Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Men Are Babies

I love my husband.  Let me say it again...I love my husband.  A third time...I LOVE MY HUSBAND.  The following blog post in no way is a reflection on my love for my husband and most rational women will understand that.  There will be some that don't, but those women are lying to themselves.

It may shock you to hear this, but my husband is a baby.

Your husband probably is, too, but you may be in denial and unable to see it.  Others of you have accepted this issue and have the tools you need to move forward with this knowledge.

Why is my husband a baby?  Well, he has been complaining of a dull headache on and off for a couple of weeks.  To me, a dull headache sounds like a normal day.  However, my hubby is popping Motrin like it's Peanut Butter M&M's.  I have tried to explain the phenomenon of rebound headaches to him with little avail.  He needs new glasses, so I understand that he likely does have a bit of a dull headache.  Unfortunately, our insurance doesn't cover another appointment until the 1st of the year.  The man sticks it to the consumer once again.

A dull headache is, at times, incapacitating to my husband.  He sits in a chair and complains.  It's like having two toddlers.

Of course, headaches aren't the only "baby" trigger.  So is hunger and exhaustion.  If my husband gets tired or hungry, the world must stop until his need is addressed.

It's a good thing that Moms are women.

Women learn to push through.  Moms don't eat until the kids (and, sometimes, the husband) have eaten.  We power through illness because the world collapses if we don't.  The only time since the birth of my son that I have been incapacitated was in October 2009 when I had a cold so bad that I felt like drilling holes in my sinuses to release the pressure.  It sucked.  My husband had to stay home to take care of J so that I could sleep for about 3 straight days.

I guess Moms just learn to deal with it.  The requests for dinner, hugs, and everything else don't end because Mommy is sick/hungry/about to pass out.  However, while Daddy is indispensable when it comes to playing and rough-housing, he typically isn't the one who meets immediate needs.  This is where Mommy comes in.

Now, husbands are indispensable...I promise they are.  In the world of SAHMs, they are vital.  I admit, I'd be lost without him.  He is our breadwinner, our care-taker, and our support.  They comfort us when we crumple.  So, I guess I'll deal with an extra toddler every now and again.  My husband provides more for us than I could ever wish for and I'll be forever thankful for him in my life.

Book Review: The Pilot's Wife by Anita Shreve

Let me start by explaining why you're seeing a book review.  Among my many dream jobs, some of which include being a nurse, a ballerina, and even a spy (I'm a huge James Bond fan), one job I have always wanted was that of a book reviewer.  Why?  I could read, which is one of my favorite things to do, and get paid for it.  I also might get free books out of the deal, but I get free books at the library, so that's not as big of a deal.  It would be a job that I could do while being a stay-at-home Mom...not that being a SAHM isn't a real job, because as I've stated before, it is.

I guess I'm hoping that, one day, someone will see my book reviews and think that I might be good at it.  Maybe that person would give me a shot.  It could happen.

I could also win the lottery.

That being said, let the above-mentioned book review commence.

Can you imagine being woken in the middle of the night to hear the news that your husband has passed away?  I certainly cannot and almost do not want to imagine it.  In Anita Shreve's The Pilot's Wife, this is exactly what Kathryn finds herself confronting.

As Kathryn and her teenaged daughter Mattie enter the mourning process, she is bombarded with more facts and accusations about the plane crash that claimed her husband's life.  Each new piece of the puzzle brings Kathryn to question exactly what she believed her life to be.  Her husband was not the man she believed him to be.  Being a wife and a mother, I felt my heart breaking for Kathryn as she is presented with the unimaginable repeatedly and must survive it, both for her sake and her daughter's.

I found The Pilot's Wife to be a fantastic read; you can plow through the book in roughly a day, making it a good read for the beach, the airport, or a particularly long day at jury duty.  Shreve writes beautifully and presents a story that is constantly evolving, thus wrapping the reader into the novel.  My only complaint was that I found a lack of resolution, or catharsis, in the book.  Perhaps that's just because there is no resolution to be had, but I felt longing for a result nonetheless.  

