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!

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Weekend Writing Challenge #2 – Wind

EDIT:  I realize I’m a couple days late on this.  A and I spent the weekend doing NOTHING baby related and it was AWESOME!  More about that later 🙂

 

Time for Weekend Writing Challenge numero dos!  In case you missed it last week, Valerie over at Atlanta Mom of Three has posed a writing challenge for her fellow bloggers!  Each weekend, she posts a picture and it is up to you to create a 200 word piece of writing.  It’s a great way to practice those writing chops and expanding your blogging muscles!  Get in on the action!  Just include the picture and source in your post then head over to her blog and link up in the comments. This week’s post is all about WIND:

 

Photo Credit: smcgee via photopin cc

A Love Letter

Dear Julia,

It’s warm.  Which is a nice way of saying I could cook eggs on the dirt outside.  You know how the last time we took the truck down to that shady little spot by the river, we could see the heat rippling off the bank across the way?  I got the heat ripples, but I sure do miss that bikini you were wearing…the slight breeze reminds me of how your hair looks when the windows are rolled down.

I know it’s been a while since I last wrote, it’s just things have been pretty hectic.  Do you remember Big Jimmy?  You met him at the BBQ at Cindy’s house.  We sent him home last week.  You’re going to need to go over to Rebecca’s house…it isn’t good…she’ll need the support.  IED.  And Tim will probably head home in a couple weeks.  Do what you can to prepare Janice and the kids.  He hasn’t been dealing well with the injuries.

Thanks for holding it down back home, baby.  Love on the little one extra for me.  I still can’t believe I missed his first steps.  I’ll see you soon.

Love,

Your Soldier

P.s.  Go outside.  Feel that?  The wind carries my kisses to you.

 

Check back next week for Weekend Writing Challenge #3!

The Bad Timing Fairy

I haven’t talked at any length of being a military spouse, although I am.  My husband is an intelligence officer in the United States Air Force and I am madly, deeply, head over hills in love with him.

I remember the day we “made it official” and began dating, he said to me, “I want to make sure that you understand that I want to be in the military.  Not just that, but I want to be an officer.  And I plan on making it a career.”

I responded, “yeah, I know…so…we dating now?”

And the rest is history.  (We’re romantic like that.)

The Air Force has taken REALLY good care of us.  I mean, REALLY GOOD care of us.  We have met amazing people and although there are some challenges (we moved three times in the past year and a half), we have always tackled each dilemma and come out stronger in the end.

Recently, however, the Bad Timing Fairy (other military wives might be familiar with this bitch) has bestowed upon us a gift!

A TDY the week before I’m due.

For those who do not know, a TDY is basically a little detour of sorts, a temporary duty station.  Lucky for us, the TDY is only a week.  Unfortunately, it is a week before the due date.

I’m not angry or disappointed, because that’s life in the fast lane, ya know?  But…I do feel like everything has come to a standstill, pregnancy wise.  I’m terrified to walk too much.  Keep that pineapple away from me!  That recipe for labor inducing cupcakes?  NO THANK YOU.  Sex?  HA.  Spicy food?  Well…a little, but only because I’m a spicy food addict.

SOOOOO, while I was consumed with all encompassing disappointment at my previous check up that revealed there was NO cervical action and baby hadn’t dropped yet, now I am TERRIFIED that at my next appointment, Doc will let me know things are finally starting to move.  I need my little dude to stay snuggled up for as long as he can.  I can’t imagine how my husband would feel missing the birth of his first child.

Come to think of it, I can’t imagine how I will feel if I have to drive myself to the hospital…Ain’t nobody got time for that!

Everything happens for a reason!  And, it could always be worse.  He is only gone for a week and staying stateside.  That ain’t nothing in the grand scheme of things!  I feel like I’m putting an awful lot of pressure on a poor little baby who isn’t even in the world yet, but…he only has two jobs:  roll around every once in a while so I know you’re cool…and stay in until Daddy gets back.

Freezer Meals – Yellow Squash

Today, I am riding some weird, energy boost wave.  So, as long as it’s here, I figured I would take advantage.

This morning, I spent some time at the farmers’ market, came home, and prepped/froze several pints of blackberries, blueberries, and green onions.  The dogs, braxton hicks, and myself decided to take a nap and eat some BBQ after that, but we are up and feeling better, so I decided to tackle the yellow squash I purchased this morning!

A HEAP.

A HEAP.

