Thursday, October 28, 2010

My Ode to the Stay at Home Mother

Some things? Have to be said.  Let me preface this by saying I have fully appreciated the lovely gift of being able to stay home with my children.  I have never had to drop my kids off to a daycare center with people I didn't know nor have I been forced to miss school functions because of a tight deadline at work.  I get that.  I appreciate that.  I understand that.  However, I feel the "other side" could use a bit of a wake up call as to what exactly "not working" entails.  Since my first born was a baby, all I have heard is how lucky I am and I am always very quick to agree.  It's when I'm told how lucky I am with a head shake, eye roll and condescending chuckle that gets my back up.

Guess what?  I worked before I had children. Yes, I had a paycheck, health insurance, a 401K plan and a parking spot just for me at an awesome lot downtown.  I met big wigs.  I received daily phone calls from some of the richest people on the planet (LITERALLY)...sometimes work related, other times to say hello.  No, I am not exaggerating for effect. I have been flown to Hawaii, California and New York for work and stayed in four star hotels while doing so.  I doubt there is a celebrity ANYONE can name that I can't do the six degrees of separation thing with. OK? I gave that up to be a stay at home mother.  Now, am I saying I regret it? Never.  I know how lucky I am. Yes, I said lucky.  But if one more snotty "working" mother gives me the metaphorical head pat because she thinks I simply don't understand her high pressured job, I might just bitch slap her.  But because I'm not the violent type, here's what I would say if I ever had the nerve....

Dear Condescending Working Mother Who Thinks All Stay at Home Moms Couldn't Possibly Understand What You Deal With On A Daily Basis Because You Think All We Do Is Watch Soap Operas And Take Yoga Classes -

Something you need to know about stay at home mothers.....

We are the ones who help your kindergartner find the bathroom.  We are the ones who stay in the bathroom with them because they are scared.  We are the ones who gently remind them to wash their hands.

We are the ones who walk your first grader to the nurses office when they have a boo-boo, a sore throat or have puked all over the classroom.  We are the ones who expose ourselves to your highly contagious child and by default, our own kids, in doing so.  We are the ones who help the teacher clean up said puke.

We are the ones who devote time to help your second grader catch up on reading by sitting with him or her and reviewing spelling words.  We are the ones who correct homework and spend our nights cutting out various shapes so your child can do a fun craft project. We are the ones who tie a million shoes.

We are the ones who plan classroom parties and make sure Bobby Joe doesn't get the ice cream sandwich because he is lactose intolerant so we make a special trip to the grocery store so he can have a fruit popsicle. 

We are the ones who chaperone your kids on field trips and make sure no one harms or abducts them.  We are the ones who wait for your dumb ass to show up because your child is freaked out by the fact you seem to have forgotten what time school gets out. (Seriously, I had a little girl ask me once to wait with her until her mom came.  She was little and we waited for her mother for 45 minutes... when she finally showed?  didn't  get out of the car OR have the decency to even try to look embarrassed. And no, there was no thank you or apology). We are the ones you will flippantly dismiss with some bullshit line about how we have "no idea how hectic the business world is" and that's the reason you're late.  Yes, this has happened several times.

We are the ones who recognize your child dawdling in the hallway because they have missed their bus but are too little to know what to do so we take them to the office so that you can be called.

We are the ones who bake cakes for cake walks and glue your child's artwork on a matted frame for you to ooh and aah over.

We are the ones the  exhausted teachers approach for help and we say yes. 

We are the ones who tell the asshole kid who has just shoved your child into a locker to knock it off and put enough fear into them that they do, indeed, knock it off.

We are the ones your child hugs at school when they are scared or just need a little comfort.  We are the ones who wink at your child and make them smile.

