Wednesday, October 21, 2009

One month in...

And we are doing great!

Sam left his full time (paid) job one month ago to join the team at home working full time for no pay. And in that month we have adjusted. It took about 3 weeks to get us all back to some sort of schedule, routine, rhythm.

I love it.

I love having my husband home. I love seeing Sam. I love that Seren is doing all sorts of crazy art projects. (Pictures below).I love that I don't need to cook dinner at night. I love that I don't have to put both kids down by myself. Or cook dinner while nursing Wyeth. I love that I don't feel so all alone. It is working. I still have twinges of guilt and jealousy and no, we haven't paid the bills yet which is when it will get VERY tricky but this is a decision that is working for us. Right now. And we are feeling very happy and very fortunate.

But the comments from strangers have started back too. Case in point. On Monday, I was waiting with Seren and Wyeth at a doctor's office while Sam had a minor test performed. (He is fine, whew!) I met a grandma who was in her late 50's, early 60s. She was one of those people, God bless her, who just asks all sorts of personal questions and tells you exactly what she thinks. You know the type, "So, you done having kids?" Etc, etc. She and I chatted for a long time about life. She starts with:

Her: So your hubby took the day off to have this done?
Me: No, this is my day off with the kids, we are here to pick him up after the procedure.
Her: He stays home?
Me: Yup.
Her: He don't work??
Me: Nope. Well, on Mondays he works but the rest of the days, he is with the kids.
Her: Does he LIKE that? He don't go crazy?
Me: I'm sure he has his moments where it is hard. But he seems to love it, actually. He is really, really good with the kids.
Her: Does he cook?
me: Yes! He is a good cook.
Her: He don't clean too, does he?
Me: Nope, he doesn't clean. That is still my thing.
her: You must LOVE to work...
Me: I like to work. Yes, I do. I like having that part of me but I really enjoy my kids as well. I love 'em.

This went on and on. She looked at me like I had a third eye. The names we chose for our children? She chalked that up to us "being creative". But then after a quiet moment (and I do mean one moment) she said, "Well, I guess it all shared these days. Not when I was doing it. Nope. If my husband had the kids, well, the house was a complete mess when I returned. I guess it don't work like that anymore."

There are a number of different things I find funny or challenging about these kinds of conversations.
One, you feel like you have defend yourself as a good mother. One conversation I'll never forget came from a local mother who said to me, "I could NEVER work, I love my children too much." Which is just ignorant. Those mothers that choose to work or have to work don't love their children?? Good grief.

Two, you feel like you have to defend your partner's parenting. Which would NOT be the case in reverse. (A father defending his wife's mothering would be unheard of but I constantly have to assure nosey strangers that he IS a good dad.)

Three, it makes me realize that some things really have changed and some things haven't. Double standards are everywhere.

Some life choices are made for us. Some we make on our own. Most 'choices' are somewhere in between. But every family that I know is simply trying to do their best. That is all we are trying to do as well. Some days are better than others.

These conversations with strangers are just so common that you begin to get used to them. Begin to. They still, as is obvious in this post, ruffle my feathers.

In the mean time, we will continue onwards. The art projects, I have to say, are pretty cool.


Sam said...

I do clean. I don't do bathrooms, and I have a high tolerance for dirt and clutter, but I do clean! :) For the record, I think you are the best mom in the whole wide world ... ever. I might be biased, but it is what I think.

LauraC said...

I think everyone gets judged in their parenting situation. I was talking finances with a friend and I mentioned that we lived on Jon's salary - this was part of the whole moving to a new house thing. So the friend (a friend!) said - then why do you work and leave your kids in group care if you don't need to work? Wouldn't you rather be home getting to see your kids more? I tried explaining I am a much better parent working and I'd rather pay someone who loves the day-to-day stuff with kids to spend that time with my kids. Then got very rude comment about having other people raise my kids.

So, whatever you decide you will not win everyone over. What matters is that your family is happy! Which look at Seren's face! HAPPY!

Beth said...

I love this post! The conversation with the grandma is hysterical. Definitely touchy, but it sounds like she was less judgmental than most. I'm so glad things are working with your new plan. Nothing is perfect, but we all do the best we can. And I believe that a working mom is an incredible role model for kids--both boys and girls. Seren is learning so much about self worth, and relationships, and about TRUE choices. Both of your kids will not be straitjacketed by preconceived notions of gender roles. That is awesome. And I love Sam's comment, too! How sweet. He is exactly like Ed--he doesn't see the dirt and scum, and he doesn't care. But he keeps a neat house, and he vacuums. So I can't complain. Anyway, just think of you and Sam as pioneers who are paving the way for future generations. By the time Wyeth grows up, being a stay at home dad will probably be way more common. Keep fighting the good fight!

Julie said...

I love this post too! I am so glad that things are working for your family and that the change has been a good one. I think its super cool that Sam is a stay at home dad--he looks very creative, based on all those awesome crafts :) I can tell you my husband would NOT be into craft time--he wouldn't even know where to start. Of course, neither do I, but I am learning. The conversation with that grandma sounds a lot like my grandmother--she always tells me how lucky I am to have a husband that is actually present, that cooks, plays, changes diapers, etc. Things have changed so much over the years--I think Sam is a pioneer as well (and sweet too).

Being a working mom is SO great for your children. I sometimes feel guilty being a stay at home mom b/c I don't want my girls to think that I HAD to give up my career--that it was one OR the other. I just wanted to. And not because I love my children more--how freakin ridiculous is that comment? Because I didn't love my career enough to keep working my a$$ off and giving myself an ulcer.

Kudos to you all!

Jessica said...

It really is amazing, all the different notions out there about parenthood, especially motherhood. I loved reading the conversation with the older woman because so much really hasn't changed since her time, at least for many of us (my house is still a bit of a wreck if I leave my husband home with my son, but he's getting better with practice).

I'm learning to have a thicker skin now that I'm a mom, and being able to laugh about the weird encounters is a big help. Thanks for giving me a funny story.