Thursday, December 30, 2010

Mommy love

Christmas Eve 2010

Sunday, December 26, 2010

round and back again

So the Great Stay-At-Home-Mom Experiment of 2010 was an epic fail.  After five weeks, including three off after surgery, I returned to work for 36 hours a week, which is full time in the real world, a little more than part time in the paramedic world.

I have great appreciation for stay at home moms.  I don't for a moment think that it's an easy thing to do, and I don't doubt that it is rewarding.
But I was completely, totally, hopelessly miserable.

I longed for adult conversation.  Longed to feel like I was actually accomplishing something other than wiping a runny nose and tossing laundry in the washer. 
Mostly, I was bored. Bored constantly.  It only takes so long to clean the house and throw something together for dinner, and if my husband was working a 24 hour shift, I didn't even bother to cook, just ordered take out.  I would sit, staring at my phone, trying to think if I even had anyone to call, just to talk to.
I didn't.

We threw out various ideas to make me happier. Maybe I could volunteer someplace--except I couldn't come up with anyplace to volunteer.  Or find a moms group, except I couldn't find one within driving distance.  The same for mommy and me classes, baby swim classes, gymnastics classes, and any sort of enrichment activities.  Then we considered maybe I would be happier if I went back to school--but to take one class it worked out to paying $400 a month.  Which is doable, if I'm working.  When I'm not working, it doesn't make a lot of sense to pay that much on top of my $500/a month student loan payments.
So that idea got scratched.  Rob suggested I find some hobbies, but the list we came up of my interests were:
American literature, particularly 20th century essays
Evangelical feminism

17th century philosophy
Religious philosophy
Current trends in conservative theology
Civil War history, especially concerning advances in medicine and women's rights
Rock climbing
Emergency medicine

Clearly, this wasn't going to work.  My interests are primarily academic, but just reading about them doesn't do much for me--I thrive on discussion, the free flowing of ideas, and debating.  Probably my initial plans to be a literature professor weren't far off the mark, but life has veered too far away from that now.

Eventually we decided it just wasn't worth it.  I needed to go back to work, even if I'm not crazy about working as a paramedic, primarly due to the large amount of down time and lack of projects.  I need things to do.  A job that involves a lot of time with nothing to do isn't something I'm suited for.

But for now I'm stuck. There isn't much to do in this geographic area, and though I've tried to cultivate hobbies, I truthfully can't come up with much I'd like, even to try.  Switching careers at this point isn't an option; I'm locked into prehospital medicine, and though probably going back to an ambulance service where I ran more calls and there was something of a career ladder to climb would help the situation greatly, there's none within a reasonable driving distance.  This is a very rural area, and moving isn't in the cards either.

So we're back to where we started. Again.   

Thursday, December 23, 2010


My son has been teething, which has left us with some long nights in my house.  For a baby who has slept through the night since six weeks, and parents that got spoiled by that, it was a little difficult to adjust.  I eventually just put Josh in bed with us and let him cuddle Mommy and Daddy.  That and some baby Motrin seemed to do the trick, and now that the pesky tooth has popped through, we're back to sleeping peacefully.

But while this was going on, my husband mentioned on his facebook page that we were up off and on all night with a sobbing baby.  A few people oh-so-helpfully replied that we should just let Josh "cry it out."

I had never heard of this.  After researching the links and reading the books these people(who cannot possibly be mothers) sent me, I wish I never had.  I will not be posting links to these sites or mentioning books by name, but in short, proponants suggested:

*Letting your baby cry for as long as it takes to fall asleep, after making sure their "needs" are met.  By this, I presume they mean physical needs, and completely ignored the baby's emotional and psychological needs to cuddle and be secure.

*Not worrying if baby cries so hard he vomits.  One "reputable" website assured worried parents this was "normal."

*Babies should not be fed at night after a certain age/weight, and ignored when they cry, because they are just trying to manipulate the parents.

