What Am I Missing? Is There a Parent Award for Having it the “Hardest?”

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And so I begin again.

We are currently back visiting family and my husband took the kiddos to the playground while I am sitting around being pregnant and lazy and wasting time on social media. I come across yet another stay-at-home mom trying to tell a working mom she just doesn’t know how much harder it is being a stay at home. I barely could read the whole thing. It drove me nuts. (Sort of like the last time when I wrote this, followed by this)

Stay-at-home moms please stop! I know working mom rant articles may exist, but for some reason they don’t come across my radar nearly as often. Perhaps that is because working moms are too busy working and being a mom to write such rants. Or it could be because stay at home moms feel like they have to “defend” themselves more than working moms. Whatever the reason – it is getting old for me.

As expected, the comments on the article were a bunch of annoyed people or people screaming Amen. However, the bigger theme (besides people being in an uproar or people chanting thank you thank lady for saying it for me – were a bunch of people petitioning for the award of hardest scenario yet.

So mother’s listen up. This shit is hard and I am not sure who told you (I blame my mom she made 5 kids look easy) that it  wasn’t hard, but it is freaking hard. Whether you work or not. I love all of it –  the exhausting, and messy and my hair is never washed parts included. That being said – it is really freaking hard. It is hard to leave your kids in someone else’s care and rush to work and perform. It is challenging to be on kid schedule all day long picking up toy after toy all while playing whatever crazy game your kid whipped up.

As a stay-at-home mom, I have heard comments about how I live the life and must be nice to sit at the pool all day with my kids (ahem Dad). At times, I want to scream you realize I am not at the pool reading People magazine, drinking cocktails, right? But really – I am living the life. At least the life I want. Sure I would love to be able to afford a babysitter every now and then to go sit by the pool myself grocery shopping alone, but no situation is perfect.

As a working mom, I remember reading things (like the most recent article that annoyed me) and thinking who the hell do you think cleans my house, makes my kids’ lunch and what the heck do you think I do at work all day? Yes, there were “luxuries” sometimes (like being able to run into the coffee shop ALONE after dropping my kid off at daycare, although I will admit this was RARE because most days I was running late) or being able to take 10 minutes during the day to call the doctor and schedule an appointment. But those “perks” of being a working mom didn’t come without countless other obstacles. Just like staying home comes with the perk of alleviating the stress of “double-duty”, it also comes with the added mess of being in the house nonstop or the struggle of finding good things to entertain your kids.

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So let me compare some things working mom vs stay at home mom in hopes of shedding light that there are trade-offs – some things are easier, some things more challenging, but realize in the end it is all HARD.

Working moms often have childcare that you can utilize when not working. Like for example, it is probably rare you have to take your kid to an OB/GYN appointment. That being said, I know of working moms who have had to endure a Pap Smear with kids in tow and yes there are stay at home moms with babysitters who can go alone, but overall working moms have some form of built-in childcare that they can use along with some vacation time to make for kid free moments (tad easier than stay at home moms).

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Stay at home parents do not have to scramble to throw together a backup childcare plan when sick kids, snow days or doctor’s appointments need to occur.

Working parents do not have to deal with the pressure to entertain their children for 12+ hours a day ALONE. On the evenings/weekends, many parents are both home so you can divide and conquer or enjoy an activity together. That is not the same as being ALONE with your AWAKE children for long long hours – it is no easy feat keeping your kids engaged (and engaged with quality tasks).

Stay at home parents can “seize the moment”. Nice weather – lets head to the beach for the day. Mommy and me Class on Monday at 9 – sure got nothing else on the schedule. As a stay at home mom, I find it easier to connect with other moms because there are activities and events during the day to foster this, but as a working mom it is hard to find mommy and me swim lessons or other parent activities during the weekends (not non-existent, but harder).

Working parents houses do not get as messy because they are not utilized as much. There are less dishes to clean, toilets are utilizes less, the number of toys pull out is less. You get the picture. Working moms still have to clean their house, BUT the amount of cleaning and picking up needing to get done is not as much because for a lot of the week their kids make messes at childcare and they eat lunch at their desk (or in the fun rare occasion with other people!).

