SAHM

17 August 2011

ah.

I hate that acronym. I don't know why but I always have (along with DH).

I've realized (recently and not so recently) that whenever I get asked, "where do you work?" or, "what do you do?", or "do you just stay at home?" or,  "do you work?" I get a little bit pink-cheeked and flustered and answer with a sheepish smile, "oh, um I um stay at home..." or, "well, yes I stay at home with Julia" (and feel the need to somewhat defensively add with a stomach pat), "and another baby coming in the fall..." or, "no, no...I don't work..." with an awkward trail off.

I don't know why this is. I know the questioning parties aren't being even remotely malicious or judgmental (I'll be honest...I don't love when the 'just' is tacked onto the, "just stay at home?" query) but I'm maybe a little too proud and need to just letitgo.

I feel like I should probably stop here and preface the meat of the post with about 89 disclaimers in bold, neon, flashy font:

1. I know I am so lucky and blessed to be able to stay at home with Julia and the brewing babe. I can't stress this enough. I really admire moms that successfully juggle a career and home life on much less sleep than I enjoy. I respect them an immense amount because I know I would fail miserably at both if I were to attempt.
2. I do not have some buried burning desire for a career outside our home. I say this only to make clear that I'm not bitter (thou doth protest too much, Grace...?) nor am I pressing my nose against our front windows watching longingly at the neighboring working moms that roll out each morning prettily put together with coffee in one hand and kiddos in in the other and knowing how much work they've already accomplished before that ungodly hour. Really...I'm not.
3. I'm writing this smack dab in the middle of one of Simon's really time consuming rotation. There isn't a full day and night combo that he won't be at work for at least a portion of the time and well....it is wearing on me maybe a little bit more than a little bit.
4. This isn't a solicitation for advice on how to meet other moms ... but I appreciate the thought and sentiment. That sounds snarky ... it isn't meant to be.

ok there are probably more but those are the bigs.

Simon and I both grew up with moms that stayed at home. We are both fall first in line in our families; I have six younger siblings and Simon has four younger brothers and sisters. When we were dating we talked about how much we appreciated having a stay at home mom. We didn't know anything different but knew that, if possible, we wanted to same for our potential, future family.

Helllllooo Julia. We were so fortunate that when she was born Simon had a free month and a pretty light schedule during his last year of med school. I enjoyed easing into the day-to-day life of caring for Julia. I have no one to really compare her to but I think she is/was a generally good baby. We dealt with teething, night time feedings and car seat screaming together. All was well and good.

Enter these last two months and the bear that is residency and life in a new city. Enter isolation in it's most serious form. Fine....not most serious...but serious in my book. I nannied right after I graduated from college and knew how lonely spending one's day with children could be but figured it would be different if and when I had my own children. I will say candidly that these last two months have been some of the most trying of my life. Ha...again with the flare for the melodramatic, Grace. I should say that maybe those months following my four years as a home schooler and returning to the conventional 7th grade classroom were maybe a little bit more difficult. Mistakenly reading the words, "orgasm" instead of "organism" and "testicle" instead of "tentacle" (which I'm not sure if I should be proud or embarrassed to admit that I had no clue what either of the latters meant) during my turn to read out loud in Life Science class were maybe some of the rougher times...actually that was definitely a tougher period to navigate.

As mentioned before, I think Julia is a pretty good baby but she does have her frequent, angry and inconsolable moments.
and when those meltdowns are my only companion in the middle of a long and lonely day punctuating an already long and lonely week, it can be really frustrating and disheartening. Um...but Grace...you have one (ONE!!!!) child. You have nothing to complain about as looming two year old tantrums, sibling fights and an even messier house await you. Well...then I'll write another post to complain about those woes when the time comes. Small to medium joke. 

I have equal parts myself, myself and myself to blame. I am a pretty extreme introvert and much prefer my silly little regimented schedules built around Julia's naps and moods to getting in the car for any sort of spontaneous outing and risking Julia turning into a fuss monster in her car seat for the majority of the drive.

(robot voice) Where am I going where am I going will I ever get there? I hope so.