The sweetest old man was selling baskets of squash for $5 a piece.  So of course I bought two baskets.  I could’t help it.  He was charming.  The problem is, this left me with what seems like an ungodly amount of squash…did I mention my husband doesn’t really like squash?  So…yeah…well, he likes it two ways.  We’ll discuss that in a minute.

IN ANY CASE, I MAKE THE BEST OF A BAD SITUATION.

Obviously, I needed to freeze the squash.  I went the flash freeze method, like the green onions.  Produce like squash and potatoes also benefit from the blanching method of freezing, in which you pop the food into boiling water briefly, and then freeze.  However, my dish washer (husband) is gone for the weekend, so I figured the less dishes the better.  Meaning no extra pots for me.

Step 1: Get you some squash and scrub scrub scrub.

With veggies like squash that have a nice hard surface, I tend to just scrub them off with a damp rag to get them clean.  I find this removes any dirt on the veggie, not to mention makes the skin look kind of polished, which is always pleasant…polished veggies.  (There is something wrong with me, I’m giggling my ass off at polished veggies.)

Step 2:  Decide how you will be preparing your squash in the future.

As mentioned before, Husband likes squash two ways.  He likes me to smother it with rendered bacon and onions.  And he will eat it in stir fry.  Which is great, because both ways are easy, and while smothering something in a little bacon grease kind of defeats the health factor, at least I know vegetables are entering his body some kind of way.  The man loves ravioli…I do what I can.  ANYWAYS, it is important to figure out how you will use your squash before you get to chopping.  When I smother squash, I like to slice it into thin discs and for use in stir fry, I like to cut little strips.  If you plan on using it in stews or soups or want to roast it, you may prefer to cut it into chunks.

Remember, when cutting things, measure twice, cut once.  Well…that might be carpentry.  Whatever.

Step 3:  Cut, cut, cut!

DSC_0570_030

I included step 2 for a reason.  Because I rather haphazardly decided that I would use all my squash for smothering.  Then, as I gazed at my pans of sliced squash, I remembered I also wanted strips for stir fry.  Luckily, it was a situation that was easily remedied.

SO MANY SLICES OF SQUASH.  Oh yeah...I didn't mean to slice them all up...

SO MANY SLICES OF SQUASH. Oh yeah…I didn’t mean to slice them all up…

I went back and sliced up a pan.  BOOM.  Problem solved.

I went back and sliced up a pan into strips. BOOM. Problem solved.

Pro-tip:  when slicing your squash, try to keep the slices the same width so that they all cook up the same.  Unless you are like me, and tend to cut first, ask questions later.  In which case, you cut those bastards up however you want and if somebody says something about your wonky squash, just kind of wave your knife around until they shut up.

Step 4:  Ice, Ice, Baby!

Time for the all important flash freeze!  Arrange your squash in a thin-ish layer in your pan and place in your freezer.  The squash will need between 2-4 hours to freeze.  Once it is frozen, throw it into baggies and pop it back into the freezer until you are ready to use them!

So. Much. Squash.

So. Much. Squash.

Optional Step 6:  A snack for the dogs

Squash is a people food that puppies can also eat.  HOWEVER, UNLESS YOU WANT YOUR DOG TO HAVE THE SHITS, ONLY GIVE THEM A COUPLE PIECES.  I saved the ends of my squash and gave each of my puppies two pieces.  Squash, much like many other fruits and veggies, can be a little tough on puppy digestive systems when raw.  Hence, give them a small amount.  And I’m gonna be honest with you….they will eat the first one…and then chew up the second one into a billion pieces all over your carpet.

Puppy snack!  I gave the dogs a couple, then tossed the rest into a bag and stuck them in the fridge for later use.

Puppy snack! I gave the dogs a couple, then tossed the rest into a bag and stuck them in the fridge for later use.

Don't mind me, just making an OBNOXIOUS mess all over the place.

Don’t mind me, just making an OBNOXIOUS mess all over the place.

Freezer Meals – Green Onions

When the hubz is away, the wife will play!

And by away, I mean off to our nephew’s baptism.

And by play, I mean wobble around the farmers’ market at 7 in the morning.

First off, let me say that I can count on one hand the number of times I have been to a farmers’ market.  It just was never really a priority when I was younger (I was that kid who bought a fifth of jack instead of vegetables when I was in college…we all have our moments) and as a newlywed couple, we barely had money to buy a .50 cent packet of mashed potatoes, much less a bushel of fresh apples from a farmer!  Fast forward a couple years, and my oh my, the Clawsons have become more aware of what goes into our bodies.

