Thursday, May 25, 2006

The Mommyblogger Trifecta

... in which I talk about my son’s poop, navel-gaze about working vs. staying home, and talk about cute things my kids do and say.

I’d never been so happy with the contents of a diaper as I was late yesterday afternoon, when Opie finally delivered an actual solid poop (and not an unholy liquid mess). Trumpets sounded and angels sang—he’d finally vanquished the Return of Rotavirus after 7 miserable days.

So, huzzah! He was clear to go back to day care today. Not a moment too soon. I think saying “I don’t know how you do it”—to a stay-at-home mom, a stay-at-home dad, a working mom, a single mom, a mom of multiples, etc.—is, aside from lazy and clichéd, quite offensive (and I thought the book sucked). So I won’t use that phrase now. But being at home for a week straight really brought my need to work into sharp focus. By the end of each day I was a little more cranky, bitchy, and impatient with everyone in the household than the day before. Partly because of the ever-growing pile of Shit to Do that Isn’t Getting Done, but also because I so terribly missed slipping out of Momworld and into Workworld.

Yes, come and flog me now, Dr. “I am my kid’s mom” Laura, but I almost always look forward to Monday mornings, when 72 hours of nonstop mommy duty come to an end. It was a different story back when Mondays meant hauling myself into the city on an hour-long commute, working at breakneck speed all day and then racing out the door at 5:00 for the return trip, screeching into day care minutes before the door slammed shut. (The saving grace of the a.m. commute, of course, was the company of the lovely Julie.) We’d get home no earlier than 6:30 p.m., cobble dinner together, bathe Jo and put her to bed, rinse, repeat. Although the work itself was satisfying, everything that came along with it wasn’t, so much.

But now, work days mean a five-minute commute (from day care back home), the house to myself, catching up with my friends in the computer, work I enjoy with wonderful colleagues (even if they are 1000 miles away), meals eaten without little people wanting to share them, the chance to throw in a load of laundry without any “help,” maybe even a quick walk in the park with my dog. It’s blissful, really, and I don’t miss the kids in the slightest. I drop them off late enough and pick them up early enough that we have plenty of playtime, and don’t feel that rat-race-rush.

Two of my friends here are stay-at-home moms. One loves it, is creative, patient and flexible with her sons; never wants to work full-time again (she’s a photographer, so she works the occasional wedding on a weekend). And hey—rock on, sister. She’s really good at what she does. My other friend, though, misses work a lot. She worries terribly about money, and struggles with depression and anxiety. The only reason she isn’t working is out of a sense of duty, of “this is what moms are supposed to do.” I can’t help but wonder if heading back to the office might be better for her, and consequently for her child too.

I mean no offense to anyone out there, working, at-home, or mixed breeds like me. I just think a happy mom means a happy family, and I’m very lucky to have found the balance that works for us.

Besides, if Jo weren’t in day care, I wouldn’t be able to tell this story: Her teacher showed the kids some pipe cleaners that they were going to use in a craft project, and asked if anyone knew what they were. Jo did: “They’re clean-pipers!”

And equal time for Opie: Last night, he watched Jeff loading the dishwasher after dinner. Then he toddled deliberately out of the kitchen and down the hall to fetch a plastic fork from a toy tea set. He brought it back to the kitchen and handed it expectantly to Jeff. ‘Cause, I guess, the dishwasher could also be called a clean-forker.


mothergoosemouse said...

You know I am right there with you on this topic. (Although I am one of those lazy, cliched, offensive people who says - albeit admiringly - "I don't know how you do it.")

The rat race you described - that's a major reason why we moved. As rat racy as life can still be, it would be that much more so back there.

Another Opie/CJ parallel - dishwasher fascination and the need to add items to the load.

Piper said...

What I wouldn't give to be able to work from home. This 100 miles a day $300/mo in gas commute is going to be the death of me. So not worth it.

Mayberry said...

MGM--I know the phrase can be used admiringly, and that doesn't bother me. It's just that most of the time, I hear an implied "...and I don't know why you would try" kind of judgment going hand in hand with it, KWIM?

Meg: 100 mi/day! That sounds just miserable.

Nancy said...

I totally agree with you that a happy mother helps lead to a happy family. I don't think it's good when either parent sacrifices their own personal happiness out of a sense of martrydom ("oh, I have to work this high paying job with terrible hours so Junior can afford Harvard" or "I have to stay home and homeschool Geralyn because I think it's my duty as a mother"). There is nothing wrong with being a working mother and loving it. Sure I have my days when my job drives me nuts, but I am proud of my accomplishments on the job, just as I am proud of being a mom. I don't like the judgement/pity aspects of people who don't like my decision to work because they wouldn't choose it for themselves. To each her own. :-)

I bet your commutes with the lovely Julie were wonderful.

Mayberry said...

Pity... yes, Nancy, that's what I was trying to get at, and why I hate that phrase. Thanks for clarifying my own thought :)

bubandpie said...

You've just said so eloquently exactly what I've been wandering around thinking for the last few days. Staying at home can be such a great thing when the mom has the temperament and the support and the financial wherewithal to do it (and can afford a car so she can get out of the house, if necessary, and the occasional babysitter...).

I just found your blog through the blog exchange and I look forward to reading more (I'm still laughing about the McGyver/childproofing thing from the last post).