10 Things This Stay at Mom No Longer Wants to Hear

Every. Single. Day.  I am bombarded by questions, comments, advice, and judgment from other people because I am a stay at home mom.  Every. Single. Day.   It never ceases, it’s like a constant barrage of words pelting my entire body.  And of course there are blogs and articles about being a working mom vs. a stay at home mom, which is better and which is worse.   This morning, I read a blog on Scary Mommy that had the 12 things a working mother never wants to hear.  First off, let me give props to you working moms out there.  It’s tough work.  I’ve been there and done that.   Secondly, let me also just give props to ALL the moms in the world, whether they be working moms or stay at home moms.   You, WE, are all rock stars!

Back to this blog I read.   Working moms get a lot of grief.  I know this.  On occasion, I’ve thought negatively about my fellow working moms whether it be because I’m jealous of their adult interactions, having a life OUTSIDE of their kids, or because I just think their being selfish (yes, I have thought this.  Shame on me, I know!)  After reading this blog, it got me to thinking about the things I, a stay at home mom, don’t want to ever hear.

1.  Oh, I’m sorry.  You must have lost your job.  First off, don’t just automatically assume that since I’m staying home with my kids, it means I lost my job.   Some of us actually chose to leave our Corporate America jobs.   I went back to work when my maternity leave with Davey was up.  He was six weeks old.  I turned in my notice when he was four months old.  I saw nothing productive out of my day while I was working.   Instead all I could think about was what I was missing out on with my son.  I would rise at 5 to shower and get ready, feed Davey at 6 and while my husband dressed him and fixed our breakfast, I would finish getting ready, pack Davey’s diaper bag and drop him off at daycare no later than 7:10, go to work, leave work at 5, pick Davey up at 5:30 and then would have maybe 2 hours with him before he had to go to bed.  2 hours!  That wasn’t acceptable for me.   I can always go back to work, maybe not in my chosen profession, but I can’t go back and make memories.   So, no I CHOSE to leave my job.

2.  You must have a degree in Home Ec.  Yes, I do hear this.  Do they even offer Home Economics anymore?  I never took it in high school.   And just for your information I have an Associates Degree in English, a Bachelors Degree in Speech and Communication Studies & Political Science (I double majored) and a Master’s Degree in Business Administration.

3.  I bet you have time to get caught up on all your soap operas.  Yes, I do hear this one as well.  Who watches these anymore?  I don’t even have time to sit down and watch the news in the mornings, much less watch a soap opera.   When the boys are napping, I’m usually doing some sort of housework or maybe squeezing in some writing time.

4.  I bet you get to workout all the time.  Yes, I do go to the Y, so I do get in some sort of an exercise routine.   I don’t do it just for me, as the Y offers all sorts of programs for children.   Davey flips out if we don’t go on a Wednesday, since that is his exercise day, but I don’t work out all the time.  Anyone who’s seen me knows that I don’t, but I am active with both of my boys, playing soccer or tee ball in the backyard, going on bike rides, and hiking, but my boys are with me 90% of the time I’m getting in any sort of exercise.

5.  Your children will be socially awkward.  My children will NOT and are NOT socially awkward.   That is because I have chosen from the start to constantly have them at various events, from the library, to the children’s museum, to play dates.  I give up my comforts of wanting to just stay at home, so that they can have the interaction they need.  Being a stay at home mom doesn’t mean we stay home 24/7.  I’m very conscientious about keeping my boys active socially.

6.  Studies have shown that children thrive in an atmosphere when both parents are working.  I went to daycare and look how I turned out.    Studies are coming out EVERY day.  There’s always a new one.  This one touts exercising while pregnant will increase your child’s IQ when he’s 5.  Another says that smelling a person’s farts will increase your life span by 6 years.  Studies are gibberish in most cases, a waste of time and money.  The studies focusing on curing cancers and AIDS and other medical impediments, those are worth the energy to be concerned about  Studies are subjective and can NOT be used in every situation.   I went to daycare, too, and I turned out just fine, but I want something more for my kids.