Being a stay at home (for me) most certainly isn't one easy breezy, carefree day leading into the next nor is it anywhere near as stressful as a marathon day at the office, juggling a zillion projects, emails and deadlines. It is more of a test of faith, fortitude and patience during some pretty mundane stretches of time.  It is keeping my proverbial chin up when I feel nauseated from an empty stomach and Julia wants to be held and I don't want to listen to her cry so I give in and just hold her and make use of my one free arm and my one t-rex arm holding Julia to make myself a snack only to have her bat it out of my hand and onto the floor.  It is singing, "Row Your Boat" three octaves higher than my alto voice is comfortable with to distract a wiggly Julia during every diaper change, face wash and outfit change. It is not lounging around every ding dong day in work out pants and a t-shirt while munching on Cheerios and letting Julia watch as much Baby Einstein as her little screen time loving heart desires. It is definitely resisting the easy temptation to plow through hours of internet (in allllll its entertaining and addicting glory) and mugs of chocolate coffee and not being present for Julia. It is ensuring that Julia is always at the top of my hierarchy of priorities. It is choosing necessary laundry, cleaning and meal making over unnecessary blog reading, blog reading and blog reading. It is making good use of the time I can enjoy before the new baby arrives (not implying I'm not going to enjoy the new babe! I am! I just know how time consuming and sleep depriving those first several weeks can and will be). It is cheerfully reading Corduroy four times in a row because Julia is obsessed and simultaneously hyperventilates and lights up like a little bulb every time she sees the bright red cover. 
 It is being a supportive (which I know I can always always always improve on) spouse to Simon during the breaks he gets at home from his grueling schedule at work. . . trying not to dump a whiny Julia on him the moment he walks in the door . . . thanking him genuinely and frequently for selflessly (and miraculously sans complaints!) providing for our family . . . 
 not letting my laughable woes add to his serious stresses and 
 obviously this list is getting far too Hallmarky and serious and could go on for probably four days and four nights of fun.

When all is said (and I'm pretty sure I've said it all without really saying anything...at all) and done, I know Julia has a deep appreciation for me
really.
For our chats and our walks and our good times and rough times and our many lessons learned together.

I know that I'm a novice at my vocation and that it isn't at all what I had expected but that there are pleasant surprises (really? you didn't happen to mention those....) and ugly realities but that 

hmm..

I wouldn't have it any other way?

too cliche

I know I'm living the life I was meant to live?

again with the clishy clishy ayay

I'm a selfish, ungrateful house whiff that has nothing better to do than type out her sorrows for all of the internets to see?

too obvious
 I probably just need to learn to count my blessings more thoroughly, more frequently and more deliberately before I set out to type about my so-called vida tough-a. 

Amen?

Allelulia?

A-something.

back to sewing and more sewing tomorrow.

26 comments:

  1. This is a great post. I've been reading your blog for a couple of months and always enjoy it. I know how it feels to be at home with a baby or babies with a husband working long/erratic hours. Hang in there you'll make it!

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  2. While I have no idea what it is like to be a stay-at-home mom (except for the Trudes), I can relate on being the wife of a doctor with a crazy schedule. And I haven't even faced the really tough schedules yet like you have. Next month is supposed to be a different story though. Ben is on transplant and his head doc keeps sayin, "Are you married? Well we'll see if you'll still be in two months. You might as well tell your wife goodbye now." Nice, right?

    Anyway, this was a great post and I'm glad you shared it. Julia is lucky to have such a great mom!

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  3. Yay, Grace! For having the courage to say what so many of us are feeling! Life as a stay at home momma is so good! And it's even better when we can share our vulnerabilities with one another...and laugh about them! Thank you, thank you!

