Friday, January 11, 2013

SAHM #3 - The Mommy Chronicles

Okay chickadees...

If you haven't been keeping up, it's friday!!! So here we are with another momma. I want to be clear, that this is not just limited to moms and I have some daddys lined up too :)

Here is how all this started.

Here is Momma #1

Here is Momma #2

And here were are with Momma #3...

It is my ABSOLUTE pleasure to introduce you to one of my sorority sisters. It's funny how you just connect with people or someone says the EXACT right thing at the time you need to hear it. She is that girl.

She writes beautifully. She chose to ignore the interview questions, which are used as a guide if you are struggling with something to say, but she just decided to sit down and write as she felt led. She wrote about her difficulty getting pregnant, being a new mom, and ultimately quitting her job, even though she reaaaaaallllly didn't want to. Her story is so beautiful and really shows the struggle of being a mom and even when it's awful, it's so wonderful.

Her story rang home for me and I think that MANY of you will really relate to this girl. She is amazing :)

As a side note, I haven't had anyone who is a working momma respond yet. If you want to share or you have a friend/sister/neighbor/stranger (I kid...sort of) that you think might have great story, shoot them my email address:

Okay lovelies, I leave you with this courageous momma:

I have always known that I wanted to be a mom but I have never felt sure that motherhood would be something that came easily to me. My sister was a natural mother, she babysat as soon as she could and cared for every child who crossed her path. Me? Not so much. Kids have always driven me crazy, even the ones I love. The thought of holding a newborn baby in my arms terrified me. Seeing a kid throwing a tantrum over fruit roll ups in the grocery store gave me heart palpitations. But then I would watch my niece climb into my sister’s lap and snuggle against her chest and I would know, deep in my soul, that I wanted that in my life too.

My husband, Joe, and I decided we were ready to start a family about three years ago and we were lucky enough to conceive pretty quickly. We were so excited that we shared our news with our families almost immediately and at 8 weeks we told the world. When I went in for my 12 week check up three days before Christmas my doctor couldn’t find a heartbeat and an ultrasound confirmed our fears. It is hard for me to imagine many things worse than feeling like your body failed you, as though your body were truly built for this one job and it couldn’t do it. And not only did my body fail but the promise of new life was gone. The future I had begun to imagine... gone dark. I clung to the hope that we would be able to have our healthy baby and a few months later we were pregnant again.

My son was born almost exactly a year after we lost our first baby. He was my miracle. I spent the 9 months I was pregnant with him torn between absolute elation and paralyzing fear that I would not be a mother good enough for this perfection. The day I went into labor I was terrified that he would arrive and I wouldn’t adore him the way I expected to, that I wouldn’t immediately connect to him. But then the nurse put him in my arms and everything else fell away.

Joe and I decided that I would stay home with the baby (T) mostly because it didn’t really make sense financially for me to work. I was working as an administrator during my pregnancy and paying for daycare would have eaten half my salary. Beyond that, it wasn’t a job I loved (or even really cared about at all) and I couldn’t imagine paying someone else to snuggle my baby so that I could answer phones and listen to people complain about the length of their neighbor’s grass. So there wasn’t much of a discussion, it just made sense for me to play stay at home mommy to our little man while Joe brought home the bacon. Of course, being a LITTLE bit of a feminist this was a bit of a hard pill to swallow... or at least I pretended it was to save face. But still, even though it was easy to decide to be a SAHM I felt badly because I knew Joe wanted to be a SAHD. Knowing that made me feel like I needed to be an even better SAHM because I was getting this luxury that Joe didn’t get.

