Thursday, June 22, 2017

More Than One Way to Mom

I recently wrote about my decision to stop working and be a full time stay-at-home mom. While I liked my work, it was making family life really stressful. I felt like I was spread too thin, like everything was making me irritable, and that my family was just another item on my to-do list. I knew that quitting my job would help me be a better mom, and so I quit.

But my decision to quit my job has got me thinking about some things.

One is that I knew quitting my job would make me a better mom. That is, it would make me a better mom. Just me. Not everyone else.

I don’t think that all moms need to quit their jobs to be better moms. And I don’t think I am better than other moms for having quit my job. This is just what worked for me.

Some moms work, and it works for them. They love their jobs and getting to practice their professional skills. Working helps them feel balanced and that helps them be a better mom. I know that working moms don’t stop being moms when they drop their kids off at daycare in the morning. They’re still thinking about, worrying about, and loving their kids, even when they're not with them. They are in tune to the needs of their families and keep their households running, all while putting in a full days work outside of the home.

This was a balancing act I was not able to figure out, and my hat goes off to all the moms who do it every day.


Second, staying home full time with my kids is what I feel called to do, but that doesn’t mean that I love it all the time. My children are not little angelic beings and we don’t spend our days reading books under apples trees, or walking hand in hand in fields of flowers. My kids are naughty, they throw tantrums and make messes, and I yell a lot. Sometimes I wish I could go to work for a few hours each day - just to get a little break from them!

Being a stay-at-home mom is hard work, and it implies sacrifice. It can mean putting professional or academic goals on hold for the foreseeable future.  Or it can mean giving up a well loved job because the cost of childcare doesn’t make it worth it.

For me, the sacrifice is giving up the extra income my work brought in. It’s giving up some time each day that was something different from changing diapers and calming tantrums. It’s putting personal goals and dreams on the shelf because there’s just not enough time to pursue them right now. It’s giving up my body, in that I’m currently nursing a 20 month old who shows no sign of stopping. It’s giving up my privacy, as in, yup, there’s always someone with me in the bathroom. And it’s giving up control, because I can plan all I want, but those plans are usually thwarted by my beautiful babies.

Some days it's easy to make these sacrifices, and other days I need to remind myself that I chose this, it's what I feel called to. Every time that I slow down and take a deep breath I come to the same conclusion, I am honored to make these sacrifices, even though it's hard.

Finally, while it is a sacrifice to be a stay-at-home mom, I realize that choosing not to work is also a privilege. When I stopped working it meant giving up extra income. But it was just that, extra income. I’m not my family’s primary provider and we can get by without me working.

Some moms are their families’ primary providers, or significant contributors. They may wish they could stay home with their kids, but they can’t because their families’ depend on their income. They go to work day after day, maybe even to jobs they don't like. They do it because it's what their families needs them to do.

That is a type of sacrifice that I am not familiar with, but it’s one that I greatly admire. I may talk lightly about quitting my job, or even joke about being retired at age 30, but it is not lost on me that this is a privilege, one that I will try my hardest to live up to.

All of this was a very long way of saying there’s more than one way to mom.

It's ok if the way I mom looks different from the way you mom. Good moms come in all sorts of beautiful shapes and sizes. But at the heart of every variation there is a common thread; we are all showing up everyday, doing our best for our families.

Whether that’s packing lunches and doing school drop off, or clearing the breakfast dishes to make room for home-school lessons. Whether it’s punching in at work each morning, or keeping the home fires going with a baby strapped to our backs. We’re still the ones kissing foreheads and skinned knees, making dinner and giving baths, reading stories and tucking in. And then, with aching feet, or a sore back, or a fried brain, we’re getting ready to do it all over again tomorrow.

It’s a beautiful thing we do, and it’s beautiful, all the ways we do it.

Friday, June 9, 2017

7 quick takes vol. 36

This is the Spring House Projects edition of 7 Quick Takes and it is brought to you by Alex's Two Week Break from school! Yippee! Here's what we accomplished on this break.

//1//

Ever since we bought our house in 2009 we've had one of our main level rooms set up as my piano studio. I used that room for teaching and that was it. We never went in there for anything else. Now that I'm done teaching we wanted to turn that room into a space we could use in our everyday life. We decided to make it into "the den."

The first step was moving the piano into the living room. My brother came over with some lifting straps to help us do that which was awesome, because there was no way Alex and I could have done it on our own. The piano is now in the living room and it feels very classy. I kind of want to call it "The Salon" and hold gatherings with our friends where we read poetry and play music for one another. Will this ever happen? Idk. A girl can dream though.




//2//

After we moved the piano out of the piano room we painted it white.  That's right. White. I know some very fashion forward ladies who are huge proponents of white walls. Jacqui and Grace to name a couple. Well, they're rubbing off on me and I decided it was time for us to try some white walls.

