Tuesday, February 28, 2012

working versus sahm moms

After working full time for about 2 months now, I think I am finally ready to take on this post. Ever since L was born, I've had a lot of internal conflict regarding working or staying at home. Everyone has an opinion about it. There are two camps: On the one hand you have the woman who tells you to stay at home with you child(ren). That you can tell a huge difference in the child who has a mother home with them during those young, precious years and those who were shipped off to daycare. They tell you that (a) they did it and they don't regret a single day of it, or (b) they wish they could have, and if single parenthood or financial hurdles didn't exist for them, they would have stayed at home in a heartbeat. And the fact that there are major, scientific, irrefutable benefits of being at home with your child during the first year to two of their life, and doctors are continuing to cite the many, many benefits of breastfeeding as well as attachment parenting and baby wearing, which both for the most part requires a mother to be at home full time with her baby. *Not familiar with the benefits of breastfeeding or attachment parenting or babywearing? Take a quick look at a few articles here & here.
On the other camp, you have the busy, independent woman who has worked her whole life who thinks a mother who stays at home is stuck in the 30's, bored, or regards as someone who is "playing house." Wherever I go, people will ask. And they will throw in their two cents or otherwise let you know through their attitude which camp they are in.
So here I go. The day I was legally old enough to work, I was filling out job applications anywhere that was hiring. I was actually babysitting long before then, but you get the point. My first job was at Dunkin Donuts (jokes entitled) then went on to lifeguarding, then onto retail at Abercrombie & Fitch, hostessing, and then back to lifeguarding during my summers home from college. All throughout law school I worked. I clerked, I interned, I externed, did pro bono. I really enjoyed working, as it gave me real life experience in the career path I chose and I loved having the extra money. I never once in my life ever envisioned myself as a stay at home mother. I would think about myself as mother in the future, but as a power career mom, with a fabulous job in sleek business attire and weekly manicures coming home to whip up a fantastic dinner and tuck my little ones in bed.
Enter reality. Where daycare costs just about as much as I would make an an entry level attorney post economic downfall of 2008. So there was really no doubt in my mind that I was going to stay at home with L for the first several months after his birth. I enjoyed this time. I baby wore. I cloth diapered. I breast fed. I was proud of myself that Landon was solely fed breast milk for the first 6 months of his life. I also planned our wedding. We got married. I was a great mom. Landon was the happiest and most easy-going baby to hit the planet. And I basked in all the credit given to me.
But my conscience listened to the women in camp #2 and ignored the women in camp #1. I felt a tremendous amount of guilt spending any money on myself. I got anxious about my law school loans. About buying a home. About L's college tuition.
So when Landon was 6 months old, I started watching another little one in my building and began covering court calls for other attorneys on days I wasn't home with the babes, as well as working from home for another attorney out east. I thought it was great because I got to be home with Landon while I also got some sporadic courtroom experience, while also having the flexibility to work from my home computer whenever I wanted and around nap/bedtimes. But it was definitely a very difficult time in my journey of motherhood to date. I give anyone with multiples or two under two a lot of credit. I would wake up at 5 but there were many days I wasn't even able to brush my teeth or my hair until well past noon. My court calls were stressful. I was overworked, and I refused to give myself a day off  and pay for a sitter unless it was strictly during the hours I was at court. I ended up working one job just to pay the taxes on another. And in retrospect, I wasn't even being a good mom to my son. I couldn't play with him and work with him on the developments I wanted to because I was too tired taking after two babies, and one who was younger and needed more attention from me. And I didn't have the time between that and my legal work and all the housework - the laundry, the cleaning, the cooking, the food shopping was never ending.
9 months of all this later, after spending two weeks in Hawaii, I decided I wanted to work but that I needed to stop doing what I was doing.
Ideally I wanted to find a part time attorney position where I could still be home with Landon for a few days out of the week and then also get out a few days with a more stable/regular schedule. My current job opportunity totally fell in my lap. Which happens to be full time, but it was capped at 40 hours a week. I knew it was temporary, so if working full time life ended up being too stressful and I couldn't also be a good wife and mother then I would fulfill its term and then know I wasn't ready for the workforce yet. Turns out, it was not what I expected at all. I do not have a tremendous, or even any amount, of guilt for leaving Landon with someone else for 9 hours a day. *Sidenote: Of course this largely depends on who you are leaving your kid with. If your child isn't an infant, you will probably only feel guilty if you are leaving your child with someone who you don't fully trust and who does not give your child undivided attention and show you they truly care for your child. But back to what I was saying - working full time was the opposite of what I expected - I actually have the energy to wake up every morning at 5:00 and get an hour workout in 5 days a week while Landon is still snoozing. And I have a good, healthy meal on the table every night for dinner, as well as healthy lunches packed. I'm able to take care of myself, have thoughts for myself, eat for myself. & of course wear my beloved heels & get dressed again :) And on top of all that, it is the most relaxing, non-stressful time I have ever had for myself since becoming a mom.
Which leads me to the purpose of this post: Stay at Home Mothers Have A Much Much Much Harder Job Than Anyone Who Works and Any Professional. Let me actually repeat this in case you are speed reading through this post: stay at home mothers have a much harder job than anyone who works and any professional. Anyone who has done both will tell you this. It is the only job where you literally work 24/7 around the clock, with no benefits, no paid vacation time, no sick days. I repeat: no sick days. Try going to work next time you are puking your head off and can't get out of bed. And you have a very cranky boss who is very, very demanding. There is no such thing as deadlines, only "I need now" and if you don't give it to me I will scream and yell at you until you do. Being a full time mom is hard work. You are responsible for another little life. For feeding, nourishing, teaching, instructing, loving, and for raising & bringing up into this world another little human being. And no one on the face of the earth can do that like their own mother can.
So which camp am I in??
Neither. I see and have lived through the benefits and downsides of both. Giving birth and being a mother is hands down the most rewarding and purposeful experience of my entire life. But being a full time mom is challenging, and at times feels extremely unrewarding for yourself. I know what works for me now, but that may also not be what works for me when we have another baby. And then that may not be what works for me when all our children are off at school. And whatever I choose may not be what works for other mothers and for other families. But the point of it all is just that: Respect other women for their decisions, do not try to make your opinions heard or count because everyone is facing a different battle. To each his own, let them do what works best for them and their families. And maybe then we can all put an end to this stupid, cold war between working and SAHMs. Just love your child and bring them up with all the unconditional love and undivided attention and guidance you physically, emotionally, & spiritually can give them. Whether that comes through you working full time, part time, per diem, or not at all, is not what matters.


