“So you’re a stay-at-home Mom; what do you do all day?”

Wow; I have been tremendously lax in my writing as of late. (I would use the term lazy, but with a four-month old there is no such thing!) So to the four or five of you that read my ramblings, I apologize.

Now on to the topic of the day: “Oh, so you’re a stay-at-home Mom! That’s great. I mean, it must be nice to relax and watch TV all day. I would love to catch up on my shows. Do you watch Scandal? Have you seen this weeks episode?”

First off, no I don’t watch Scandal and, obviously, I haven’t seen this weeks episode. Second, thank you for insulting me—even if you didn’t realize it. Let’s just get down to the truth of the matter, to the meat of what you wanted to say: Oh, so you’re a stay-at-home Mom; what do you do all day?

The first time I was asked this question, actually asked this question, Amelia was just over one week old. My nipples were scabbed over and sore, I hadn’t showered in days, and I was too delirious with sleep deprivation to form a coherent response. I brushed it off and all-but-forgot about it until its more common follow-up counterpart was asked: “Are you back at work yet?”

I answer no, but my answer is more complex than that.

I am fortunate (and crazy) enough to work from home, both freelance and part-time, while raising my little lady. This means that I am often topless on conference calls, changing diapers while chatting  (thanks speakerphone), and breastfeeding while on WordPress. I skip showers to squeeze in sit-ups, eat pizza for breakfast and eggs for lunch, and find solace in a stroll through FoodTown. Yes, I am a stay-at-home mom, but I am hardly just a stay-at-home mom.

This should go without saying, but it doesn’t: Being a stay-at-home-mom is the most challenging, rewarding, and exhausting job I have ever (and will ever) have. The common myth that life as a SAHM is cozy and comfortable—a lazy existent laden with bon-bons (what is a bon-bon anyway?), talk shows, sitcoms, and soap operas—couldn’t be further from the truth. (Though, if given the chance, I would be more of  a mid-day martini mommy.) Instead I struggle to go to the bathroom, keep the kitchen floor clean, and make a cup of coffee.

But why? What do you do all day?

Well that’s the problem. The what, when itemized, seems insignificant. I clean my daughter, feed my daughter, change my daughter, and play with my daughter. Everything I do can be summed up by one of these four, small-and-simple points. But mommyhood, and parenthood in general, isn’t that simple. For example, playing with my daughter involves everything from singing songs—the SAME songs—and making silly faces to elicit a laugh to standing over her, staring at her, at all times. (She has hit that amazing age where she cries every time mommy leaves her line of sight.) The few times I am able to sneak away from her, thanks to a carefully propped up mirror or Crazy Carrot Pants—her favorite and, arguably, my favorite squeak toy—I find myself zipping around the house, washing dishes or cleaning cat litter. I mean, what do I do all day if not this? And it is the same story all day, every day; I feel like a slightly sexier, chestier version of Bill Murray (no offense, Bill). I love it because I love her, but it is hardly a cushy job.

Matt Walsh recently discussed this very topic on his radio show. Read/watch this. Seriously. Do it now.

My point, if there is one, is this: Let’s stop the war of who works more/harder and just celebrate the shared joy that is motherhood. If nothing else, at least stop asking me “what I do all day.” I don’t ask you to give me the play-by-play of your work day—or justify that fifteen minute bathroom break—do I?

Infant Immunizations and “The 4th Trimester Bodies Project”

I’ve been dragging my pyramid-studded heels updating this blog lately. (Kicking and screaming actually, not because I have to write but because I want to write and can’t: the little lady got her first round of vaccines on Monday and I’ve spent the majority of the week with a sick baby in my right arm and a sick cat in my left.) I planned to compose a post, the first in a series actually, about what they don’t tell you about parenthood—the pregnancy edition—but I cannot even compose my thoughts. (Seriously, last night ended with tears and an argument with my husband about post-pregnancy sex; I intended this argument to be an open and forthcoming discussion…)

That said,  a dear friend of mine shared this fantastic article/project with me yesterday—and I thought I would share it with you. I have been writing about my body struggles—pre and post-pregnacy—for some time now (a future post, I promise) but sometimes words can only say so much and “The 4th Trimester Bodies Project” fills in those blanks. Be sure to check it out!

 

“Scary Mommy: a Parenting Community for Imperfect Parents”

God knows what keyword search led me to stumble across the Scary Mommy website, but I’m glad the-manifestoI did. (I presume it was a string of frustrated obscenities about re-regulating Amelia’s sleep, or a desperate search for “mom” friends.) Regardless, any site that has a “Confessions” section can’t be bad—especially when these confessions include prayers for hospitalization (to “take a break from motherhood”) alongside fart stories. So if you are sleep deprived; smell like breast milk, stale formula, urine, and/or shit; and are covering your sore nipples with cold cabbage leaves this is the probably a good place for you. Their disclaimer: “Scary Mommy is intended for people who have a sense of humor, an appreciation for sarcasm, and who wear panties that don’t easily get in a wad.” Awesome! And if nothing else, it will give you a chance to laugh while you cry, and that’s totally therapeutic…right?

 

What Has Changed: Part One

What has changed since you had Amelia?

