Thursday, January 31, 2013

How Dare You Speak Honestly With Me!

I recently read a blog listing off what not to say to a working mom. You're going to want to check that out in order to better understand me. She told us not to freak out, because she supports stay at home moms, but so much of what she said contradicted that, so I have responded with my own list of things you shouldn't say to a stay at home mom.

I wish I could afford to do that!

Do you? Do you really? Don't say it if you don't mean it. I have no problems with you working. There is no shame in enjoying your work or career. There is no shame in enjoying the extra income if that's what it is to your household, but keep in mind, many of you do have the choice. Single moms and moms from very low-income families don't always have that choice, but about 90% of the women who have said this to me have husbands earning twice as much (or more) than my husband. In fact, I have had women say this to me while we had zero income at all while my husband was going back to school and we were living on school loans. You assume that we are rolling in upper class dollar bills when you make a comment like that, when the truth is, we just do without a lot of stuff. In the past, we've spent years without cable and some without internet as well. We hardly ever eat out, we might go to the movies once or twice a year, and our vacations consist of visiting family. At one point, when it was just me, my husband, and our first born child who was still only nursing, we managed on a grocery budget of $25 a week. I kid you not. If they didn't have it at Aldi, I didn't buy it, and we didn't really buy any snack foods. Now that is not a realistic budget to maintain, and it's not for everyone. Noted. But don't insult my intelligence. If you really wanted to stay home with your children, you would find a way to do it. Wanting to work doesn't make you a bad mother any more than saying how badly you wish you could stay home makes you a better mother.

It must be so great to be there for all the milestones.

You are assuming that I don't have anything else in the house to do other than keep both eyes on my children all day. The thing about being home is that people are always there to make messes during the day. I have missed many a milestone while doing the dishes, making dinner, stepping out of the room to take care of something, etc, etc. I catch them after the fact, or now, one of my older children will notify me of something the baby did. The things I never miss? The first poop, the first pee all over me, the first puke, the first potty training accident. Always around for those, and usually the only one available to clean it up.

What will you do once your children go to school?

My time at home with my children has not made me irrelevant to society nor has it completely negated any previous experience I've had. This world's work force needs to stop shunning women who have made the choice to stay home with the next generation. I haven't stopped learning or contributing to society. In fact, I have learned a great deal about teaching, and patience, and multi-tasking; things the work force could use a lot more of. Don't write me off as though I'm a handicap to the working body. There is plenty I can do.

Oh, I don't have the time to watch TV ( or insert any other leisure activity here).

Right. I forgot how you are so much busier than I am. After all, I just watch reality TV all day, and have plenty of time to work out. It couldn't possibly be that I only watch TV during nap and/or after bedtime, and that I only workout at 6am before my children awake. It couldn't possibly be that I just have an organized schedule and routine that I am disciplined enough to stick to.

You look exhausted.

I am. Thanks for noticing. I have three children. I am homeschooling one, nursing one, and trying not to ignore the other. I'm cleaning, teaching, and feeding someone all day and sometimes night.

At least you get to spend time with your children all day.

Here's the thing. I am here physically, with my children all day. I spend as much time with them as possible, but like I said before, the thing about being here all day, is that messes are made which need to be cleaned. When you're a working mom with a working husband, and your children spend their days in daycare, in school, or in someone else's home, your home stays in the state you left it. In mine there is constant work because there are constant mess makers. And it's work that often takes me all day (or all week) to finish. I get my hands in the soapy dish water, and the baby cries. I start folding clothes that have been in the dryer for three days, and the kids are hungry. I get out the vacuum, and the baby starts screaming. I start to make dinner, and the baby needs to nurse. I could go on and on. Actual quality time with my children is less than one might think.

It must be so nice not to have a job to worry about.

You're right. I don't work. And never in my life did I ever have a dream of having a career. Come on! I love my kids, and I believe I am where I am supposed to be right now, without a doubt, but there was  a time in my life when I desperately wanted a career in basketball; be it playing or coaching. It didn't work out for me, but thanks for the reminder. After all, we stay at home moms never had any dreams or aspirations beyond giving birth.

I don't know how you do it all.

I was raised on the importance of doing a job well, and to believe that it was better to be a master of one rather than a jack of all trades, but most days I feel like everything I do is half-@$$ed. Sorry, can't think of a better way to put that. Most of what I try to get done never gets completed, or it is just plain never ending. My house isn't that clean, my meals are hit or miss, and even though, yes, I am home, I feel like I don't have enough of the good time with my children...not just time. There's a difference. So no, I don't do it least not well.
But wait, how is this an insult exactly?

