With two kids actually learning how to read, one on the actually reading end and the other on the letters and sounds end I hear “M is for Mom” all the time. To them it is my name. I’m fine with that, I worked hard for the title, but I also have made sure they do know my real name that ‘everyone’ calls me so if they need to ask for help they can tell someone my name. (or at halloween Niamh just said I was wonderwoman but my costume was good enough they found me).
The girls all play house all the time. I don’t know if it is a universal girl thing, a my girl thing, or just a kid thing but they take turns being the mom. This is such a common game that YEARS ago after going to see what was up when I heard “mom!” ring out from a play fort or up in a bunk one too many time to find out they were referring to the sister playing mom at that time that I made a deal; I am Mom – game mom is called Mother. Ever after they have stuck to the deal and it is cute to hear calls of “mother!” especially since I know it requires zero action on my part.
Since I had 3 kids in fairly rapid succession I was prepping 18 month old Niamh with baby-this and baby-that getting her ready. 2 year old Niamh had a working knowledge of sleeping baby, hungry baby, nursing baby and I was pleased and slightly self congratulating as she mimicked mommy behavior. Same for Zoe – many cute pictures of both with dolls patted asleep or fed or carried just like me. Then comes Fiona, the baby, nobody to force her to move out of the crib and she is the one we are quiet for naps and push in the stroller – not a new infant. In fact, there are very few infants in our life at all.
It must be a DNA thing because without me showing her anything, or, her seeing any mother example – she is doing the exact same mother behavior as her sisters…. She adores babies. She pats her baby to sleep. She yells at me because her baby is sleeping. She asks for me to help her swaddle the baby (she calls it bundling) and all small pieces of cloth turn into baby blankets.
Who knows if she will grow up to be a mom, if all or any of them will, and if they do what they might remember from their time. I had a vast body of second hand knowledge between sisters and cousins and then babysitting that my kids were still a whole new ballgame but at least I had been to the park. Poor Lars was the baby, the first diaper he ever changed was Niamhs and I have a feeling the last (for maybe 20 years) will hopefully come off Fiona’s bum in the next month. With no cousins around and only Mom club play dates to keep babies in our life, good thing Fiona has some natural talent or she will be that mom that isn’t sure what end to feed.
I know mother behavior, like child behavior, evolves. If it does not (in either case) there are issues… Mom’s that treat their kids like babies forever don’t, in my opinion, every get the benefits of adult children. I’ll never mind being called ‘a child’ by my mom because I know she isn’t demeaning me in any way, she is citing the biological link. I do still need her but in a new way – I hope to have a similar relationship in 30 years.
Being a mom is sometimes not a choice. Not being a mom is sometimes not a choice. Even those who make the choice one way or another, and get exactly what they want probably always have a tiny part of them that wonders if the grass is greener. Whatever happens in your life leads to inevitable changes from the 3 year old you once were and if that mother behavior is actually on the XX chromosome it comes out in so many different ways in adults.
I have no idea how to wrap this one up. Probably because I’m in the middle of the muck of motherhood. Well, maybe just past the majority of the baby muck but I’ve heard that the teenage years are a whole new world…. probably requiring a whole new set of mother behavior! (and maybe earplugs, or a taser, who knows)
Sometimes I end up not writing here because big(ish) things are going on but I can’t really talk about them and if I can’t talk about them I don’t want to talk about something else…. slippery slope and all that. Many times I don’t write everything about a situation – I’m sure you all know that – for one thing who wants to hear every detail and for another I don’t like to document the bad sides if I can help it. Not because I want to hide it to appear ‘perfect’ for you all, but, to keep myself from vividly remembering the negative when I re-read something I wrote in the future. Way too often I forget things, I call it a byproduct of a busy and full life, but I can read something I wrote and be transported back and really remember what was going on so I hate to skip things totally just because there is something I don’t like in the mix. So here is a compromise post, it isn’t the whole thing but better than nothing.
