Posts Tagged ‘stay at home mom’

Next Steps

My fingernails are the longest they’ve been since perhaps my wedding day. I’ve always had a nervous habit of fidgeting with my nails, and it got worse when I started playing guitar in high school because I bit down the nails on my left hand for easier fret fingering. Though I don’t play guitar much, I kept that nasty habit. But on maternity leave, I haven’t stress-bit hardly at all.

The last seven weeks have been filled with joy and adjustment. Wes continues to be helpful (“Mama, you already fed her on that side.”), and Steven has taken on or completed household projects every time I turn around.

I’ve developed some new skills as well:

  • Multitasking with one arm (while breastfeeding). I’m proud of my abilities to shuck corn, make dinner and set the table, feed the dogs, and yes, even use the bathroom while feeding Maisie. I don’t know why I don’t just use a carrier more often, which would make tasks that much easier!
  • Wearing spit up and sweatshirts. I notice these things while sitting in the parent pick up car line at Wesley’s school. I’ve also gotten good at configuring the best time to arrive at school with the least amount of idle waiting.
  • Reorganizing areas of the house. You should see my linen closet! Steven remarked on the Day of Kitchen Cabinets, “It’s like someone actually thought about where things should go.” I take that as a compliment.
  • Stocking the freezer. I’ve discovered how much I enjoy prepping freezer meals for a rainy day. We’ve eaten so well during the last couple months – starting with meals provided by friends the first weeks, and now with these Shattuck family-approved make-ahead meals (many of which are crockpot simple!).
  • Sorting clothes. Gone are the snug-fitting shirts and pants in Wesley’s closet. Maisie has a solid wardrobe for her first 9 months, all organized by size and season. I’ve also gotten good at dropping off bags of donated clothes to various places!
  • (Not) Looking sleep-deprived. Maisie is pretty good at sleeping once she finally gives in, but she can fight it for hours. Thankfully I can usually get enough rest to have a functional day ahead, but I can also call upon a tip given to me by a makeup artist friend: white eyeliner on the top lid makes you look more alert.

It hasn’t been all peaches and rainbows, however. This pregnancy and birth were relatively easy and uneventful, but the postpartum recovery process has been more difficult than anticipated. After initial breastfeeding issues and several infections, I’m not 100% recovered. I’m still fighting off a lingering staph infection, and it’s really frustrating. Some days I could do little more than watch reruns of The Office.

There were (and sadly, still are!) times where I felt like a senior woman who complains to friends and family about her aches and pains. Thankfully I’ve been well looked after and my body seems to be slowly healing, but it has made my big plans for traveling and visiting throughout leave go abandoned. Not to say I/we haven’t done anything fun!

Earlier this month we joined Steven on a day trip to Chicago. He was scheduled to speak at a conference on a late Saturday afternoon, so we bundled up the rental car, caught our familiar train from Hammond, and toted a stroller around downtown Chicago. We visited Millennium Park and the Bean before Steven had to get ready.

 

The kids and I spent the afternoon at Navy Pier and the Chicago Children’s Museum, which was so much better than expected. We had just enough time to walk back to the conference hotel (ugh, that walk was the worst because it happened during Maisie’s prime feeding time), walk to the station and board the train back to our car. We arrived home just before midnight. Steven: “We could do that again.” Maybe a near-future day trip to visit some museums?

Both Steven and I have volunteered in Wesley’s classroom on separate occasions this month. It’s the best way to see how the Spanish immersion experience plays out, and it’s amusing to observe how your kid does and interacts with others. Wesley was thrilled to show off his baby sister to his classmates, and she was Miss Popular at recess and the lunch room.

Our first date night occurred last week! Steven got us great seats to Andrew Bird’s limited symphony tour, Time is a Crooked Bow, as my birthday present earlier this year. The show did not disappoint. I joked with a friend (who generously watched the kids for us!) that I started leaking breast milk from sheer excitement.

We’ve also had entertainment at home during these past few weeks. Maisie has reached an interactive milestone and has been smiling and cooing at us in recent days. At bath time the other night, she was so happy that we all took turns making faces to get the best smiles out of her. We likely looked ridiculous, all three of us gathered around her, talking and giggling in high-pitched babbles. She loved it!

I’m unsure why the video recorded on its side:

I return to work this week, and I’m starting to fidget with my nails again. For good reason: this is the busiest week of the year as the Indianapolis Walk to End Alzheimer’s is happening on Saturday. I have missed the entire fundraising event season and feel very out of the loop. I’m anxious to jump in and be a part of things, contributing to a mission I love and believe in.

