A Life In Progress

Why I Chose to be a Stay At Home Mom July 30, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — jdalsin @ 9:42 am

This post has been stewing in my head for about a week.  I’ve been trying to get my thoughts and emotions in order so I don’t come off sounding judgemental, crazy or like I’m a 50’s housewife.  I’m not sure that’s going to happen but do know that I’m going into this with good intentions.

 

The timing of this post is actually quite funny.  A long time friend of mine did a post a few days ago about her journey and her feelings on being a stay at home mom.  While this is by no means intended to be a rebuttal, her words did spark some more ideas for this post. Then today in Maclean’s magazine I read a couple articles on topics close to this and again got inspired to write about why I made the decision I did.

 

A little background on me.  As a preteen, I think I would have been considered a little budding feminist.  I got books out from the library on great women of our time, I was all “I don’t need no man!” and so on.  My two younger sisters aspired to be housewives and I thought they were crazy idiots.  (sorry girls!) You see, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to be a journalist or a travel agent or a lawyer but I knew I wasn’t going to live my life canning fruit and taking kids to the park. 

Flash forward 10 years.  Both my little sisters have more education than I do, both enjoy being part of the work force, both bringing home the bacon.  And me? I’m everything I used to think I’d hate to be and I love it.

I think little by little I started to break down.  I wanted to marry when I was in my late twenties.  But then there was Jordan and I wanted to marry him NOW.  I married at 19. (In retrospect- WHAT?! 19. I see 19 year olds now and just about die when I think I was married at that age.)  Well, now I wanted to be just that young double income couple doing our own thing, jet setting around the world, eating fine foods and staying out late every night.  And then came Abby. I was 21.  From the moment I found out I was pregnant, I knew my working days were numbered.

 

I think it is so important to stay home with your kids.  I do.  I’ll say it.  I think if you can, you should.  I know that isn’t a popular opinion because most people don’t.  For me, I just can’t possibly imagine anything more important than your children, being there to raise them and being there for each milestone, big or small, throughout their lives.   I know that’s a touchy subject so I’m going to back away from it now and explain why it IS for me.

 

For Jordan and I, the decision for me to stay home was a no -brainer.  We wanted the relationship with our children, we wanted them raised a certain way, with certain morals and values, we wanted them surrounded by love, peace & happiness.  We wanted a listening ear to always be available or a hug and kiss when they are feeling blue.  It’s undisputable, there’s no one out there who loves them, cares for them, cherishes them as much or as deeply as we do as their parents.  So who better for the job?

At first I thought I’d stay home until my youngest was in elementary school and then head back part time. But the more I think about it and the more people I talk to, the less I understand this logic.  I know some parents who work until their kids are in school and then stay home because it’s been said that older kids need their parents more than babies and toddlers (which I disagree with to some extent.  I think they just need them in different ways.)  I can’t imagine applying that logic to say, your marriage.  “Honey, let’s both work our butts off the first few years of our marriage so we can stock pile our money and then we’ll be so happy.”  I don’t think so.  Your marriage will lack that vital foundation and you’ll have missed out on those precious first few years together when the relationship is so fresh and vulnerable and needs to be built upon.  I think the same would happen with parenting.  I can’t imagine not being around much for the first few years of my kids lives and then expect to step in and say “I’m here now.”  There are parts of a relationship with a child that can ONLY be built in those first years.  That’s fact.  Not at all implying that you can’t have a great relationship with your child if you only truly begin in the later years but there are bonds and attachments made very early on that you can’t rewind and redo.

So now, after being a stay at home mom since November 2004, I think this ‘career’ is going to be a long lasting one.  I want to be that mom who can come to school when my kindergartener threw up all over her desk, the mom who always has something tasty at the bake sale, the mom who gets on the school bus with the kids to go on the field trips, the mom who writes goofy notes and puts them in our lunch boxes, the mom who is waiting at home after school with a healthy snack and welcoming arms, ready to listen to all the tales from the day.  Because that’s what my mom was and I think I’m a better person, a better mom, because of it.  I can’t imagine having to had lock the door behind me as I headed out to the school bus, came home to an empty house or had nothing to bring to the bake sale.  I think we very wrongly assume what is important to children.  It isn’t the toys, the fancy vacations or the trendy clothes, it’s the small things that I’ve just mentioned.

 

My mind is just whirling right now. I have so much to say. I have so much information and evidence to back me up.  I know I’m holding back with this post, with fears of offending others mostly.  Anyway …

Want to hear about my day so far? A typical day. 