My reasonable reaction to the above claims is: where is CPS when you need them?

So here and now, I say....I will never let Josh cry it out.  Josh sometimes gets a little fussy and wants to lay down and put himself to sleep, so I put him in the playpen and he's usually asleep after a minute or two.  If he isn't, I pick him up and cuddle him to sleep--which feeling my precious son's head on my shoulder, holding him in my arms, is a beautiful thing that I don't take for granted.  If he wakes up in the night, he knows that Mommy is going to come in and change his diaper, snuggle him back to sleep if he needs it,  feed him if he needs it.  Josh knows that when he cries, Mommy or Daddy or Grandma or an aunt is going to come get him, love him, and meet his needs.
I am a child centered Mom.  Parenting isn't about me or my schedule.  Josh has his own schedule--he wakes up, plays for a while, starts crying when he wants Mom, eats, plays, sleeps, plays, eats, plays all afternoon, eats again, plays, eats, and goes to bed for the night.  My schedule for Josh would be: wakes up, eats, plays, takes a nap, eats, plays, takes another nap, eat again, playtime some more, bath and bed.  Josh isn't interested in all those naptimes, he's good with 20 minutes in the morning.  But it's not about me. It's about what my son needs.
I am not really an attachment parenting guru, either.  I didn't feel a great deal of sadness when I realized breastfeeding wasn't working out for us.  Actually, all I felt was a lot of relief that somebody else could do this, too, without me slaving over a pump.  I didn't wear Josh in a sling; I tried a few times, but he hated it.  Not enough space to move around, I think.

In the end, parenting comes down to what is best for a particular child.  I have a lot of thoughts on what I hope our home and parenting looks like--homeschooling, lots of togetherness, lots of enjoying each other, lots of books and music and academia.  But I may have a child who doesn't particularly fit the homeschool mode.  Josh may need to attend public school at some point before high school(I don't think anyone can provide a full homeschooled high school education complete with electives, science labs, upper math and foreign languages, so we plan to send our kids to school in those years).  He may not be interested in music.  I may have a child at some point who needs to be homeschooled and a child at the same time who needs to attend school.  Our life may not look like what I have planned, and that's okay.
Because it is not about me, my wishes, goals, dreams and hopes for my children.
It's about Joshua.  And what Joshua needs, however different from my plans his dreams turn out to be. 

But for now, Josh is a very happy, healthy, secure little boy who gets snuggled in the night, and any time during the day that he'll be still long enough.  He knows that when he cries, someone will be there to pick him up and take care of whatever he needs.
Joshua knows, even at six and a half months old, that he is loved.
What more could a parent want?

Tuesday, December 14, 2010


Yesterday was not a really good day to receive a link to my alma mater's alumni website.  Josh was sick, I was coming down with it, the house was a mess, my husband was on a 24 hour shift, and I could not believe that I was not sitting in a nice, warm, clean office somewhere with manicured nails and adult conversation.  So in the middle of feeling like this, I happen upon the wonderful exploits of my college friends.
Disclaimer: I know that many of my college classmates are now stay at home mothers.  They were just not people I was friends with..

As I've said before, I was in a highly academic program at a highly academic college.  Googling some of my friends from college, I discover they are now: three doctors, a college professor in philosophy, a Ph.D. in chemistry, a college professor in English literature, six attorneys and several professors of theology.  One friend has an MBA, my best friend from college is an editor and analyst in Washington, D.C. and I watch her sometimes on Fox News and CNN.  Four have written books.  And this was my inner circle at college, the people I was closest to.

Meanwhile, I wiped the baby's runny nose at least 8 million times yesterday.

