Naomi sent me this article to post on our Facebook page which I will do… but first I have some things that I would like to say on this topic.  I wasn’t planning on writing a post today so this might be a little ranty.

Working Mom (WM) vs Stay At Home Mom (SAHM)

I work.  Darby goes to day care that is about a half-mile from my office and maybe 2 miles from my house.  Before I had Darby I was 100% certain that I wanted to work after she was born.

Mama and BabyMy maternity leave was three months long.  When Darby turned two-months old it hit me that I’d be going back to work and would not be with her all day.  The thought of sending her to daycare made me cry — just, like, out of the blue I would think about it and cry. (You know you did the same…) I think there is often the assumption that moms who work want someone else to care for their baby for part of the day.  They want to be free of the responsibility and burden of caring for their baby 24/7.  Or they need the money.  For me that was not the case.  I loved having that time with Darby during the day.  Like any mom, I needed a break and having my husband come home from work gave me that.  Working had nothing to do with whether or not I wanted to be with Darby.   I love my job, I work for a very family-friendly organization, but mostly I wanted time in my day to be me.  And FOR ME, working was the best way for me to do that.

***Emphasis on FOR ME***  

I think a lot about how being a WM impacts my family and our future.  My salary is decent and is more than the cost of daycare but that may not be the case once we have two kids.  Should I keep working?  Is it about the money?  Is it about how much I love my job?  What’s best for my kid(s)?

Here’s the big picture FOR ME: I want Darby to be proud of me.  In seventh grade when she has to write a paper on the person she most looks up to, I want it to be me and for good reason… not just because I’m her mom and because that is easier than researching Abraham Lincoln.  I want her to recognize that part of being a good mom to her meant being good to myself.  FOR ME, being good to myself means feeding my brain and challenging myself by working.  I want her to know that being a good wife doesn’t have to mean being Donna Reed, but it can mean being a breadwinner while also being the bread-maker.

I sit around and think about what I want for Darby and it all comes back to one thing: I want her to be herself.  How can I give her the tools to always be herself if I’m not giving myself the tools to do the same?  FOR ME being myself means working.

Then there’s the whole Dad issue… this isn’t only about working/stay-at-home MOMS anymore.  My husband has a higher earning potential than me so he most likely won’t ever be a SAHD.  But… he also has a higher earning potential than where he is now.  We — together — chose a certain lifestyle in favor of money at least for right now.  He could go earn the big bucks but it would mean long hours which would likely mean missing dinner time and bath time and play time… FOR US, this was the right choice.  It has never been and most likely will not ever be an easy choice.

I did say that money isn’t the reason that I work.  But if money were the issue, rather than sending my husband off to earn lots of money and lose time at home, I would continue to work to pay for daycare so that my husband didn’t have to miss out on family time.  No question.

Now… I’ve stayed pretty cool through this whole post.  (Hooray, Me!) But I need to lose my cool for one second.  Few things make me more angry than hearing one parent judge another parent for making a decision that they think is best for their kid(s).  To the judgey WMs and SAHMs (both are guilty): You. Have. No. Right. SHUT YOUR FACE.

Ok.  I’m cool.

FOR YOU the best thing for your family might mean being a SAHM.  Everyone is different.  I would never say that being a WM is better or being a SAHM is better.  I know what was best FOR ME. It is a personal choice and, you know what?  Babies in BOTH situations turn out just fine… and if your kid turns out to be crazy, most likely your being a WM or a SAHM had nothing to do with it.  It may have to do with how you spend the time you DO have with your kid(s).

How do you feel about your choice to be a WM or a SAHM?

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Dear Swaddle,

I’m writing to say goodbye.  We don’t need you anymore but that doesn’t mean that you weren’t once a crucial element of our happiness.  Let’s look back…

You came into our lives in the hospital, making my sweet squishy newborn baby look like a Glo Worm.  I honestly am not certain she had arms and legs during those early days… she was always just a head on a swaddle-body.

Once we got home, we ditched those stiff hospital blankets that made us feel crappy about our swaddling skills.  How could we ever be good parents if we can’t even SWADDLE?! Maybe that swaddle-pro nurse should be Darby’s mom.

We moved to the Miracle Blanket, an apparatus that looked like some sort of torture device that would cause us to have regular visits by Child and Family Services.  Yet it wasn’t torture.  Pinning Baby’s arms to her side and wrapping her tightly like a big pink burrito made the crying stop.  Alas, one day she outgrew the Miracle Blanket… we immediately (read: after 4 days of waking up crying and being changed, burped, diaper-creamed, etc by her clueless parents) swapped the Miracle Blanket for Aden + Anais blankets.  But my little Houdini laughed in the face of that swaddle and broke free like the Incredible Hulk busting out of his shirt.  So, Darby… are you trying to tell me that you’re done with the swaddle?  Yeah, we’re very perceptive parents.

Oh, swaddle, we did love you so.  When Darby’s arms flailed like an octopus suffering from Tourette’s, you were there.  When she decided to play Edward Scissorhands Does Your Makeup with her rapidly growing extra sharp finger nails, you were there.  When Darby’s slow-motion-karate practice kept her from relaxing, you were there.

And now, having you around just isn’t reasonable because FEET!