My title; Home, is something I’ve given thought to a lot over the years. Maybe it is just me but I call way too many places home. I say I’m going ‘home’ for summer break and mean Sayville and when I’m in sayville I’ll refer to my parents house as ‘home’ but also my house in MN too. At the end of the visit I always say I’m going ‘home’ and mean MN. Maybe we need some more words that mean “that place I’m going to and my stuff is and I plan to sleep at”. Mixed into the definition of home is all sorts of baseball terms (home base, home run) there is a home row on a keyboard where your fingers rest, and I’ll often say I need to ‘find a home’ for an item and my house if full of ‘homeless’ items that move from place to place. Home often boils down to a place where you are safe and welcome and it is yours. Sometimes I shudder when people proclaim that the beach is ‘their home’ or the people at pennsic say ‘welcome home’ because it sounds dramatic and off to me, but, it is something lots of people say and really feel so there is something to it.
So. Why is it that people get hung up on a particular address? I am somewhat one of those people…. I love the memories made in each of the houses I’ve lived in. I also have great memories in my friends homes,but, how silly would it sound to be more than passingly sad that my highschool boyfriends (who I have not seen since 1999) parents moved and sold the house that I hung out in so much over a few years? If that actually caused me real distress you all should have me committed – they moved house, they didn’t erase my memories (nor their own) and they moved because it was the right decision. People move all the time for good reasons – out of the nest to college, first apartment, the string of early places you live with people then with your boyfriend, then the first ‘real’ house etc. There is a ton of moving from age 18 to 30 for most people and everyone celebrates those moves with parties and house plants and gifts like fire extinguishers… Yes – things then slow down. Some people still move every 4-8 years – growing family, job change, etc and some don’t spending 40 years at the same address. Why oh why is it gloom and doom to move from a house into a retirement community? (ahhhh, yes…. here is the point.) When your children are adults, your spouse has died, you have lived alone and don’t like it what are you hanging on to? More importantly – why do so many other people insist that your HOUSE is your one and only option for HOME? It isn’t as distant a connection as me to my HS BF’s parents, but, not really all that far. Would you do this to a kid moving into their first house? Why would you do it to someone moving into a retirement community where they will be safe and well fed and provided with a ton of things to do?
The 400 of you who subscribe/read this might think I’ve gone on quite a tangent this time. The 4 people I wish would read this likely never will. My grandmother is being pulled in too many directions and at this point I don’t even want to be a part of it because being part of it is now just being a part of the problem. She will do so much better in the gorgeous senior living facility with all the amenities but my aunts and uncle are dead set against it. I feel like there is a bit less of a ‘home’ in Sayville now since this issue is driving a wedge/building a huge wall. Ironically, my grandmother is an only child who tells EVERYONE that they NEED to have more than one child because she hated being an only, and, one of her life goals was to build a big happy family. She did a great job producing 4 kids who love her and are all in the same town … but… and I can’t even write the but…
I will keep calling her every week. Where her body is when I call does not truly matter to our relationship.
Talking to a friend yesterday she said: “You don’t act like a stay at home mom” and I said “thanks” because that seemed like a compliment to me and I believe that is how she intended it.
Then I get to thinking about the phrase after we are off the phone. During the call she was driving and I started the conversation planting some plants with Fiona who mostly wanted to dig holes, continued the conversation through washing her hands then breaking up a fight about ABC mouse hamsters (by turning it off), and finished the conversation with Fiona on my lap on the swingset – all very ‘mom’ things to do. During the evening, after feeding, washing, brushing, putting to bedding – my mind does what it does and I go all divergent on the topic of acting like a stay at home mom.
Nearly 2 years into this stay at home mom gig I (still) have the same worries any mother has about if I’m doing it “right”. Do I read enough to them? Do I yell too much? Should #2 be watching more ‘mature’ (yet still very G) shows with #1 when #1 was still 100% Dora at 4 years old? How much TV/Computer is too much? Do they eat well enough? Do I cook enough ‘interesting’ things? Answers to these and countless other paranoid mother questions are perpetually debated and in the end it probably boils down to “maybe… it depends”. I constantly look at myself and wonder if I’m doing too much or little or whatever but it is nice to know that I’m not defined by it do an outside observer.
As my own devils advocate – is this a backhanded compliment? Given SAHM is my current ‘profession’ does not seeming like; that is what I do, does it mean I’m not doing it well enough? I say no… There are tons of people I don’t have a clue what they do professionally and those whom I do know, it is usually a footnote to our relationship. That is my opinion at least – people that talk constantly about work are kinda dull. Maybe that is it ~ constant talk about the thing I do all day is dull if I’m a scientist, librarian, writer, or mom.
