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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Darby started solid food on December 26, the day she turned 6 months old.  The pediatrician told us to wait until 6 months to start solids so we did… and I had a great time counting down to her big day!  See, I’m a total foodie.  Not snob… more like nerd.  I love eating food and cooking food and talking about food and reading about food and writing about food.  I am intrigued and enthralled by food.  So naturally I couldn’t wait to introduce my daughter to the wide world of food.

Day 1 came.  It didn’t go as I expected.  Well, I shouldn’t say that… I guess day 1 went as I expected.  Darby wasn’t sure of the weird goo in her mouth (butternut squash, by the way).  She wasn’t sure of the spoon that was going in.  It was all weird.  But then day 2… and 3… and 4… all the same.  I was so caught up in my own excitement that I totally underestimated how difficult introducing solids would be.  Now a week later she’s definitely improving… meaning she only gags once during a meal.

Darby's first meal

Introducing solids wasn’t only about her eating — it was also about me cooking.  I couldn’t wait to cook for Darby.  Yeah, I know that cooking right now means steaming or boiling some veggies but still.  I get to COOK for her!  Before I started, I poked around on some blogs and in some books for recipes.  That’s when I discovered how silly baby food recipes are.  Steam/boil. Puree. Mix with other pureed food/herb/spice. Feed.  I need to buy a book for that?  I don’t think so.

I write a food blog called eatniks.  Today, thanks to my friends at the WEBstaurant Store (the #1 restaurant supply store on the web!), I’m giving away a food mill. (Go enter to win it!) A food mill just so happens to be a great tool for making baby food.

The first thing I made (and the first thing I fed Darby) was butternut squash.  I had a huge one and assumed it would make a ton of meals… and it did.  I roasted it whole (poke holes in it, put on a baking sheet, in the oven at 425 for about an hour until it is soft) and scooped out the pretty orange center.  Then into the food mill.  Out came this silky smooth puree; those stringy fibers (that I actually had never noticed before) were left behind.  Perfect.  I didn’t need to add water or formula or anything to it.  Next I did peas… the food mill squished out the soft center of the pea and left the shells behind.  Perfect.  As Darby gets a little more mature in the eating-solids-department, there are different plates with larger holes allowing the food to have more texture.  You don’t have this kind of control with a blender or food processor.  Plus chunks that could be a choking hazard don’t slip through the food mill — a chunk can definitely escape the blades of a food processor.  In fact, I used my immersion blender on some broccoli.  As I was scooping it into my ice cube trays, I caught a few big chunks.  Be. Careful.

I’m hoping to start feeding Darby the same things we eat for meals around 9 months (minus salt, sugar and heat of course), so I’m not spending too much time and effort thinking about creative purees for her.  And really, I think making baby food is a good way to explore really basic flavor combinations that you like — for someone who wants to start cooking, this seems like a great place to begin.  For example… butternut squash, apple and cinnamon.  Yum.  Peas with lemon zest and mint.  Yes please.  Broccoli, quinoa and basil.  I’ll take two!  Blueberries and oatmeal.  Ok, you get the picture.  Making baby food is really just pureeing foods and flavor combinations that you like.

So here we are.  Ten days into Darby’s life as a foodie.  She has the whole world ahead of her and I can’t wait to introduce her to it.  Hopefully she’ll want to cook with me.  If she doesn’t, that’s ok.  Hopefully she’ll be an adventurous eater like I am.  If she isn’t… well, she better be.

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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We all know one, you know the mom that always knows best, whose child always does this and that at an advanced age and better than your own child. The Momitor. She hits you when you are down with a “well little Johnny can sing his ABCs and he is only 18 months. And did I tell you he started walking at 9 months?” Blah, blah, blah.

So are you one of these moms? Do you constantly put your kid up against your friend’s children? Can’t we all just relax and understand that each of us knows what is right for our own children?

As I sit here and write this I know I am a hypocrite. Over the weekend we ran into a child that was in the home-daycare with my son prior to him switching schools. I watched as the boys interacted and played ball but the Momitor in me noticed that this child, who was older than my son, was not talking. So here I am confessing to the fact that I had a Momitor moment! I mean hey, my son talks and most of the time it is English so surely that other child is delayed or isn’t engaged enough by his parents. Or maybe they are just laid back and they know their child best and how he communicates with them and I should just mind my own business.

I think all moms have a Momitor tendency. We compare growth chart stats, developmental milestones and the like, and at the end of the day we all want to know that our children are developing and growing the same as the rest of their peer group.

