She works hard for no money, so hard for no money…

Alright. Before I made the decision to stay home with my girls full time almost five months ago, my SAHM friends tried to warn me. They told me how hard it was to live on a frayed shoestring budget, never get a sick day, be with your kids from sunup to sundown and the kicker? Nobody really appreciates you for it. While I never thought for a second that this job would be easy, I had NO idea how hard it would be. No idea. I work so hard…for no money.

They appreciate me, right? Right?! I sure appreciate them.

But it’s not just about the money. I left a career I was good at. Really good at. But I was in the right place at the wrong time in my life. And time was slipping away at home. My babies are small, and seeing them for only a few hours (if that) every day just wasn’t enough for me. I craved their company. And while I don’t regret this decision to amputate half of our income in exchange for more face time with my children, there’s something I’ve come to realize. This isn’t my calling. I just don’t feel like I’m any good at what I do. I mean, I’m not the most terrible mother to have ever sleepwalked across this earth, but I’m no June Cleaver either.

Then again, I have no way of knowing whether or not I’m cut out to be an at-home mom. The usual metrics of the working world don’t apply. Paycheck? Nope. Bonus? Nope. Quarterly evaluation? Nope. Promotion? Nope. Verbal praise? Nope. Sure, my three year old has said, “You’re my best friend mommy. I want to be just like you when I grow up and stay home with my kids.” But that’s quickly negated with, “I hate you! I want you to go to work and never come home.” That sure made me feel like a pile of poo.

I never knew before how much I need Words of Affirmation (one of my love languages), until I stopped getting any. Sure, money is nice (and we could sure use some right now), but nothing quite fluffs my ego like an “atta girl.” (And if you’re a future employer, I don’t take payment in compliments. I’ll still negotiate for that higher salary.) At this current job, I have one daughter who’s unintelligible (but adorable), another daughter whose loves me one minute and hates me the next (also adorable) and a husband who wonders why the house looks like it’s been “ransacked” when he gets home every day. (Because we were robbed by a gang of diaper-wearing bandits, that’s why.)

I am not a lazy person. I work so hard to scrimp and save and educate and pacify and cook and clean and clean and cook and bathe and play and clean some more. And at the  end of the day, it’s so hard to determine if any impact has been made. It’s just me, faced with a dirty home after the family has gone to bed. Every night.

So, why not just polish up my resume, slip back into some heels and re-enter the workforce? It’s not that easy. First and foremost, I would miss my girls. I. Love. These. Girls. When we end our day on a sour note (bedtime battles are going to be the death of me), I know I have all day–all day–tomorrow to make it better. When the weather is glorious, we head to the park because we can. When we get the itch to check out some new books from the library, we head into town because we can. That quality time I was craving? I’m swimming in it now. And it’s awesome.

But I also don’t want us to be swimming in debt before the year is through. What if I have to go back into the workforce, and nobody will have me? What if quality childcare isn’t available? These are the questions that haunt me. Those, and “What’s that smell?” Something always smells around here…

No, I’m not ready to make any major life decisions. I’m just venting. Perhaps whining a little. But I’m giving myself permission to do so. After all, not everybody has a job they’re highly qualified for. That cashier who rang you up today? She was a little slow, but she got the job done. That fast-food worker who handed you your french fries? He could have been friendlier, but you got what you ordered. I’m doing the best I can with what I have. And that’s pretty much all any employer can hope for.

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Listen up, young couples

Children will eat you alive. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Hey. You two. With the lovey-dovey nicknames and hands that seem magnetized to each other’s backsides. I have a bit of news for you. Right now, you’re enjoying the freedom of youth and childlessness. As you should be. Live it up. Live it up now.

Because someday, you’ll be just like me. Maybe not within the next five years, but probably within the next ten. No? You think you’re so different? You think you will forge a different path to parentdom? Maybe. But I doubt it. Few get by unscathed. If you think parenting is as hip as the celebs make it look in that glossy magazine you’re reading, then you’d better find out a way to get rich real quick.

Soon enough, you’ll be the one in yoga pants (today’s more fashionable sweat pants), dangling a baby off your hip while you stir Hamburger Helper with your free hand and kick a half-deflated beach ball across the scratched-up linoleum floor for your toddler to chase. Yes, if it were a dog, it would be called “fetch.” But, it’s your kid, so you call it “ball-a-rific” or some other fantastical name. Classy.

And yes, you’ll be the one with split-end infested hair thrown up in a sloppy bun sitting in the doctor’s office, trying to entertain your feverish baby while she screams uncontrollably and your bored toddler keeps asking (loudly) why “that lady standing in line has such a big bottom.” So proud.

