Category Archives: Stay-at-Home Mama

The Stay-at-Home Mom’s Must-Do List For 2017

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Stay-at-home motherhood is relentless. It’s always moving. It’s never still. But it’s also static, unchanging, and monotonous. It’s “Groundhog Day” with occasional location changes.

I’m grateful for every minute I’ve spent with my kids over the last decade, but I’m wistful for the version of me that performed on stage, planned press conferences, helped launch a non-profit organization, and lobbied for the passage of the Equal Rights Amendment.

I’m a person who likes to take risks, surprise people, and get s**t done, but I’m also the default parent who runs the dishwasher twice a day but never seems to empty the sink of dishes.

I take great pride in the little people I’m raising to be happy, healthy, and caring adults, but I sometimes feel the weight of an elephant on my chest. I love where I am, except when I don’t. In other words, I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else, but I sometimes want to run away…just so long as I’m back in time for the afternoon school pick-up.

If there’s a stay-at-home mom equivalent to a midlife crisis or the seven-year itch of marriage, I’m waist deep in it. It’s not necessarily a bad place. In fact, I’m pretty sure I’m on the cusp of doing something great. I’m bursting at the seams to take risks, surprise people, and get s**t done again, which has resulted in me doing some unexpected, inspiring, and empowering things.

If you identify as a stay-at-home mom, default parent, or any person feeling stuck in the daily grind of parenthood (or life), I highly recommend you tackle these must dos in 2017. They’re not resolutions. They’re simple and bold actions that will remind you of your value, power, freedom, and potential.

Update your resume. I know you think there’s a huge gap since you last held a “real” job. You’re wrong. Did you plan a successful silent auction or bingo night at your kid’s school? Did you create a meme about poop that was shared on social media a quarter of a million times? Did you learn how to code to connect with your kid? Are you a leader for your daughter’s Girl Scouts troop or a coach for your kid’s Lego League or soccer team? Did you collect a billion Box Tops for Education? Your resume is ripe with relevant skills and qualifications, professional development, and community involvement, and discovering that the rift isn’t as wide as you imagined is an instant confidence and happiness booster.

Declare bankruptcy. The electronic kind. You know that nagging sensation you sometimes often always feel that something is preventing you from achieving your dreams? It’s your inbox. Get rid of it. Sort through as many recent emails as you can. Deal with or save what’s important and then screw the rest of the seven (or seventy) thousand of them. Choose “select all” and “delete” and I promise you’ll feel like anything is possible.

Time travel. I sucked at making baby books and I’m a firm believer that less is more, but I did save a few babyhood relics, namely my favorite board books. They have bite marks in the corners and some of the pages are warped from milk stains, but they’re intact.  Recently, I read I Love You, Stinky Face to my seven- and 10-year old boys. They thought I was bonkers, but a sweet look of peace and relaxation emerged on their faces after a few pages and I knew their hearts recognized the words and the sound of my voice as I read, “Mama, what if I were a big scary ape? Would you still love me then?” They remembered – we remembered – and I was reassured that this journey is worth the anguish, chaos, and sleep deprivation. Read your favorite baby books to your big kids. You’ll be glad you did.

Pick A Hill To Die On. It’s hard to feel a sense of accomplishment when every load of laundry I fold and clogged toilet I clear is followed immediately by another one. Whoever said a messy house is a happy house didn’t have kids. There isn’t a single surface in my house that isn’t marred by my children. Until now. The coffee table may have succumbed to Lego/Stickbot Village and the dining room table will be swathed in Christmas clutter until, well, probably next Christmas, but the kitchen table is all mine. No one leaves the house or goes to sleep unless my kitchen table is cleared and wiped down. It’s glorious to wake up to her clean, smooth surface every morning, and, yes, it’s the battle I’ve chosen and the hill on which I will proudly die. Pick your hill and don’t look back.

The force is strong in you, Mamas. Take on 2017 like The Boss you are. Happy New Year!

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Filed under advice, motherhood, New Year's resolutions, New Years, Stay-at-Home Mama, Uncategorized

Five

Today is Riley’s birthday.  He’s five.

My baby is five.

Five is big.  It’s the threshold of childhood.  It’s a new beginning.  It’s a landmark of a birthday, and it’s as significant for me as it is for him.  You see, I worked for the first few years of motherhood, but by the time Riley was born, I had chosen to stay home full time.  His fifth birthday not only celebrates his remarkable life, but also it marks the fifth year that I’ve been a stay-at-home mother.

My baby is five, and I’ve been a stay-at-home mother for five years.

Believe it or not, I was recently asked, “Still home?”  It’s a rude question, isn’t it?  It’s full of judgment, disappointment, and presumption.

“My youngest is still in preschool,” I said in a polite response.  “We’ll see what happens when he’s in Kindergarten and at the same school as his older brother.”

We’ll see what happens…

The thing that was so unnerving about the question was that I wondered (and worried) about it, too.  About still being home.  My boys were four and six when the question was first posed.  Today, they’re five and seven, which has put me even deeper in thought about the notion of still being home.