On the other hand, I have the great positive that my ‘job’ is to do with something that a huge number of people have fair to very good experience with too. It is great to really talk kids with people, get different opinions and solutions and hear about what other people do. This is kinda how I was with work; when in a group of my peers – it is very satisfying to talk nuts and bolts and know the person you are talking to understands. Maybe that is my secret; I’m not talking about what it is like to be at home with my kids, I’m talking about my kids and so are you and we have a shared experience, not you listening to me gripe. BTW, for my friends out there with no kids, I’ve still gotten great info and feedback so this isn’t an exclusive Mom’s only club.
I joke all the time that I look like a stay at home mom but I actually semi try to not fit the stereotype. It is sad that the stereotype of frumpy, dumpy and sleep deprived mom is what most people think of a stay at home mom looking like (including me, although, I feel that not to be true overall). I have a uniform of t shirts and jeans and comfortable shoes so I probably fall into the frumpy category. In my defence; everything I wear must be yogurt proof and washable. Over the past 2 years I’ve tried adding accessories and I know the theory of dressing for success but I’m just not a hair-doer or makeup person and the mom’s I see made up so nicely are inspirational but not something I aspire to exactly. What I’m working on is the dumpy part since that is in my control. Fitness is a more natural since being outside and active fits well with people who have two speeds; all out run and crash landing. I have a membership to a fitness club that will watch my kids so weekly I have an escape from responsibility and an hour to work out. Yesterday I saw the proof that my kids are learning fitness from me because Fiona requested a certain workout routine that I do often (because it is short and hard) and she bounced along with it and even did baby burpees. Sleep deprived…. well, I have a keurig but there are days that I know why there is a speed problem with many moms. Someday I’ll have plenty of sleep, until then I will hope the world is understanding when I’m not fit to operate heavy machinery.
At least once a week I question if I’m inflicting myself on people because I’m always finding myself putting out the invitations to this or that but without it I would be a sad hermit with only internet friends because I seldom get invitations. I like doing things and that is what drives me to write here, write occasionally elsewhere, take millions of pictures, create a social media job for myself and various other little things including hauling my kids all over for this or that. I constantly look at my life and find it dull because we never go out, I’ve not seen any of the movies, don’t have exciting adventures. It isn’t until I reflect on the details of my life and the outcomes to see I’m not dull really, I just have a very time consuming job where I’m on-duty every night therefore I watch a ton of TV and find things to do here. Count your blessings is a very valuable phrase…
If you make it this far congratulations on getting through it. I hope I made some sense. I don’t have time to leave the house for a haircut much less for therapy so I use this spot occasionally to work it out on paper. In the end I choose to stay home therefore I have to support my own decision. I still wish I could be more super mom but I think most people do. I read somewhere that if you are worried about doing things right your doing ok because people who worry care and that is what matters (conversely, now anytime I’m not worried I worry about not worrying….) All in all, I’m going to say that not “acting like a stay at home mom” means that I’ve retained what makes me fun and special AS WELL as adding on 3 conversation starters and I read enough bolgs and twitter to be current enough on interesting things to talk about 🙂
So. What do you think a Stay at home mom sounds like?
I was wondering what to write about today… Easter? Weekend? Excitement that there is liquid not solid water in our lake? And then my friend Stacy sent me this article and I knew I had to say “Me Too” long and loud.
When I was pregnant with my third girl not a day went by when I was somewhere (outside my home) that someone didn’t ask me if we were going to try again for a boy. Why are boys prized more? If I had gotten a boy I would have been equally happy, seriously, equally happy. Yes, there is a vague thought about the ‘continuation of the name’ thing and ‘what if I’m missing some boy experience’ feeling but that is balanced by if I had a boy I would have been worried about equally valid things like “he won’t have a brother growing up” and “How will I handle all the differences and being fair and equal but not setting him up to be teased because he wears nail polish”
Now that I tote around 3 girls I still get people asking me. NO! a forth child, regardless of gender, is not going to happen! Do I look like a need a 4th child? Are YOU offering to babysit?