7.  Your husband must make a LOT of money.  Yes, my husband has a wonderful job and it is his job that allows me to be a stay at home mom, but we’ve made sacrifices.  We don’t drive luxury cars, I don’t own luxury clothing, we don’t go out to eat at fancy restaurants.   We had to change our lifestyle in order to accommodate us living off of one salary.  It was hard at first, but we’ve made it work and my kids don’t want for anything.   Stop assuming we’re rich just because I don’t work by my own choice.

8.  I could never stay at home with my kids.  You could, if your circumstances allowed for it.   Some moms must work in order to help keep food on the table and the kids clothed.  Others do it because they just don’t think they could stay home with the kids.   Look, it’s not easy.   I lose my patience a LOT, I mean A LOT!  Some days I feel like I’m spinning my wheels and getting nowhere.   Some days I feel there has been no sense of accomplishment.  I lay my head down some nights and think, “what did I accomplish today?”  Being at home is hard work.  It’s not easy, but if your situation allowed for it, you COULD do it.  I have faith in you.

9.  I bet you have all the time in the world to write that novel you’ve been working on.  As most of you who read my blog know, I sometimes go for days, even weeks without writing a blog because I just don’t have the time for it.  I do most of my writing either early in the morning before everyone is up or during that 30 minutes of time in the evenings when my husband is having his one on one time with the boys.   After that, my husband and I spend a couple of quiet hours together.  Writing isn’t my priority right now.

10.  Must be nice to get to sleep in every morning.  You know, you don’t have to get up and go to work.  No, you’re right, I don’t have to leave the house to go to work, but I still treat my role as a stay at home mom as a job, a career choice.   I get up every morning by 6 (I do have the occasional morning when I get to sleep to maybe 7), do my writing, have some coffee, get dressed and get breakfast ready.   I find if I don’t keep a routine to my day, including rising in the morning, then I’m setting myself and my boys up for failure.   I don’t let my boys sleep past 7:30 most mornings because I want them already on the routine of needing to get up Monday through Friday.   They’ll be going to school soon, after all.

I could add more to this list, but really I don’t have the time, nor do I think many of you have the time to read more.   Look, we all have this chip in our head, a little switch that turns our filters on and off, but for some reason it seems to malfunction when talking to mothers.   I don’t know if we’re just trying to make small talk, but if this is how it turns out, then just don’t do it.   Stop passing judgment on me and my life just because you either a.) don’t understand it or b.) just think it’s the wrong route to take.

My boys are both very smart, testing above their age groups.   They love each other and other kids.   They’re well mannered and two of the sweetest boys you could ever meet.   Could they be this way if I were a working mom?  Sure, but I don’t think our relationships would be this great.

Just Another Day of Kiddie Conversations.

I am always amazed at a child’s imagination.   There are times when I’d love to be able to shrink myself and travel through the neurons and synapses of my boys’ brains.  I can imagine the sparks and flights of information travelling through the synapses to the various different compartments.   I often wonder if my brain ever held their levels of ingenuity, and if it did, has the daily drudge of grown up life completely snuffed out the existence of any of those sparks.

Henry is becoming a lot more vocal and his vocabulary continues to expand.   I’m still bombarded with the continuous dribble drabble of toddler speak, but for the most part he know what he wants to say and usually says it.

Davey is well past the standard vernacular of toddler speech.  I am amazed at how well he speaks and the inflection and tone with which he says things.   He is very good at enunciating his words.   Of course, having a mom with at least two degrees, one in English and another in Speech and Communication Studies and Political Science, only serves to either help him or frustrate him as I constantly correct his grammar and tell him how best to diagram a sentence and conjugate a verb.

***side note*** I don’t think my Political Science degree with have any influence on his learning.  And my Master’s in Business Administration may serve us when the boys become older.  Who knows?

Today; however, isn’t so much about how either boy is communicating, but more so about what they have to say.  I find myself chuckling at times, shaking my head at the absurdity of what I’ve just heard and the all out amazement with the things they develop.

Davey enjoys sitting in his room, perched upon his bed with books abounding fruitfully as if they seem to magically spring up from the never reaches of his mattress.   He, of course, “reads” each one and then turns to his pirate ship and reenacts what he’s just “read”.