All in all, I would definitely recommend this book, but only if you aren't coming off the heels of a loss or a cheating husband.  Otherwise, this book might reopen old wounds.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

What's so Wrong with Christmas?

...or Chanukah or any other religious or non-religious holiday?

I just read a post on another Mommy blog about why there are no holiday decorations at her kid's school and how that's exactly as it should be.

That sucks for that kid.

Let me clarify this...I am NOT overly religious.  I believe in God and most of the tenets of Christianity, but I do not attend church and I don't profess to be an authority on all things religion (though I did have to take a Conparative Religious Studies class...does that count?).  However, when I was a kid we had Christmas parties at school every year and I LOVED it.

Now, I know I'm going to be pissing everyone off with this post, but I believe that Christmas these days is highly secularized.  That being said, who cares if kids decorate Christmas trees at school.  They don't have to be decorated with crucifixes!  Also, is eating Christmas cookies and singing "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" that bad?  I hear no mentions of Jesus there.

That being said, I wouldn't mind if Jesus was there, but he doesn't have to be.  I would also like my kid's school to talk about Chanukah and Kwanzaa.  If they want to have a holiday party with latkes and dreidels, I say more power to them.  My son loves veggies, so latkes would be up his alley more than cookies anyway.  Having Indian food for Diwali sounds fun, too.

Even though we might all want to think that we've raised our children to be extremely religious from the time they could talk, I guarantee that 5-year olds are not offended by the celebration of other religions' holidays as their parents are.  They just want to have a good time celebrating anything.  You could have a Festivus party in an elementary school and kids would LOVE it.  It's us parents that ruin it all.

As proof, my best friend growing up was Jewish.  She celebrated Chanukah AND Christmas.  On Christmas Eve, Santa (a non-religious figure, no matter how much you try to shape it otherwise) brought her presents.  Santa is an equal-opportunity giver.  Her parents didn't flip out when she attended Christmas parties.

So, maybe us parents can get a grip.  Celebrating another religions' holiday is NOT going to convert your children.  They might actually have a good time doing it.

Also, do not tell your kid that kids who believe in Santa have been lied to by their parents.  Let me and my family have our fun...but that's for another post.

A Day in the Life...Part Deux

Here is how my day proceeds after the little guy is down for a nap.  No, it's not any more relaxing.

1:00 PM:  Time for a diaper change and naptime.  J sees his Halo SleepSack (these things are God's gift to Moms...more about my thoughts on safe sleep another time) and immediately starts whining.  This makes the diaper change more like toddler acrobatics.

1:05 PM:  J no longer likes to be rocked to sleep (I'm kind of sad about this), so I put him straight into his crib and I say "Nappy time".  I leave with the hopes of 3 hours to myself.

1:10 PM:  I pass my bedroom and realize that the bed isn't made and that the floor looks like both the hamper and a toy box exploded.  I proceed to start cleaning my room while J babbles "Mom Mom" over the monitor.

1:30 PM:  Laundry basket full of more laundry in hand, I head downstairs.  I still hear babbling and wonder when he'll sleep.  I start the laundry and stare blankly into the pantry for some inspiration for lunch.  Instead, I find a box of banana bread mix that I've been meaning to make for days so that I can use the bananas that are turning precariously brown.  I commence baking.

2:00 PM:  Banana bread is in the oven.  Babbling is still continuing.  The original problem of what to have for lunch remains.

2:15 PM:  I've given up on lunch and switched gears to ironing.  Once I'm done ironing, I'll eat...or so I fool myself into thinking.  At least the babbling has silenced.  Naptime has begun in earnest.

3:00 PM:  The bread is done and I leave the ironing to take the bread out of the oven.  Upon realizing that I likely have 3 more years of ironing ahead of me, I retreat to the pantry to pull out a bag of Cheese Puffs.  I tell myself that it's okay because I'm only drinking water and that logic makes perfect sense to me at the time.

4:00 PM:  I'm still ironing, but I now feel fat because I have consumed an entire bag of Cheese Puffs.  I hear J wake up and start fussing.  I hurriedly put away the ironing board and run upstairs to get him before the fussing turns into a full-on tantrum.