Do we live at the schools where these things happen?  No. We are simply there a lot, dropping off our kids, picking them up and helping out teachers who are overworked and underpaid.  Yes, we have a life.  Contrary to popular belief, it does not revolve around petty gossip, Days of Our Lives and pedicures.  Our lives, just like yours, consist of balancing relationships, paying mortgages, finding good books to read when we have a moments peace and wondering how our kids are going to turn out.  You don't know why or how we became stay at home moms.  Some of us didn't really have a choice. Some of us threw our hearts and souls into it and never looked back and some of us yearn for a business meeting where people actually listen to us and the words "Fart Face" or "Booger Head" are never uttered.  But we all get up every day and do what we do for our kids...and yours. 

Am I overdoing it?  Perhaps.  Am I lucky to be a stay at home mom? Yes.  And guess what? So are you.  My "luck" is benefiting us both.  You are just too preoccupied making sure I know how busy you are to realize it.

Monday, October 11, 2010

New Motherhood

Today at Target I walked past the baby section on my way to the much, much more fun Halloween section.  As I meandered past, I saw a very pregnant woman and her spouse, agonizing over receiving blankets....would this bright pattern be too distracting or would it stimulate young junior's mind in a good way?  As I laughed to myself, I heard this woman say to her husband, "it really doesn't matter, my mom said I slept through the night the minute I came home from the hospital so I'm sure not much is going to change..." She kept babbling, he kept nodding and I kept laughing.  My ass off.  I feel a public service announcement is necessary in the form of my tiny little blog...perhaps one night an overwhelmed new or expecting mother will google "new motherhood" and this will come up.  And she will feel much, much better.

Guide to New Motherhood - Everything You Need to Know from Birth through the First Month

Birth - Stop envisioning yourself showered in a golden light, looking fantastic as you sip on a cup of tea and ever so slightly moan at a nagging little pain. Reality is much, much different.  First, you will be hooked up to a monitor.  Then get a blood pressure cuff.  And a finger blood oxygen thing.  An IV.  If you are super lucky, they will pump you full of Pitocin which is code word for  incinerating pain. Now, labor pains are unreal.  They are a deep, deep, intense, insane mind numbing pain.  If you decide to get an epidural, you will have to literally sign your life away while someone you've never met sticks a long ass needle in your spine...but the pain is SO awful, you will happily do this.  Once this lovely event happens, you get the enjoyable catheter with the bag of pee it's connected to hooked onto your hospital bed like some disgusting purse. You will wonder, at least once, if you are actually dying because the pain is so intense.  Your husband will become the jackass who doesn't understand what you are going through.  (Note to the dads: Don't talk about how tired you are, how hungry you are or how you wish "something would happen already".  Don't.  And after the mother of your child goes through this hell? Do not, under ANY circumstances, talk about how you don't think you can get a vasectomy because it would REALLY hurt.  No. Don't.  Trust me.)  People you have never met and probably will never see again will snap on gloves and get to third base with you.  If your darling little baby doesn't come the way nature intended, you will start hearing the phrases "not progressing" and "take the baby".  When these start floating around, that means  you are heading to the operating room.  Regardless of how your baby makes his or her way into the world, the minute you hear that cry, you're a mother.  And your life as you know it?  Is over.

Hair - Kiss it good-bye.  Mother Nature let you hang onto it during your pregnancy but the Hormone Fairy will pull rank, do her action and your once lustrous hair will start falling out.  What that bitch doesn't take away,  your baby will.  The only thing harder to pry open than a pickle jar is a baby's fist...and babies love to grab fistfuls of hair and yank it out.  Repeatedly.  Side note: They also do this will earrings, so dangly ones need to be put away so you can keep your earlobes in one piece and studs need to go because they are a choking hazard.

Skin - If you are nursing, it will be dryer than sandpaper, no matter how many bottles of water you drink.  Oh, and those bright red streaks on your hips, boobs and stomach? Yeah, those are stretch marks and they aren't leaving.  Ever. No amount of Baby Belly Butter or whatever the fuck cream in a fancy tub you buy to make these things go away, they aren't leaving.  Deal with it.