Here is my favorite reply;
Stranger; “are you going to try for a boy? or Are you disappointed you didn’t have a boy?
Me; “Nope, I like my girls and I’m fairly confidant that I’ll end up with 3 boys in about 18-20 years, boys that someone else had to feed ;)”
The author of the article does leave off the ‘family name’ thing but I think there is some freedom in naming your daughter anything you want and not worrying about it perfectly matching your last name. I know some girls with awesome maiden names combos (like Kristen Kelly or Kellyann O’Callahan) that I bet feel bad giving them up and I’m happy that having a ‘strong’ ‘confidant’ sounding name for all time was not one of the many things I had to worry over. **aside** I still vaguely worry about Niamh’s initials – she nearly had an F middle name but then she would have been NFL – glad my neurotic check and double check got that one.
One thing the author didn’t talk about was about how same gender siblings have built in friends, but, his point was that the list of what he can’t do because of only daughters is laughably short. While pregnant, I talked to every single person who would talk to me, and since they usually opened with the ‘didn’t you want….’ I had a great opening for my follow up. I asked if they had brothers or sisters. 9 times out of 10 they would say they had an opposite gender sibling and they always wished for a brother or sister growing up. That is, if they had siblings and 10 of 10 times if they were only children they wished they had someone! There was maybe 2 people I recall that said they were the only girl in a family of boys and loved it, but, they said they loved it because they were practically a boy themselves. I would say here that those parents might have been like “oh, well, a girl… girls can do what boys do, lets keep rolling like we have been”. And finally, those with same gender siblings usually said they were happy with it. Admittedly this is a non scientific study, done mostly at playgrounds or other places adults stand around while kids do the kid thing. However, my non scientific conclusion is that families with a 1 boy 1 girl family might have good symmetry but they do not seem to produce kids who grow up thinking that their one, opposite gender, sibling was their BFF. Go ahead and ask around – I would love more data!
Before this gets long, the big stink in the article about ‘girl toy and boy toy’ at McDonalds (in the comments mostly) is another thing that I’m glad I got girls not boys. Girls, can easily, take any boy thing and make it theirs without anyone batting an eye. Boys can’t. I remember being young and shopping and seeing the racks and racks of girl clothing and the one sad rack in the corner for boys. I would like to say that if I had a boy I would not put him in his sisters clothing. Technically speaking at this point I am sure I wouldn’t because after 3 kids the pickings are getting slim…. Anyway, clothing is something I am not sure I could go totally against society HOWEVER TOYS DON’T HAVE GENDER. That I feel strongly enough for all caps. Boys like dolls, shopping carts, play food too. Branding makes parents feel better. At some point boys and girls will naturally often start mimicking the gender roles they see around them (I could find the many studies that say this but I don’t feel like googling). Regardless, people still try and take away ‘girl’ toys from boys and WOW am I glad I don’t have to deal with that in my life. There are studies too that say women still earn less… still end up having the glass ceiling smack them in the face… still are judged on their clothing and weight and looks before their brains. Those are things I’m sorry to say I know to be true as of 2014 and I’ll help my girls when and where I can, and I’m glad they will have sisters to talk to about it….
We moved here knowing very very little about the state. I looked up the snow tables and Buffalo NY got 10x the snow in an average winter then MN but that was seriously the only thing we knew.
There may still be snow on the ground. It might have snowed this March morning. But. It is a very open and free, live and let live type of state.
A blog friend is struggling with her daughter being told mean things and excluded at school because they are not the ‘right’ religion (in the bible belt)
Here religion is definitely practiced and Niamh has come home with some random religious ideas from school like ‘God puts a baby in a mommy’. Can’t exactly argue the spirit of that explanation but it is an incomplete answer, but, I don’t really need to dive into all the science with her. We found a middle ground but I can totally understand the parent that went with the “God does” explanation because faith is one thing 5 and 6 year olds have like crazy. Anyway, Niamh has been welcomed into 2 different churches when she was over friends houses, I work out at a Pentecostal church, and we don’t actually go to to the RC church we belong to often because my husband is not interested in how the church is run (and would rather sleep) and I don’t really want to haul 3 minions solo so we don’t go. HOWEVER the word hell has not even come up. Miss Zoot’s daughter and mine are one grade apart and I’ve ‘known’ her since before she was born so I can’t help feel bad because of her situation (that I think Miss Z is handling well and I’m keeping my assvice to myself). On the other hand it gives MN a point in the positive column because there isn’t a religious zealot in sight.