Me and My Sister -- Big Bird and Corduroy the Bear

When I was a kid, Halloween was a huge deal.  A HUGE DEAL.  My mom made our costumes every year… and not like a sheet with some eye-holes cut out, but like totally over the top elaborate costumes of anything we wanted. In pre-school I was Papa Smurf (not sure why I chose Papa, but whatever)… my mom made his outfit, painted my face blue, got me a white beard, made me the Smurf hat.  Another year I was Corduroy the Bear (yeah, that’s me in the photo) and my sister was Big Bird (complete with individually hot-glue-gunned feathers).  Mom was Oscar the Grouch… she wore a trash can all day.  Another year I was an upside-down person.  She took some old jeans, stuffed them, sewed shoes on the ends, put a shirt on my legs, attached a mannequin head to the collar of the shirt… and, voila, I looked like I was walking upside down.

So yeah, that was Halloween. Every. Single. Year.  It was awesome.  But then it wasn’t… I got totally Halloweened out.  I remember the first year I opted out of trick-or-treating and stayed home to hand out candy.  I felt so grown up.

Ever since I just haven’t been into Halloween.  I dressed up in college and for a few years after but that’s just because I wanted to go to the awesome parties.  The last time I remember dressing up was 2003.  My husband and I hadn’t even been dating a month; we were going to a party at one of my friend’s houses so I threw on a pair of jeans, a snap shirt, and my cowboy hat.  Cowgirl.  Done.  Where’s the keg?

Darby is only 4 months old this Halloween, so I didn’t bother with a costume.  Today she’s wearing a onesie from her Grandma and Grandpa that says “Wickedly Cute.”  That will do for this year.  Halloween starts next year for her… and I’m really excited about it.  With a kid, the fun is back!  We can come up with creative ideas for costumes together… a friend is going to teach me to sew so that I can hopefully make Darby’s costumes like my mom did for me.  And if we have to buy them, then we buy them.  I’m so excited to see what she comes up with.  Will she want to be a princess every year?  Or will she be a tomboy like her mom and want to be a racecar driver?  (Oh yeah… I was totally Richard Petty in 2nd grade.)  We’ll have to wait and see.  I know one thing’s for sure… she’s going to be the cutest freaking princess racecar driver ever.

I couldn’t get pregnant the way that I always thought that I would – the old fashioned way.  After many invasive tests, we never found the reason why.  My husband and I both seemed to be perfectly healthy, yet my doctor felt that *something* wasn’t right even if he couldn’t figure out what it was.  We began treatment anyway.  Two failed rounds of IUI (you know, the turkey baster method) I insisted that we move on to IVF despite the high cost and despite my doctor’s recommendation to try IUI one more time.  I wanted my baby and I wanted it right then.  IUI wasn’t working, so bring on the big guns.

Darby's first photo

I went through the weeks of injections and daily ultrasounds and blood tests; my egg retrieval; a week in bed dealing with Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome; and finally the big day.  The transfer day.  The first attempt to insert the embryo didn’t work.  The embryo was stuck in the tube.  My doctor sent it back to the lab and tried again. That time the little bugger let go.  It was in.

Fast forward to one year ago today.  The day of my pregnancy test; the last official day of my first IVF cycle.  Would the weeks of giving myself injections pay off?  The daily ultrasounds and blood tests?  The physical and emotional stress?  I took a sick day from work.  No matter the results I knew there would be tears and I knew the whole day would be focused on whether or not it was time for me to be a mom.

I went in for my blood test early that morning and came home to wait.  Finally I got the call.  My nurse said to me, “I’ve got your results.  Congratulations!  You’re pregnant!”  The room went dark.  I asked her if she was serious.  She giggled and assured me that she was.  Then she said it again, “You’re pregnant!”  I was shaking.  “Oh my gosh!  Oh my gosh!  Oh my gosh!” is all I kept saying as she giggled on the other end of the phone.  She gave me some instructions, none of which I heard.  I hung up the phone and fell face first into my bed and wept tears of joy.  Is this really over?  Am I really going to be a mom?  I got myself together and called Mike.  He said “hello” and I broke down again.  He had gotten similar calls in the past – me weeping on the other end – but they were always sad tears accompanying bad news.  He didn’t say anything.  Through my tears I mustered the strength to say, “It was positive.”  I don’t remember what he said exactly.  I remember him choking back tears too.  He was at work, after all; he had to be cool.  He sounded like he was in shock; happy joyous shock.  I got off the phone and paced around laughing.  I shouted at the dog, “I’M HAVING A BABY!”  She thought she was in trouble for something.  I ran and did a home pregnancy test.  I wanted to see those double lines for myself.  There they were!  I immediately emailed a photo to Mike.