The first two months were hard. No. The first two months were awful. I was nursing T and it was, by far, the most painful experience of my life. On top of the pain I was experiencing most of the day, T was fussy. He didn’t like to be put down. He didn’t like to sleep. All of this combined meant that I was getting up around 5am (after being up multiple times a night to nurse and rock him back to sleep) and settling into a big chair downstairs with my baby. He would nurse, fall asleep on me, nap, wake, nurse, fall asleep on me, nap, wake, repeat. Joe would leave us at 8:30am and return to find me in the same position, still in my pajamas and bathrobe, at 6pm. We got up for diaper changes and sometimes I tried to eat a meal. We watched a lot of television. There was a lot of crying. Finally, around three or four months we discovered that T had a milk protein intolerance. All that string cheese I was eating for breakfast (because there isn’t much that is faster than string cheese when you have a baby screaming in your arms) wasn’t doing either of us any good. I removed all dairy from my diet and in a month I had a new baby. I could put him down on his playmat or in his rocker and I could actually eat a (really quick) meal, or even put on real clothes. It was HEAVEN! He even tolerated being worn so I could grocery shop once a week. Naps still had to be done on my chest while I was rocking but still, this was progress.

T is now a year old and life has changed drastically. He is a ball of energy and a blur of motion. I can no longer strap him in his swing or the exersaucer and do dishes. I can’t sit him up on the floor surrounded by toys and write an email without having to wonder where he disappeared to after thirty seconds. But he plays with me. He brings me books when he wants to snuggle and read. He crawls away from me at top speed and then turns to grin at me and make sure I’m following. He is a little person now, no longer a blob. I have gotten to watch him roll over, scoot and crawl for the first time. I have gotten to see his reaction to almost every food he has tried first hand. I’ve gotten to hear his coos turn to babbles turn to words. I’ve gotten to teach him the signs for milk and more and watch him do them back for the first time. I get to put him down for naps each day which means reading a story and singing a song and snuggling together. I have barely missed a moment in my son’s short and amazing life and I know that that is because I stay home with him. However, all of this comes with a price.

I am lonely. I am bored. My mind is not sharp and the longest conversations I have with adults most days are with my neighbor while I’m getting the mail (with a baby on my hip) or the elderly woman who wants to tell me all about her son who is now 55. I never planned to be a SAHM. When people asked me about it I told them I don’t know how SAHMs do it without going crazy. Luckily, I work outside of the house two nights a week (for a total of about 4 hours) with someone I love and consider a good friend. This does allow me to use my mind and interact with someone who says more than “ball” (although his sense of humor is only slightly more mature than T’s). But on most days I’m exhausted by the time Joe comes home. By Friday I’m at my wit’s end. If Joe dares to come home and need to use the bathroom before relieving me of T duties then I feel like I will snap. Joe is amazing about offering to hang out with T while I go do ANYTHING, but by the time he is home for the weekend I don’t want to miss out on time with both of my boys so I rarely take him up on it. Because of this I don’t get “me” time. I haven’t had a haircut in nine months. I haven’t had a pedicure in over a year. Joe and I have been out to dinner on our own twice in the last year. In reality I have an amazing support system and really, if I needed to, I could call my aunt, my sister, my brother, my boss(es), my college roommate, my best friend’s little sister (who all live in town) and say “hey, want to keep T?” and they would jump at the chance. But I don’t. I don’t want to burden them. I worry T will be a terror and they will never come back. So instead I put my dentist appointment off.... for a year... or two.

So I guess the moral of this story is that yes, I am one of the “lucky” ones who gets to be a stay at home mom. However it is not the glamorous life people imagine it to be, and not just for me. I may be left feeling lonely and bored and exhausted but it also means that T isn’t getting to socialize with other kids. He isn’t learning that it’s ok to be away from me for extended periods of time and how to deal with that. Staying home with me offers him amazing benefits but I also firmly believe that he is missing out on some great benefits too. I don’t think there is a right answer to the question “which is better?” Both are amazing. Both are awful. I watched my sister return to work when her son was ten weeks old and while she was ready to be working again it broke her heart to leave him in the morning (and she was leaving him with his dad, not even a daycare or friend). She works hard and comes home tired but all she wants to do is soak up the time with her 8 year old and 9 month old. I envy that she has a reason to get dressed and do her hair each morning and gets to interact with adults (and a ton of middle schoolers even) all day, but I also know it wears on her. I know she misses some really exciting things. When I keep her son and send pictures of him and T playing together I know a part of her aches to be there and see it herself. There are days I dream of returning to work, even to my crappy, low paying, unimportant job. But then I shake myself back to reality and I see my son giggling and practicing throwing a ball and I think “no, this is right where I want to be.”

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