These are just some examples people. No situation is perfect. None. Being a parent is really hard work, but no matter if you stay at home or work, being a parent is also really awesome. Our kids can be huge pains in the ass and honestly they will be for the rest of their damn lives. (I still give my parents a headache) Kids also are incredibly awesome. So moms, when you need to vent about the hard parts – do just that vent – don’t try to say how much easier it is for this or that type of parent because seriously when your kid is 16 and pulls some stupid shit you will have to deal with it whether you are a working mom or a stay at home mom. And moms when a fellow mom needs to complain about how difficult things are right now – don’t sit there ticking off in your head how much harder it is for you because  in reality sides of the grass are full of shit, but if you actually look into it both sides also have some really green parts as well.

 

A little rant to my fellow stay-at-home moms

I have been wanting to write this post for some time, but I needed to really “analyze” my situation before making such strong claims. However, recently I saw an article and I felt like I just have to go ahead and write this piece. See, I saw the article and it said Stay at Home Mom is not a real job. And I was like ah someone beat me to it. Then I read the article and it was a stay at home talking about the lack of breaks, the bath time struggles  and the daily grind of being a mom. It was funny and witty, but again fell into the story line of a stay at home talking about how tough it is, making it feel like it is “tougher” than moms working at a job. Now perhaps this article was written to the nay-sayers who say what do you do all day and think you sit around drinking your hot coffee reading people’s post on instagram. However, as a former working mom who is now a stay at home mom (who occasionally works from home) I felt there was a little “it is harder to be a stay at home than working mom” and lists a variety of reasons. I often feel like people always want to win the award for “hardest” when it comes to motherhood. Well she only has one or she has a nanny or but her husband works from home, mine travels. And I get it there are different variations of HARD, but when it comes to motherhood and being hard – it doesn’t matter what degree of difficulty, it is just hard, just as it is extremely wonderful and rewarding.

We moms are always trying to create this divide of “hard”, but let me tell you as a former working mom the struggle and challenges are real on both ends…and to be honest I found being a working mom a million times harder. That’s why I quit it, gave up living in my own home, moved in with parents and stayed home with my kids. Others may find staying home more challenging and enjoy the contributing to the working world.

I feel the need today to point out to my fellow stay at home moms who feel like working moms got it made (or at least easier) a few points.

Working moms also don’t get to shower. Except they can’t show up at work in yoga pants and a messy bun and not run into some issues.

Working moms often have to rush home from work to pick up their kids who they missed dearly, feed their kids, give them baths, get them to sleep just like we do, but then often power their computers back up because they still have work to complete. Work they left so they could get home to their kids.

Sure working moms get a “break” from the constant requests and dangerous antics of toddlers, but they also get the added stress of an additional set of deadlines and a job that requires attention. It’s not like they go the beach everyday and drink cocktails. There are deadlines and expectations they have to meet. Deadlines and expectations that stay at home moms don’t have to worry about. Working moms also have to get their kids to soccer practice, attend PTA meetings and take their kids to the doctors. Except when they do it, they have a boss and a job that they must work around.

Oh, but they have help. Sure some may have a nanny who handles all of that, but in my experience that is rare. Our nanny didn’t take my sick kid to the doctor – I did. I missed work, letting someone down, and took care of my kid. When my son was in daycare, there were set hours and they didn’t care that my job started at a certain time or a meeting was scheduled late in the night. I had to be creative and finding good help (affordable good help that is) is a stressful task. That takes time to find and is rarely perfect, consistent or without holes that need to be filled so you can keep your boss happy and yourself employed.

As a matter of fact, this article acted like our children are our boss. Which could possibly be an analogy. Except my toddler does not effect my pay, does not give me performance reviews and quite frankly, cannot fire me (as much as he might want to when I say no TV today).

So stay at home moms our job is hard. It really is. And we many make sacrifices, often financially to make it work. However, not everyone can (nor wants) to move in with their parents to make it work or has a husband who can float the family on his salary or feels leaving their profession to tend to their kids (in person) full time is best for their family.

