I was BRUTALLY honest about my fears and reservations with being a "Failing Mom" a few weeks ago. As it turns out, I am not alone. You can read ALLLLL about that here.
After the GREAT response I got from TONS of readers (you guys are freaking AMAZING), I decided that every friday, I am going to ask a guest Momma to get her honesty on and help other moms connect and share. I have a feeling this is going to be therapeutic and eye opening for a lot of people.
The goal is for everyone to know that they aren't alone, have some laughs, and share their own stories/get feedback. If you are a parent, you'll relate to this. If you don't have kids yet (or maybe just furry babies) you can laugh, cry, or use this as a tool to help you decide what you want to do with your kids if you decide to have them.
I am asking people to fill out a questionnaire and send it back to me. It can be COMPLETELY anonymous or you can let people know who you are. Let me know if you are interested in being a guest blogger!! You can email me or message me on facebook. Some of you have already been contacted...
(drum roll please)
FIRST UP!! My lovely friend Katie. She has 2 kiddos under that are 15 months apart. She is hilarious and wonderful and amazing. She writes Way off Base. It's hilarious.
Are you a home engineer (SAHM) or do you work?
I prefer the fancier sounding, Domestic Engineer, but yes my job is to stay home with the kiddos
Why is that the best choice for your family?
Lots of reasons. I had working parents when all my friends growing up had SAHMs and I felt like I missed out on a lot because my parents weren't there. So I always said if my family could afford it, I'd like to stay at home. Then as the specifics of my future and family played out, it's really a necessity. My husband works shifts in the Air Force putting him gone strange hours, and my career field of choice is Theatre Management, which also lends itself to a lot of nights & weekends. Even if I could find a job I love, it's not really standard day care hours. This assignment is probably the last perfect one to purse my MFA (Masters of Fine Arts), given the abundance of shows in Sin City, so we've been discussing hiring a nanny so I can go back to school.
What is your favorite thing to do with your kiddo(s)?
Tough to answer this when we're all getting over sickness & the holiday craziness, haha. My kids are both young (2 under 2 because I swear I'm part rabbit) so there's still not much to do that sounds super fun; we don't have crafts time or they're not yet helping me bake cookies. But, I think my favorite thing is reading or doing learning activities that don't feel like learning. Looking at pictures of animals and having my 18-month old tell me what sounds they make puts me in a really happy mood.
What do you love about it? What do you hate about it? (being at home or working)
I love that I'm home for everything. Kids are hilarious and adorable. There are so many moments throughout the day that make me laugh or feel really lucky that I was around to see it. And they're not big moments, because half the time I don't even remember to relay them to my husband. It's stupid stuff like the first time my daughter threw all her foam letters in the air, put her hands to her cheeks and exclaimed, "oh no!" Those aren't the moments you catch on camera, or put in holiday newsletters. But I'm glad I'm the one who gets to watch it.
I hate that I'm home for everything. Kids are whiny, needy little creatures. They don't have intelligent discussions. They can't even wipe their own asses. There are lots of days when I wish I were leaving to have adult interactions. That someone would say to me, "Could you please bring me that?" instead of "Mommy. Mommy. Mommy. MOMMY! Milk." Plus, I feel a lot of pressure being their only influence and teacher. If they're not prepared for school, well it's on me because it's not like I can say 'oh well the nanny didn't read to them enough' or something. It mostly kills me see how big they get so fast, but there is a part of me relieved for school time so I can finally be not solely responsible for their knowledge & upbringing.
If you are a stay at home mom, what do you do for "you" time? What do you do to recharge (since really, you work full time)? How do you get adult time?
I'm good at recognizing that dishes can wait and laundry doesn't need to be folded immediately when the buzzer goes off. If I get a rare moment when their naps line up, I generally don't feel guilty about sitting down with my TiVo or a book. I'm also pretty good about telling my husband what's what when he's at home. It's taken a couple discussions to hit the point home that yes when he comes home from work he wants a chance to recharge, but so do I. When he has a particularly bad day at work he gets to leave his job. I don't have that luxury, so sometimes he needs to come home and take over for a while. For the most part we split duties until they go to bed and then we take our time however we need it - often it's together, but sometimes it's just going to do our own things.
One thing we're not good at here is date nights. We need to get a regular sitter or two so we can see movies and eat at restaurants without a kids menu. Attention Vegas area teens - as long as you can drive yourself here & home we pay really well! :)
Are you worried (in any way) that your choice (no matter what it is) might affect your child? In what way? Lay out your fears...