As I sit here writing this, today’s conversation seems to have flashed forward a few months to Christmas.   Davey grabs my calculator and informs me it’s his mini computer with which he can text.   This is our conversation:

“Mommy, I need to text Santa on my computer.”

“Santa?  Why are you texting Santa?”

“I need to see if he was ok in daddy’s truck.”

“Why was he in daddy’s truck?”

He becomes exasperated and rolls his eyes at me as if he can’t seem to understand why I would ask such an asinine question before responding with this, “Because that’s how he gets to work, Mommy.  Daddy takes him in his truck.”   And then he walks off upstairs shaking his head at my apparent stupidity on the subject of how Santa gets to work.

Earlier, when I woke him up, he told his three good monsters who are strategically placed within his room every night before he goes to bed, that they were off work and could go home to their monster families. Interestingly, these monsters are the same every night, but they have different names, names I can’t speak, not because I would be banished for saying their names, but because I don’t speak “Davey” and can’t say the names.   These three good monsters are in his room every night to protect him from the bad monsters and they even made it on the plane to NY a few weeks ago!

I’m impressed with his creativity, his attention to detail and I’m actually a bit jealous of it.   As many of you know, I’ve begun writing some books.   I have a few short stories under my belt, but the illustrious novel I want to write seems to elude me.  I hit a constant creativity obstacle.  My child, on the other hand, seems to exude my much needed spark.   Once again, what I wouldn’t give to travel into his brain and see how it works.

We still have quite a few hours left in the day, so I’m sure our conversations will continue to grow and continue to astound and even stupefy me.   Maybe he sucked out all of my creative writing skills when he was still within my womb.  I don’t know if I really want to believe that, because it could mean my days of writing are over.

The Importance of English

I get a lot of gripe these days from random folks. I hear things like, “he’s only two,” or “poor kid, he’s just trying to express himself.” I’ve been told I need to lighten up. To these people I say, “it’s never too early to teach your child the importance of speaking properly.”

One of the three degrees I have is an Associates in English. I love to read and I love to write. I always have. That’s part of the reason I studied English post high school. At that point in my life, I had not a clue what I wanted to do, but I loved the English language.

Once I entered Clemson, I transitioned my major into Speech & Communication Studies and Political Science. There was a fascination on my end with the spoken word and how just one small slip of the tongue could turn an extremely intelligent person into what could be construed as an illiterate moron. I put a lot of effort into how I speak, even now, even though I don’t necessarily need to for a job. I do it now because I don’t want either one of my sons to sound un-intelligent.

I’m amazed at the effort put into NOT focusing on grammar or spelling or speaking properly. I suppose we’ve become dependent upon computers to help “fix” any of our errors. These computers have become our crutches in the world of the spoken and written word. I’m guilty of relying on them a lot more than what I should. I try to be cognizant of what I write and say and how I convey myself, and I’m trying to instill that in my boys, even little Henry who just turned 9 months old.

My pet peeve these days with Davey is when I ask him a question he responds with, “huh?” I cringe each time I hear that word spill out of his mouth. It’s almost like the sound of nails scraping down a chalkboard. It’s taken a while, but I don’t hear “huh” quite as often and should it slip, I raise my eyebrows and refuse to answer Davey until he corrects himself.

I try to convey the importance of tense to Davey when speaking and the correct use of pronouns. I’m simply appalled at the number of children older than Davey who say “her is coming”. Are the parents just not listening to their children or do they not care?

I don’t discipline him and I don’t scold him. I just simply take the time to correct him and explain the importance of speaking correctly. And the funny thing is that Davey gets it. He truly gets it. It makes me chuckle when he says with perfect alliteration, “Mommy, I sound intelligent.” Yes, my son, you do.

These days a lot of effort is placed upon the Common Core method of learning. The method has its pros and cons and I’m not interested in turning this blog into a forum about whether or not Common Core is best. What really shocks me; however, is the number of people who are in support of Common Core yet they can’t even understand when to use “which” vs. “that” or “whose”, “who”, “who’s”, “whom”. These same people spout out their so called “intelligence” on the matter and yet they can’t even write properly. Instead they use acronyms and short cuts in order to convey their message. It’s sad. There are run-on sentences, phrases, and comma splices. Heck, I know I’m guilty of the occasional one, but I do try to proofread whatever I’m writing in the hopes to NOT make the constant and common mistakes I see within our society.

