“Poor, but happy”

Since I have virtually no readership, this post is unlikely to draw the wrath of any Stay-at-home moms (SAHMs). However, if I actually had a platform, rotten tomatoes might be lobbed at my head. I have lots of friends and even some relatives who are SAHMs. My daughter used to spend 2 days per week with a wonderful SAHM who treated my Baby Girl as her own. Heck, I was raised by a very good SAHM. I have nothing against them. If truth be told, I am a little jealous. Not because it is an easy job–my 6 weeks of maternity leave demonstrated that quite well–but because it is a rewarding job. Motherhood can be very fulfilling. So, this isn’t a tirade against SAHMs. Nope, it’s a different tirade altogether. It’s about whiney/judge-y SAHMs.

I see Facebook posts all the time from SAHMs who say cliche things like “We are poor, but happy!” or “I don’t know how a mother can stand to work and be away from her children!” “Couldn’t imagine being anything but a stay-at-home mommy with my angels. So Blessed!!!” (Side Note: Such messages always say “mommy” not “mom.”) (another side note: Most of the ones I know are college educated SAHMs) So, after reading this “poor, but happy” and “blessed” posts, I am of course, annoyed. But, I have also noticed that these same “friends” or “friends of friends” are active posters. So, I usually just wait, because inevitably these sappy/judgmental/humble-brag posts are always followed with ones along these lines: griping and moaning about outgrowing their car, the tires of the minivan needing replaced, the water heater exploding, not having enough money to go on vacation, and on and on the list goes. I get it, s**t happens and we like to whine about it on Facebook. BUT, don’t say you are “poor, but happy” or make judgey statements about other moms who are not happy being poor or who choose to work because they probably would go insane if they were home all day every day with their “angels.”

Being a mom is tough. Being a SAHM is tough–little social life, tight income, difficulty having an identity apart from your children. It’s a sacrifice to choose to stay at home. However, some moms, choose to keep on with their careers. That choice is a complicated one too. As a working mom there are tough things–not enough time to enjoy your children, not being their for certain milestones, endless list of home chores combined with an endless list of work tasks, watching your child’s face light up as much or more when they see their babysitter than they do when they see you. I work because I enjoy it (most days) and because I do NOT like being poor. I would imagine if we could maintain our current lifestyle with me being a SAHM, I might make that choice. Maybe. It’s complicated.

All I am saying is, I am NOT going to feel sorry for you when you whine about your husband working 60+ hours a week and never being home. I am NOT going to feel sorry for you when you cannot afford to replace your 10 year old minivan. I am NOT going to feel sorry for you when you cannot afford to go a vacation and you make snarky comments on all of my vacation photos. Choosing to stay at home or have a career is a deeply personal choice. If you are poor, but happy. Good for you! You are a better, less materialistic person than me.

But, I’m not going to make donations to your new minivan fund.

Who I Wish I Were

Most days I wish to be a better version of myself than I am. This carries over into every aspect of my life. I wish I were a person who worked out as a habit. I’m not. I wish I were the “fun parent” in our house. I’m not. I wish I were an employee who was a model of productivity. I’m not. A few months ago was inspired to try to David Allen’s “Getting Things Done.” But, I found that I was entirely to busy to actually read the book. It is now sitting in my right-hand, top desk drawer, all bright, shiny, and new. I’d sell it on eBay, except that takes time.

When life gets busy and hectic, the thing that suffers most is my health and time with my husband and daughter. I really don’t think work is more important in theory, but in reality, I make it more important. I want to grow my practice and improve my skills, but I do not want to do it at the expense of my personal relationships. I got the news this week that the daughter of some of our friends was diagnosed with an extremely rare genetic condition. She was born one week before Baby Girl and they now have gotten the news that she most likely will never make it to her teenage years.

Things like that put life into perspective. Work is important, but health and family are more important. I decided this week (Monday to be exact) that instead of wishing I were more fit and healthier, that I have to MAKE IT HAPPEN. Let’s face it, I ain’t get any younger. The best years of my metabolism are gone. I need to take care of my health and I have to be the one who does it. Also, I am the one who determines what my relationship with Baby Girl ultimately becomes. So, I have resolved to make sure that I have time to play with Baby Girl every evening.

Since Monday, I have eaten healthier, but I still have to find the time to squeeze in some exercise. Play time, that has happened. Baby girl and I giggled and tickled and read books last night. I can do this. I can take my life from wishes to reality. As I always say, even if you don’t win every battle, keep fighting the war!

Bored House Husband

The title is a little tongue-in-cheek, because Henry actually has a full-time job. He is a nurse and works three 12-hour shifts per week.  On his two days off, he stays home with our infant daughter.  He is a very good father.  Very attentive and playful.  She lights up when he talks to her and she giggles when he plays with her.  I’m so thankful for how much he loves her and how he does not mind spending time with her.  Now the big “But.” 

What the Heck Does He Do All Day?