Sunday, February 19, 2012

Flashback. Little Landon > 1 year

Reorganizing my pages and publishing my favorite photos of Little Landon's infancy in a blog post instead. My where does the time go ...[sigh]
strollin'






Ray Ban baby
our First Night Out

he loves spooning
my build-a-bear from mumma&dada

my godmother <3
aw nuts...





quality naps
First Halloween
winner of the costume contest!
first time flying - of course we invaded the cockpit and got the little guy aa wings



first "haircut"

discovering tangrams
first St. Patrick's Day ... everything under the sun BUT irish
snowbaby
new Bauman Christmas tradition...matching PJs
<3

Saturday, February 18, 2012

stop & smell the roses

A man sat at a metro station in Washington DC and started to play the violin; it was a cold January morning. He played six Bach pieces for about 45 minutes. During that time, since it was rush hour, it was calculated that 1,100 people went through the station, most of them on their way to work.

Three minutes went by, and a middle aged man noticed there was musician playing. He slowed his pace, and stopped for a few seconds, and then hurried up to meet his schedule.

A minute later, the violinist received his first dollar tip: a woman threw the money in the till and without stopping, and continued to walk.

A few minutes later, someone leaned against the wall to listen to him, but the man looked at his watch and started to walk again. Clearly he was late for work.

The one who paid the most attention was a 3 year old boy. His mother tagged him along, hurried, but the kid stopped to look at the violinist. Finally, the mother pushed hard, and the child continued to walk, turning his head all the time. This action was repeated by several other children. All the parents, without exception, forced them to move on.

In the 45 minutes the musician played, only 6 people stopped and stayed for a while. About 20 gave him money, but continued to walk their normal pace. He collected $32. When he finished playing and silence took over, no one noticed it. No one applauded, nor was there any recognition.

