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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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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Should I Stay or Should I Go Now

When I was pregnant with my oldest my husband told me that he wanted me to quit my job and be a stay at home mom. I wasn’t surprised since the German culture has a very different attitude about parenting and family values, but I just didn’t see how we could do it financially. The cost of living here in San Diego is pretty high as I am sure you can imagine.

We were also new to this area and I had just landed my full-time position after a year and a half of waiting. I wasn’t ready to just walk away from a job I had fought so hard to get. I also wasn’t ready to give up my career at the tender age of 32. Afterall, I have a lot of time and money invested in my education and training, and we are still paying of my student loans. I was working toward my lifetime goal of being able to do private practice child and family counseling and was about halfway done with the hour and supervision requirements needed to sit for the LCSW exam so I wanted to go back to finish the hours.

As my maternity leave drew to an end, I knew that I needed to make a decision. We looked at our budget, and I just didn’t see how we were going to be able to manage if I didn’t go back to work. I figured that I would be able to finish the hours I needed in about a year and by that time we would be ready to have a second child. I didn’t have a choice that time. I felt like being a stay-at-home-mom was a luxury we couldn’t afford.

Since that time our lives have changed so much. I have finished the LCSW hours and am awaiting approval to sit for the exam and my husband has been promoted. Now the cost of child care for two children under three is a huge expense and is a major factor in whether or not I will return to work this time around. Despite the fact that I have a Master’s degree and 12 years of experience in my field, my income is nowhere near that of other’s with MBAs, law degrees or those in computer related fields.

My maternity leave is now half over so we sat down to look at the budget again. I was planning to go back half-time but when we ran the numbers it just does not make sense. To have both girls at the childcare owned and operated by my work (see my post “Picking a Preschool”), it would actually put us in the red! How can this be? I had a hard time believing it myself but it’s because the child care costs so much. I am still trying to wrap my head around this whole “Stay-at-home-mom” thing. Can’t say that I am not ecstatic to be able to spend every day watching my girls grow and learn new things, but I’d be lying if I said I was not conflicted.

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