Absolutely. I think that there's a worry section of your brain that goes into hyperdrive when you have a child. Maybe it's just me. I've touched on some of these issues in my earlier answers, but I'll try and bullet point everything in my mind right now:
I worry that they won't be socially well-adjusted because they see me & each other 90% of the time. A childcare environment could give them daily social interaction.
I worry that my daughter will grow up to lose respect for me not having a career or grow up thinking that she can't do whatever she wants because she didn't have a role model in that aspect.
I worry that I'm not giving them everything they need. That I'm not smart enough or creative enough or dedicated enough to be mother, disciplinarian, and teacher.
But I would be having just as much worry if I did the opposite. I have anxiety issues, and have had them since long before I had kids, so it's not new territory, just different material my brain uses to torture me. I think all parents live in some constant state of worry, even if it's barely there, because you made a person. You want that person to be a happy, healthy member of society. And there are about a billion choices along the way that you have to make - rolling the dice and hoping you're doing it right.
If you could have a day away from your kids, where you could do anything, what would it be and where would you go?
Is this like magic, don't think about travel considerations or cost? Because I need a beach. A fancy resort where sexy, shirtless pool boys make sure my glass is never empty and I lay in a floating bed in a cabana reading & listening to the sounds of the ocean. And probably spend a few hours in the resort spa getting massages and other such pampering.
What is the most embarrassing thing you have ever done as a mom/what have your kids done to embarrass you?
My life is an embarrassment. I kid, I kid. I'm not sure what I've done as a mom. I'm sure there's tons stuff I just can't think of it. I generally shake it off and forget things unless they are truly mortifying. I have a story from 6th grade that I can't get out of my brain no matter how hard I try. With children my public attitude is kind of like 'well this is parenting, they're going to be crazy and I'm going to be crazy because of it'. Same goes for them embarrassing me. The only time I'm embarrassed is when my toddler is throwing tantrums in public. You never know who is going to side with your ignore it philosophy or who's judging you.
I guess there was the time in New Mexico when she was biting, and she bit Avery. We weren't really friends yet, just the only playdate option and I was afraid you'd be really mad or tell everyone I was a horrible mom.
What does your husband/family do to support you? What do you wish he would do (wish upon a star my dears...it can be anything)?
My husband is a pretty good support. He's not a good as I'd like him to be, of course, haha. It takes a lot of asking/reminders to get him to pitch in sometimes. Which I hate because then I feel like the cliche naggy wife, but he's usually awesome at doing it once he's asked. No arguments, no big sighs, no "fine"s. Just "sure, baby". And he's great at stepping up when I'm sick or am really really obviously at my breaking point. So even though he's good, I wish that he'd just think a few steps ahead and do things before I have to ask him. He always notices & appreciates when I do it for him, but he just can't get himself to think that way I guess.
I also wish he would invent something so we can be super rich and I can get weekly massages or hire a cleaning service for all the floors, countertops, appliances, etc. I've been asking him to for years, but it just doesn't seem like a priority ;).
As far as family goes, I wish they were here more often. I know that's not fair because they all have jobs and lives and we can't go visit them very often so why should I expect them to come here? It's not their fault, but I wish we saw them more. I wish we were like a lot of our friends from college/high school who drop their kid(s) off at the grandparents for a weekend every now and then and just be. What I would give for a pants-free, sleep-full weekend in my own home.
In regards to the stay at home mom vs. working mom debate, why do you think there is so much controversy? Be brutally honest.
I think it's mostly because of insecurity. It is a difficult and very personal choice. And everyone wants to feel that they're doing the right thing. Instead of supporting each other, though, I think we tear each other down to feel better about our own choices. So stereotypes get made about lazy women who live off their husbands and stay at home eating bonbons (I really really HATE the bonbon comments) while they plop their kids in front of the TV. Harsh words are said about working women not caring enough to be there for their kids when they most need it.
I think it's wrestling with a history of patriarchy and the feminist fight for us to "have it all". But we can't. We are mothers who want perfection for our families and human beings, who fail at it. We want to be a successful, independent, powerful role model AND we want to be the classroom mom who goes to the park and makes all the cupcakes and never ever misses a moment. But unless you're mainlining Adderall that's not going to happen.
Thanks for letting me be a part of your guest blogger mommy-interviews. I hope your readers enjoyed my responses. I tried to be real, truthful & a little funny. If you're a parent who wants to give your take on this questions, leave a comment. I'm sure Natalie would love to have you :).