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  4. Few moms are so candid :) Most are too scared to admit that it sucks because then the working masses "win" - they can tell us to shove it and that they were right all along: Women weren't meant to stay at home. I keep my blog light and fluffy and whenever a day goes by without a blog - it means I had the exact same day as you described above!!! I am sitting here stuffing my children with Tangled on Netflix and squeezable applesauce treats while I explore the same blogs I check in on day after day...while ignoring my children. I actually set out today to only check Facebook and the blogging world in the morning and failed miserably. I spend my whole day apologizing to my husband :) The good news is that my sister has 6 kids and her friends all have lots of kids as well. They all say that having ONLY small babies is the toughest part of motherhood. The rest pales in comparison. So, perhaps we only have a few years of the mundane "pull-our-hair-out-in-boredom" before the real good stuff kicks in. Also - I hope you're a drinker...it helps me :) Only not when I'm pregnant of course *hiccup*

    Lastly, your post reminded me of my friend Maria's post: http://allthingstoplease.blogspot.com/2011/03/whats-mother-to-do.html

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  5. lovely post. but i dont think any of your woes are laughable in comparison to simon's. you guys both do AMAZING things and are amazing parents and there are struggles you both face daily, no doubt. thanks for sharinggg.

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  6. Amen sista friend. Being a stay at home mom is NOT easy... but nothing worth doing ever is.

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  7. First off, it really ticks.me.off! when someone asks what I do all day or if I am just a stay at home mom. I try not to be offended, knowing they are naive, but it is really yanks my keister (whatever that means).
    The world wouldn't have even half of the problems it does if more moms stayed home and loved their kids. There, I said it. Sorry if it offends anyone. The heart of the world is the home and families. Each family is so important in this world!
    Second, I have so been there done that and bought the tshirt for how you are feeling and I'm sending a big ol hug your way! I swear it comes in phases. When Tagg was a baby he was a screamer and had food allergies up the wazoo all while Bost wanted double attention and Dev was working and in school at nights. It was hard, really hard. Somehow we survived, and now things are so much better. Being a mom to my two boys is the best thing ever!!! Tagg's first year was a real bugger for me though. So much so, that because my first two pregnancies were difficult on top of that, we decided we were finished with a family of four. But... we began to feel we were done... and then I read your blog post about crying it out... and it inspired me. Strange, I know, but it did. It helped me realize that all kids come with a few "phases" and we push through it, and it is so incredibly worth it! And we are trying for #3. ;)
    Anyhow, now I'm really rambling on and on aren't I? Haha. I'm sorry it's so hard sometimes! Don't feel bad if you just need to open a package of oreos and cry once in a while. Do whatever it takes to get through the rough times, pray lots, and it WILL get better. XOXO

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  8. oops. Meant to say *began to feel we WEREN'T done... big difference. Oy... I struggle.

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  9. This is one of my favorite post you have written! Thanks for being so honest. I work from home and I find I'm so conflicted. Part of me wants to work full-time sometimes just to get out, socialize and justify myself (and others who tend to look down on you if you're a stay at home mom). The other part of me gets overwhelmed at times and I just want to drop everything work wise and be a stay at home mom. I guess what I want is to be a SAHM, but I don't want that label (I don't mean that in a snotty way or anything, just that people judge and I find that so tough to deal with).

    What you said about not dumping the kids on your hubby when he walks in, I can so relate to that! I seriously need to work on that.

    I love that picture of Julia when you're reading her her favorite book! Her smile is so cute :)

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  10. We couldn't afford for me to stay home when my first babies were little, so I've only been a "sahm" for 4 years now. I never had to be the sole entertainment to 1 baby for days on end. That would be, absolutely is, atrociously difficult. I PROMISE you that once they are older and telling jokes and doing projects and playing with each other and fighting and making you laugh you will say "Ah! Now *this* I can survive." God knew I wasn't as strong as you are so didn't let me have what I wanted until it got to the easier level.

    Don't minimize your efforts, Grace. It is HARD. Hard.

    Love ya, girl.

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  11. Oh Grace, how I love thee! You articulate it perfectly and say it so candidly. I'll give you a call this week for some good ol' commiseration.

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  12. Love this Grace!! I dont stay at home with the kiddos, but bring them to work with me. It is challenging somedays and somedays things go smoothly, but I truely believe God meant for women to stay at home with their children, just today its sooo hard. Know you are doing the right thing, and many times when i stay at home with both kids with 12ooo piles of laundry looking at me, and dishes to be done I am alot busier than I am even at work. #2 will bring new challenges, but I remember when people would say things about only having one child! Sometimes I think that is the hardest, they cant entertain each other!! Miss the Woodlawn days!!

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  13. I didn't know what SAHM stood for (I realized only after reading the comments), so I immediately googled and got Sexy And Hot Mamma. Perfecto.

