Stay at Home or go to Work? The struggle.

I never saw myself as a “stay at home mom” type.  My mom worked for most of our childhood and I considered it a badge of honor to have the ability to take care of a household and hold down a career at the same time.  I’m going to very shamefully admit that I looked at stay at home moms as…I don’t know…too weak to work at the same time?

After my brief stint as a stay at home mom, however, my oh my how that tune has changed.

Let’s back up a bit, shall we?

I’m a high school English teacher.  Last year, our district was making cuts and unfortunately, my position was not to stay.  I cried and boohooed, fought, stamped my feet, and finally, after much debate, tried to accept my reality.  I had a decision to make:  find another teaching position in an overly saturated market or stay home with the baby for the next year.  I had  many factors to consider.  What if my husband deploys?  What if I get another job in another school and we are stationed elsewhere?  Do I really want to be the new kid AGAIN?  Can I leave my baby in daycare?  What if I take a year off and then struggle to find employment again?  Etc, etc, etc.

Can I just say that I do not think people who are 8 months pregnant should be required to make any kind of life altering decisions.  I was too fat and emotional to see things clearly.

On one hand, I’m a teacher, in the same way that I’m a mom, a wife, and a friend.  It is part of my genetic make-up.

On the other hand, I’m a MOTHER.  Isn’t that supposed to be above all else?

In any case, my husband and I ultimately decided I would stay home.  So, May 26th, I packed up my classroom, balled my eyes out while making the rounds and hugging folks, and settled into a year long of stay at home wife/mothering.

The month of June brought temperatures entirely too hot for a pregnant lady to withstand, so I spent the bulk of it on my couch, watching trashy tv and wishing my baby would come so I could meet him.  This stay at home thing isn’t too bad, I thought to myself.  In fact…I’m really liking it!  My husband didn’t really have too many expectations of me in June as my stomach was bigger around than I was tall.  I caught up on my reading, I lounged around with the dogs.  It was GREAT.  I received several calls from various schools requesting an interview, but I always let them roll to voicemail.  I was a stay at home mom, now.  No time to entertain my career.  I wore an indention in the couch and waited.  And slowly, but surely, I felt just a tiny little piece of me disappear.  I wasn’t 100% ME anymore.  I think at the time, I attributed that to being very pregnant and being stuck in a sort of limbo until the baby arrived.  Looking back, though, I see that with each missed phone call, I lost myself, bit by bit.

Then the baby arrived.  And I have never been so happy in my whole life.  He was finally here.  All thoughts of returning to work were out of my head with the coming of a 6lb bundle of baby.

The transition back home was easy and we settled into our new lives.  The first few weeks, my husband stayed home.  We shared baby responsibilities and mostly just spent our days staring at him in awe.

Then A went back to work.

The first week, I LOVED having my baby all to myself for those daytime hours.  It was almost like being pregnant again.  I didn’t have to share him with anybody.

But, I realized something.  This whole stay at home mom thing?  Yeah.  Turns out they don’t just sit on their butts and goof off on pinterest.  They work.  There was always a bottle to wash, a butt to wipe, a dog to walk, clothes to wash, floors to vacuum, errands to run…and it was overwhelming.  Not because the work was particularly hard, but because I was not mentally stimulated by any of it.  I realized that stay at home moms have this amazing gift to hold down the fort while finding creative outlets to nourish their own minds and souls.  And y’all, I couldn’t do it.  I tried, but I couldn’t.  I loved taking care of my baby, but all of the other stuff that came with staying at home was not rewarding, nor enriching for me in the slightest.

I grappled with my inner demons.  Does wanting to go to work make me less of a mother?  I love my baby more than anything on this planet, but I don’t know if I can stay home with him and maintain my sanity.  Shouldn’t I be head over heels at the prospect of watching my sweet pea grow this first year?  Many women are.  Why am I not one of them?  What is wrong with me?

It was a brutal introduction to mom guilt.