I didn’t have a specific plan or timeline when I chose to lean out, opt out, or whatever it is I did all those years ago, but I didn’t imagine I’d be home five years later either.  It’s like I’ve trudged up an enormous hill (with a sense of pride, determination, strength, and resilience I didn’t know I had) only to reach the top and have the feeling of accomplishment cut short because I’ve found myself out of breath at the edge of a cliff.

The truth is that I have no clue what I’m going to do when my baby’s in Kindergarten and at the same school with his older brother.   I feel the same amount of anxiety about it as I did five years ago when I stood on the precipice of work and home.

Today, on Riley’s 5th birthday, we’re both on the cusp of something new and unfamiliar.

For him, it’s Kindergarten and new friends and fieldtrips and big yellow school buses and sleepovers and rock paper scissors and thumb wars and knock knock jokes and every adventure that comes with leaping fearlessly into the wonder and surprise of childhood.

For me, it’s following his lead and trusting that if I don’t know what’s going to happen next, I’m probably exactly where I’m supposed to be.

Happy birthday to my beautiful baby, er, boy.

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Filed under birthday, boys, motherhood, Stay-at-Home Mama

Our Kryptonite

Today, Dylan’s having a Halloween parade at school.  They’re supposed to dress up as a character from a book and bring the book to school for writing and reading projects.  Of course, I thought it would be awesome if Dylan dressed up like Pete the Cat, Flat Stanley, or Fly Guy so I could flex my Crafty Mama muscles.  Of course, Dylan didn’t think any of those ideas were awesome at all.  He’s wearing his Man of Steel costume because we have a book about Superman.  (Of course.)

Man of Steel

Man of Steel

Anyway, the kids get to wear costumes to school, and at 1pm, they’ll parade around the school property while parents line the street and cheer.  Standing in the parking lot at school in the middle of the day to watch my child run around in a Halloween costume is one of the perks of being a Stay-at-Home-Mama (or, in my case, a Still-at-Home-Mama).  But make no mistake.  It’s also a requirement.  Let’s face it, Stay-at-Home-Mamas are supposed to be at the Halloween parade.

At about 10pm on Monday night, I realized I made an appointment to bring Harry to the vet on Thursday around the same time as the Halloween parade.  Unless I changed the appointment, I’d have to miss the parade.  Ugh.  I called the vet first thing the next morning to try to change it, but I couldn’t.  He was booked solid all week.

The thing is, this is a really important appointment.  Mike and I are bringing Harry to our longtime beloved vet in Miami – a man with whom we’d trust our own lives – to have an open and honest conversation about Harry’s quality of life and, frankly, what the hell to do next.  We have to go, which means I have to miss the parade, which is valid and rational decision.  But still, I feel horrible.

I waited for the right moment to break the news, which ended up being yesterday morning in car on the way to school.   Maybe it was because of sleep deprivation (Harry has us up several times each night), because I got my period (damn period!), or because I felt so guilty, but I worked myself up into a frenzy.  I held back tears as I told him I wouldn’t be at the parade.

I apologized profusely. “I hate that I’m going to miss the parade,” I said, “and I’m so, so, so sorry.”  Then, I scolded myself.  “I can’t believe I made Harry’s appointment on the same day as your parade!”  Then, I apologized again.  “I’m so, so, so sorry.”  Then, I promised that other Mamas would stand in.  “I called your friends’ moms, and they’re going to cheer for you.  I promise!”  Then, I held back more tears.

Damn period!

Silence.

“Are you upset?” I asked.  “Are you okay?”

More silence.

I was the worst Mama on the planet.  I wouldn’t be at the Halloween parade to catch his smile and return his wave.

Then, he giggled and asked, “Do you think people will throw candy at us at the parade?”

“Dylan, did you hear anything I said?  I can’t go to the parade tomorrow and I feel terrible.  Are you upset?”

“No, I’m fine,” he said.  “It’s okay, Mommy.  Really.”  And then, “There’s a lot of traffic this morning, isn’t there?”

He’s fine.  It’s okay.  Really.  There’s a lot of traffic. 

I’ve been every kind of Mama on the Spectrum.  I’ve walked out the front door without looking back only to lose my breath when it hit me that I had the audacity to do it.  I’ve held back tears in meetings at the thought of someone else feeding, bathing, and soothing my child.  I’ve snapped my baby to my chest on a day off to meet an unexpected deadline.  I’ve yelled, “I WILL do a puzzle with you, but NOT until I respond to this email!”  I’ve sat at a desk and wondered, What the hell am I doing?  I’ve quit because my mental health was at stake.  I’ve missed bedtimes and felt horrible.  I’ve wished I could miss bedtimes and felt horrible. I’ve thought to myself, What a waste of my talent and potential.  And now, I’ve chastised myself over a parade.

Let me tell you something.  Wherever we fall on the Spectrum – and the possibilities are infinite – we’re all capable of feeling guilt – from the ordinary to the extraordinary and from the regular to the ridiculous.  It’s our Kryptonite.  We all feel bad whether we can go, should go, would go, or wish we could but can’t go to the Halloween parade.  Do you know what else?  We’re all Good Mamas.  And here’s the kicker.  The kids are just fine.

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Filed under guilt, Halloween, motherhood, Stay-at-Home Mama