I know, I know, that is the phrase that stay-at-home moms everywhere despise. I, too, think that usually when someone says this to SAHMs, it is in a hateful, accusing way.  And, well, I guess I am sort of doing that too with this post. But seriously.  Our daugther is not even 5 months old.  She takes 2-3 naps a day.  I mean, she is asleep at least 3 of the 9 hours he is home with her, yet when I come home from a 9-hour day, the house is a wreck.  Like, not a dish has been put in the dishwasher, the dog is out of food, the floors need vacuuming, the bathroom looks like a teenage boy lives with us, the bed is unmade, and I could go on. 

I KNOW kids are busy.  I was home with Baby Girl for 6 weeks full-time and 2 weeks part-time after she was born.  I have been home sick with her 2 times.  Kids are freakin’ time-suckers.  However, I still got something done during the day every day that I was home with her.  It’s not like some SAHMs that have a baby and a couple of toddlers.  We have one kid.  She naps.  It takes like 15 minutes to load the dishwasher. It bugs the poop out of me that he can’t fold laundry while Baby Girl plays on her play mat, or in her bouncy seat, or swings, or jumps in her jumpy thing. I nagged him about it for the first few weeks, but it always just caused hurt feelings. He would apologize, then it would happen again.  It’s so not worth the mental energy.  So, now, I just grit my teeth, hide my feelings, and do what I can when I get home. 

Henry and I are so in-sync with so many things, but cleaning is not one of them. If I leave him a list, he tries harder, but I feel like I’m mothering him.  I want us to be partners, not me bossing him. I feel like our household has really have not gotten so far away from the 1950’s.  I work 45-50 hours per week and still come home and do laundry, cook, clean, pay all the bills, etc.  Henry works 36-42 hours per week, takes care of the yard work, cuts wood (in the winter only), and is a stay-at-home-dad 2 days per week. He feels like the load is evenly shared because most of the time, if I start a task, he will assist or at least offer to help.  However, for the most part,  I do all of the cooking, cleaning, and laundry.  These are every day tasks.  Yard work is like 2x per month.  Additionally, Baby Girl is pretty much my sole responsibility on the weekends while he hunts or fishes. (we watch football together, so I can’t say he is lazy and sits around watching football while I do housework.)

I’m making him sound like a jerk, and he really is not.  When I have addressed these things in the recent past, he always apologizes and says he will try harder.  When I come home from work, he gets in the kitchen with me and helps me cook, load the dishwasher, fold the laundry, etc.  It just seems he CANNOT do these tasks alone. So, I end up working from dawn until bed time.  I still don’t know what he does during the day. I can’t understand it, so I judge and rant. 🙂

Babies Aren’t What They Used to Be

I’ve been thinking about children a lot lately.  Probably because I have a 4 month old and she requires lots and lots of time and attention.  🙂 My life has changed very drastically since she was born, so obviously, I think about kids a lot.  Erica over at Newlyweds on a Budget recently posted about babies.  The discussion that ensued in the comments was very fascinating to me.  Also, HS over at Our Debt Blog posted a somewhat humorous view of staying home with a baby.  Although HS is notorious for writing from a tongue-in-cheek perspective (many of his readers call him selfish), his observations of being home with an infant were fairly accurate.

More Modern Couples Question Whether they Even Want to be Parents

My parents’ generation did not really question whether they would or would not have children.  If you got married, you had kids.  Unless you couldn’t and then you wanted to have kids.  It is rare to meet a married person in their 50’s or 60’s who did not produce one or more offspring.  However, this line of thinking has changed drastically.  Maybe it goes hand-in-hand with people getting married at older ages so they are smarter about their procreation choices.

I do not feel that there is a right or a wrong view on whether or not a person/couple should have children.  For me and my husband, it was right.  However, 5 years ago, I would have told you I wasn’t sure if I even wanted to have kids.  As a teenager, I would have emphatically said “no way” to kids.  But then, as a teenager, I never wanted to get married and I certainly did not stay single.

Having kids is both a sacrifice and a gift.  It’s hard to describe.  There are many days I want to just go home and crash, veg out, do nothing.  With a kid, that’s impossible.  There is always SOMETHING to do.  Yet, I love Baby Girl with all my heart and it makes me horribly sad when I have to be away for longer than expected.  I love making her smile and I love spending time with her.  However, I realize the sacrifices of having children.  It is still very fresh on my mind what life was like before children.  I had so much more free time.  I don’t think I fully appreciated how much free time I had.  To all of you out there who are planning to have children, enjoy that free time.  If you want to go to a local park and read a book–do it!  If you want to go to a local museum that just opened up–do it!  It’s not as much fun with an infant, trust me. 🙂

Do We Celebrate our Offspring More Today?

Another aspect that amuses me about modern couples and their kids is that they (we?) tend to celebrate our kids a great deal.  There are are endless expenses that our parents certainly did not indulge in.  For instance, my daughter had her first photo shoot at 9 days old.  Yep, a photo shoot.  Changes of outfits, different poses, different props.  Then again at 3 months, she had another.  I will tell you, she has more photo sessions scheduled for 6 months, 9 months, and 12 months.  When I visit my parents’ house, I am lucky to find a few, faded snapshots of myself as a baby.  I think my first professional photo was taken around 9 months, and it included my 2 older brothers. 