Now…I DID have a carrot cake cupcake yesterday…but that doesn’t count.  But I digress…

With 36 weeks of pregnancy down, the fact that our lives are about to be turned upside down has me in a tizzy.  And so I have decided to tackle the feeling of impending (not doom…I mean, it’s a baby that we prayed and prayed for…maybe impending…poop? crying? sleepless nights?) stress (yeah, stress!) by stocking our freezer and pantry with staples that will last us a couple months.  So, when I hit up the farmers’ market this morning, it was with the intention of securing a bunch of deliciousness that can be frozen and used at a later date!

First up – Green Onions!

 

ARE YOU NOT IMPRESSED?!

ARE YOU NOT IMPRESSED?!  (I know, I know…it’s entertained…but aren’t these babies impressive?!)

 

I LOVE onions.  My poor husband.  I am one well seasoned lady.  And green onions are especially delicious!  Such a mild onion flavor, but super fresh and gorgeous color!

But, I wasn’t wholly sure if I could actually freeze green onions.  Obviously, by freezing them, you lose the crispness of a fresh green onion.  However, my intention for these will be to toss them into soups, gumbo, jambalaya, eggs, fried rice, etc.  Frozen green onions are perfect for recipes like this!  THEN I remembered that my Dad froze home grown herbs and veggies for years.  So, courtesy of the patriarch of our family, here’s a few tips for freezing fresh green  onions!

Step 1:  Procure green onions.

Got ’em?  K, great.

Step 2: Rinse your green onions and pat them dry.

I feel like these are pretty obvious steps…BUT, unless you buy these onions from organic farmers or you grew them yourself, at the very least you will want to run them under some water.  I like to wash my produce in a sink of 5 parts water, 1 part vinegar.  I have seen many different suggestions for rinsing your produce, this just works well for me.  And I have yet to find buggies or clods of dirt in my frozen goodies.  Once my onions were rinsed, I laid them down on a napkin, and patted them dry.

Step 3:  Cut off the ends – But hold onto them!

Don't throw these babies away!

Don’t throw these babies away!

I lopped off the ends of my green onions and set them aside in a ziploc bag.  See all those gorgeous roots still attached?  You can plant these little bulbs and grow more green onions at your home!  There are a couple ways to do this, in water or dirt.  Check out this post on regrowing green onions!  I will be using the dirt method, since the bulbs on my onions are pretty large.  I just need my husband to carry some dirt to the back yard for me, and we will be in business!  (Any other pregnant ladies ready to do heavy lifting again?  I know I am!)

Step 4:  Get to chopping!

That poor knife...can you tell it's my favorite?

That poor knife…can you tell it’s my favorite?

Snag your favorite, sharp knife (the more worn the better…note the loss of the red on the handle…classy) and slice up your green onions.  As I was slicing, I pulled off any icky parts and kept only the crisp green onion stalks.  I also tend to cut a little further down the onion itself than most people do.  There is a lot of flavor in the light green part at the bottom and no sense in tossing it out!

Step 5:  Flash freeze

I had three trays.  THREE.

I had three trays. THREE.

Once all your onions are chopped up, sprinkle them in a thin layer on a parchment paper lined cookie sheet.  I ended up needing three pans for all of my green onions.  (We will be eating green onions with EVERYTHING.)  Stick those pans into a freezer and give them an hour or so.  They are pretty tiny and delicate, so it shouldn’t take long to freeze them.  I think this is a pretty important step and not one to skip.  By spreading them out, you freeze each little piece almost individually, so that they don’t freeze in a big giant brick of onion.

Step 6:  Place into your container!

When my dad freezes herbs and green onions, he likes to freeze them in mason jars.  However, our little chest freezer doesn’t quite have the room for the shit ton of mason jars that I would need.  SO, I will be tossing ours into ziploc bags.  Be sure to get out as much air as you can, as that will save your sweet little onions from freezer burn!

According to Dad, these green onions should keep for 3-6 months, at least!  How awesome!

Check back later for more freezer tips and freezer meals!

Optional Step 7:  It doesn’t hurt to have an adorable sous chef…

Don't you love the jack russell grin?  :)

Don’t you love the jack russell grin? 🙂

Weekend Writing Challenge #1 – Iced Tea

My friend Valerie over at Atlanta Mom of Three has issued a writing challenge for bloggers!  Each week, she will post a picture.  It’s up to YOU to write a poem, essay, story…anything!…inspired by the picture in 200 words or less.  Awesome idea, huh?