And just when all of these unvoiced fears and disappointments threatened to take me over, I received a call from my principal, offering me a job…and amazing job.  I panicked.  I cried.  (Seriously, I never cried before I got pregnant, but now…don’t drop your hat around me, I will soon be hysterical!)  Do I want this job?  24 hours ago I was resigned to staying at home.  Do I really want that stress again?  Being a teacher is a 24 hour commitment, and I already have a 24 hour commitment.  Can I get daycare at this short notice?  School was already in session.  Do I even want to put my baby at daycare so young?

But then, while analyzing the situation within an inch of its life, I realized something.  My little spark had come back.  Sure, I was all dewy with baby love and mommy happiness, but my little brand of feisty was gone…and yet…was this it, this little glowing ember?  My principal made a few calls and I made a few calls and within 24 hours we had secured Raylan a spot in daycare.  He starts next week.

I’m so sad I can’t be with my baby.  But I am so happy to be going back to work.

This has made me realize that it takes all kinds of people in the world to make it go round.  And just because I can’t fit myself into a certain mold, doesn’t mean I am less than.  Being a stay at home mom just wasn’t my mold.

I am a mom, first and foremost.  But I am also an educator.  I birthed one baby, but I teach a hundred more.  My ability to educate is very important to me, as is my ability to mother.  And I think I can have both.

For the stay at home moms out there, you’re amazing.  I didn’t have the mental fortitude or emotional strength to do it and I am SO freaking impressed by those who do.

For the working moms out there, you’re amazing.  I hope that our guilt is assuaged by the knowledge that even if we aren’t there all the time, we are doing our personal best for our babies.

Here’s hoping we all manage to keep our wits about us as we navigate this crazy thing called life, no matter where you fall in the mommy line-up.

And here’s to another school year!

And the award for most ridiculous parents goes to…

Y’all, I love being a mom.  It’s outrageous.  We are having a freaking blast.

And I’m sorry the blog hasn’t been updated in a while!  Washing bottles is a full time business.

To tide us all over until I have a speck of free time and can get some real blogging work done, let’s enjoy the pictures we took of Raylan today.  Here’s a hint:  EYEBROWS.

Happy 6 weeks, my little buddy!!

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Happy 1 Month!

It’s bizarre to think that at exactly this moment (4:13 pm) one month ago, I was pregnant.

It is also bizarre to think that in that moment, one month ago, I was only an hour and a half away from giving birth.

At this moment, one month ago, I could only guess at the happiness and overwhelming love I was an hour and a half away from feeling.

Here’s to my baby boy!  You are our greatest adventure.

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Raylan James

Growth:  At one month old, Raylan weighs 8 lbs 12 oz, which is way up from his birth of 6 lbs even! (5 lbs 9 oz when we left the hospital).  At last check, he was 19.75 inches long, up from 18.5 at birth.  He is in the 25th percentile for height and weight, but that melon head?  95%th percentile!  He has moved up to size 1 diapers and is still in newborn clothes (although I feel we might be about at the end of our ability to squeeze into such tiny onesies).

Looks:  He looks JUST like his daddy.  But he has my lips.  ;D  His eyes have turned mostly brown, but they are still ringed with dark blue.  Hair wise, we are rocking a good bit of light brown hair around the sides and back, but there isn’t too much going on at the top.  And today, we discovered a birth mark!  At first, I thought it was a bit of trauma and bruising from birth, as most of the back of his head was bruised (poor buddy) but I mentioned it at the pediatrician today, and she said it was a birth mark!  It rests at the base of his skull, where his head meets his neck.  It is red in color and I’m madly in love with it.  ;D

Firsts/Milestones:  So many firsts in this first month…first BREATH, first feeding, first car ride, first diaper change, etc etc etc.  He loves to stare at people’s eyes and his grip is getting stronger and more coordinated!  He can mostly hold his head up.