If you want to see celebrations of kids taken to the extreme, you have to look no further than celebrities.  Jay-Z and Beyonce’s baby Blue comes to mind.  I can remember a time when Hollywood’s couples didn’t have children or waited until they were 40+ because having children wasn’t looked upon as a blessing.  Now, one of the hottest couples alive (in my personal opinion) has SIX children

There’s really no point to this article, it’s just an observation of mine.  It seems like having kids has just changed in some hard-to-desribe way.  Maybe the change is really in my perspective.  What do you think?

Life Lately

Life is good right now.  Not like vacation-on-the-beach-in-Tahiti good, but good.  I have found new arrangements for Baby Girl that are making my life a lot easier.  Today she started her first day in the “new place.”  I found a stay at home mom of a 10-month old girl that lives 8 min. from my office.  I feel like the stars have aligned. haha!  Now I may even have time to exercise again.  Yay!  Can’t lose the mommy tummy if I’m not hitting the gym, and Lord knows I have not been for the past 3 weeks.  Ugh.

Anyway, football season has also started.  I love me some football.  Especially college ball.  Henry and I are avid fans and dutiful tailgaters, so Fall is a fun season for us.  He is also a big deer hunter, so he LOVES Fall.  That’s about all that has been happening in our neck of the woods.

Link

This past weekend, my sister-in-law and I got together to “batch cook.”  We had been talking about it for a month, and we finally decided to do it.  I’ve read on so many blogs, namely on The Simple Dollar about cooking large quantities and freezing them in smaller containers for later consumption.   Some people call it “once a month cooking” or batch cooking. 

This seemed like the perfect idea for a busy family who is trying to eat healthy and not spend so much money eating out.  My SIL and I were not willing to tackle an entire month on our first go-round.  Instead, we settled for two weeks of prepared and frozen meals.  We made 9 dishes.  It’s just her and my brother at their house and just Henry and myself eating “real” food at our house, so 9 meals is about 2 weeks worth of meals once you count leftovers for lunch and the one or two meals Henry and I usually eat out.

The surprising thing to me about the whole process was, it was not as exhausting as I thought it would be.  Maybe it was because we were working as a team, or maybe it was because we had an awesome 90’s music station blaring on iHeart radio. 🙂  Either way, it was pretty fun.  I realize that if we keep doing this every 2 weeks, it may get less fun as we go.  However, right now, I am enjoying not cooking again for 2 weeks.  I feel so super woman-ish having food all ready to go in my freezer.  I think it’s a new form of empowerment for a modern woman to be able to take care of work, children, AND dinner.  haha!

Another benefit of this system, all of the supplies to make these 9 meals (18 total with SIL’s share) was just a little over $100.  So, two families, 2 weeks of meals, about $115.  Not too shabby.

Idiot Tax

Today I did something that is going to cost me what I like to call “idiot tax.”  An amount of money I’m paying because of an idiotic thing I did.

Right now, I’m driving my husbands large Ford F150 truck, not my little Honda Accord.  He works 30 min. from our house, I work 10, so he drives my car to save gas.  Anyway, I was coming back to work from a meeting and all the parking spaces were full except for one, very narrow spot.  I managed to squeeze Big Bertha into the spot and still leave a modest amount of room for the Tahoe driver next to me to get in and out. 

Bad Driving Hurts

Not 30 seconds after I pulled in, the little car to my left pulled out.  They had been hogging the line of their spot and now there was ample room.  I decided to back out and move over a little to give the Tahoe more room.  As I back out, I’m looking everywhere except where I should have been looking.  I hear the sound of plastic cracking and slammed on my brakes.  I had hit the Tahoe with my right mirror.  The mirrors are designed to fold INWARD, but I had managed to fold it halfway back.  Thankfully, I didn’t knock the mirror off of the much nicer Tahoe, but I did leave a quarter-sized dent and removed a noticeable paint chip.

Upon further inspection, I realized this brand spankin’ new Tahoe belongs to one of our assistants at work.  She’s a good, hardworking person, and is a friend of mine.  No way in heck I”m not going to confess and offer to fix it.  Rather than involve insurance, she’s going to get an estimate and we will pay her cash. 

That will be $200-$500 that could have gone to pay off student loans.  But nope, I had to be an idiot and not watch where I was going.  It makes me so angry at myself.  The only bright side–I did not damage Henry’s truck at all.  The mirror easily folded back to the original position and doesn’t seem to be worse for the wear.

The really, really bad thing is……………this is not the first time I’ve damaged Henry’s truck.  He used to have a Nissan and I crushed the driver’s side fender on a concrete pillar in a parking garage.  That happened when we had only been married about 6 months.  He may not be in such a forgiving mood after 7 years of marriage.  Fingers crossed.