I woke up and nursed Josie, played with her and fed her breakfast.  She went down for her morning nap about 10 minutes before Abby even woke up for the day.  Abby woke up and wanted me to snuggle her in bed.  We snuggled and visited and laughed for awhile before both of our tummies started grumbling.  We went to the kitchen, me still in my pjs and Abby in a princess costume and ate the banana muffins we made together yesterday, fresh strawberries and cheese.  We both were chilly since I left the windows open the night before to air out the house a bit after some hot humid days.  We ran to the couch, grabbed a blanket and a stack of books.  We ignored the phone as it rang and stayed snuggled under our fuzzy blanket.  Abby had the urge to color and did so as I started in on some laundry and cleaned the kitchen.  Josie woke from her nap and we headed out to London Drugs to pick up a few things.  Josie sat in the front basket, happy as a clam and Abby, held the side of the cart and skipped along the aisles with me, pausing to check out the clearance rack of toys. We met Jordan at home for lunch. While it was cooking in the oven, all four of us went into the backyard to play on the swingset for awhile.  When he left,  Josie went to sleep and Abby is currently sitting up in her room doing sewing cards.  And me? I’m sitting here on the computer trying to think of one good reason that it isn’t ideal for me to be a stay at home mom.  Trying to come up with one reason that this isn’t the best it could get for all 4 of us.

 

The benefits are endless.  You never have to leave the house in the winter. I’m there for my girls and my man 24 hours a day, whenever they need me.  The house is clean.  The cupboards are always overflowing.  The girls are happy, healthy, smiling, bright.  During nap time, I have the time to do other things that I find fullfilling.  After working all day, Jordan comes home to a good meal and a happy, rested, well adjusted kids and a wife who’s pretty sure her life couldn’t get any better.  Everyone’s needs are met. We have time for each other. We never have to wake anyone to rush out the door to daycare in the morning.  We can go with the flow.  We don’t have to squish a day full of housework and together time into a few short hours in the evening. It really really works for us.

I have so enjoyed staying home with my girls and have not once wished I would be working.  Those moments of snuggling your little baby all afternoon, or getting your sick little toddler comfy with a snack, a blanket and a favorite t.v. show, of picking up your excited preschooler from her first day of preschool, watching those first steps, encouraging those first words, placing a crayon in your little one’s hand for the very first time, teaching your daugter to bake cookies – those moments are irreplaceable, you can never request a do-over and they mean the world to me.

I know I am so fortunate that I am able to be a stay at home mom. We are blessed with Jordan’s job and with his willingness to be our bread winner.  With this luxury of staying home, of course comes with sacrifices too.  Our house is modest, we have one vehicle, we aren’t the world travellers we hoped we would be.  But at the end of my life I’m sure I’d regret lack of time spent with my children over an extra few hundred square feet on our house.

That’s why I do what I do.

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Forget Style July 19, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — jdalsin @ 3:27 pm

There are so many new “developments” in parenting.  I hesitated to use the word developments because to me, development usually implies ‘growing, moving ahead, improving upon’ and I’m not so sure that all this new parenting stuff is really all that wonderful.

One perfect example is parenting styles.  Before there were ‘good parents’ and ‘bad parents’.  And now?  Let me name a few: Attachment Parents, NVC Parents (non-violent communication), Positive Parenting, those who follow the Baby Whisperer, Gentle Discipline, Baby Wise … I could go on and on.  And then there are those that take one of those methods and take it to the extreme- making everyone else who follows those styles look like a bunch of crazies.

When did this start?  I’d honestly like to know when it went from a bunch of parents doing the best they could to winding up at these groups of parents who are afraid to go outside the boundaries of what their books say.

Books are obviously, not a bad thing.  Getting parenting ideas, not a bad thing.  We all have methods that seem to make most sense to us.  Things that we are comfortable doing and that seem to be effective in our households. I just think that somewhere along the line, we as parents have forgotten how to think for ourselves.  I think we spend too much time judging and worrying about being judged that we often don’t listen to our instincts, forget to listen to our babies and children and forget to take our noses out of the books and make our own choices.  I feel very fortunate that I am somehow blessed with an “I really don’t care what you think” gene.  Not that I don’t welcome opinions and solicited advice, but when it really comes down to it, I don’t care if I’m being judged for my parenting choices.  Some of the people closest to me who’s parenting advice I do value think I’m a quack (Hi Mom!) but that’s o.k.  I’m happy with how my girls are turning out and so far, wouldn’t change any of my major parenting choices.