4:05 PM:  Too late.  I change his diaper in the midst of it all and hurry downstairs.  I turn on Thomas the Tank Engine and this seems to calm him down.  Thank God for that blue engine.  I sit on the floor with him in my lap and try not to let my eyes get too glazed over.

5:00 PM:  I start a pot of water boiling to make macaroni and cheese.  At the same time, I realize that I've neglected the laundry...again.  I turn the dryer back on to retumble the load and vow to put it away once it's done.

5:10 PM:  J's dinner time.  Luckily for me, J loves macaroni and cheese with broccoli, but he insists tonight on having his toy Thomas at the table with us.  Thomas ends up wearing some cheese sauce by the time we're done and so does the dog.

5:35 PM:  Dinner's done, but the dog needs to walk.  It's cold and he refuses.  I nudge him outside, reminding him that this is one of his few responsibilities in life.  He returns seconds later after using the nearest bush.

5:45 PM:  My husband calls on the way home.  I desperately try to talk to him while juggling the phone, cleaning up J's dinner dishes, feeding the dog, and occasionally retrieving J from the dining room table.

6:15 PM:  My husband gets home and suddenly all is right in J's world.  I suddenly remember the laundry and run upstairs to put the laundry away while J hangs out with his Daddy.

7:00 PM:  My husband gives J his snack while I start dinner.  I yawn and my husband declares that he doesn't understand how I can be so tired after being home all day.  I try hard not to shoot him a look.

7:30 PM:  My son's obsession with Jeopardy (don't ask...I don't understand it either) allows me the opportunity to eat my first real meal of the day.  Of course, eating a real meal fills me up and I feel bloated.

8:00 PM:  Clean-up time.  We sing the Clean-Up song and J doesn't comply.  We finish and head upstairs for bath time.  We start to brush J's teeth and he insists upon doing it himself.  We compromise and let him "clean up after us".

8:20 PM:  After bath time, we begin a ritual of lathering my poor little boy up with lotion to combat his eczema and scaly skin.  After a story and a hug, it's bedtime.  He begins to babble as soon as my husband and I leave the room.

8:45 PM:  We head downstairs and I am all but passing out on the couch.  I would go to bed at 9:00 PM if I could, but my husband has just informed me that he needs a dress shirt washed for work the next day.  I love my husband.

Now, this is not everyday, but you get the idea.  So, before you ever again treat a SAHM like she doesn't work, think about that.  You may think that you can handle housework and childcare all day long, but can you really?  I'd argue that not many could.  Those of us who do and manage to maintain some degree of sanity are SAHMs.

Monday, December 13, 2010

A Day in the Life

For those of you who think that SAHMs relax, paint their nails, and sip wine all day while their houses and errands go undone, you are wrong...very wrong.

I realize that if you are not a SAHM, you probably don't know what it is we do all day.  To you, we could be sipping Pina Coladas, watching soap operas, and neglecting our children.  In fact, some Moms possibly are like this, but not me.

I also do not profess to be Super Mom.  I am not a Mom who continues to breastfeed her toddler and launder cloth diapers all while never turning to the TV as a babysitter.  My kid doesn't speak French fluently at 20 months (he barely speaks any English), nor is he already potty trained.  While Super Moms may like to claim that they are in the majority, I would imagine that I am.

Being a Mom is all at once the greatest gift and the most exhausting, trying job ever.  Some of the parts of my typical day are joyous.  Others, not so much.  That being said, here one of my typical days:

7:00 AM:  My husband kisses me before leaving for work.  This alerts me that my son will likely start babbling in his room momentarily and I should get what precious little sleep I still can.

7:30 AM:  I start hearing my son talk to himself in his room.  Inevitably, my husband has managed to make just enough noise leaving to wake him up.  I bury my face in my pillow and hope he goes back to sleep.

7:45 AM:  He hasn't gone back to sleep, so I drag myself out of bed and into his room.  His sweet little voice greets me with a "Mama" and I go pick him up for a hug.  I promptly change his diaper and think to myself that this will, in all likelihood, be the easiest diaper change of the day.