It is hard not to compare our dreams with our reality, especially when many of our peers have accomplished what we believe to be what we wanted.  I wanted to be a lawyer or a college professor of philosophy or literature. Or both.  I did not want to be a stay at home mom, and, actually, I didn't even want kids. Or marriage--I didn't want to ever get married until I was 26 years old and Robbie changed my mind.  And I didn't want kids, but I knew that Rob would...and my doctor was clear that if we wanted children, sooner was better than later--there was no later.  So here I am, 29 years old, which in my college peer group is way to young to be married and a mother.  In fact, I am the only person I know from college who has a child.  And no doctorate, no corner office, no teaching position.  I'm a mom, and I have no idea how I wound up here.

This isn't to say that I don't love being a mom.  I do.  I love my baby boy with my whole heart.  But I don't always like being a stay at home mom, which to many people, is the next thing to heresy.  I don't enjoy running a home.  It bores me.  I miss people.  I miss doing things, accomplishing things.  I may not get a PhD at this point, but there is a certain level of success that I wanted to attain.  I want to wear nice clothes to work and not have to change clothes five times a day because they got spit up on.  I want to have a job where things are accomplished, my desk is neat, and I get to go to meetings and have coffee.  I may be the only person in the world who loves meetings.

Maybe I just want an accomplishment that I can stick up on the alumni board, too.

We've talked off and on about me going back to work. I  was hired back at my old job, working with emotionally disturbed children and their families, but I didn't have all my addresses back to 1982, which New York state now requires for a child abuse clearance.  And, frankly, working full time doesn't make a lot of financial sense with what we would pay for day care.  If I could figure out how to pay for school, I'd finish my teaching certification, but that's going to be on hold till summer at the earliest.

So I honestly don't know what to do.  I know that a lot of women would kill for my options, and I am so thankful that the choices are there.  But I have to decide what the right choice is for me--to stay home and keep trying not to be miserable, or go find a job and probably lose money on child care.  Or to find a third alternative that just hasn't presented itself yet.
But I have to figure something out before I go crazy.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010


Two years ago yesterday, sitting my parent's living room, my husband handed me a tiny blue box with a diamond ring inside.   There was nothing very romantic about the proposal, or any other part of our dating saga, but there was love, and tenderness, and joy.  He asked me if I would be his wife, but we had both known, for months, long before we had anything "official" going on between us, that he was the man I wanted to spend my life with.

No, there was never anything romantic.  There was never even the gushy mushy type of love between us.  No hearts skipping beats, no flowers, no chocolates, no romantic cards and late night I-love-yous.  We didn't believe in soul mates; my husband does not complete me.  I don't have a single love letter he's written, because he has never written any, and probably never will.  He doesn't have any little gifts or trinkets from me, because that just isn't the way we do things.  There was none of that.

There was just love.  Peace.  Joy.  Our relationship was very simple.  We were older when we got together; he was 25, I was 27.  Our parents whole heartedly approved, our friends just rolled their eyes and said, "I told you so."  We both had dated other people, brief relationships that just showed us what we wanted and didn't want.  We both had our acceptable traits and what we would not stand.  I would not marry a man who, otherwise perfect, had a temper.  He was not interested in a woman who would boss him around or make too many demands on his time(not in a bad way, he just wasn't going to marry a woman who demanded he went with her to Hobby Lobby when he could just as well stay at home).  We both knew that we needed partners who were involved in fire and EMS.  I was not going to tolerate a man who refused to help around the house. I wanted someone who was not overly intellectual or artsy, traits that tend to annoy me.  I wanted a simple man, who loved me and his family, who could work with his hands and fix things around the house, who would understand what drives me out of bed at 2 am in the cold winter morning for a structure fire, who helped around the house and cooked dinner sometimes and who was not going to be jealous or controlling or moody or tempermental.   

And, ladies, I got him.

There was no Cupid, no fireworks.  Only a recognition that this man that I'd been friends with for a while was the one that I wanted to share every moment of my life with.  Instead of fireworks, I looked at him one day across the room at work and thought, "Oh.  There you are."

And there he still is.  Happy two-year-engagement anniversary.