 

Without further ado, this week’s picture is:

Photo Image Credit: MzScarlett / A.K.A. Michelle via photopin cc

 

 

My little Revenge

“And then, I told her, I said, ‘Did you even PUT on lotion?’  OH, the stretchmarks!  Did I mention I never got stretchmarks?”  she looks at me from across the porch and winks, as if I’m in on some kind of secret.  I chuckle awkwardly, thinking about the tiger stripes that have branded my body from boobs to thighs.  No amount of cocoa butter could have prepared my body to carry a little person for 9 months.  I push my rocker with my toe, and set myself to swinging, patting the dog’s head in my lap.

“Well, you know, she had twins.  I think we can cut her some slack,” I remark.

Her voice gets a little more shrill.  How did she wind up on my porch, again?! I think to myself.

“Get out of the dirt!” she shrieks across the yard at her son, 5, who is very actively digging up worms with the other neighborhood kids.  “Ugh, I swear, it’s like he does it to annoy me.”

“Get dirty?”  I ask, eyebrows raised.  Uh oh.  I can feel it.  I’m about to hulk out.  There it is, right under the surface of my skin.  I roll my shoulders and my inner beast begins to roar.  This self serving, mean spirited, hateful, bitc-

“Do you mind if I use your bathroom?” She bounces off the rocker and into my house before I can comment, skirting the dog with a grimace.  I stare at the space she vacated, her glass of iced tea sweating in the summer sun.

I close my eyes briefly.

And hear a slurping noise.

My eyes shoot open just in time to see a long, pink tongue scoop up an ice cube from the glass of iced tea.  With a dopey grin, the dog chomps happily on the ice, drool falling into the glass.  He runs into the yard, sufficiently cooled after his drink.

“So anyways, where was I?” She plops into her seat and picks up her glass.  “WHEW, it sure is hot today!” she says before taking a sip and sighing happily.

 

 

And there’s my submission for this week’s writing challenge!  Thanks Valerie!  That was a lot of fun 🙂  If you would also like to take part in Atlanta Mom of Three’s writing challenge, simply click here to go to her blog, read the instructions, and get to typing!

 

35 Weeks Update and Some Extra Stuff

Yesterday, Memorial Day, not only marked a day I hug my Lt. a little tighter, or the 35 week mark for this pregnancy, but it was also our 2 year anniversary.  WOOHOO.  2 years of irritating my sweet man under the sanctity of marriage.  True love ❤  Here are a few pictures from our day!  Ahhhhhhh, memory lane!

Me with that cowlick that DOESN'T QUIT EVER

Me with that cowlick that DOESN’T QUIT EVER

Man Candy

Man Candy

Before the wedding - which was early in the morning, btw.

Before the wedding – which was early in the morning, btw.

We are both Catholic and had a Catholic Mass and Ceremony

We are both Catholic and had a Catholic Mass and Ceremony

Trading dem rings!

Trading dem rings!

Some smooches!

Some smooches!

WOOHOO, we did it! Nobody fell down or passed out and, well, we forgot a few parts, but that's not important!

WOOHOO, we did it! Nobody fell down or passed out and, well, we forgot a few parts, but that’s not important!

Time to dance...and make out. It is what it is.

Time to dance…and make out. It is what it is.

BALLED MY EYES OUT DURING MY FATHER DAUGHTER DANCE.  Literally, the only time I cried the whole day.

BALLED MY EYES OUT DURING MY FATHER DAUGHTER DANCE. Literally, the only time I cried the whole day.

Our cake :-)  Each layer was a different flavor!  Wedding cake, red velvet, and strawberry.

Our cake 🙂 Each layer was a different flavor! Wedding cake, red velvet, and strawberry.

We are two stepping dancing fools and my husband is Texan.  Thus, this perfect cake topper.

We are two stepping dancing fools and my husband is Texan. Thus, this perfect cake topper.

We did cupcakes instead of a typical grooms cake.  Total hit!  And my parents surprised Alex with a model of the plane he was flying.  :-)

We did cupcakes instead of a typical grooms cake. Total hit! And my parents surprised Alex with a model of the plane he was flying. 🙂

"Are you about to shove that cake into my face?"

“Are you about to shove that cake into my face?”

"YES, YES I AM."

“YES, YES I AM.”

Aftermath...icing in my cleavage for the rest of the day.

Aftermath…icing in my cleavage for the rest of the day.

Sugar lips <3

Sugar lips ❤

 

And that about sums up the wedding ;D

 

SO, now that all of that is out of the way, let’s get to the 35 week (as of yesterday) bump update.

 

EVERYTHING HURTS.

 

The end.