8:00 AM:  Downstairs for breakfast.  He runs toward the Christmas Tree, because lighting it is one of his favorite parts of the day.  I head into the kitchen to make oatmeal...his favorite.  I toss a load of laundry in the washer and feel very productive.

8:15 AM:  The oatmeal's ready, but I find that he has pooped.  A quick diaper change later and he's in his chair for breakfast.  He decides that he wanted oatmeal at first, but not now.  He eats half and then swats at the spoon as I try in vain to feed him the rest.  I resort to Cheerios instead.  He eats some and feeds many more to the dog.  I put him down from the table and hand him a cup of milk.

8:45 AM:  I let the dog out to walk.  Seconds later, he's barking at the door.  I let him in and turn on PBS in hopes of getting to eat some breakfast myself.

8:50 AM:  Breakfast hopes are interrupted by J climbing on the dining room table.  I reach him just as he was about to throw one of the porcelain snowmen from the table.  I also note that his cup is slowly leaking milk on the floor.

9:00 AM:  I kill a bug and move to dispose of it in the downstairs toilet.  It clogs our toilet (everything clogs our toilet) and I spend the next 30 minutes trying to unclog it.  The whole process ruins my appetite.

9:30 AM:  I manage to make a glass of chocolate milk and drink that.  I sit in the living room with J as I desperately try to answer emails from family and friends and maintain some link to the outside world.  I do so, but poorly.  Meanwhile, J has planted himself in my lap and is demanding access to YouTube.  I relent and run a search for Cookie Monster videos.

10:00 AM:  We head upstairs so I can shower.  I turn PBS on in my bedroom and, thanks to my newly purchased doorknob covers, rest easy knowing that J can't leave the bedroom.  I do note that he has somehow reached the baby monitor and is carrying it around.  I go to the bathroom for a moment of "privacy", only to be interrupted seconds later by the bathroom door opening wide.  I hurry with my "business" and hop in the shower.

10:05 AM:  I hop out of the shower to retrieve my glasses from J's little hand.  How he managed to get them, I have no idea.  I hop back in the shower, but I am freezing from jumping out of the shower wet.  I hurry and finish my shower before J finds anything else.

10:45 AM:  Into J's bedroom to get dressed.  He kicks and bounces and screams on his changing table as I try desperately to change his diaper.  Finally, I give up, remembering that I changed it when he pooped 2 hours ago.  He's only slightly wet, and he can stay that way a while longer.

11:00 AM:  Snack-time.  I encourage J to take a seat at the table for snack, which he refuses.  Instead, Cheerios and Barney are on the menu in the living room.  J sits in my lap eating and watching Barney.  I can only think of Death to Smoochy while watching that horrid, purple dinosaur.  I smile enthusiastically every time J looks to me to show me something.  I still can't stand the dinosaur.

11:30 AM:  We head out to run a quick errand to Trader Joe's.  J loves going.

11:45 AM:  At the checkout, some nosy wench feels the need to comment on how gross it is that my kid has snot pouring from his nose.  Or maybe she thinks he's too loud.  Or maybe he scratched his face and she needs to comment on how poor of a mother I am for not cutting his nails before he could claw himself up.  I try not to let my distain for this woman show too much.  I cut her a smile that says, "May you be mounted by a rabid dog."  Juggling J and my purchases, I leave the store.

12:30 PM:  Back home for lunch.  My stomach's growling from my earlier lack of food.  J is hanging from the baby gate leading into the kitchen and screaming as I frantically try to prepare his lunch faster.  Luckily, he always wants yogurt.

12:35 PM:  Lunchtime.  J eats his yogurt with gusto, but still finger paints with it, too.  Within minutes, J has inhaled his lunch and I hand over the Cheerios.  He eats a few, but is ready to go play for a few minutes.  I rush to the laundry room as I just have recalled that I left laundry in the washer.

In the next installment...Naptime and early Evening.  Tired yet?  I am.

Staying at Home Isn't a Full-Time Job, You Say?