Sleep:  At night, Raylan sleeps 2.5 to 3.5 hours before he is up and ready to rumba!  Really though, he goes back to sleep pretty easily.  I have been noticing that recently, however, feeding is becoming difficult at night.  He arches his back and while he doesn’t cry or scream, he shakes his head from side to side as though trying to shake out the bottle, even though he is hungry.  When he is done eating, I’ve noticed he sounds congested.  The pediatrician diagnosed it as reflux and we start our zantac tonight.  I’m hoping it makes him more comfortable and he is able to sleep better!  During the day, our naps are pretty scattered.  In the past week, I have made an effort to put him down for naps in his crib.  We’ll see how that goes…

Food:  We have moved completely to formula and are eating about 3 oz every 3 hours or so.

Language:  This kid is NOISY.  He grunts, coos, moans, babbles, sighs and every other baby noise you could possibly think of.

Likes:  He loves holding onto fingers, sucking on his pacifier, cuddling with mom and dad, tummy time on the bobby, being held chest to chest so he can look around, bouncing on the exercise ball, and going for walks in the carrier!

Dislikes:  He is not a fan of red lights, stop signs, or traffic because that means the car stops…and he does not like it when the car stops.

 

Exposed by my children for what I really look like

mrsclawson:

As I dive into 4 weeks postpartum, I have never been more disappointed in my looks. But…maybe it’s time for me to see myself the way my husband sees me. The way my son sees me. The way my friends and family see me.
Love this post.

Originally posted on Bridgette Tales:

Flipping through the pictures on my phone, I see it.

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My first reaction is shock. Who took this hideous picture of me?

Self-loathing and disgust swell up and threaten to bring me to tears.

Just as I am about to hit delete, my boy walks in the room.

“Do you know anything about this picture?” I ask him.

I turn the screen so he can see it. He smiles huge.

“I took that of you in Tahoe,” he says. “You looked so beautiful laying there. I couldn’t help it mom.”

“You need to ask me before using my phone to take pictures,” I say.

“I know,” he says. “But mom, seriously, look how pretty you look?”

I look at the picture again and try to see what he sees.

My daughter walks over and takes a look.

“That could be a postcard mom,” she says smiling. “You’re so beautiful. I…

View original 346 more words

When Raylan was 5 days old…

…we got his newborn pictures taken!  It was our first trip out of the house, and even though we didn’t leave base and the photographer’s house was only 15 minutes away, I remember how surreal it felt to drive around with a kid in the backseat.  (That trip home from the hospital had me evil eyeballing everybody in case they drove a little too feisty for my taste.)

We loaded up, headed over, and unloaded.  The back two inches or so of my feet hung out of my flip flops because they were so swollen (WATER RETENTION FROM HELL – they do not warn you in those baby books that if you are in labor for any extended period of time while at the hospital, they will PUMP you up with as much fluids as they can – my leg/foot swelling didn’t go down for two weeks!  It felt like walking on mushrooms…), I was rocking the muumuus because they didn’t touch my csection incision, and my hair was a hot mess, but how excited I was as I wobbled up the stairs to the photographer’s little studio!

Raylan was dressed in puppy pjs with buttons down the front for easy access and was sleeping off a full tummy…we had timed it perfectly!  Chalk up a victory for the parents because 9 times out of 10, Raylan is the winner.  In any case, we got into her studio (a little room in her house that was heated to feel like the surface of the sun, swear to God) and the photographer cuddled and loved on little man until, an hour or so later, we had HANDS DOWN the most gorgeous and amazing pictures that have ever been taken.  I realize of course that I am absurdly biased.

Check out some of our favorite pictures from our little baby’s photoshoot!  HUGE thanks to Daydreamer Photography by Carissa for capturing this special moment in our child’s life.

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I love love love my snuggly baby :-)

“10 Things New Moms Want to Tell New Dads” – The Clawson Version

One of my favorite things to do during my free time (besides stare at the kid and make sure he is still breathing…does the urge to do that ever stop?), is to hop on the trusty book of faces and see what newly published blog posts Scary Mommy has shared.  The articles range from serious to almost hilariously sacrilegious, but they always hit close to home, whether it makes me tear up or laugh my ass off.  Recently, however, they shared a blog post that I felt needed a few extra details, particularly as they relate to my husband.