Why do you homeschool?

Why not? Because that's what my husband and I believe is best for our children right now, that's why. Don't look at me like I'm some sort of freak who won't let her children experience life. I went to public school myself, and have nothing against it, but this, right now, was our personal choice, and I shouldn't have to defend that.  

Don't call me a stay at home mom while we're at it.

Implying that you are a working mom while I just stay at home, is insulting. From here on out I declare that stay at home moms should be called career moms, because we are making a career out of working, yes working, at home. Change approved! (So what, I watch Cougar Town). 

You look exhausted.

Yeah, we covered that already. Thanks.

And lastly...
Don't tell me what we can and can't talk about.

Do you parade this list around to your friends? Or are you only insulted by strangers trying to have an honest conversation with you? Besides maybe two items on your list, those all seem like legitimate conversation pieces between moms. We all have struggles and challenges, and while we may not fully understand each other, our own personal struggles don't negate anyone else's struggles and challenges. We shouldn't be beating each other up over them or refusing to allow people to talk to us about them with this my challenges are greater than yours mentality.   

Does my list here sound ridiculous to you? My goodness, I hope so! If you haven't gotten it by now, I am being facetious. Ladies, we have got to stop tearing each other apart for our choices. Aren't there enough battles going on between women about personal choice? Do we have to add this too? We shouldn't feel the need to defend the choices we've made in raising our children. We shouldn't need to berate others' for their decisions in order to feel better about our own. And we shouldn't have to walk on egg shells to talk with each other. Why are we all so easily offended by everyone's differing opinions?

We are all strong, independent women with something to offer the world and each other. We should be able to sit and talk frankly about issues and concerns or questions about the choices we each make. We should seek ways to relate to one another and support one another. We were designed to be encouraging and nurturing, and yet we encourage each other in all the wrong ways! Rather than encourage someone in their decision and through their struggles, so many women are collectively reading the above (snarky, in my opinion) blog I referenced, and all jumping on it, "You tell 'em!" "I can't stand that!" "You go girl!" We women are so quick to ban together over gossip and disdain, and we're quick to encourage each other to be hurtful, hateful, petty, and resentful. I mean, if my snarky response blog here doesn't prove my point, I don't know what does. ;-) Seriously though, how many times do you dismiss something that may have bothered you, only to be further encouraged in your bitterness by other women? We all do it! We get into groups and suddenly a small issue is blown out of proportion and we're all on soap boxes about how awful we've been treated and how we would never do that to someone. We all know that's not true, myself included. We have all been the perpetrator and we've all played the victim, no matter how unintentional. All of the above things which have been said to me at one time or another were never intended as offensive or hurtful. They were sincere, however misguided, questions, comments, or just conversation pieces, and I wouldn't dream of writing a serious article about how these things should never be said to stay at home moms. They do not offend me, nor should they. Talk to me! I want to understand your struggles. I want to encourage you, even if I don't know what it is like to leave my children with a sitter or daycare provider. I want to build you up. Because you are each special and unique, and God has a plan for your life and your family and what you are doing with it and for them. And I hope that when I say, "I need a day out of the house," rather than judge me for it or take offense to it personally, you would return my encouragement, and understand that having a moment to myself, for myself, would help maintain my sanity and rejuvenate my spirit. Can't all moms relate to that?

In closing, I have no hard feelings towards any working mom who has posted that article or related to it in anyway, because I'm sure many of you are wondering. I am not offended by your ability to relate to that blogger. I'm not actually offended by what she has to say. I just think it's a shame she feels the need to sensor and stifle conversations among women. I understand what she is trying to say, and I appreciate how difficult it may be to hear some of those things from people. They may appear insensitive and judgmental and maybe even some people intend for them to be, but don't allow it to harden you against all line of questioning and conversation between moms. We shouldn't limit what they may say to us out of curiosity or confusion. I am often an awkward conversationalist myself, but my desire is always sincere in just wanting to connect with people.

In all seriousness, I have been over dramatic here to make a point. I hope you all understand that, but I am open to honest and sincere questions. I am not even saying all this because I believe I hold the keys to not being offended or that I am a superior strong woman who doesn't let anything bother me. I say these things because I too have once thought them. I'm just being honest about it!

I know I have said this before, but I have a great deal of respect for all mothers! Keep trying to connect and relate, because we all need each other, and we could all use a little encouragement from time to time.   

