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Baby Vs. Baby The Great Comparison- October 17, 2014

Friday, October 17th, 2014

baby vs baby

Recently I squealed and hugged my way through an intimate crowd of old friends at a baby shower. I’ve known the mom-to-be since she and my sister were babies. I had my 11-month-old in tow. I was so excited to see my sister and nephew, who came to town for the affair. My nephew is 8 1/2 months old.  My mom was happy to have her two baby grandsons crawling at everyone’s feet.

Well, my son was at everyone’s feet. He was at their feet, playing with their shoes, on their purses, reaching for their cell phones, pulling up on their chairs and generally causing a ruckus, albeit an adorable ruckus. Most at the shower didn’t seem to mind him. My mom could help me  by holding him or entertaining him while I ate or played the shower games.

My nephew mostly sat pleasantly with my sister. He laid quietly next to her smiling. Yes, he can crawl too. He can also pull up. He’s about the same size as my son. But, he sat and mine squirmed.

My mom and her friend heard me quip to my son, “Hey, you see how your cousin is just sitting there? Why can’t you be like that?” My mom said, “Amy! You shouldn’t say that and compare them like that!” Her friend agreed. I felt my face get hot. I held my little guy tight against my flushed cheek. I whispered, “Sorry buddy.”

On the way home from the shower I had an epic crisis of conscience. How could I have done that to my baby?! Just because the cousins are close in age, it doesn’t mean they need to be compared. They are individuals. I need to watch the comments I make, even in jest. I need to talk to my sister about guidelines for how we will treat the boys equally but as individuals. I drafted a heartfelt blog post in my head as I drove.

I got home and told my husband what happened. I explained my intense shame and how I was damaging my son’s psyche. He said, “Are you kidding me?! Please! Amy, the amount of time you have spent worrying about this is too much. They are babies! He will never remember you said that.” True it’s not like we’re going to line them up and have them crawl race at family gatherings.  He laughed and hugged me. “Seriously. It was a complement to your sister on how sweet her baby is. Don’t sweat it.”

Here’s the thing. They’re both right. I need to watch what I say to my children. I need to understand that jokes and off-the-cuff comments can hurt. But, I also do NOT need to have guilt ridden meltdowns for every parenting faux pas I commit. Let’s face it, I know I will say or do something insanely insensitive and stupid again. Then I will write about it on the Internet.

In all seriousness, how do families quell comparisons between children close in age? Cousins, siblings, or even good friends with kids the same age. It’s very natural to compare. How do you either avoid it, or compare with compassion if that’s possible? 

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Working Is Harder Than Being a Stay-At-Home-Mom October 15, 2014

Wednesday, October 15th, 2014

Me with my kiddos.

I hang with moms and kids. That’s my crowd as new stay-at-home mom. I joke that there are days that the only adult males I interact with on the regular are my husband and the Starbucks barista. I’ve noticed a distinct difference between two types of  SAHM’s. There are moms who have never worked outside the home since they had children, and those who have. Meaning, I know moms who stayed home with their first child and I know moms, like me, who started staying home with their second child.

A conversation with a group of moms holding babies went something like this:

A SAHM with two kids who never worked after her first child was born asked me, “So, Amy. Do you miss work? Are you glad you’re staying home?”

I say, “It’s great! It was a really good decision. My daughter loves her preschool. We were a little nervous pulling her out of her daycare. We were sad to leave there. It’s a great place, but I love being home with the kids. I’m actually a ‘stay-in-the-car mom’ Ha! We’ve been so busy.”

She says, “Yeah, but it’s so hard taking care of the kids all day!”

A new mom holding her first baby chimes in, “Yeah, being a stay-at-home-mom is the hardest job in the world.”

::blink::

I looked around the group to try to catch the eye of a mom like me, one who went back to work after her first baby. No one like that was in this circle. I stayed quiet. I faded out of the conversation that turned into complaining about nap schedules, unhelpful husbands and struggles to decide what to cook for dinner.

Hardest job in the world? No. No it’s not. Working outside the home while still being a parent is harder. It is. It just is. I feel I can say this because I’ve done both. Take all the stress of caring for children, cooking for your family, maintaining your home and add the intense pressure of a full-time job to it. Add the commute. Add the limited time. Add the daycare bill. Add the pressure of counting up paid and unpaid maternity leave days. Add the agony of leaving your baby. Add the guilt. It makes it all harder.

