Thursday, October 16, 2014

This is me – not shutting up

A couple of days ago I blogged about being a stay at home mom who isn’t going to shut up, no matter how passive-aggressively you ask me to via blogpost. Days like today are why. Because days like today happen, all too frequently. And sometimes we can laugh at them as they happen and sometimes we can’t. Today, I couldn’t. But I think that as I take the time to type this up and (naptime permitting) re-read for edits, I might be able to laugh a bit.

I got to bed at a reasonable hour last night & managed to fall right to sleep, thanks in part to being a bit sick – but not sick enough to justify going out to buy more NyQuil. The babies slept through the night & I was able to wake up slowly and leisurely. Imagine my surprise when I learned it wasn’t yet 6:00 am – but I felt rested! So, I took a shower, which I never get to do before naptime, had some coffee, and even had time to read a little before the twins started to wake up at 8:30! These kids are usually up & ready to go by 7:00. So this morning really felt like a rare gift.

Oh, but once they woke up…

We use cloth diapers at home. Although we started using disposables overnight when the monkey child got a fierce diaper rash that would start to heal during the day (when I was changing diapers every two hours) and then flare up overnight (when she was in the same diaper for 8-12 hours). The upside to using the disposables is that they do a better job of wicking away the moisture & lessen the chance that a baby will wake me up for a diaper change overnight. The downside is that if the babies sleep in a bit, or happen to poop overnight, the disposables just explode. They split down the seams & all the nasty little gel beads that absorb the pee spill out all over the place. This morning both babies slept in AND pooped overnight. Their pajamas were filled with nasty little gel beads of chemicals and pee. There is no easy way to clean this up, but I did the best I could – which means I made sure the babies were clean and free of pee beads, but I had piles of towels, diapers, etc that were being use as makeshift pee bead containers.

While I was changing the monkey child, the bug child snuck over to stand on her tippy toes & grab the leg of her pee bead filled pajamas. Once she had a good grip on that sucker, she ran – spilling pee beads everywhere – out of the nursery, across the hall, through the kitchen, and to her high chair. I put the monkey child, clad only in a diaper, in the living room & managed to get the bug to let go of her pjs, wash her hands, and then sit in her high chair. Meanwhile, the monkey was gleefully running half-naked through the house. One child secured, I grabbed the other, got her dressed, & strapped her into her high chair. And we had breakfast. While the kitchen floor was covered in pee beads. 

After breakfast, I put the kids in the playroom & cleaned up the pee beads. I thought to myself, “These days happen. But the kids seem in good moods & I got a full night’s sleep. Today can still be great.” And then I looked in the playroom and saw a pile of dog shit in the corner. The babies were on the other side of the playroom, so I quietly cleaned up the dog shit. While I was congratulating myself on managing to clean it up without the kids noticing, I realized they were no longer in the playroom. This isn’t panic inducing - they often play in the living room so I wandered in to see what they were doing.

Apparently, the other dog had also shit in the house. (Why? Because it’s raining outside and even if I leave them outside all day, they will wait until they come in the house to shit & I want to kill them. But I digress.)

Both children had a handful of dog shit.

The monkey child was smearing it on the wall & the bug child was tasting it, spitting it out, and tasting it again. I grabbed the still-warm dog shit out of the babies’ hands, with my own bare hands, and we all went into the bathroom for some serious cleaning, while I gagged a lot & called poison control to make sure I didn’t need to take the bug to the ER or something. (Protip: Nope. Feces is gross, but unless the dog is sick or the kid starts vomiting or has diarrhea, there’s no risk of poisoning.)

All clean, but emotionally raw, I put the babies in the playroom & took the dogs outside so I didn’t strangle them. I thought to myself, “One day, when I don’t feel like the worst mom on the planet, I will find this funny.”

I walked in the house just in time to see the bug child smash a wooden block into the monkey child’s head. I yelled, “NO!” In response, the bug threw her sister on the floor and proceeded to smash the block into the monkey child’s face repeatedly while laughing hysterically. I ran as fast as I could with my stupid foot in a brace to rescue the monkey, who was sobbing but not bleeding. After a quick inspection revealed there was no major damage, I collapsed on a chair, clinging to the child in my lap and bawled.

I tried to put the bug in “time out,” but then the monkey cried because she wanted to be in “time out.” {Clearly, I do “time out” wrong.) So I put the monkey in “time out” & I texted my mom & sisters. I called a couple of people, but they have lives and I just got their voicemail. I called my husband at work – which I never do – and cried. And he did his damnedest to not laugh. And the bug started to throw things at the monkey in “time out” so I got off the phone.

I put the kids into their jumperoos, turned on a Baby Signing Time DVD, and knowing they were safe – hid in the bathroom for a few minutes. Then I brewed a fresh pot of coffee, drank a bunch of water, ate a protein bar, & cleaned up the nursery because remember the pee beads?

This all happened within an hour of the babies waking up.

We had lunch & played a bit. I just put them down to nap. My husband came home early. I’m finally drinking that second pot of coffee I brewed and listening to the sound of the rain outside & my fingers on the keyboard. 

