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Archive for June, 2011

Normally this would be called: “The Stay-at-Home Mom versus the Working Mom.” We all know this one; it starts on the message boards during pregnancy. The women planning a life as a SAHM form a group on one side of the room, while the WMs roll their eyes at them from the other side.

I am a bizarre hybrid of the two: The Stay-at-Home-Working Mom. It isn’t that far of a jump really, I actually have gotten to know tons of moms like this. We long ago shod our high heels and casual work outfits for weekdays spent in our home offices, typing, taking conference calls, and checking email while juggling laundry and dusting the furniture.

And then we got pregnant.

This jump from being a self-employed, work-from-homer turned into a question of what I was to become once the baby got here, maybe not a SAHM at all, but something else entirely. I remember so many people would say things to me like, “It’s so nice that you work from home, how convenient.” Or, “That’s great that you’ll still be able to work after the baby comes.” And I looked at these people like they had six heads. Are you crazy?

And yet.

Back in January, I began to take on projects again. And although I’m technically working part-time, add part-time job (which does require brain power/functionality/decent sleep) with full-time job of Mom and I’m peering over to the other side of the room, a little envy for the WMs with their smartphones and their carpools and their ability to spend their work hours focusing on work, not jumping from diaper changes to taking a call to temper tantrums and trying to finish some billing to changing your shirt from spit up and then back to the keyboard.

I am thinking about this lately because it is bit of a conundrum. I believe that the overall consensus (or opinion of the world) on SAHMs is that they are lucky ducks. You are so blessed you don’t have to work. Getting to stay home and rock the baby, play with the baby, takes naps with the baby tsk! There should be no complaining!

Yet I watch friends on all sides, SAHMs, WMs, part-time WMs, and SAHMs with side-projects, all trying to figure how to balance life, and figure out what our value is now, post-baby. Some moms don’t feel recognized enough by their spouse or former coworkers or family members because they are not the hunters that go out and chase down the money. Some moms carry around a giant chunk of guilt during the day, wondering if it’s worth it to give away half their paycheck to a daycare.

It makes me think about our foremothers; the ones that fought to get out of their kitchens, forgo their aprons and transform our reality to that of “working families.” It makes me wonder about what my days would be like if I didn’t work at all. It makes me worry about how my workdays will change when it’s time for a second baby.

The truth is right now, I feel that extra satisfaction and pride even, that my son needs me and clients need me and my own writing career needs me enough to try and juggle it all. (It also totally could be just part of my Gemini personality.) But in the meantime I’m carrying around a new awareness about respecting all moms, and their family’s choices.

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Last Thursday marked my 35th birthday. (Happy Birthday to me.) I chose to start out my day testing out my look in a few bathing suits, for a pool party we were attending the next day. Yes, I’m an emotional cutter. Normal women wouldn’t dream of trying on a bathing suit on the day that celebrates when they first sported their birthday suit. I mean, really.

For some reason though, I managed this without ending my day in tears and ice cream. I think it was the pre-shower prep work. We all know this routine: While waiting for the water to get hot, you check out the frontal, then the side view. Then the frontal versus the side view … all while sucking that tummy in in in. Sometimes there is actually lifting and pressing in of the stomach, to get the full this is what I should look like look. Then you finish with letting it all out, so you can see the worst of the worst.

So by the time I got to the bathing suits, I was tempered, if you will. The suits themselves, however…

Let me preface by saying, both one-piece bathing suits were purchased sometime in the mid-90s. The first suit is a white/orange/blue/yellow/green/black calico-like number, with a halter top and shirred bust. The suit the Chiquita banana lady would wear to the beach. Now, the fact that I looked like a large body stuffed behind a flamenco-inspired print is bad enough. But the cups designed for a size C, in fact do not hold a breasts that are actually still overflowing at size E.

I moved on to the other suit, with a more subtle, forest-green diamond pattern, a standard tank with just a shelf bra. Although this eliminated any I’m-wearing-Mexican-wallpaper effect, and the smaller pattern helped shrink my butt, it also mashed down my chest so much that I became a rectangle of green.

There were my choices: Pretend I’m on the beach listening to “Livin’ La Vida Loca,” and risking a wardrobe malfunction, or look like a pudgy 13-year-old forest with no boobs.

So off to the Internet I went, to discover that my average number of suit options on any given website was five, and most of those were sold out. I will stop myself from venting about why the world is not made for tall people, since $100 plus shipping later, I have a nice little zebra number on its way, ready to cover my extra 18 ½ pounds and my getcha getcha yaya tatas. Good lord.

Yes, I said it; I’m back down to around the weight I was at when I started this blog, thanks to a few yoga sessions and a few family walks after dinner. Of course, Florida heat being the evil, twisted lady she is, the yoga may get kicked up a notch.

In the meantime I’m gonna practice sucking in that pooch—or maybe I’ll just find a cover up.

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I had one once, but I threw it up against the wall when I couldn’t figure out where the batteries went. I know now I was suffering from pre-menstrual syndrome. ~Truvy Jones, of “Steel Magnolias,” on getting a radio for her carport-enclosed beauty salon.

Normally every time I hear something blamed on PMS I want to cringe, but right now, it’s true. Case in point: I’ve been trying to work on this blog all week, and I’m just not feeling it. I think I’m too cranky. I mention this to Ned, who promptly suggests that I would be better suited to write this blog when I am not feeling quite so close to the topic.

Crap.

This means Ned is noting the insane hormonal behavior. This means he has not forgotten my irreverent meltdown over not having enough sour cream in the fridge this week to finish a recipe. Or my blatant irritation when putting away his Walkman earbuds yesterday, which have been sitting on the coffee table, sans Walkman, for three days. I can only imagine if he’s observed the tearing up at commercials for “Intervention” or me wiping my eyes after I tried, in vain, to fit into a pair of non-fat jeans this weekend.

There is plenty of talk about how pregnant women can have crazy hormones … the kind that make PMS look like a cake walk. I was not one of those pg women. No pickles and ice cream, no crying at random commercials for tissue. And I never developed “pregnancy brain,” where you run back into the house every morning at least three times because you forgot your keys, in which each return to the house resulted in you not remembering that you forgot your keys … and so on.

No, those symptoms my body has saved for now, nine months into motherhood. And they go beyond the convenient PMS excuse. I’ve gotten to the point where I’m second-guessing simple decisions such as: Should I have dressed the baby in a romper today, because we’re going out to dinner and we’ll have to hold him for awhile while we wait, and his shirt will get all bunched up? Or I’ll kick myself for not having gone to the post office before storytime because now it’s almost noon and Max is freaking out in the car seat, wanting to eat.

The truth is, I hate that complete non-control over my anger and frustration. But man, some days after cleaning the house, doing laundry, making a two-hour babyproofing trip to Babies R Us, coming home to a baby that won’t take a nap, even after trying for two hours; plus the pressure of work and when am I gonna clean out my office; it all slams up against: I need to start dinner, and the stupid missing tub of sour cream is just one more thing in a long list of things you just have run out of energy to deal with.

I know it’ll all be okay. In a day or two, I’ll wake up and feel better. But right now, I have to hunt down a spoon, and what’s left of my half-gallon Publix-brand Chocolate Cookie Quarry frozen yogurt. Mmm ….

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