See the original blog post below in bold and my additions in italics.

10 Things New Moms Want to Tell New Dads

1. You’re holding the baby wrong. Do it anyway.

But thank you for even WANTING to hold the baby.  Thank you for not being one of those people who freaks out when they come near an infant because they are squishy and fragile and squirmy and cry and poop.  Because when you went to work that one day last week to make sure America was still the land of the free and all that, he cried all day, and when you came home and held him so I could sit on the couch and do nothing, I wanted to jump your bones…but you know, we got that pesky 6 week wait…BUT I DIGRESS, THANK YOU FOR HOLDING THE BABY, even when I say, “OHMAHGAWD, WATCH HIS LITTLE FEET.” (As I’m typing this, you’re holding little man and trying to pinky promise him because, “we’re best buds”…I mean, really, you’re the best.)

2. You’re wiping the baby wrong. Do it anyway.

Seriously, you probably know better than me how to get all the little bits down there clean.  So I’m just gonna let you claim this victory, A.

3. You’re putting the diaper on wrong. Do it anyway.

Guilty.  I am guilty as charged.  But thank you for changing his diaper without even thinking twice.  I know it seems like I save the poopy diapers for you (and sometimes I do, not going to lie) and I know that once we were settled at home, I was sure to show you how changed his diaper like I was the diaper messiah (heads up, little man’s was the first diaper I ever changed), but I really do appreciate you.  And let’s be honest, you saved my ass in the hospital…I couldn’t hold him, couldn’t change his diaper…and you did ALL of that.  So thanks, you’re my pal.

4. You’re burping the baby wrong. Do it anyway.

I’m sorry I birthed the gassiest child on Earth – not that you’re surprised, because you are married to the gassiest woman on Earth.  Burping the baby is like a SPEC OPS mission that sometimes goes horribly wrong.  It can end in a series of burps, hysterical crying, sharts…who really knows what the final outcome will be, and that goes for when I burp him or you burp him.  I will say, though…DON’T CRUMPLE HIM UP ON YOUR CHEST, HOW DO YOU EXPECT THE GAS TO GET OUT.

5. You’re bathing the baby wrong. Do it anyway.

Hmmm…you should bathe the baby.  I will update after I witness it. 

6. You’re pushing the stroller wrong. Do it anyway.

Is there a wrong way to push a stroller?

7. You’re feeding the baby wrong. Do it anyway.

Yeahhhhhh…I’m bad about this one…”you’re holding the bottle wrong,” “watch the air bubble,” “blah blah blahhhhhhh.”  Thanks for feeding the baby.  Thanks for getting up at night with little to no grumblings to feed the baby.  Thanks for sometimes taking two feedings in a row so I can get an unprecedented amount of sleep.  All in all, if food is getting in the tummy, all is well!  But for real, watch that air bubble…

8. You’re dressing the baby wrong. Do it anyway.

SOMETIMES, I FEEL LIKE YOUR BIG MAN HANDS ARE PUSHING TOO HARD ON M BABY’S HEAD WHILE STUFFING HIM INTO ONESIES.  But thanks for dressing him anyways, even when you know I’m going to make a comment about it.  I can’t help it.  

9. You’re soothing  the baby wrong. Do it anyway.

Thanks for trying to soothe him when he is crying and we have done everything else in the world to make him stop.  If he doesn’t stop crying, toss him over.  Sometimes, a man just needs some boobies to cuddle into and a sweet voice to sing to them.  Not that you’re doing it wrong, necessarily, but I have some pretty decent assets to use for bouncing, snuggling, and loving on the little baby.  Thanks for trying, anyways.

10. You’re singing to the baby wrong. Do it anyway.

Your voice is so deep…do you think he likes it?  Is it scaring him?  No?  He’s giggling?  Oh…well…carry on.

Please.

PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE.

P.S. We have no idea what the hell we’re doing, either.

Really, I don’t, and it helps that we are making up the rules together.

 

 

Head over to Scary Mommy to check out more parenthood hilarity!