No one knew this, but the violinist was Joshua Bell, one of the most talented musicians in the world. He had just played one of the most intricate pieces ever written, on a violin worth $3.5 million dollars.

Two days before his playing in the subway, Joshua Bell sold out at a theater in Boston where the seats averaged $100.

This is a real story. Joshua Bell playing incognito in the metro station was organized by the Washington Post as part of a social experiment about perception, taste, and priorities of people. The outlines were: in a commonplace environment at an inappropriate hour: Do we perceive beauty? Do we stop to appreciate it? Do we recognize the talent in an unexpected context?

One of the possible conclusions from this experience could be:

If we do not have a moment to stop and listen to one of the best musicians in the world playing the best music ever written, how many other things are we missing?

Friday, February 17, 2012

City Kid

A few photos of my ever growing babes struttin' his stuff all over the big city.
Photo credit to our sitter Sue - Thanks!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

guest post: nature walks with your tot!

Today I'm welcoming a guest post from Aileen Stillman from www.bachelorsofscience.org. Passionate about helping people discover science and the world around us, she tells us how we can incorporate this learning to our little ones, no matter what their age. I especially love the idea she has of going on a scavenger hunt and making a list of things for your child to find on their outing. It definitely gets me excited for the upcoming spring and summer with a 2 year old to have some educational fun with. So without further ado, I bring to you.....

Nature Walk 101
Going on a nature walk is a great way to get you and your kids up and moving in the middle of a long day. Spring is just around the corner, and when those nice days start to come, you will want to find a way to get out of the house. However, you should also make sure that you are giving your children the stimulation they need to help them learn how to stay sharp and focused. The best way to do all of this is to go on a nature walk. It lets your children burn their pent up energy, gives them a fun learning experience, and gets you all out of the house that you’ve been stuck in all winter.
There are a lot of great things you can do on your nature walk, but one thing you should be sure to do before you step outside is to do some research. You want to be able to point out different flowers, bugs, and plants so your children can learn something new each time you take a walk. Learn about some of the different small animals, insects, and plants in your area, or find a park close by with information about the various living things within the park boundaries. From there, you will be ready to give your kids the valuable educational experience they need.
Infants
Just because your baby may not understand an actual science lesson doesn’t mean that they won’t benefit from a nature walk with you. A little fresh air is usually good for your little one, and it could help them learn to love the outdoors at an early age. You can use this time to bond with your new child as well. Talk to him or her and describe some of the different things you see. Pick up a flower or leaf and let them examine it. As they grow, they will start to understand and connect the word to the object, and your efforts will help with their language development.
Toddlers
You may still want your child in the safety of a stroller during these months, but you should still give them the opportunity to enjoy nature as much as possible. You will want to keep talking about the things that you see and give them a chance to hold, touch, and feel as much as possible. Give them a flower to hold on to, and talk about its color, shape, and size. Let them take some time out of the stroller and let them pick up leaves. Make a game out of it if you can. Tell them to pick a purple flower, or point to something green. Your encouragement will make them want to learn more.
Small Children
When your child gets old enough, you can really start to teach them about nature. Point out different types of trees and have them repeat it back to you. Learn about different types of insects so you know what to call them when your child brings it up to show you. Create a scavenger hunt on your walks by giving your child a picture list of things to find on your walk, or tell them to find as many different colors as they can and take a picture of each object. Make a collage of the pictures when you get home and hang it up on their bedroom wall. Another thing my kids like to do is find as many leaves as they can and make leaf impressions on paper with their crayons or make other artistic creations with the leaves when we get home.
Your child can always learn something new on a nature walk, no matter how old they are. When they start to write, sit down in a shady spot at the end of your walk and have them journal about the things they see. Bring along a bird identification book and try to find as many as you can. Find a poison ivy plant and teach your child how to spot it and not to touch it. Most importantly, bring lots of snacks and water and have fun making these memories with your child.

Aileen Stillman is the creator of bachelorsofscience.org, which is a site devoted to educating readers about their opportunities should they decide to get a Bachelor of Science degree. She enjoys writing articles about exploring the wonders of science and all that the science field has to offer.
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