I laugh. It’s the question I hear most frequently, and it amuses me greatly because, well, what hasn’t changed Of course, there’s the obvious physical alterations and the lack of sleep and showers, but what else. Well, let’s see:

  • Drinking starts in the afternoon and ends by dinner, if I get to it at all.
  • Terms like “Friday night,” “going out,” and “sleeping in” are meaningless.
  • My tits are out 24/7. (Since Amelia is always feeding—and I am exclusively breastfeeding—I figure why bother with a shirt. Bonus: less laundry; Con: spontaneous conference calls can quickly become uncomfortable, and on more than one occasion breast milk has leaked on my cats.)
  • Frozen foods have taken on a new appeal—this coming from a home cook/Food Network aficionado.
  • The sexiest I feel is in the shower.
  • Speaking of sex, sex has changed. It’s not like “throwing a hot dog down a hallway”—or so my loving husband tells me—but everything about sex, from the desire to have it to the sensations when I do, has changed. (Moms: You probably know exactly what I’m talking about, especially seven weeks postpartum. Moms/Dads-to-be, or the morbidly curious: I promise to write more on this later.)
  • Everyone, from your family to the stout Spanish lady outside the bodega on McDonald Avenue, will share unsolicited parenting advice with you. Get used to it, because you will quickly learn no matter what you do you are doing it wrong!
  • And regardless of when you last fed or changed your child they will want (and need) you as soon as the timer on your microwave beeps.

There’s more, of course, but I must save that for another time: The pot of coffee just finished and Amelia needs another feeding.

Mommyhood, in the raw

Yesterday I came across this article, written by anonymous mother, about the truth about carrying twins (her truth, not necessarily yours). I felt the need to share this as this type of candidness is hard to come by. I love my daughter and will say the clichéd “wouldn’t trade her for the world” line because, well, it’s true, but there is a lot that goes unsaid about the trials and tribulations of Mommyhood and this anonymous mother gives voice to some of those feelings.

Kudos for expressing yourself openly, honestly, and fearlessly.

“Who’s a good girl?”

I briskly walk through the Stop n’ Shop off of Church Avenue wondering how much time I have left. I am not in a rush, persay, but I know my time is limited; every second and minute must be maximized and accounted for when you are traveling or doing chores with a six-week old. It has been nearly 90 minutes since her last feeding; I count every moment down as I add our groceries up.

I am near the cereal when Amelia begins to fuss. It starts with just a whimper but her face is pained; I know she is gassy, hungry, needs to be changed, or—most likely—is all of the above. (Since she was just asleep, I can rule “tired” out.) I push her stroller faster, hoping I can make it outside before a full-blown fit ensues, but it is no use: only three check-out lines are open and I gotIMG_4137 stuck behind a Grandma price-check—apparently all ten of her items are ringing up incorrectly. Amelia starts to cry the hard and loud whine only a newborn can. I throw bags of fruit on the conveyor with reckless abandon; I’m sure I bruised the peaches when I dropped a five-pound bag of Idaho potatoes on top of them but time is running out.

“Shhhh, no Amelia, no. We’ll be out of here soon; who’s been a good girl today?”

I stick a translucent green “soothie” in her mouth.

“That’s a girl. Shhhh, shhh. You’re so well-behaved.”

She takes her right hand to her mouth; I know she is trying to work the pacifier out but I hope, somehow, to convince her otherwise.

“I know. Mommy’s sorry. We’ll be out of here soon and then I’ll change and feed you, okay?”

It is not okay and Amelia voices her displeasure with another wail. Her pacifier plunges from her mouth and onto the high-gloss linoleum floor. Everyone looks at me: some with disdain, others with displeasure and disgust and a few—probably parents themselves—empathetically. I wish we could turn and run.

***

It isn’t until I am home and the milk is away that I think about what I have said. Who the hell am I, I think, am I really encouraging my daughter to be quiet and “suck it up?” I should be encouraging anarchy, or at least a strong voice. I find myself wanting to melt all of her pacifiers over an open fire and let her scream at the top of her lungs, then I remember how much I like sleep and decide to pack them away instead.

I want to stick Amelia in her pappoose, head back to the store, and let her scream. It’s not that the clerks looked at me strangely, but everyone else did, and I want them to know my daughter is strong. She needs something, she wants something, and she is damn well going to get it. What’s more, her crying doesn’t make me a bad mother (a mythos I subconsciously believe and feel their stares imply), it makes me a good one—one who listens to what my daughter has to say no matter what. I want to walk her down the beer and soda aisle and smile, unapologetically, when she spits up down my shoulder and on the six-pack in my hand.

Next time, I think. It’s me and Amelia against the world. Partners in crime. But for now we will continue to dance around the house to Daft Punk and play with Crazy Carrot Pants (though I am still covered in curdled breast milk—that part of my “dream” remains unchanged).

Parenting Products?

During one of those wee morning feedings—that time between when bars close and coffee shops open—I found myself scouring the Internet, mainly “mommy” boards and blogs. (Thank God for smart phones.) Anyway, it was during this search that I found an article highlighting the weirdest ways parents (and parents-to-be) can waste their money on their children. While I am not sure whether my favorite is the customized cardboard box (because who doesn’t want an unwanted baby) or the Tinkle Tube,  both make me reconsider what modern-day parenting is all about (as does the placenta Teddy Bear, which may actually trump the other two).

What happened to cribs, cars seats, binkies and diapers? Did I miss the day baby’s occupied Carter’s and demanded their asses be wiped by warm clothes instead of cold; when they held a sit-in until they were able to acquire a pair of Potty Mitts?

::sigh::

Compared to these kids, Amelia is going to appear impoverished (with a sore ass to boot!) and I a bad mother. But hey, at least she’ll appreciate when I cut her hot dogs by hand and hold her close to keep her warm at bath time instead of plop her inside a $45 plastic bucket. Well, maybe…