Category Archives: SAHM

Summer Preparation

I have ten days of school left. Ten days until my temporary stint as stay at home mom begins. Like last year, I feel the same anxieties already building, the same fears about changing routines, surviving the usual battle for naps every day, keeping my patience with one child instead of 167. Along with these anxieties comes excitement about our summer adventures – trips to the pool, swimming lessons, adventures to the park and countless searches for unsuspecting roly poly families living in our yard.

My preparation for the summer began today with an after school trip to Academy to get Nora a pool. Instead of the tiny pink plastic one we bought last year for our tiny pink daughter, this year Nora picked out a blue one, complete with fish and a slide. We begin swimming lessons in a week and Nora’s first words when she heard that were, “I don’t want to go in the big pool.” She apparently can’t recall the pure joy she felt last year when in the water, the way she ran into Oyster Pond neck deep without even looking back at the shore. I wanted to remind her of her love of the pool before we set foot into the Y for lessons. And, I think I also wanted to remind myself that the moments I worry about surviving this summer will pale in comparison to the ones that truly make me wish summer would never end.

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Filed under fears, routine with toddler, SAHM, Working Mom

Admitting It

There are many “shoulds” in parenting. Society tells you what you should do, family tells you (sometimes subtly, sometimes not) what you should do. And, most of all, we (mothers) have a whole slew of self-imposed “shoulds.”

I have told myself many times that I should want to stay at home, that I should envy my peers who have enough money and stability and insurance to go it on one income, that I should do everything to make staying at home a possibility. I think I even made myself think that because I work I should never try to be as “good” as moms who stay at home full time, which I now realize is totally ridiculous.

I am beginning to admit to myself that I might actually prefer being a working mom. This is hard. It’s hard to admit that I might prefer spending time away from Nora, that I might prefer teaching other people’s children all day, that I might be a better mom because I work. I’m not there yet, really. Writing that even seems wrong to me. How could I not want to spend all day, every day with Nora? It seems like a huge faux pas to even suggest that working isn’t so bad.

I find the actual work of teaching fulfulling in many ways – it’s creative, it’s a constant challenge and it makes a difference for real people in real ways every day. But, now that I’m a mom, I also appreciate what I do for the time it affords me. I get to spend time with Nora in the morning when she is a happy and energetic child (most days). I get to spend time with her in the evening, eating, walking, playing, reading, all the things that would, I think, start to seem tedious if it was all I did, although I certainly don’t know that for sure. Sending Nora off to daycare still ranks as the hardest thing I’ve ever done. But I also am starting to realize that it may not be the worst thing for me or for Nora.

I’ve written before about feeling judged because I work. I think those instances have stung so hard because I have also always judged myself for it. I’m going to try to stop doing that, to appreciate the balance that work provides. To try to see the good in our routine that clearly is working pretty well for us.

And I always have the summer.

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Filed under going back to work, SAHM

Good Day

The day ended with bath-time – as usual. But it ended with a quotable, blog-able, quote. Nora was playing in the bath – and playing with herself as she sometimes does. We ignore it. She looked up at me all of a sudden and said, “Mama, I hurt my butt.” I said, “You did? How’d you do that?” Nora replied, “I put my finger in it.” And then Ken and I tried to stifle laughter so as not to alarm her.

This was just one of those days, though. A day when I wish I could stay home all the time. Yes, it was a holiday. The weather was beautiful, it happened to be toddler-time at the children’s museum this morning. All the stars aligned to make my yearning emerge. If today had been yesterday (bad sleeping night, muddy weather, moodiness of mom and baby) I wouldn’t be writing this. But today was today and so I am.

This morning I decided that I would take Nora to the Austin Children’s Museum for their baby and toddler time. I had done that once over the summer and decided it was time to try it again. When else do I have these opportunities? I had no one to call to invite with me, so I mused to Ken on my way out the door that I need more mom friends. I have one good mom friend – she was busy today. I have a few mom acquaintances, but not really a good “supply” of people to call for a play date. I imagine that comes partly from working- I don’t have time for play dates.

At the museum I stood in line behind a woman and her two daughters. I recognized her. She lives down the street, in a nice house with an enviable play set. I said hello, introduced myself, talked about a mutual acquaintance who just had a baby – and who decided last minute not to return to work. “How could you go back to work?” This mom asked.

I chose not to be offended. She doesn’t know me. She obviously hadn’t registered that I knew this mutual acquaintance from working. I can imagine myself asking that same question in different circumstances. I moved on.