This article is all over facebook and not to point out a similarity but it is a southern state too.
I won’t say that there are not mean people here because there are. I like to say that the MN-Nice phrase means that people are generally very nice to you no matter what, but, they don’t necessarily like you for real and will not feel bad about talking behind your back. BUT to your face they are always very very nice. If you care about every person liking you then you just have troubles, but, if you care about people, including kids, being nice and polite and respectful of things then this is the place. I was at Niamh’s school and on a day where they were supposed to wear green, I saw two boys in rainbow dash t-shirts. Most kids actually think Rainbow Dash is a boy. It wasn’t until real male (colt) characters got some prominence that you saw that fillies have more pointed noses and colts have square jaws BUT if you look at old style my little ponies they are more like the modern colts. That isn’t the point, the point is that I don’t think a kid carrying a lunchbox with a pony or any girlie thing would cause a stir and if it did, the bullies would be in trouble.
So southern states – you might have sunshine, green grass, temps above freezing in March and superior pie, but, I like my religion mellow and my kids allowed to be as wacky as they want and I’ll put on my snow boots in April for that.
Fiona, yes Fiona, is the reason we remembered to celebrate St Patrick’s day and not fail my Niamh (most Irish name!).
In my defence, this is the first day back from a week off and I need reminders of holidays and there was no reminding. The day actually started off FABULOUS because I opened my eyes and saw an angelic and miraculous vision of NIAMH DRESSED a full 30 min before normal. I didn’t even think about what she was wearing because it Appeared weather appropriate B. fit C. was clean and D. she did it herself. She did this to earn iPad time and I’m ok with that because I was not ready to get out of bed yet but we started out the day well.
Then we take the radical left turn of Zoe who is in an anti-school stage and will rebel by refusing to put on any clothing, especially something I selected. So she wore, in the end, a leopard print shirt and jeans (under duress).
Meanwhile, Fiona finished breakfast, filled her diaper – I changed it, and then I got her dressed in the first 2 things that came to hand. She was super hot to go in the car and got her own shoes and coat and was waiting by the door before we coaxed Zoe into putting socks on and getting near her coat.
Lars gets back with Fiona and Fiona basically wants to go OUT. She is happy and jumpy and not in the mood to chill at home and do laundry etc. I decide, sure, why not let the 1.5 year old decide every so often and so we get ready to go to Shoreview because that is the only place I can think of. While packing lunch I hear that it is St Patricks day! OMG, Niamh is wearing purple I think…. Quick change for Fiona because I was reserving this dress just for the day and I packed a green shirt I was saving for me and out the door. At a light I hear an add for ‘shamrock shake’ and I hatch a parenting win plan. I was heading for shoreview with perfect timing to be done in time to go to Niamhs school for lunch AND there is a McDonalds on the way.
Because Fiona wanted to go out we figured out that it was a holiday and how to make it a win for Niamh too. Things didn’t work out exactly as planned at shoreview because kidcare was full but we played basket ball instead and ran around the track and left earlier than planned and that actually worked out perfectly because there was a line at the drive through. If I thought Niamh’s face was great when she was expecting me, it is even more awesome when she isn’t and it is triple good when I come with a delicious and minty ice cream beverage.
The laundry is far less done then I would like but I think that is ok considering.
Fiona is my lucky charm today, hope you all had good luck today too.
ps. to the extremists on St Patrick’s day I say ‘please chill’. At Niamh’s school there was a ton of green but plenty of kids in regular outfits (including Niamh) and I did not walk away thinking that any were ‘in protest’ or anything as serious. Facebook is a bit full today of people LOUDLY boycotting and I think the loudness takes away from your theory of ignoring a holiday you don’t believe-in/qualify-for. Same message to the others who shout their Irishness like crazy. For the record, I’m 75% Irish and was even born there and it was never a big deal in my house. Getting a shamrock shake from McDonalds is maybe the most effort I have put into it for years.
pps. I will add pictures once Fiona is awake