Category Archives: staying home

Chewing Coffee Grounds

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My Facebook status update today read:  I’m just going to start chewing coffee grounds.

I knew that having babies was going to be exhausting.  Everyone knows infants stay up all night, nursing and crying and pooping.  And new moms are expected to be exhausted, frazzled.  But the mother of a nearly-three and a five-year-old?  She’s supposed to have it together by now.  She’s supposed to be showering every day, managing enough time to pick up after the kids and do the laundry before bed, and not smearing anti-puffy eye cream on her bagging under eyes every morning.

That is not the reality at my house.  My children just kind of failed to launch in the sleeping department.  At five, N still gets  up several nights a week around 3 or 4 a.m. just to come torture me hang out with me while I try to sleep.  “Mama, I just need a snuggle” turns quickly into “Mama, I just need to talk about all of the cool Lego ideas I have and the movie we watched yesterday and the way penguins eat fish.”  And then it’s a fight to get him back into his bed, only to have him come creeping back in ten minutes later.  If N is not wandering down the hall to see me, Little K is rolling out of his bed, losing his water cup, or crying that his “toes peekin’ out.”  He needs comforted back to sleep, and then as he drifts off he realizes he has to go potty.  It’s a never-ending game.

And so I go through most of my days exhausted.  Because it’s not realistic for me to go to bed when they do (which is realistically 11pm sometimes).  I teach online, and I have a direct sales business, and the only time I have to get work done is when the kids are in bed.  Preferably when they’re asleep, although I am getting better at tuning out the bedtime-refusal crying.  And there is writing to be done, not to mention I like to catch up on grown-up tv shows every now and then.  Oh, and that husband of mine wants time and conversation in the evenings, too.  So going to bed at 9pm isn’t happening, even though I do love my sleep.

So if you see me out, unshowered with my coat buttoned wrong and my kids in mismatched shoes, just nod and understand.  It’s not because I don’t care to see to these things properly.  It’s because I’m lucky I can see at all through the sleep haze that my not-so-infant children have bestowed upon me once again.  Just know it’s a small miracle we’re all dressed completely and leaving the house before noon, and marvel at the fact that I can keep my eyes open long enough to form coherent sentences for you to read.

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Temporary

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N was born to snuggle.  As an infant, he would relax into my arms like he was melting back into my body.  Like I was just an extension of him.  Now, at age 5, N asks at least five times a day if he can climb onto my lap and snuggle.  When he’s tired, when he’s nervous, when he is embarrassed or in trouble – my lap is where he fills his bucket and resets his mood.

Some days, I get exhausted.  I just want to push him away from me and tell him to give me space.  And sometimes I do.  Sometimes I get my laptop out and put him off with “just a minute,” or “I just need to do one more thing.”  And then I am relieved when he distracts himself with Legos and forgets he wanted to cuddle.  I am a person, too.  Not simply a mother whose lap and arms and attention are available for the sole purpose of comfort.  I need physical space sometimes.

While that will remain true, I came across a terrific article that reminded me just how fleeting the snuggle-era really is.  Honestly, I’m terrified of the day N rejects my hand-holding or my snuggles on the couch.  I know it will come far sooner than I am prepared for, and I will never look back and say, “I sure wish I’d said ‘no’ to snuggling a little more often.”  So I will just remind myself that this is so temporary, and saying yes to the can I sleep you requests or the put the computer down and give me your time demands is really saying yes to holding onto time as it speeds too quickly out of my grasp.

Discoveries

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Over at Get Born, a post about balancing Mama with Me:

Discoveries

Blogged by Kayenta

I was driving my 12-yr-old sister to a summer day camp last week, and I asked her what kind of music she likes.  Her response was a thoughtful: “Well, I haven’t really discovered that yet, but I’m trying all kinds.” How great, I thought.  To be twelve and know you have the absolute freedom and confidence to discover just who you are.  Wouldn’t most of us like to be in that place?  Trying things out until we discover, yep, this is me! … read more

Sure, Let’s Do It: A Pledge to My Kids

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I made a volcano with N while Baby K was napping this morning.  We used a plastic soda bottle and some salt dough we whipped up (from this seriously easy recipe), then “erupted” it with baking soda and vinegar.  It was spontaneous, and N stayed engaged with the activity for over an hour, which is rare around here due to a lengthy phase where he primarily plays in noisy spurts.

Mid-experiment, I posted a picture of our volcano on my Facebook page, expecting it to get lost among the busy days of my Facebook friends.  I certainly didn’t expect comments along the lines of “you’re so involved with your kids!”  This is actually the opposite of how I feel most days.  So many times in the past three years I have lazily said the words “we’ll do that tomorrow” or “we’ll get the stuff to do that another day.”  More often than not the last few months, it’s been “after we do this stuff that is actually a nonsense excuse, we’ll try that!”

So, this morning when N was gorging on YouTube videos of volcanic eruptions, and he said, “I wish I could make a volcano *sigh*,” I swallowed my near-immediate “we’ll get the stuff for it at the store this afternoon…”  Instead, I looked up a salt dough recipe and surprised N by suggesting we make one NOW.  Not at some indeterminate, never-to-actually-come, later time.