But I also believe in my mission to contribute to my family’s needs. Maisie was a gift to us, and it’s my turn to give her my time and service. After this event season wraps up, I’m stepping away from my job to be at home for the foreseeable future. We are in a more stable position than when Wesley was born, and though it’s not something I ever thought I’d do, it’s time for me to take on a new position at home.

This decision was made with lots of influence and encouragement from Steven and Wes. I pretty much blame them for this newest adjustment. Though I have to admit, I’m looking forward to experiencing Maisie’s milestones and spending the holidays together. In January our family will re-evaluate my options, and I may return to the work force in a part-time position if something fitting becomes available.

Though my nails will be bitten to the shreds in the next few weeks – from health concerns, returning to a busy work environment and then leaving it all behind – I find I’m not nearly as anxious as I might have been. God has provided a blanket of peace in which I’m deeply snuggled. There is joy in my heart. All is well.

If I should say, “My foot has slipped,”
Your lovingkindness, O Lord, will hold me up.
When my anxious thoughts multiply within me,
Your consolations delight my soul.    – Psalm 94:18-19

Posted: September 30th, 2018
Categories: Leah
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The Daycare Dilemma

Photo 1I’m pretty sure I’ve hit on this point before, so call me paranoid, I guess. I’m in this weird limbo of sorts because Wes is one of the only kids I know who attends daycare. There are a few, though usually the kids in my life are watched by a relative, dropped off at a caregiver’s house, or they have parents who work from or stay at home. I don’t think one is a better option than another, but it does cross my mind a lot.

It makes it tough because I can’t really talk through my troubles with many people and sort out my thoughts.

We’re about to transition Wesley into full-time daycare. Currently he attends 3 days a week, coupled with my mom watching him one day, and I the other. When he was still a tiny little guy, my friend Jillian watched him until he turned one year. He’s been enrolled in part-time daycare since then. My paranoia arises even when I type this.

Will we be able to afford it? His school is highly rated, which means it’s worth the money. But. Three days to five days is a big financial jump. I often find my job, of which I love, and of the not-for-profit salary margin, and the words, “importance” “worth it” and “selfish” in the same thought-sentences. It’s an ongoing battle in my brain.

Will we miss out on his childhood and developments? In other words, will I regret this decision later on? He’s only this age once. I don’t know how to answer this question.

Will he get enough rest? On days at home or at his grandma’s house, Wes will nap an average of two hours. However, with all the distractions at school, group naptime is usually about one hour, tops. He is a tired mess of a crank-ball by the time I pick him up. We struggle to get dinner on the table, eating is a challenge, and BOOM, it’s time for bed. I think we spend less than two hours with Wesley every weekday. It’s pretty crummy.

Will he ever stay healthy? I and his pediatrician are looking forward to the end of cold and flu season so we can kick these frequent winter illnesses in the rear end. With a kid who likes to touch his face, we’re pretty much doomed until Kindergarten.

And, of course, what will people think of us? I have to admit that I do think about how others view us. I know it doesn’t matter, but it affects me. His daycare, for instance, doesn’t cloth diaper. So, we’ve had to change our ways, and I feel a little guilty for not upholding my original plans. I feel like I’m now in this outsider realm of “failed cloth diapering parents.” Why, why does it matter? (Besides saving the environment?)

But then again, I weigh all the positive outcomes of his experiences. His school is a sigh of relief. It’s just down the street from my job, and I can be there in a heartbeat in case of fever or emergency or whatever. He mingles and socializes, which I know is a struggle for him. He learns to trust and obey authority. He learns to share and be part of a community. He learns! I mean, some days I have no idea what to do other than explore the outdoors or draw on a coloring page or destroy a block tower. These are teachers with real-life lesson plans geared toward specific developments of his brain’s age.

It amazes me how much he knows at nearly 21 months old. I’m super proud of him. I wish I could have taught him some of the things he shows me, but I don’t know how to teach him. I know how to love him and encourage him and support him, and I will.

The thing is, I want what’s best for our family. I know I am more fulfilled and happy and successful when I am employed in a wonderful position such as my own. Yes, even on the difficult days, I know this. My time, though it may be limited, with Wesley is more enjoyable when I’m applying and challenging myself during the day. I better appreciate and cherish the laughs and tears and snuggles with my son. I also know that my husband is proud of my accomplishments. He is proud of me! Ain’t that something?