I’m not saying it’s all roses being a homemaker. I’m busy, no doubt. My kiddos keep me on my toes. Napless days of wicked tantrums are exhausting and infuriating. Those are times I miss the outlet of work. I know there are mothers of children with special needs who have much more taxing days at home than I do. I understand there are mamas with colicky criers and mothers of multiples trapped in the house all day. I feel for them. I know they have rough days too.

I’m just saying that since I started staying home, our lives are so much better. There were days that I would spend less than two hours a day with my child. We’d get dressed in the morning. Eat in the car and I’d drop her off. By the time I got to her, I had two hours before she went to bed. That time was mostly for dinner and bath.

When two parents are working it’s like being shot out of a cannon on Monday morning and the cannonball lands on Friday afternoon. The cannonball falls exhausted into a messy house and an empty pantry. While we did have lots of fun on the weekends, we often did not. We often had to clean, grocery shop and do all the mundane things we couldn’t get to during the week. The weekend culminated with the Sunday night dread. I’d prepare with a gripping feeling in my chest because another work week was beginning.

I understand job satisfaction is part of this. I know some women who are very fulfilled in their jobs and feel that’s where they get the most validation. Other women I know work for companies with 12 paid weeks of maternity leave, mothers’ rooms for pumping that have lounge chairs and half-day Fridays. While I liked my job and the people I worked with, I chose careers that were not as conducive to parenthood. I knew that when I went to college and majored in journalism and communications. It’s hard being a mother reporting the news live on TV at 6:00 am or answering my public relations client’s email at 7:30 pm when it’s bath time. My friends who work in banking, for example, start at 9 and end at 5. That’s the nature of their business.

Now I can let my daughter play on the playground after preschool. I can take half an hour and make a gingerbread house with her. Hell, I can lay my head on the couch and take a nap when the kids do on a Tuesday because it’s raining and I have a headache. One parent is home to unload the dishwasher and start dinner so it doesn’t become this huge issue or argument. I can take the kids to the doctor when they are sick without scheduling it on my Outlook calendar or calling five people to make sure things at work are covered. None of that was possible when I was working full time and it was hard. Harder than this.

My biggest fear about staying home was that I was going to be bored, lonely or unstimulated. Those are the complaints I hear from SAHM’s. I can say that I have not felt that way AT ALL. Not once in the last 8 months have I been bored, lonely or unstimulated. Maybe it’s because I immediately planned stuff for us to do and groups to be a part of, I dunno. But, I really attribute not being bored, but being happy to two things:

  1. I am not home with only a baby. I have a preschooler and a baby to keep me busy. Yeah, babies can be boring. Add a toddler, preschooler or older child in the mix? Party time! Boredom be gone!
  2. I know how crazy it is to have two working parents and I know this is better. It just is.
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11 Months- October 13, 2014

Tuesday, October 14th, 2014

Henry 11 months

Dear Henry,

Notice your 11 month photo does not highlight my finest photography skills. Little Sir, it is very difficult to take your picture these days. This was the best we could do. See the shadow? That’s Daddy. We held you down and let go really quick. I changed the shutter speed on the camera and everything. This was the best shot I got with you smiling. Phew!

I’m late with your letter this month. We’ve been busy and we’ll only get busier as we get closer to your birthday. You help keep us busy and you’re not even walking yet. We can barely get anything done with you crawling so fast, pulling yourself up on everything, climbing the stairs and opening the cabinets. You climb up in the dishwasher, try to open the lid of the trashcan, throw dog food from the dog bowl aaaannnnddd this…

Henry toilet collage

All the activity is okay because you are joyful. Henry, you have a fun spirit. You have learned to clap. You often get multiple baths in a day because you are such a messy eater. You give a funny “stink face” to people, especially when you first wake up. I hope to capture it on camera soon, but again, you are tough to photograph.

Your downy soft infant hair is gone and curls have crept in. They are wild and wonderful, just like you. Tonight you fell asleep in my arms. We rocked and rocked because you were still. You stop and snuggle only sometimes. When you do, it is lovely and sweet, wild and wonderful.