This room was a pain in the behind to paint. The walls had been blue before, so we were going from dark to light. The walls are also a textured plaster and paint does not go on evenly. We ended up having to do three coats, giving me time to get all caught up on my podcasts.

Before:

After:

 
//3//

We had been using one of our upstairs rooms as a TV room/playroom, but we wanted to make that room into Trixie's room. So we moved the TV down stairs into what we are now calling "the den." Air quotes because that's not really what we call it. We call it the TV room. But I don't like thinking of us as a family that watches a lot of TV (even though we do) so I don't want an entire room of our house designated for that purpose. I'm going to keep calling it "the den" and hope that the rest of the family gets on board soon.

We brought most of the kids toys in there as well as one of the couches from the living room and my very favorite lamp that my aunt gave to us. I love this room. It's feeling very den-y.



//4//

The next thing we did was paint the old TV room/Trixie's new room gray. It had been a really bright blue/teal before and I wanted something neutral and easily adaptable. I'm really happy with the color. And after painting the terrible plaster walls in "the den" these normal drywall walls were a dream.

 Here is a before and after of the wall color:



//5//

We got the crib down from the attic and set it up in Trixie's room. You may be wondering why the crib was in the attic when Trixie has been around for about 20 months now.  The reason is that Trixie has been sleeping in our closest for the last year or so. The crib is too big for our closet so she's been sleeping in a Pack 'n Play in there. One reason Trixie needed her own room was so she wouldn't have to sleep in a Pack 'n Play anymore. The other reason is that Alex and I were growing tired of having to whisper all the time in our room.

I should add, please don't think we are bad parents for putting Trixie in our closet!! We have a very large walk in closet with a window and everything. Having her in the closet was a nice way to have her nearby but not so near that we were waking her up every time we rolled over in bed.

Now Trixie has her own room and it is such a sweet space. She transitioned well to sleeping in a different bed. Johnny has been very interested in the crib as well. He calls it "Trixie's cozy bed." I made the mistake of letting them go in the crib together and now that's what Johnny wants to do every time we're in Trixie's room.




//6//

We put the Pack 'n Play in the attic leaving more room in our closet. I'm not sure what we're going to put in the space yet. Maybe my yarn stash, which is still in Trixie's closet. For now I have just hung a curtain in the doorway to the closet and am choosing not to worry about it.

//7//

Now that we no longer store Trixie's clothes in our room I wanted to create some more functional spaces. Our room is very small, but I was still able to make two spots where can work or relax.

One is the desk. We've had the desk in our room for about a year, but it has always ended being more a landing place for all of Alex's text books than an actual work space. We had a super old silver Ikea book shelf that we painted white and put next to the desk. The books are now on the book shelf and the desk is on it's way to being cleared off and ready for use.



We also moved the rocking chair that had been in the old TV room into our room. I wanted to have a little spot where I can knit or write, especially in the winter months when our lower level is very cold and drafty. It's a cozy little corner and I think I'll really enjoy using it.


Now we're done with our indoor projects and trying to be outside and enjoying the beautiful weather as much as possible. Have a great weekend!

For more quick takes visit This Ain't the Lyceum.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

today was perfect


In Minnesota we complain about the weather a lot. And with good reason. Half of the year it's below freezing and we're shoveling out our sidewalks and scraping ice off of our windshields. The other half  of the year we're sweating in 90 degree heat and 90 percent humidity.

But not today. Today was perfect.


Summer is right around the corner, but it's not here yet. This morning was cool enough that I wanted to pull the comforter up over my shoulders. Then this afternoon it was warm in the sun and comfortable in the shade. We opened the windows and a delicious breeze carried the scent of the peonies from the yard where they just opened up into the house.

I love this time of year. The grass is green and lush from the spring rains. Our lawn will be brown and crunchy by August but right now it looks great. The trees are thick with their foliage.  The cottonwoods are in bloom, sending their white fluff flying through the neighborhood like a summer snow storm.  Flowers are blooming everywhere, and the seeds in my garden are sending up shoots. Everything feels alive. Plants and people.


We've been outside every evening lately. The kids do a million different things. They load landscaping rock into toy dump trucks and cart it around the backyard. They spray water with the garden hose. They spill bubbles down the front of their pants. The get sand in their hair and in their shoes. They take their shoes off and get dirt in their little toenails. They skin their knees and require and dozen band aids to make it feel better.  Their faces are a little pinker than normal and they smell of sweat and sunshine. We do baths a lot more frequently now than during the winter months.

There's no point in my telling you any of this. It's not a parable and I don't have some sort of lesson I'm trying to impart. Except that I feel really lucky that I get to spend these beautiful days with my family. And all of the things I tend to fuss and worry about really don't matter that much. This is what matters. These seeds of love and peace that we are sowing in our little backyard on these beautiful days.

I just love this time of year. And today was perfect.


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