So, I guess our situation may change down the road because I’m obviously still struggling with inconsistent thoughts. But for now, we enter full-time daycare. It’s a family effort. We’ll all feel the change.

Posted: April 12th, 2013
Categories: Leah
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Comments: 2 Comments.

The Post About Stay-At-Home Motherhood

Typically Steven stays home with Wes on Fridays, but this week was my turn to work four 10-hour days and spend today with the little guy. I gotta tell ya, it’s an adjustment to say the least. Granted, we’re early risers and really didn’t have to get up outside of the norm, but the whole “getting the entire household ready and out the door by 7” thing is tough. I definitely wore my Supermom cape this week and have been beaming with pride with my accomplishments.

Photo 3So today. The original plan was to wake up late, ease into the morning and visit my sister and the kids. My niece and nephew came down with a stomach bug, so I thought it would be fun to take Wes to the Children’s Museum instead. However, his 4 a.m. wake up-and-scream fest lasted nearly 2 hours (another blog post some day on night terrors), and I decided instead to make it a productive at-home day.

Based on how productive I was, and how great I feel at 9 p.m., I’ve come to the conclusion that staying at home full time might not be as terrible as I’ve imagined. Now, if you know me at all, it’s no secret that I love my job and would tell anyone that I prefer to be a working mother. But I’ve convinced myself that I would pull my hair out and drive myself crazy if I didn’t have an office position, deadlines and social outlet. Oh, the agony of it! Sure, I’d get to spend oodles of time with my only son and witness his milestones and accomplishments, but somehow my sanity has always seemed more important. Selfish sounding? I agree. We’ll get back to this thought later.

By 10:30 this morning, I had already: washed the sheets and started another load of laundry, handwashed the several-day-old pots and pans that were becoming a major eyesore, swept (vacuumed?) all the floors AND dusted our room. Whew. I was on a roll. Partly because Wes didn’t end up taking his nap like I thought he would, so I had some alone time while he talked to himself in his room.

We ate a leisurely lunch together, which never happens. We laughed and made funny faces at each other. Throwing on less grimy clothes, we left to fill up the gas tank – where I got hit on! (mind you, without showering or makeup) – and stocked up on necessities and not-so-necessities at Target. By the time we got home at 1:30, Wes was ready for his nap, so I finished several items off my list. Including my newly organized pantry:

Photo 1

It’s too bad I got the Ellen schedule all messed up, but I did get to see the last 15 minutes of Nicole Kidman giving her best impression of a kookaburra.

If you notice on my check list above, it says at the bottom, “remove poop.” Remember Jake, the Italian Greyhound who doesn’t like wind, rain or temperatures below 72 degrees? He certainly was having a fit during Blizzard 2012 and decided to do his business as close to the door as possible. Now that all the snow has melted away, our patio looks DISGUSTING. I think I deserve some sort of reward for scooping up multiple days worth of slushy, loose dog excrement.

Wesley woke up shortly after. The warmth of today was absolutely lovely, and we spent a long time enjoying it. He was beside himself.

In fact, the only way I could bribe him to go back inside was Baby Signing Time. These videos are slightly annoying, yes, but SO much better than other signing programs out there. Thumbs up. He smiles throughout the entire 25 minutes, and lately he’s been attempting multiple signs he hasn’t before. I caught him signing “day.”

Photo 4

Even after all that play time, I still had time to throw chicken in the oven, snap green beans and tidy the house before Steven got home. Alright, so Wes was on my hip for much of this time period. But he’s at the age where if he sees/participates in the preparation of dinner, he’s more apt to eat it. (He didn’t, however.)

Whatever was left on my list won’t take long as tomorrow’s chores.

It was a great day. I love my guy, and he’s thrilled when I’m home with him. There’s so much teasing, playing, laughter and all those wonderful things you associate with parenting on days like today. I know it was just one day. There are bad days, and they happen fairly frequently. But for today, I can resolve that I could be a SAHM. As long as I have a schedule to accomplish and realize I may not get everything done, I could do it. And throw in a few do-nothing days.

I’m trying to be less selfish and more accommodating for my family. Steven makes many sacrifices and works around the clock to provide for us. I sometimes feel like I skip off to my dream job, enjoy the day and the people and complain if I have a sick child. Reality check: I may have to be mom-at-home one day. I’m starting to get used to the idea, and it doesn’t make me quite so angry anymore.

Posted: January 11th, 2013
Categories: Leah
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Comments: 4 Comments.


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