Muscle Tone - Unless you are some freak of nature, this changes as well.  Things jiggle that never did before.  Things droop.

Boobs - When your milk comes in, these look SPECTACULAR!  Of course, they will feel like someone has made two cuts just below your collar bone and dumped 5 pounds of pea gravel in your boob cavity but for about 2 minutes, it's worth it because again, they look so good.  Your husband will lose his shit and want to play with your new boobs.  This is out of the question because they are excruciating.  And you get to attempt to latch a very hungry, strong nursing baby to these things.  Now, unless you have twins, your other boob will be confused once the feeding frenzy has begun and it will order the release of milk.  This might come in the form of a drip, a drop or a spray.  It's really nice if  you are laying down and this happens because then it comes out in geyser form and you end up with a breast milk shower if you didn't have the forethought to cover it up before you begin nursing. You will need breast pads.  Like little mattresses for your boobs.  What's really awesome is when you are out in public and your baby cries and you end up with two wet stains on your shirt.  So trust me, you will need breast pads. 

Stomach - If you housed a large baby and because of his size, had to have a c-section, you have your own built in Boppi. 

Eyes - They will be bloodshot, half-open and have sets of luggage under them because sleeping is part of your past.   Also, everything will look different because you are seeing things through the eyes of a mother.  That little outfit with all the buttons you got when you were pregnant that you thought was so cute? It might as well have the words "I will choke your baby" embroidered on it.  The couch will look like some medieval suffocating device because what if the baby somehow got wedged in between the seat cushions??  Forget about window blinds...can you say "baby noose"?!  The toilet looks like a death trap and you will wonder if your grandma was right and if your 15 year old arthritic cat really can suck the baby's air out. Everything looks different.  Everything.

Mind - Sesame Street is on at a very early hour.  You will watch this because it's either that or the farm report or infomercials and you will figure the baby might subliminally pick up on the alphabet while you sit with him or her at 4am, half asleep.  You will get to know the whole gang.  You will have a favorite.  Yes. You will. (Oscar!)  Aside from taking care of your baby, your mind is shot.  You will be ridiculously sleep deprived and hormonal.  These two ingredients will turn you into a drooling idiot for a few months.  But don't worry, what you lose in IQ points, you will make up with your knowledge of all things related to mastitis and hemorrhoids.

Sleep - I can not stress this enough. You won't get any.  Not enough, anyway.  You may even be lucky enough to deal with a colicky baby who NEVER sleeps and ONLY wants to nurse.  You might go weeks and weeks before you sleep more than a few hours here and there.  There might come a time when your baby finally falls asleep, boob still in her little mouth.  Then you will watch her body start to stiffen, and her face get red. Then you will feel hot poop explode out of her diaper that looks like watery Dijon mustard.  You might even have the energy to be appalled at yourself for actually contemplating if you should wake the baby to get you both cleaned up , an act which will piss her off and keep you from getting that much coveted nap or if you will literally sit in shit in order to close your eyes for a few minutes. 

The Dad - Your baby's dad will be the rock star.  He will come home from work, kiss the baby, hold the baby and give the baby back.  This will last for a few minutes.  A mother is like a tugboat, the baby is the barge and the dad is the groovy speed boat that zips looks exciting and it's fun.  However, the tugboat is going to keep the barge going in the right direction, staying on course, no matter how many rough waters she comes across. This? Is why professional athletes say hi to their moms on national television.  They know that deep down, it's the tugboat that got them from point A to point B.  Every man I know has at one time, when his wife was nursing, thrown his hands up in the air, shrugged his shoulders and said "I'd like to help her out, but I don't have boobs."  Yes, even your Prince Charming will say some version of that line of bullshit...and he will think that because he doesn't have boobs, he's pretty much off the baby hook.  Yes, he will. 

The Baby - makes all of the above worth it. Take pictures, because you won't remember a whole lot...and before you know it, your baby won't be a baby anymore...