I love you, my sweet, sweet boy.

Love,

Mama

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All I Got- October 10, 2014

Friday, October 10th, 2014

My children do not care that I slept just a few short hours last night. They do not care that the music was loud and the beer was plentiful and I’m not the spring chicken that I was. No, they want breakfast. One wants breakfast from my boobs. They want attention and toys. They want to watch “Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood.” So, I’ve been up with them even though I so badly want to be curled up in my bed.

It’s okay, though. It’s okay because I’m sitting here listening to them play and repeat Daniel’s life lessons with giggles. “A friend just wants to play with you!” I’m sipping coffee and basking in my happy. Yes, my brain is fogged, but I’m happy.

I’m happy because last night the moon was full, the air was cool and I had the privilege of singing at the top of my lungs with some of the best people I know to celebrate my best friend. Greyson turned 40 yesterday. It was awesome. That’s all I got, and it’s all I need.

Our friends at the Zac Brown Band concert

Zac Brown Band concert October 9, 2014

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Halloween House- October 6, 2014

Monday, October 6th, 2014

Halloween GB house

A detailed how-to for a Haunted Gingerbread House. Happy October!

1. Buy a kit at Trader Joe’s because only Pinterest show-offs actually bake their own.

2. Drive to preschool to pick up child with grandiose ideas of quality time after the baby goes down for a nap.

3. Get home after hanging out on the playground for a little too long with groceries in the car.

4. Put the sleeping baby down for a nap.

5. Bring in groceries after preschooler discovers the box in the grocery bags.

c gb box cropped

6. Tell her not to touch it when you see her trying to open it.

7. Try to distract her as you hurriedly put away any frozen or refrigerated items.

8. Open the box at the kitchen table and tell her not to touch the candy package she’s already managed to open.

c icing edited

9. Brew a cup of coffee so you don’t need a nap later.

10. Curse  under your breath when the doorbell rings, the dog barks and you hear the baby stir.

11. Go to the door to find the guy from the tree removal company. Realize your husband set up  an appointment for an estimate that he didn’t tell you anything about.

12. Check your shirt to see that your boobs have not leaked on your shirt after hearing the baby cry.

13. Try to remember which trees husband wants removed from the yard and tell the tree guy.

14. Yell to preschooler to not eat the candy.

15. Come back to the table to read directions while quickly eating a bowl of Pumpkin O’s, remembering that you did not eat lunch. Recall that Trader Joe’s is proof you can make anything pumpkin spiced.

16. Make a mental note of your weakness for pumpkin spiced anything and shop with someone who will stop you from buying things like Pumpkin O’s.

cereal edited

17. Follow directions on the box for how to use the icing packets, realizing the kit uses black and orange icing and nothing good ever comes of black icing.

18. Let preschooler hold your hand as you pipe icing on the designated grooves.

19. Smile as you listen to preschooler giggle.

gb house edited

20. Giggle to yourself when you read the word “erect” in the instructions.

21. Pretend not to see preschooler sneaking candy as you try to mimic the wildly unrealistic design on the box.

22. Allow preschooler to decorate the black cat and pumpkin included in the kit as she sees fit.

23. After decorating the sides and roof of the house, notice that preschooler is getting bored of this activity and just wants to eat icing.

c bored edited

24. Allow preschooler to view herself in the mirror to bask in her icing glory.

c icing face edit

25. Help child wash up.

26. Negotiate the amount of candy you will allow child to consume and encourage her to put it on the house to “make it pretty.”

27. Kick yourself for allowing that amount of sugar before “nap time” or “quiet time.”

28. Set finished product out on the counter before spouse arrives home.

29. Look for receipt in anticipation that spouse will ask how much the project cost.

31. Take child upstairs for quiet time.

32. Marvel that there is no black or orange icing on your white shirt.

33. Finish coffee and ignore sugared-up child’s noises coming from their room.

34. Smile, realizing you had a lot of fun. Smile again, hoping she’ll remember that her mama made a Halloween gingerbread house with her and let her smear black icing on her face.

35. Repeat in December with Christmas-themed kit.

finshed house

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