Being a stay at home has afforded me so much and has made my life so much more manageable and so I am going to name a few of these things and highlight my privilege as a stay at home mom. Everyone knows motherhood of any kind is hard, but as a stay at home mom:

I can make doctor appointments and not think twice about the time. Sure I want to work around nap time, but that is a structure I put into place, a structure I am in control of adjusting.

I can feel out my kid’s mood in the morning and adjust my day accordingly. Sure, we have doctor’s appointments and “classes” and errands to run, but if my kid is taking 45 minutes to put his shoes on I may be annoyed and “held up”, but I am not missing a meeting or strolling into the office (which for me was a school) 45 minutes late.

I can cancel, reschedule or not go to shit when I don’t feel like it. When my boss has a “Storybook Fit” class, I can be like blah we aren’t going today. And no one will think twice about it. As a matter of fact, I make the schedule. I can wake up and be like today we are going to the beach. And I don’t even need to call out sick. I just go.

When I am unable to  shower – I can act like I just came from the gym. That my smell is the result of an intense workout and not due to using my free time to sleep and you know write this post to decompress from the stress of battling my kid over the TV and snacks.

I can shop, sure with two kids in tow, but I can shop during “off” hours. I remember doing my grocery shopping on Sunday nights or Saturday afternoons  (with my then one kid in tow) when I worked and it was quite crowded. Same goes for a Target run. As a stay at home mom, the trip is still tiring and loud and filled with requests and screeches, but thankfully there are a few less people to witness the disaster train.

Stay -at-home moms I love you. The job is hard, tiring and many days (usually after 2 hours of playing imaginary Sophia game) I want to runaway to a cubicle and hide under the desk. But I want to stop acting like it is the hardest thing in the world. That we have it so much harder than our working mom counterparts. That they don’t have to deal with what we do. Sure during the working hours they outsource SOME of their mom duties, but that is so they can answer to another boss. A boss that can fire you. And expects you to shower. Daily.

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Thinking for Two

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You forgot about your future kids, hahaha.

When I was pregnant with Flynn and registering for gifts, I read every review known to man. I read Amazon reviews, Consumer Reports, blogs, Parents Magazines and on and on and on. What one person deemed the greatest thing ever was another person’s waste of money. For every excellent consumer reports rating there were 15 people on Amazon saying it almost killed their child, or at least caused a third eye. Does Flynn really need the organic mattress and what is the difference between the Bjourn and the Ergo? Despite spending hours upon hours, making lists and reading reviews, I never once thought about what products would last not just Flynn, but all the babies we planned on having. Dominique and I always said we wanted a lot of kids, however, we never once factored that in to the decisions about what baby products to buy.

Now that Baby #2 is here I realize that we now need to upgrade to products that can handle a toddler and a newborn. Since many new moms out there are doing just what Dominique and I did for months on end, I figured I would share a few products we wished we would have planned and purchased to prep for the multiple kids we wanted.

The Stroller

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Love this stroller, but where will Nola Go 😦

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The Double

We love our stroller. We also have a decent double stroller that we bought for the nanny back when we did a nanny share. However, I find that double stroller way to big and really wish I would have gone with a convertible stroller like the UppaBaby Vista or the Baby Jogger City Select. We are now debating between the UppaBaby with the Rumble Seat or the City Select with the two. Had I been thinking past our first baby, I would have skipped the Mamas and Papas (as much as I love that stroller) and went for the Uppababy to prevent needing to buy a new stroller so soon.

The Monitor

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Who needs a monitor when we sleep like this?

When we first registered for a baby monitor, I was like I don’t really need one with a camera. That seems a little much. Then the first time I tried to use the monitor, it was impossible to hear Flynn crying. So we returned the monitor to Amazon and then never bought a new one since Flynn found a nice cozy space in my bed and was content to nap in the living room in his little Baby Home.  This past summer when we moved to Philadelphia and started having Flynn nap (and eventually sleep) in his crib, we figured it was time to get a monitor. I picked up a First Years video monitor that was on sale at Target and have had no complaints…until Nola arrived and loves to sleep in while we are all downstairs. Currently, I move the monitor between rooms or use an Ipad app when both are sleeping at the same time. Once again, would have just been easier to think about multiple young kids and ordered a monitor that can easily add a camera.