I’ve talked to many moms who’ve asked me what my parenting style is and what I think of other styles.  I can’t even answer that.  I hope that my parenting style is just that – MY parenting style.  And it changes all the time to adapt to our situations, to each individual child. 

If I had to classify myself as something, I think I’d fall under Attachment Parenting. Even that I hestitate saying because of some of the people who’ve driven that to the extreme and made all these good ideas look crazy.  Like baby wearing- I’m all for that (if my kids would have enjoyed it) but do think it’s excessive to have your baby strapped to you 24 hours a day – and yes, I know some moms who do that.  Co-sleeping: great! Breastfeeding on demand: Ideal! Responding to your babies cries: good! Letting your baby set their own schedule – awesome! Those are a few of my viewpoints.

Whenever someone does ask me for parenting tips and asks me to recommend a parenting book, my answer is usually the same.  If you want to read, read a lot of them and then pick what you think will work for you.  Don’t follow any book word for word because I guarantee not everything in a single book will work for you.  The book says your baby needs 4 oz. of formula at this age but seems hungry after? Give them more. Those are the types of things that baffle me.  Not every baby is by-the-book.  We are all going to find something that we like best and we are all going to come across things that make us shudder.  It doesn’t mean that they are wrong, it just means that they aren’t things I would ever feel comfortable doing or are pieces of advice that I would never dream of putting into action.  For me Baby Wise and folks like Dr. Rosemond are definitely things I would never feel comfortable doing, some of it actually gets my blood boiling and I can’t imagine working for my girls if I did.  BUT, some people love it, swear by it even.

This turned into more of a rant.  Oops!

I guess the idea behind this post was supposed to be me encouraging you to be Eclectic Parents, picking and choosing what works for you, being confident enough to bend the rules and wise enough to do what you know is best.

The end.

 

For Example July 8, 2008

Filed under: Parenting — jdalsin @ 3:08 pm

For the month of July, I’ve decided to shift the focus of this blog to parenting. Not written at all like an instruction manual but as a journey.  When I first started this blog there were areas of myself that I wanted to work on.  This is one of them.  I have a few topics I want to cover, but here is the first one:

Abby is weird.  Really weird.  She says weird things. Does weird things. Thinks weird things.  Unfortunately, I can only blame about 0.2% of this on Jordan. She gets it from me.  One day a few weeks back I was wondering how she was learning all these weird things when I realized it was simply from watching me.  I openly admit to teaching her things like “See you on the flip side, Daddy boy!” but wasn’t sure whyt she was calling Josie “Josie Bosie Losie Tosie Boo” or saying “I’m warm as a borm.”  Jordan opened my eyes.  “You say those types of things all the time.” Oh.

So, on a walk one day it dawned on me that that old saying is true “Actions speak louder than words” or “Kids learn by example.”  I realized I definitely had things to work on.

I’m going to stay weird. Nothing wrong with speaking in rhymes or teaching your kids cool lingo, right?

It occured to me that I am mighty good at talking the talk but I need to practice walking the walk. I need to set an example so they can SEE me doing it, not just HEAR me.

Here’s a few things I’ve decided to focus on for this task:

  • I’m always emphasizing the importance of caring for the earth, recycling, etc.  To SHOW them I mean it, we have been walking everywhere we can within 2 km. This includes the grocery store, library, swimming pool, movie store, etc.  Great exercise and Abby now knows that using your car when you can walk isn’t good for the earth.
  • We all tell our kids to be nice to other people, to do kind things. How often do they actually see us doing that?  I’ve decided to do a random act of kindness every week or two, having Abby & Josie heavily involved.  Yesterday we baked delicious cookies, wrapped them in pretty paper, wrote a note and dropped them in our neighbours mailbox.
  • Again, we tell our kids to get moving, eat well, etc.  How often do they see us doing this? Abby has always been a big part of meal preparation but we’ve decided to expand that a bit.  First of all, we’ve been learning about the food groups and how important it is to choose from each group. Second, we are also making special effort to make sure the girls are with us when we run so they can see us taking care of ourselves. 
  • Since Abby seems to need a little lesson on respect, that’s another area I’d like to start emphasizing and being a good example of.

Those are the four areas I’m focusing on right now.  What’s something you think you could be a better example of?