And finally, believe it or not, you’ll one day be standing in line at Target, arguing with the cashier over a discount on diapers, causing quite a scene, when a young couple behind you will snicker and unabashedly roll their eyes. You’ll turn to them and say (with a forced smile), “This will be you someday.”

Oh yes, this will be you someday.

One thing leads to another…

I can SO relate to this. (from cafemom.com)

Playing…leads to…stealing…leads to…screaming…leads to…pushing…leads to… refereeing…leads to…hugging…leads to…biting…leads to…crying…leads to…scolding…leads to…more crying…leads to…feeding…leads to…flinging…leads to…cleaning…leads to…bathing…leads to…splashing…leads to…whining…leads to…more crying…leads to…Googling “at-home vasectomy.”

If we don’t laugh, we’ll cry, so might as well find the funny!

And God said, “Let there be laughter.”

It seems innocent enough on the outside…

I have to admit I’ve been a little, well, anxious lately. Try as I may to control it on my own, it’s been tough. After all, exposing your heart and soul to the elements can be a little stressful. Throw a three-year-old and one-year-old on top of that, and the other day-to-day tasks that still have to get done (laundry, cooking, cleaning, shopping, laundry, laundry, and more laundry) and it’s a little heavy on my chest.So, it was a relief last night to have a good, hearty laugh. No anxiety medication comes close to what laughter (and a good massage) can cure. Now, it probably wouldn’t have been funny if the age of my sense of humor matched my biological age. You see, I laugh at things an eight-year-old boy would laugh at. But, maybe you’ll find it funny, too. (And if you’re an eight-year-old boy reading this blog, I’m a little concerned about you.) I sincerely believe that God wants us to laugh. Why else would he have given us the gift of flatulence? C’mon. Think about it.Before bed, Anna and I worked through some of her Scholastic Pre-K Reading and Math activity book. Last night’s lesson was on patterns. She breezed through the first page: circle, square, circle, square, circle, “SQUARE!,” she would yell.

When I got the second page, my eyes popped out a little after seeing the next pattern, and I started giggling uncontrollably. “Mommy, what’s so funny?,” Anna demanded. “Oh, nothing honey, nevermind.” She wouldn’t take that for an answer, “MOMMY, what’s so FUNNY!?”

(My internal dialogue is screaming, “It says NUT SACK NUT SACK!!! BWAHAHAHAHA!! Someone at Scholastic thought he was SO funny and snuck this in here. Am I the only one who sees this?!)

Anna has been self-conscious lately, and thinks that when people are laughing, they’re laughing AT her. So, I had to put her mind at ease. “Well, mommy just thinks this picture is funny.” Anna stared at the page, and gave me a quizzical look. “Why is it funny? It just says acorn, bag, acorn, bag. What’s so funny about that?”

See for yourself (please tell me I’m not alone here):

Seriously, what were they thinking? :-)

Parents: Let’s Get This Starty Parted!!!

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Parenting is messy. But sometimes it’s more fun that way!

No, that’s not a typo in the headline. This is my toddler’s favorite new expression. One that she says all wrong, but I just can’t bring myself to correct. It’s the sparkle in her eyes, the delight on her face as dances around the kitchen and wiggles her limbs. 

Parenting little ones, at times, is like a party. It’s fun, unpredictable, and there’s always a mess to clean up afterwards. Some appreciate your efforts, others just show up and judge. But it’s fun. Or at least the intention is to have fun, no matter how it actually plays out. 

Before the guests arrive, your house is fairly quiet. You’ve spent time shopping, cleaning, fantasizing about all the fun to be had. Everything’s prepared, laid out in it’s proper place. Once the guests start to arrive, it gets noisier. But it’s a good noise. A great noise. Laughter. Embraces. Dancing.

At it’s peak, it’s loud, and the energy pulsing throughout your house is palpable. Memories are made, food is consumed, drinks are spilled. This is the stuff of life. Your cheeks hurt from laughing, your feet ache from dancing. But you don’t care. It’s worth the pain. And the mess.

When the guests start to leave, you’re a bit sad, but looking forward to some rest. Dishes are strewn about the house. Food is in the crevices of your couch. And there’s a smell. You’re not sure what it is, but there’s a smell. The silence rings in your ears, and as you lay your head down to rest, you start planning your next fiesta.

It only lasts a short while, but the planning, preparation and cleanup, are all worth it. So, parents, let’s get this starty parted!!!