best paying job to date to stay at home with my daughter after she was born. I actually had the opportunity to return to my old job part time when she was about 9 months old and I turned it down. Part of me regrets that now, not because I really wanted to go back to work outside the home, but because of the financial aspect. It would be nice to use my extra income to pay off my husband’s student loans. I’m still considering this a possible option, but my husband is very much against it. He thinks that the benefits of having a parent at home full-time far outweigh the financial sacrifices. For the most part, I agree with him. The only way we even could afford for me to work part-time outside the home is if my mother watched my daughter for free, because day care would wipe out any money I was making anyway. If it was necessary for survival we would do this, but I don’t want to burden my mother unnecessarily.

For some families a balance can be found, with one parent working from home some or all of the time. In other cases both parents working full time and full time daycare are the only option or the preferred option. But any decision needs to be made knowledgeably and consciously.

I wish I was still bringing home a regular paycheck, but I made a conscious sacrifice, one that I hope I don’t look back on in 14 years and regret. As a child of a stay-at-home mom, I have no regrets that my mom was at home with me and my sister. My dad had a good job, so we were lucky, but at the same time we didn’t drive new cars, have cell phones, or go to Disney World. My parents made very careful choices with their money so that we could have everything we needed, some of the things we wanted and still have my mom at home with us. I don’t regret the missed vacations, name brand clothes or expensive toys and gadgets. I will be forever grateful that my mom was there whenever I needed her. I only hope I can do the same for my children.

Categories: budget, Finance, Parenting, SAHM, Stay at home mom, Stay at Home Mothering | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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