Cloth Diapers

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Nola can rock a blue cloth diaper that says handsome, right?

This is one area where we thought long term. We figured we would be able to use the diapers for multiple kiddos and therefore were willing to make the investment in Charlie Banana diapers. However, what we didn’t think about was poor Nola having to wear cloth diapers that say Handsome on them or are royal blue with rocketships clearly designed for a boy. Since both kiddos are wearing cloths right now, I did find some gender neutral numbers (and one pink one) on sale at Target to add to the stash. However, poor Nola still has to rock some boy colors and any future baby will inherit whatever diapers survive these two.

I guess one place we lucked out is Flynn loves himself some gender neutral pants so Nola will be set for months to come!

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Yep. Definitely gender-neutral.

Oh What A Day

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Until I was 14 years old, we had one bathroom. For seven people. And you would think my biggest memory of that bathroom would be waiting to pee or fighting for a shower. However, it isn’t. My biggest memory is the stash of Parents Magazines that my mom kept under the bathroom sink. I would go in there and sit on the floor and flip through article after article. It was heaven.

A few years back, before I had kids of my own, my mom said how Parents magazine was made to make moms feel bad about themselves. I didn’t understand at the time because all I remember were all the pictures of holiday crafts and cool baby gear. However, I now know what she meant. Except it isn’t a magazine for moms making mothers feel inadequate, it is Pinterest, Instagram and the ever wonderful mom blogs. It is the picture of people’s beautiful children decked out in Etsy gear in their home their amazing husband built them in a gorgeous town after finishing some mission trip. (And don’t get me wrong I love my Etsy leggings, my amazing husband (who was just chewed out for being sick) and my kids are pretty cute, even with food in their hair and marker on their face).

However, today (the past two days) were the dark side of mother. The ones where you don’t capture the amazing photograph in the perfect lighting with your kid acting super cute at some educational, cultural, and oh so fun venue. Today was the day you gave your kid ice cream before dinner just so you could boil water for dinner. Oh and that dinner was some Annie’s boxed mac and cheese. It was the day you turned on Netflix and prayed there was some movie your kid will watch for 30 minutes while you feed the baby. Today was the day where the cloth diapers piled up and disposables were pulled out. It was the day your kids’ activities were less Maria Montessori, more Ipad friendly. It was the day where your house looked like an episode of Hoarders and your outfit a piece from What Not to Wear. Today, you decided against baths and gave in to the night time bottle even though you’ve been trying to wean. Pacifiers were shared, food was eaten off the floor and you may or may not have taught your kid a four letter word rhyming with it.

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Multiple Stripes While Watching CarsToons Never Killed Anyone

Today was the day we survived. The day we forgive ourselves for not being the perfect mother. or wife for that matter. The day we allow ourselves to not feel bad about the fact that we put the TV on a tad too long, changed out quinoa based lunches for a classic PB&J and allowed one too many snacks from the diaper bag.  We forgive ourselves for not leaving the house, for boring our children (and ourselves), for not having Pinterest/Instagram/Blogworthy moments. We allow ourselves a moment to throw a pity party, to despise the “perfect moms” and to accept that today you did all the things you swore you never were going to do when you first found you were pregnant. Like give your kids ice cream.

Oh What a Day

I’m just too embarrassed to show my eyes. – Nola

But tonight you grab a glass of wine (or favorite beer) and  you get back on that Pinterest, and on the Instagram of your favorite moms and you plan for an awesome tomorrow. One filled with homemade kale waffles that you kids with gobble down with vest. And activities that make every home-schooling momma across America come reading your blog. And pinning your pins. Where lunch is organic and dinner is perfectly balanced. One where you capture your child in the etsyest outfit in the perfect light doing the most adventurous, hippest thing.

Here’s to tomorrow…the day of the shower, makeup, and jeans.

(Nan…I apologize in advance for all grammatical errors. Feel free to get the red pen to screen while you sit back and wonder why you spent all that money on private education just for me to ignore plurals vs possessives…regularly)