Unfiltered Mommy

An honest view of parenting in today's world

The reason I haven’t been blogging

It’s true that being a stay-at-home mom is a full-time job. I work from from 6am until 10pm and I rarely get unsupervised bathroom breaks or a chance to collect my thoughts. Things that I used to take for granted, like showering or shaving my legs, have become special treats, which often occur late at night. But in general, I’m ok with that. Yes, I am tired all the time. And yes, having two strong-willed girls ages 4 years and 2 years (25 months apart), is very challenging. But after reading so many negative blog articles about parenting, I started to worry that my blog was turning into a public bitch session, which I don’t want. I don’t feel the need to constantly bitch about every little thing but after reading other articles I started to feel negative about my our parenting journey. Of course there are times that I call my best friend, my sister or my mom and vent, but all-in-all, I am pretty happy with my life and my decision to stay home.

After reading so many things I wondered why so many parents feel like victims of the parenting process. Did they ever babysit or care for small children before they decided to have children? Did they think it was going to be all rainbows, ponies and Pinterest-inspired parties? Surely they had some idea that raising another human being was not going to be a cakewalk right?

We all get it. Parenting is hard. We all do it everyday. Fostering the cognitive and emotional development of a child takes work. No one ever said that parenting was easy but they probably never told you exactly how hard it is either. There are just some things that you have to experience to know. There are days when I count down the hours until bedtime and days that by noon, I have had it! When I hear things like “Our parents had it easier raising us because they didn’t have to use carseats” or other similar comments I want to smack these people with the reality stick. Really, just because your mom was able to let you “roll around in the back of the station wagon” doesn’t mean her parenting experience was any less challenging than yours. Each generation of parents has their own struggles to cope with. Get over yourself, put your big girl panties on and deal with it.

Don’t get me wrong, I do enjoy reading other blogs. Some of them make me feel like I’m not alone in whatever challenge I am  currently facing. I get a sense of peace knowing that someone else out there feels the same way I do, but if you feel the need to publicly vent over and over again, maybe you need a more supportive and healing type of outlet. There are professionals out there who can assist with stress relief, anger management and help those who are constantly struggling to raise their children. It is not easy, but it doesn’t have to be so hard either. There is no shame in needing help to get through the tough times or to learn new ways of coping.

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Reflections on the first year

Well it has officially been one year since we embarked on this journey. I would like to tell you that it has been a wonderful decision. I want to say that it has been everything I hoped for, but honestly it has been hard. Emotionally I feel like I have been extremely stressed and depressed. The first six months were probably the hardest six months of my life. Even the experience of being a new mother with Post-Partum Depression did not prepare me for the feelings of isolation and frustration I felt adjusting to the new life here.

I remember being in the temporary housing and crying every day. I tried not to tell my husband how bad it was because he was working and had struggles and adjustments of his own. I didn’t want to burden him with my issues which only made me feel more lonely. We had the dream life. We lived less than 2 miles from the Pacific Ocean and watched vacationers and surfers from all over the world come to our town to get a taste of the good life. I walked on the boardwalk everyday with the sun on my face and the ocean breeze in my hair. Why oh why would I voluntarily give that up?

It was not an easy decision. We went back and forth for a very long time, weighing all the Pros and Cons. As I laid in bed crying myself to sleep overnight for the first month, mourning the loss of my dream life, it was hard to remember the reasons why we actually pulled the trigger on the plan. Living without our household furniture and other items for almost 4 months was another snag in the plan that seemed to be a never ending cause of stress. The weather sucked. It was cold and rainy and I could not communicate the way I wanted to. It felt like everyone I saw was perfect and was judging me and my parenting skills.

When our container finally arrived, I felt a sense of normalcy for the first time. We had clothing and shoes other than the few items we packed into our suitcases. We were reunited with our kitchen tools and cookware! Yay! Our oldest stated Kindergarten and things were looking up. I felt a bit better. Summer came and we enjoyed long warm days. We met some neighbors and spent our summer vacation in Bavaria and Italy. I was starting to feel more comfortable speaking German again. After 6 months, we were finally settled in our home and I was finished building the Ikea catalogue!

The holidays away from home were hard. I missed our regular family traditions and trying to get the ingredients needed to put on a Thanksgiving Feast was nearly impossible. I started to get home sick. I thought of all the things I miss about America. I miss customer service, people smiling when they see you on the street, common courtesy, stores being open past 7pm, the variety, the endless options of mundane items like kitchen handtowels. I miss ethnic food. I miss black beans and Adobo.

But what I don’t miss is hearing about mass shootings. Or parents being reported to CPS every time they allow their children to roam more than 10 feet from them. I don’t miss all the vigilantly justice, people breaking out car windows because someone left their dog in the car for 5 minutes or calling the police because they saw a kid sitting in a parked car.  I don’t miss the hypocrisy of the USA at all.