I emailed my nurse to tell her I heard none of her instructions on the phone, so she sent them to me.  I went in for a few ultrasounds to make sure the pregnancy was progressing as it should.  We saw the sack where Darby would live for the next nine months.  Eventually we saw her little heart beating.  A tiny flicker.  Life.  Inside of me. Is this really happening?

Now I’ve got my baby girl.  My beautiful chubby curious little girl who is the spitting image of her daddy.  I think back to that transfer day – that was Darby stuck in that tube!

One year ago today I found out she was coming into my world.  One year ago today I found out I was going to be someone’s mommy.  In many ways, that was the first day of the rest of my life.  Everything from that day forward would be more happy and more difficult than I could imagine – and I was ready for every bit of it.

We had almost a year worth of failed pregnancy attempts (a much easier ride than many dealing with infertility).  Sometimes I think about who those babies would have become.  I’ll never know; I do know that while they probably would’ve been wonderful people, they weren’t Darby.   In my few months with her, I know that she was worth every bit of the wait.

We are punctual people.  No no, we are early people.  As a kid I remember beating my teacher to school on most days.  My husband remembers arriving for a movie 45 minutes before the previews started.  Our parents were early people so we are early people… until now.  Our punctuality has been rocked by a chubby bald lady.

Before Darby, we left the house precisely at 7:20am to catch the bus.  I listened to music or read or otherwise zoned out on my brief commute.  It was basically a continuation of my sleep.  I arrived in my office (baring any bus delays/no-shows) at 7:50 before most others, had my coffee, and got to work.  It was nice.

After Darby…  *Deep breath* This is my morning:

5:30 wake-up.  Shower. Hair. Teeth. Make-up. Husband wakes up Baby and changes Baby’s diaper. I start feeding Baby.  Baby can’t stop smiling at me which I LOVE but also kind of want to stop because Baby can’t suck from the bottle if she’s smiling. We can smile at each other later, Sweet Pea. Right now we eat. Baby focuses for a minute or two and then falls asleep or is far too consumed by our fascinating living room (that isn’t so fascinating) to eat.  Baby resumes eating.  [Time for poopsplosion and/or barfsplosion clean up as needed.] Get Baby dressed while praying that there is not a poopsplosion and/or barfsposion once she is in her daytime clothes.  Husband takes over feeding.  I get dressed.  Gather Baby’s stuff for daycare.  Gather my stuff for work.  I take over feeding while Husband gathers his stuff for work. Conclude feeding anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour after it began depending on Baby’s cooperativity.  (Is that a word?  You know what I mean.)  Put Baby in carseat.  Get disgusting dried chicken treat for Dog.  Gather stuff.  Get Baby.  Toss disgusting chicken treat to Dog in an effort to distract her as we walk out the door. Dog falls for trick every time. Some time between 7-7:15am drive to the Metro.  Park.  Get Baby into K’tan.  Stuff burp cloth into K’tan as a preemptive move against barf. Remember all of my bags and Baby’s bags.  Get on Metro.  Listen to Baby grunt and groan as she tries to twist herself around in the K’tan so she can be absolutely certain she’s seeing all there is to see.  Get off one stop later and walk half a mile to Baby’s daycare.  Pass Baby off to teacher.  Put away bottles.  Put away replacement clothes/wipes/diapers/etc.  Kiss Baby good-bye. Walk another half mile to my office.  Arrive (hopefully) some time between 7:45-8:00am.  Eat breakfast.  Drink coffee.  Relax.  Get to work.  Phew.

There are a million little variables in this routine that can throw everything into a tailspin.  Severity and timing of poopslosion/barfsplosion, Baby’s ability or inability to focus on eating, how easy or difficult it is to get Baby to burp, etc.

I know that in her adorable little head (ok, 84th percentile sized head…), she’s laughing at the idea that we just might have some sort of routine in place that gets us where we need to be at set times.  I just know that one day she’s going to have her poopsplosion all over my work clothes and/or barf down my back without me knowing.  I just know it.  I’m waiting.  Good thing she’s ridiculously cute.