My ulterior motive behind dropping all of the completely unimportant crap I was doing in order to hep N make something so easy yet so enjoyable was so that I did not have to go to bed with regret at least one night.  One night when I didn’t have to feel bad that I pushed off some activity K or N wanted to do because I suffer daily from occasionally have mamatainer fatigue.  This is something that afflicts those whose sole job during every waking minute of her children’s days is to entertain them or help them entertain themselves.

So today I made a volcano, read Baby K’s favorite book until he (not I) got tired of it, and played a lengthy game of “mama and baby mountain lion chase the mountain goat up the stairs.”   When I posted the volcano pic and got the comments of admiration, I felt like a phony.  I get down on myself a lot for the activity fatigue, and I think – hope – I’m not alone.  Playing teacher plus support system plus caretaker plus safekeeper plus maid plus personal chef is a lot to get done in a day, let alone every day.

But this is me officially saying I’m going to spend fewer nights regretting and fewer days putting off.  I’m going to make more spontaneous volcanoes and read I Am a Bunny until I can repeat it in my sleep.  Not every day (let’s be realistic, here), but lots of days.  Because I’ve started to notice they’re growing up, which means soon they’ll be in school, and then college, and then in another town, and before I know it they won’t want me to read about bunnies or help them spew baking soda lava all over the kitchen.  And then I’ll go to bed regretting a whole new set of never-got-dones.

On the Market

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I’ll just put it out there: I’m on the market.  Looking for that special someone who can fill the void in my days and share laughter with me over my kids.  Who gets me and still loves me when I’ve worn sweatpants for two straight weeks.  Yes, I’m looking for a mom-mate.

I have this really great best stayhomemom-friend, Megan.  She’s everything one could want in a mom-mate:  a hysterical, down-to-earth mother of two.  Her boys love my boys, and vice versa.  She taught me that it was not actually a completely impossible to task to leave the house and have fun with a baby and a toddler, and that playdates are not just for people without lives.  And then, she had the nerve to move away to be with her family.  Just like that.  A punch in the stomach to my social/mommy/emotional life.

I also have this really great best stayhomemom-friend, Jessica (yes, Jessica of the cake pops and babysitting genius).   She is also all the things we wish for in mom-friends: funny, supportive, second mother to my kids.  Still likes me even when I’m crabby and bitchy.  Gave me a venting space twice a week for two years and helps me solve all those every day sahm problems.  And then, she had the nerve to not be able to watch N anymore, which resulted in me taking him to preschool and losing my twice-weekly contact with her.  This one I had months to get used to, but it was still a punch in the gut.

Now, I’ll fill you in on something.  When you have kids, there are about a gazillion things people don’t tell you about how life will change.  Likewise, there are about a gazillion things about the life of a stay at home mom that you don’t really think about.  Or, at least, that I didn’t really think about.  For one, you have to have friends to keep you from going insane.  And your friends that you had before you were a mother probably won’t really get you anymore, and your constant obsession with your kids will annoy the hell out of them.  And you won’t really get them anymore, either.  Then, you’ll have to start whoring yourself out to other mothers in search of a play date.  It’s the harsh reality.  If you’ve just had a baby and are considering staying home, don’t think it won’t happen to you.  It will.  Twinkle Babies, Mommy and Me Tumbling, Swimming Lessons…they’re all full of mothers desperate for a connection.

So, as I sit here dwelling on my mom-matelessness and N’s current playmatelessness (another post, soon to come), I propose we all band together and come up with a Match.com for stay-home moms.  Like all the single adults out there, it’s tough to meet people at places like bars and parties because we’re too busy cleaning up puke and soothing angry, teething babies to go to places like bars and parties.   But obviously we’re all online, right?  I mean, we’re blogging, facebooking, pinning.  Why not matching, too?

I’ll get right to work on my profile.  Should be pretty fancy.  I mean, I own sweats in at least half the rainbow of colors.  And I can change a diaper with one hand while texting snarky anecdotes about my kids with the other.  On MommyMatch.com, those will be the types of highly sought-after qualities we’ll list.  Who’s first in line?!

Why Mommies Need Nights Out

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I got to wear earrings last night.  Hang-down ones that would normally be perfect for the baby to pull straight through my earlobes.  And high heeled boots.  Got to wear those, too.  I even came home with a bar bracelet on and cheeks rosy from vodka crans.   I went out with adults, and I dressed like one!   This is not an every day thing for me because, well, there isn’t a whole lot to dress for when your boss is your kids.

My usual uniform is something like this:

Sweats or jeans and a tee-shirt, flip flops, hair in a ponytail and a little mascara.  The necklace Baby K likes to chew on if I’m leaving the house.  Hoodie.

Clearly, it’s very classy.  It also makes me feel very fancy and grown-up.  When I’m playing lincoln logs on the carpet and changing diapers.  Normally, I don’t even care.  I’m comfy, and my kids certainly don’t care if Mama is a fashion model. Luckily, because I never will be.

But once in a while, mamas need a little non-mama time, don’t we?  A little time to remember what it was like to drink until 3am and sleep until noon the next day.  To laugh until our cheeks hurt and dance until our feet ache.  A chance to fix our hair for once and put on real makeup.  To feel like someone other than a hungry baby groping for a breast might look our way.

So last night, as I ripped off the drink bracelet and took off the jewelry, I stood for a minute in front of the mirror and reminded myself I actually am more than a mama once in a while.  And that I do own some pretty cute earrings.