After feeling the way I did for too long, I realized that I needed to do something to improve my state of mind. I enrolled in a sewing class with a friend and spent Tuesday evenings being ME. I enrolled our youngest in child care a few times a week, so she could play with other kids and I could have some time to do things for myself. It has been wonderful. My husband even remarked about how he has noticed a difference. I think it is important to remember that we are the creators of our own happiness. It is not always easy to recognize the signs when we are faltering and it is not easy to pull ourselves out of the hole of depression. But we must. We must take control of our lives and create the light when all we see is darkness.

I am feeling more positive about our decision as we move into “Year 2” of this adventure. I know there will be bumps in the road but I am ready.

 

 

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5 reasons why going to work is easier than staying home

We’ve all heard it. The comment that being a stay-at-home-mom is not a job. And when I  heard it come out of the mouth of a very good, long time friend of mine, I was livid.  It was right around the time that a mutual friend of ours had announced that she was going to quit her j-o-b to be a full-time mom. After knowing her for more than 10 years I had a pretty good idea what kind of mother she was going to be and I was very happy for her. I knew that she would fill her children’s lives with love and invaluable experiences. Her children will grow up polite and cultured, and I am sure that they too will become caring, thoughtful adults just as their parents are.

Our friend, who has chosen not to have children, had a different reaction. His comment really struck a chord with me and rather than argue about it and ruin our friendship, I bit my tongue and artfully changed the topic to a more neutral one.

How could he say that motherhood is not a job? Did he not know how much work goes into raising children and managing a household? Clearly he did not.

I must admit that I have replayed this conversation in my head more than I would like to admit. If you consider a job as being something that you do to earn an income, then I suppose there is some truth to this statement. However there is no doubt that mother’s do an insurmountable amount of work. So I started thinking, what makes my job of being a stay-at-home-mom different from my paid profession as a social worker. What I am doing now is not earning an income, but in all honesty, since resigning from my position, our lives really haven’t changed that much financially speaking. I came up with the following list of reasons why being at home full-time is harder than going to work:

 

1. Set hours. Working a regular 8-5 is predictable. When the shift is done it’s done. You can leave work at work. When you stay home, you are on 24/7. A typical day for me starts at 6:30am and does not end until 8:00pm when the kids are in bed and I am on-call all night.

2. You get breaks. By law here in California we get two 15 minute breaks and a 30 minute (albeit unpaid)  lunch. At home there is no break, you are “on” all the time and I rarely get to use the bathroom without one of two kids watching me.

3. Someone else cooks your lunch and cleans it up. I worked in  a hospital so we had a cafeteria which had surprisingly good food and a very well stocked salad bar. I loved that! Even if you don’t work at a place with a cafeteria, you go out to lunch so there is no planning or clean up. Now I have to dream up delicious, nutritious lunches for myself and my kids each day and clean it up at some point. While this doesn’t seem like it would be difficult, trust me, it can be pretty daunting day after day.

4. You can take a sick day. When you are a stay at home parent, no one cares if you don’t feel good. There is no back up person to call, you just have to suck it up and get through the day.

5. If you get overwhelmed you can ask a coworker for help. At home, you’re alone. There is no one to assist with your workload, you just do the best you can.

Despite all of these things, I still feel that being home with my girls is the best “job” in the world and I wouldn’t trade it for anything. Of course, I would love to be able to squeeze in some “me time” every now and again but right now I am trying to drink in every last moment of their innocence and enjoy each stage as I know that it will all be over way too soon.

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I’m no stay at home mom…

Recently on a friend’s fb page she made a statement that she was not a housewife, but rather a stay at home mom (SAHM). At first I was a little offended by the statement. I didn’t understand why she would not want to be referred to as a housewife. I asked her to clarify her statement. She had a great response. She said that her job was to enrich the lives of her three children, not to do all the cooking, cleaning and household chores. She spends the 8 hours a day that other people spend at work, entertaining and teaching her three young boys. Just as families with dual wage earners, the family shares the household chores on the weekends. Her husband helps out with meal preparation and they all pitch in to do the cleaning.. After hearing this, it made perfect sense to me and after being home with two children all day for three months I definitely see where she is coming from.

Having a background in child development and psychology, I try to spend my days teaching my oldest daughter all of the wonderful things I know so she can be a well-rounded and conscientious human being. I limit TV time and engage her in all sorts of activities to challenge her and help further her development in all areas including: sensory, fine and gross motor, social/emotional and cognitive. It is exhausting! There really isn’t any time for cleaning and laundry except on the days when she takes a good nap. Therefore, twice a month we have a cleaning lady and my husband and I share the burden of the laundry. My husband is more of a neat freak than I am so he cleans on the weeks when the cleaning lady doesn’t come and he also picks up after all of us every night. That is his choice. If it were up to me, I would just let it get messy until the next visit from the cleaning fairy. We both agree that this is money well spent each month.

But after thinking more and more about my friend’s statement and seeing SAHM listed as the occupation on people’s fb pages, I started thinking that maybe I am offended by the term “Stay At Home Mom”. Honestly, there are very few days where we “stay at home”. Our weeks are filled with outings to the park, walks on the ocean, trips to the library, zoo, aquarium, Legoland, and running errands.  I prefer the term “Full-time Mom”.

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