Today could still be a great day.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

I’m a stay at home mom and I will not shut up

There’s an article that I’ve seen making the rounds on Facebook over the last couple of days titled, “Dear Stay At Home Moms, Please Shut Up.” I almost didn’t read it because it was so antagonistically titled, but then I saw it liked by people I love and some of whom I’ve called when this whole SAHM gig was feeling overwhelming. I decided that maybe the article wasn’t a bunch of “Mommy Wars” BS – even if the title was & gave it a read. I was wrong.

There are SO MANY THINGS in her article that are problematic (heterocexism, classism, I could go on), but I’m not going to pick it apart piece by piece. I’m going to simply disagree with her whole premise that stay at home moms need to “be content or quit whining.” The thing is, I refuse to be content in a situation that needs to change. I don’t mean the situation of me being a stay at home parent, I mean the situation that makes it such a thankless, untenable position in our society.

I will not stop talking about how hard it is, as long as the Huffington Post and other websites keep trotting out articles from well-meaning husbands that can be summed up as “I thought my wife was lazy, but then I stayed home with the kids & turns out – it’s a tough gig. That’s right – we can now agree that parenting is hard because I, A MAN, said so! Now applaud me for discounting my wife’s experiences until I had them for myself!”

I will not stop talking about career dreams until people stop claiming the wage gap exists because women choose to stay home and raise kids – when it actually starts with a woman’s first job out of college and is often the REASON women (instead of men) stay home with the kids, NOT the other way around. Our plan was to have my husband stay home, but he makes more than me & with twins we simply cannot afford for me to work. Fulltime childcare costs more than I have ever made, despite my graduate degree & long work history.

Here’s the thing – I actually feel quite lucky to stay home with my kids. I know my husband would rather spend his days with them than behind a desk, even if he finds his job challenging and fulfilling. And even though, I often envy that he gets to shower every day – not too mention leave the house before the first poopy diaper needs to changed – I am happy to listen to him if he has complaints about his day or if he is sad to have missed a milestone. And he listens to me when I tell him about how exhausted I am or how lonely it can get in the middle of the day when I’m doing my third load of laundry for the day. Because we’re not assholes to each other.

The same is true of my friends. Parents and non-parents, stay at home, work at home, full-time employed, full-time students, unemployed, whatever. I listen to them and they listen to me. Life is hard, no matter your choices or circumstances, sometimes things suck. When those times come, I need someone who I know I can call and say, “Today is hard. Sometimes I just want to runaway to Bermuda.” And they will not think that means I don’t love my children or my spouse or my life. They will just know that I need a friend and they will listen.

The author of the article telling me to please, shut up says, “Just stop knocking on my door with your greasy hair and your caffeine withdrawals and sit at my kitchen table and try to convince me that your children are Satan's spawn and gripe that you had to clean all three toilets today.”

In response, I offer this:

Come knock on my door. Sit at my kitchen table. I’ll brew a fresh pot of coffee and listen.
You can tell me about how your children are Satan’s spawn & I’ll laugh and know that only children you love so deeply could drive you to say that.
You can tell me about how, as a working parent, you’re heartbroken that you missed your child’s first step & I’ll know that you sacrificed being there at that moment to put food on the table or achieve your career goals.
You can tell me that working from home means you have to do all the laundry and still meet work deadlines, even when all the kids and the dogs are puking & I'll know you love your kids, your dogs, & your job if you're willing to put up with all that to not have to give up any of it. 
You can tell me about how you never want kids, but work or school feels like it’s sucking the life out of you & I’ll encourage to follow your dreams.
You can tell me that you never wanted kids, but now you’re pregnant & don’t know what to do & I’ll tell you I trust you to know what is right for you as you make your decision.
You can tell me that you really want kids, but just found out you can’t have them & would really rather meet me at coffeeshop without my kids & I will meet you at that coffeeshop and not mention my kids until you bring them up.

Simply put, you can be a human being having a hard time and I won’t be an asshole to you. Life is hard. Even when we have everything we wanted, there are some days we need to vent. If I’ve learned anything in this last year plus of being a stay at home parent, it’s that we need each other.

Last February, I only left the house twice. In the whole month. My steep driveway was a sheet of ice. We had to leave the car in a neighbor’s driveway for a week. It was really hard. And I called some of you. Some of you came over in your AWD vehicles and hung out with me. Some of you listened to me cry about how lonely I felt. Some of you let me cook for you. Some of you came over and cooked for me. Nobody told me to “be content or quit complaining.” Maybe you wanted to, but you didn’t. Instead you listened. And when I was done complaining, we talked about the wonder in my life and I was able to be content. Because when things suck, they don’t get better by pretending they don’t suck. If your situation sucks and you need to change it, I encourage you to do so. But if your situation is generally good and some days you happen get tired of being puked upon or shit upon – literally or metaphorically – and just need to vent then I offer you my friendship. 

Come knock on my door. Sit at my kitchen table. I’ll brew a fresh pot of coffee and listen. This can also be redeemed via phone.