You will be missed.  Ok, that’s not true.  Putting Baby to bed in just her jammies and a sleepsack is WAY easier than dealing with you.  You served your purpose but now we bid you adieu.

Peace out, swaddle.  I hope it doesn’t get too cold in the basement where you’ll live until Kid #2 comes around.

With love,

—Michelle

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I sing about as well as I dance.  That is, not well.  But I do it!  Now that I’m a mom, I’m finding myself singing a whole lot more… and shockingly, my daughter LOVES to hear me sing.  So that’s one person!  Here’s the thing, I don’t know that many songs off the top of my head.  I can sing along when it is playing, but I can’t just think of that many songs that I know all the [correct] words to.  So I make them up.  Not to brag or anything, but I’m really damn good at making up songs on the fly.  The Wiggles should be calling any minute now with my new contract.

My proudest moment (the tune is original):

Here we go to school.  Here we go to school. Gonna learn some stuff that’s really really cool.  Gonna play all day.  Gonna play all day.  Gonna laugh and talk and see and play all day today!

How great is that song?!  I know.  You don’t have to tell me.  It is great.  I mean, laugh and talk AND see.  That’s great songwriting right there.

And another (to the tune of I Had a Little Dreidel)

I had a little baby.  I made her out of sperm.  And when she’s good and ready.  Out of… you know what, I don’t really know you well enough to finish that song.

My husband makes up songs too, but his songs… well, they’re lacking in the awesomeness department.  One of his go-to songs (to the tune of I’ve Been Working on the Railroad):

I’ve been working on the chubby.  All the chubs and chubs.  Chubby chubby chubby bubby. Chubs and chubs and chubs.

Amateur.

I know we’re not the only parents-turned-songwriters here.  (I might be the best one, though… just saying.  Go back and read my going to school song.)  Share your best efforts in the comments or on our Facebook page.

“Congratulations!”  “Best wishes!”  “Mazel Tov!”

As soon as our grandchild (a bouncing healthy girl) was born, the congratulations started pouring in.  We got phone calls, e-mails, cards — you name it, we got it.  And everybody asked a similar question… “So, how does it feel to be a grandparent?”  “Isn’t it just the best?”

What kind of stupid questions are these??

All of a sudden one day, you wake up sort of regular in the morning and by the evening someone has a new title for you.  Grandparent.  And congratulates you like you won the lottery!!

We smiled a lot, weakly, for these people and were as gracious to most as we could be.  “Yes, it’s wonderful, isn’t it.”  Maybe.  We wouldn’t know.   What did we do to get here?

Then there were the kidders.  They would say something like, “Oh, now you’re a grandparent…really old, huh?”  Our best rejoinder was to say “We’re too young to be this old” and leave it at that.  We didn’t sign up anywhere for this old stuff.

And we didn’t exactly do much to achieve this moment just now.  Did we??

We didn’t work on getting pregnant (not always the most fun, though it should be!); we didn’t get sick at all; we didn’t have to buy a new car or worry about insurance coverage.  We didn’t have to do much except be supportive and, inwardly, know that all the books in the world and friends with their stories couldn’t prepare the parents-to-be enough for that moment.  And what comes afterwards!

Maybe the congratulations were for a seemingly successful night some 30 years ago??  No, that wasn’t right.  Seems a bit off.

In the end, we decided the congratulations were for making the long march to this time.

When your child is bar-mitzvahed, the rabbi will intone (what a great word, ‘intone’…you can hear the somber voice even as you say the word!) the threefold benediction (old style Jewish culture…) and wish that your child will one day stand under the marriage canopy to start their new life.  Being bar-mitzvahed at age 13 brings a time of congratulations…mostly because you survived all the throw-ups and illnesses and school visits and baseball games…and the list goes on endlessly.  And there seems to be hope that the 13 year old won’t yet become a juvenile delinquent…somehow.

Then there is the high school graduation.  Followed closely by the college graduation.  Again, it looks like jail was successfully avoided and your money has bought a ticket to the future.

Soon, the wedding that just yesterday some rabbi was wishing on you.  Again, lots of congratulations.

And now, a grandchild.  And the congratulations overflow the inbox.

Best way we can understand it is to see it like a marathon.  The words should be “congratulations on making it 30 years to this point.”  Or, “good luck on the next sprint.”  Something like that.

Being the parent of the bar-mitzvah, the parent of the high school graduate, the parent of the college graduate, the parent of the groom…all marathon checkpoints, like crossing through Newton Center or passing Cleveland Circle (Boston-Marathon-language!).

Being a grandparent looks to be different, though.  Yes, it is another marathon milestone.  A big one.  But it isn’t just a moment in time.  It promises to keep giving and giving!

So, how does it feel to be a grandparent?

Well, it feels like a long race that isn’t over yet.  And one that has some tinges of familiarity as your children have now begun their own race.  Hey, weren’t we just at that turn on the course??  How did they get there instead??  And, then, where does that now put us in the race?

So, what about all the congratulations?

Yes, well, we guess they are ok in the sense of having made it this far.  And, more, for the promise and love they hold looking forward.

So, it is pretty neat being a new grandparent!  And nice that nobody ended up in jail…