    You are an inspiration the way you take the little crosses of life (especially the crosses of a Sexy and Hot Mamma which, having close friends who are also SAHMs, I know is something to be HIGHLY respected) and turn them into absolutely hysterical, light and very sweet anecdotes. Grace, you rock it. I hope to be as funny and sweet a mother as you someday. Rock (and blog) on.

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  14. Oh, I sympathize with you on residency! And the introvert thing too - can make is so hard to adjust to a new place. While I don't have kids yet, I've thought a lot about how I would handle all of these issues - thanks for sharing yours... (And thanks for stopping by my blog!)

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  15. So well thought & written!
    I appreciate you sharing this so candidly.
    I wish we lived nearer and could hang out…
    Thanks, as always, for sharing.

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  16. Grace, you have written my thoughts and really encouraged me. Thank you. It is so great to know that friends are feeling similarly and fighting through so many of the same things. Plus, you're hilarious! I actually do feel like a second kid has made it a bit easier now that they like each other. I will offer up any little prayers that I can remember to pray especially since you are dealing with such LONG days, I cannot imagine! You're awesome, thank you for posting :)

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  17. Great post! I remember that my first child loved The Classic Volland Edition of Mother Goose. Over and over and over.....given to her by her Godparents. I walked with her at least twice a day down the road to see the neighbor's sheep. My husband was working hard and often didn't get home until long after dark. I was the definition of loneliness. Those were trying days. No cell phones and phone calls were pricey. We did not have a TV, a computer, a dishwasher, or a clothes dryer. If it weren't for my DD, I might have flown the coop! I thought long and hard about how many years of fertility I had left! Love you!

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  18. Grace, I loved this post, and commiserate in spirit, if not in actual circumstance. Not to be all stalker-y, but I'll be back in St. Louis for Thanksgiving. And while I hope you and the clan get some well earned time off and a visit back home with your families, if you don't, I'd love to meet up.

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  19. me=sahm after being big time teacher in east harlem. at home with 17 month old and there when 5 year old gets home from kindergarten on bus. last year I was you, littlest strapped to chest while going going going to speech therapy/OT with bigger boy, on subway, nyc, then back uptown to 1/2 day preschool, applying to special ed kindergartens, trying not to panic about him and spy too hard on littlest to see if he too will have 'language processing disorder' - ie, sometimes he just spaces out and doesn't converse and can't play all the other little kids' reindeer games. getting better, all of it, big kid, the staying at home without feeling insane and too lonely, the little guy seems to be turning out fine. but I get it, and anyway I love your blog and just wanted to say that, I look you up with beating heart a little more than the other fashion-y ones I resist reading all day long like you do.

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  20. Oh gosh. Sooooooo late to this party. But glad I got here because this post is awesome. You verbalized the ups and downs of life staying home with small children so much more lucidly and calmly than I ever do.

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  21. Love this!(I know I'm a year late on this post, just followed the blog) The same thing happens to me. I have two kids at home and my husbands a busy resident. This is pretty much exactly how I feel.

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  22. I'm late to the party but oh my goodness how this post spoke to me. My baby is 9 weeks and I am you know, just a stay at home mom. And a seriously struggling one! My husband is a firefighter who works 24 hr shifts and when he gets home, has to go bed to get some of that sleep they don't get at work obviously. So tough when all I want to do is spend time with him or have a little help with our baby. It makes it very, very hard not to resent their jobs...the very things allowing us to stay at home! Oh, the irony! So much misery and grumping from me during a time I feel should be the happiest part of my life.. Hmm

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  23. This post really resonated with me. I love how honest you are about it. My days look a lot less like most blogging moms who seem to pack their days with child-friendly arts and crafts and cooking activities. My kids get into stuff, and I react and talk about it, and that basically happens over and over all day. I just convince myself that its good for them because they are "exploring". Ha! Anyways, thanks for being you!

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  24. Thanks for this one. :0) as my sister and I like to say, "true dat, double true dat." Also, I share your hatred for the terms "SAHM" and "DH". Blech. I'd say you're not so much a novice at the Mom thing anymore...

    I really appreciate your words, their ing true.

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