Sunday, June 1, 2014

The Update

It's time for me to fill you in a bit on life in the past...well, frankly, I don't know how long it's been since last I posted.

First, an update on Bird. He's awesome. Just bloody awesome. I mean, he's a two-year-old, so obviously life is not always sunshine and roses, but on the whole, he's just blossoming beyond all imagination.

He has this enormous personality to match his enormous vocabulary.
  • He loves vacuum cleaners, mops, pretending to drive the cars, his sandbox, the playground, his gymnastics class, etc.
  • He still enjoys his "Mookie-za-zas" from me (yay breastfeeding!)
  • He now sleeps in his Big Boy Bed (his crib-turned-toddler-bed) and no longer needs to be rocked to sleep - not even for naps. We have experienced some mild growing pains when he figured out how to use the door knob, but over all, he is really good and will just go to sleep when it's time. I realize this is subject to change.
  • He takes Parent and Tot gymnastics classes because we wanted to encourage him to be more confident in his physical abilities. It worked. He climbs and runs like other children his age now.
  • He speaks in full sentences, and his memory is scary. Like so scary. He can tell you exactly what he did a week ago if it stood out to him.
  • He is full of silliness - he has recently taken to telling "jokes" which are hilarious statements such as, "Daddy says pork chop!" He loves to laugh and giggle now.
Now onto other things. When Bird was a year old, neither he nor I were ready for me to go back to a full-time job. I didn't think he was ready to be in care full-time (although in retrospect, he would have been fine), and I certainly did not want to return to a job I wasn't passionate about.  We were able to financially make it work for me to stay home, but only just barely. It has been tight.  I temporarily had a home business selling tea, have been doing some odds and ends from home, and every cent that comes into our house has been put to good use.

A year later, it feels different. Bird is older and more like his peers now in terms of how he gets to sleep, etc. He is way less dependent on exclusively Mama or Daddy. I can see him being able to adjust well to full-time care. And as for me, well, I'd sleep better at night if I knew we were saving toward some of our bigger upcoming financial goals, such as a newer car, home improvements, and let's face it, an eventual posting for my husband which would mean selling this house and buying in an unknown market elsewhere. Finally, I don't want to kid myself here - I love being home with Bird but it's not easy, and a big part of me misses working toward my career goals. Ideally, I'd be able to work part-time, but there aren't many part-time jobs in line with what I want from a career. 

As wholly as I know being home with Bird is ideal for him, I also know that we have to do what is best for our whole family. Our finances and my personal goals are part of the family so they deserve consideration as well. No matter what I choose to do, ultimately, it will be in the best interest of our family. At this point, I am job searching actively, but I have the luxury of time to be picky about what I choose. So for now, I'm still Bird's stay-at-home parent, with the knowledge that this could change at any time.  

I hope that no matter what happens, we can all find some degree of balance as a family. I'd be lying if I said I wasn't extremely sad to see my face time with Bird diminish greatly as it likely will.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Let's put this Mom War to bed.

More than any other mom war out there (breastfeeding or bottle feeding?  Attachment or traditional parenting? and so on), the one that bothers me most is the "Stay at home mom" versus "working mom" war.

There are so very many reasons why people make the choice to work or to stay home. Let's look at a few of those reasons.

Staying at home:

  •  For some people, it doesn't make financial sense to work due to childcare expenses. This can be true for one child, but often comes in play for those with two or more children of day care age.
  • Others feel more fulfilled spending their time with their children and are fortunate to be able to afford it (with lifestyle sacrifices for some).
  • Various therapies for special needs children require a parent to be available for multiple appointments weekly.
  • Some have a spouse who strongly values a stay at home parent.
Working parent:
  • Some folks feel more fulfilled by remaining in the workforce.
  • Others need to work to pay the bills.
  • Many choose to work to provide a more financially affluent lifestyle for their children. For instance, to be able to afford two vehicles instead of one or to pay for extra-curriculars.
  • Some remain in the workforce because their spouse may not be fully supportive of having a one income family.
Other variables include:
  • Availability of work for each person's chosen profession in their geographical area (for instance, a military family may be posted to a base where work is difficult to find).
  • Availability of suitable childcare that can accommodate shift demands (nurses, emergency services providers, etc).
  • A feeling of being torn between staying home and working - unfortunately we may have to choose one way or the other while strongly identifying with both sides. This is a reality I face each day, and I'm certainly not the only one who feels that way. 
Why, then, do so many mothers spend so much time having to defend their choice or their requirement to stay at home or to work? Neither choice is easy. 

We are equally MOTHERS at the end of each day, and all day long. Being a mother doesn't get put on pause when you go to work, just as staying home qualifies as work many days.

I bet that when you are home, you give your child your attention and your love. I give MY child my attention and my love, too. I bet you make them meals and do their laundry just as I do. I bet you help them learn and grow every day in unique ways just as I do. 

Can we please take the working parent versus stay at home parent battle off the table? Let's forge a universal understanding that there are so many complexities in why people make one choice versus the other, and that we each do what we feel is in the best interest of ourselves and our children. End of story.

It's time to put this rivalry to bed, and it starts with us.