Friday, January 25, 2013

Origins of the Side Ponytail

I made an astounding discovery today. The very popular on again/off again trend of the side ponytail is very likely not at cool as you might think.

It seems like every generation has had it's own version of the side ponytail. They were long and often braided or twisted in the Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman age.

Yes, that is an acceptable reference.

In the 70s, the age where multiple pigtail styles were for adults of all ages, Susanne Somers made the half side pony unforgettable.

I think we can all agree that the 80s were seriously high and more than one way. They were curly, and crimped, and teased, and really everything but timeless.

And I'm pretty certain the 80s terrified us all and turned us all off to the side ponytail for a very long time because I didn't see another one until the final season of Dawson's Creek where Jen wore a very subtle, thin, wisp of a side ponytail that you could barely notice. I'm watching it on Netfilx right now. Leave me alone.

So now, it is made popular by celebs of all kinds, as a swept to the side, low-maintenance look.

But does anyone truly know the origins of the ever-so-popular side pony? Today, I can venture a pretty good guess.

I had just finished nursing Isaac late this morning. I hadn't showered yet. My hair had been in a sloppy ponytail on top of my head, but had slid down quite a bit and some was straying out of the rubber band. I lifted Isaac, my 5 month old baby, off the boppy to burp him. He grabbed a fistful of my hair and burped his baby spit up right into it. Thankfully that fistful was yanked right out, so I didn't have the pleasure of walking around the rest of the day with spit up in my hair. 

Later, after I had showered, I found myself in a similar predicament. About to burp him with my newly washed hair hanging down my shoulders, I quickly pulled it all off to the opposite side and tied it up, out of his reach.

It was an hour later when Jelani looked at me strangely, and asked, "Is that a side ponytail?" that I had a realization.

Light bulb moment, ladies.

That gorgeous and trendy look you're all just dying to have? That elegant, swept away look found in so many of your prom and wedding photos? That look was made common by nerdy moms like me, tired of the same boring bun on top of their heads, and tired of having their hair yanked out and spit up on.

Some mom, somewhere, took a look at her disheveled, side swept hair in the mirror, and thought, "I can make this work!"

Look who's cool and trendy now.  

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Unforgettable Fun

I love my readers, I really do, but I don't really write this blog for you. You see, some days I feel like I'm in the middle of the battle grounds with no chance of escape. My days are consumed with being the teacher, the cook, the cleaning lady, the referee, the disciplinarian, the soother, the bottle, and the lady with poop on her hands, minus the added perks of being the chauffeur because I am the stay at home mom of the literal sense. I have no car. So when I'm in the trenches, I am in the trenches.

My days fill up pretty quickly with a lot of stuff I don't even know how to name. And between the teachings, the feedings, the changings, and the runnings around desperately trying to keep the poop, which is bubbling over the top edge of Isaac's diaper, from touching anything, I don't have much time to just have fun...not that those things aren't fun. I couldn't stop laughing while using 50 wipes all over Isaac's little body just to get him clean enough to take a bath. That is truly a crap filled memory I will not soon forget. I'm talking about real fun. Poop-free fun. The kind of fun when a mom can just stop everything in her job description, let loose, and thoroughly enjoy her family.

Tonight, if you happened to drive slowly by the Greene residence, and caught a glimpse of some strangely moving and grooving silhouettes through the blinds, you were witnessing a very intimate Greene house dance party. Chastity asked, or rather demanded, that Daddy dance with her. So we turned Pandora onto Motown, and for a solid 30 minutes, we all shook it like mad in the living room. Isaac and Selah stared up at us from the floor as though we'd done lost our minds.

So I don't write this for readers, as much as I love you all, and I love your feedback, and I love hearing your stories and how you can relate to mine. I write this for me, because I never want to forget.

I never want to forget Chastity's blissful little face with her arms and legs hugging her daddy, swaying to The Temptations. I never want to forget Elijah looking up and smiling at me while trying so hard to dance with me like a big boy. I never want to forget how Elijah stood up on the couch so he could spin me. I never want to forget how Chastity herded Jelani and I together so the "big people" could dance together and the "little kids" could dance. I never want to forget how she and Elijah danced together trying to be so grown. I never want to forget how many times they spun in circles, laughed, jumped, and hugged us and each other. Because that half hour makes everything under my "job description" so worth it, and when Mommy has that much fun, she doesn't ever want to forget it.

Writing for yourself is the most enjoyable kind, so I hope you find the time to write down your fleeting moments, and make time to enjoy those you work so hard for! I might just declare every Saturday night, Saturday-Night-Fever Night...minus the disco.