Nora and I had a most excellent two hours at the museum. The best story of the time there is of diapers. I only took one with me. Nora requested a new diaper since hers was pretty wet and she thinks its great to get her diaper changed in a public restroom. After changing into a clean diaper she decided to make the new one dirty again. I didn’t want to leave – we had just been there 40 minutes. I asked the desk if they by any chance had diapers for sale. The nice teenage boy got one from the back, which Nora put on and called her “museum” diaper for the rest of the day.

Taking her back to the toddler time made me realize that she is so much more “grown up” than she was in July when we last ventured out downtown. She talks. She is much more sure-footed. She is curious in a whole new, in-depth way. In the last two weeks there have been a number of things that have made me realize she really isn’t a baby anymore. Today was just more proof that that is true. Maybe that’s why my longing emerged. She is growing so fast. I am working so much.

After nap she wanted to go for a walk in the neighborhood and I chose to go in the direction of the neighbor mom’s house since I had forgiven her statement and really do think it would be great to have a play friend for Nora that close. Sure enough, we ran into her and her girls right around the corner.

“So are you around in the mornings?” She asked after re-introducing ourselves and our kids.
“No. I work. I am a teacher.”
“Oh.”
“I am around on school holidays like today and all summer.”
“Well, you’re welcome over anytime – I guess on the weekends. We have a great playset.”

I wanted to not sense condescension or judgement. I really want a mom friend. But it was there. And so was my longing to be able to say yes – I could come play with her and her kids any morning of the week. But she doesn’t know that about me.And so I walked off bothered and feeling sad.

On days like this I wonder. I wonder if I really would be good at staying home (I’m terrible at all the “domestic” stuff. Ken is so much better at it). If I would be more understanding of working moms than this neighbor is. If I am right to assume that working is good for me in many ways – and daycare good for Nora in some ways as well. I wonder if there ever is a “right” choice (if there is a choice).

Really, the point of all of this is that Nora and I had a great day off together. She’s quite a funny, smart and opinionated little girl. It’s days like these that I realize I’m lucky to be her mom – staying at home or not.

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Filed under daycare, SAHM, Uncategorized

Temporary SAHM

I practiced going to work last week. I had an AP conference for 4 days, from 8 to 4:30, pretty much the same hours I will be at school in just three short weeks. But really this is my last week off – my last week to be the temporary stay at home mom.

All summer I’ve tried to remind myself that my stint as a SAHM is temporary. It will repeat itself in 10 months, but it is temporary nonetheless. Last year, when I had to transition back to work from being home with Nora for seven months, I was a total basketcase. How could I send her to daycare? They would never love her like I do. How could I be a good teacher? I wouldn’t have the time to work as hard. I cried every morning when I dropped her off, later in the day at work, and at night when I reflected on just how hard all of this was. It was awful. It was surely the hardest thing I’ve had to do in my entire life.

So this summer I made my best effort to remind myself of the fleeting nature of summer vacation at every possible turn. And I will admit that there were some moments, especially early on as I transitioned to being home, that I wondered if I would survive staying home, that I wished daycare was still an option. But I haven’t had one of those moments recently and looking at the calendar and seeing my Nora time diminishing is starting to make me teary eyed again.

The practice run was great. Nora was with Mimi and Papa, certainly only second to Elmo as people to spend time with. She asks for Mimi and Papa at the lunch table and in the car. So I wasn’t worried about her. I knew they would love her back – not like I do – but pretty close. And she is old enough to communicate now, so they would know just what she needed. The first three days of the conference, I left the house without a problem – said goodbye, got in the car, drove to UT, sat in class – it was all fine. But on the fourth day, when I realized that this practice run was going to become reality rather quickly, I cried on my way out the door.

Sending Nora to Mimi and Papa is one thing. Sending her to daycare is another. She will have new teachers, new classmates, new sickesses (please, not as bad as last year.!). So I sit anticipating it two weeks before it will happen. I know it won’t be as hard as last year, but it will be hard.

The thing is, I just need it to happen. And I need my students in my classroom. The week of teacher prep only gives me time to wonder what Nora is doing, to think about what I would be doing with her if we were home. Once those students walk into my room, I am distracted and dedicated – not that I ever forget about Nora. This anticipation is really the worst part.

And, when it really comes down to it, I think if I didn’t stand at the front of a room full on teenagers on August 24, if I got up, watched Elmo, chased Nora around the yard, said hello to the chickens down the street, I would begin to miss that part of my life too. I really do love teaching. I just hate leaving Nora.

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Filed under daycare, going back to work, SAHM