What’s even sadder is the fact that so many children these days come out of school without being able to write the appropriate business letter, or type, or even draft a proposal using proper English. For people like me, it’s frustrating to see our children this way.

How many of you spend the time actually speaking to and with your children? How many of you put forth the effort to make sure your children are speaking correctly? It’s never too early or too late to start, and it’s definitely a nice “ace” to have in their pocket.

Success

14 years ago, I sat in a Modern Political Theory class at Clemson University. I had just two more semesters left to go before graduating with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Speech and Communication Studies and Political Science. I was already studying hard for the GRE (Graduate Record Exam) and had eager aspirations of attending the University of Maryland in order to get a Master’s Degree in Political Communications. From them on, I was going to attain a job at the State Department and possibly get myself a job somewhere overseas. Then and only then would I consider my life to have been a success. Needless to say, my life didn’t go down that path, but that doesn’t mean it hasn’t been a success.

14 years ago, the thought of a husband and children was not a part of my life’s dream. It didn’t seem to fit into the equation of the goals I’d set for myself. Plus, at that point in my life, being a wife and mother was just ho hum. It was average and there really wasn’t anything spectacular about it. I needed more than just average. There would be no success story found anywhere there, or so I’d told myself.

The past few years of my life have helped me to change my view of what success really is and I’d like to share it with you all, especially for you other mothers out there who are perhaps not doing what you thought you would be doing with your life years ago. I do have my Bachelors Degree from Clemson University and I did manage to go to grad school, albeit not at Maryland, but through Webster University and it wasn’t in Communications, but instead Business Administration. I’m not exactly using any of my degrees at this point, but that doesn’t mean I’m not a success.

I’ve met quite a few mothers who feel that they need to find a way to balance it all in order to be successful. Many of my friends still feel that having that illustrious career is what makes them successful. They feel that the world judges them because they are women who have children and a career. But, here’s an idea…maybe your children could be your career and you could be just as successful at it or more so than at some corporate America job.

The past couple of weeks I’ve found myself reflecting upon my life and the choices I’ve made…where they’ve led me and how I feel about the end result. And here’s what I’ve found, my life is more successful now than I could have ever imagined stationed at some Embassy or political post overseas. How have I come to that you ask? Well, here are a few examples of how I measure success, especially as a stay at home mom to a 2 & 1/2 year old and a 2 & 1/2 month old.

Last week, Davey met one of my former colleagues from my days in Corporate America. He reached out his hand, shook her hand and said, “Nice to meet you.” Success! I have a very well mannered son.

Davey saw another child crying over the weekend at a rugby game. He walks over to the child and says, “It will be alright, would you like to play with Davey?” Success! He’s empathetic and concerned.

Davey walked over to his friend at church on Sunday and began singing Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star with her and even held her hand. Success! He’s learned the words to the song and is such a happy little boy to sing along with his friend.

Every Tuesday morning that I take Davey to school, he immediately walks over to his teachers and hugs them both. Success! I have a loving child.

Every Tuesday that I pick him up from school, he tells all of his friends goodbye, taking the time to hug each one of them. Success! He’s a friend to all.

At every meal, he doesn’t eat until he’s said the blessing and thanked the Lord for what we have. Success! He’s learning the importance of thanking God.

And at least once a day, I’m asked to read Jesus to him, which means Davey would like a Bible story. Success! He’s learning about God!

These are only just a few small examples of what makes me feel successful not only as a mom, but as a woman and as a person in general. I don’t make tens of thousands of dollars and there are days when I feel like my job as a mother is just a complete failure, but when I see my son, outgoing, loving, smart, and well-mannered, I know I’ve been a success. When I see his smile every morning (and Henry’s too), I know that I’ve been the most successful person I could ever be. I’ve birthed two beautiful boys, both inside and out, and I’ve managed to mold them into children who will become successful adults as well. And again, their success won’t necessarily be measured by awards and dollar figures, but more about the character and integrity they have as young men.

I am a success.