I was in Trader Joe's today with my son waiting in the checkout line and I couldn't help but overhear what is, to me, a common conversation for SAHMs to have with the world.  A man, who I can only assume was this woman's significant other, utters words that men should never utter..."You're home all day with the kids...I just don't see how you can't get all of these errands taken care of."

Oh snap.  It's all I can do to not intervene on this poor woman's behalf.  Now, I should make it clear, I know nothing about her, so she may very well be the laziest woman on the planet.  However, being a SAHM myself, I can't help but shoot her significant other an Eat-Poo-and-Die look.  Of course, I say nothing, but boy do I want to.

It's a similar opinion I feel that a good portion of adults who have never assumed the job of full-time childcare would share.  Nearly every time I talk to a friend who works, I get asked the question, "So, when do you think you'll go back to work?"  It's as if what I'm doing is not work and isn't really worthy of my time and talents.  The one that my husband made the dire mistake of uttering was, "I just don't understand how you can be so tired at the end of the day."  Really?

Let me make this clear, and this is coming from someone who was at one point a Quality Engineer, BEING A SAHM IS THE SINGLE MOST IMPORTANT JOB ON THE PLANET.  Why, you ask?  Because you and you alone bear the sole responsibility of raising productive citizens who will make a positive impact on our world.  That is worthy of my time and talents.

Also, while we're at it, if you were to hire a nanny to do what a SAHM does, what would you say her full-time job is?  CHILDCARE.  However, she would likely do less than a SAHM does, because she wouldn't be cooking for the whole household, cleaning, and running the errands.  When a nanny comes home after the end of a hard day, no one says to her, "I don't see how you can be so tired."  None of her friends as her when she's going to go back to "work".  As long as you're hired to watch other people's children, it's a job.  When they're yours, it's a vacation, right?

Stay tuned...my next two posts are a reality check on just what goes into a typical day for a SAHM.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

What I Want for Christmas

...and no, it's not an "Official Red Ryder Carbine-Action 200 Shot Range Model Air Rifle".

I keep getting asked by my husband "What do you want for Christmas?"  Well, I don't really know.  Money would be nice.  It seems you always need money when you have a child.  However, seeing as we both use the same bank account, him gifting money to me would be beside the point.

World peace seems to be a bit of a stretch, too.

The difficult thing about it is that at this point in my life, material possessions aren't as important.  I can't readily identify a toy or a video game (yes, I'm a geeky girl who plays video games) as easily as I could when I was 10.  As for toys, I've outgrown my "Moon Shoes" and I doubt that they make them anymore in a women's size 11.  Coach purses are nice, but they don't look nearly as nice with milk spilled on them and Cheerios ground into the lining.

Maybe what I really want is to see the smile on my little boy's face when his Christmas wishes come true.  After all, the children are the ones who get the true joy and spirit of the season.

Not good enough?  Okay, maybe the things I want can't be bought in a store.  In the words of the Grinch, "Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more."

Some things I want are not realistic.  I want another 20 years with Mason at my feet.  I'd like one more snuggle with Champy.  I'd love to get to sit down with my Big Mama and ask her just how she got her cast-iron skillet so well seasoned that it's practically non-stick.  I'd like to have a winning lottery ticket in my stocking on Christmas morning, too.

Honestly, the things I want are a little simpler.  I'd love to get to go have some Chinese food with my Dad.  It was one of my favorite things to do as a kid and I haven't gotten to go get Chinese food with my Dad in nearly 20 years.  I'd like to go see Harry Potter at the theater with my husband (even though he's not a fan).  I'd like a big hug, a kiss, and a "Love Mama" (the closest he gets to "I love you") from Jack.  I'd love Mason to just be there (he doesn't do much else).

There are other, bigger things that I'd like, but I'm just going to have to keep praying that they'll happen when the time's right.

Some warm socks might be nice, too.  My feet get so cold.

For Christmas, I wish that all of my family and friends have a very blessed Christmas.  For my family members (and friends) who I will not see around the holidays, I hope that you have a safe and joyous holiday.  As for us, we'll be putting out the cookies and Reindeer food and awaiting Santa's arrival, which will bring with it the smiles from Jack that I so look forward to this year.