Sunday, January 31, 2010
Thank you for your email to me. I feel flattered that you would ask my opinion about some of your life and career choices!
I've been waiting awhile to send this and thinking about what to write. You asked me about my decision not to work as a public school teacher this year, my opinions about staying in the home with my baby, and my plans for returning to teaching. I ask myself about those things each day! So I've been thinking about how to answer you and how to answer me, too. I don't know if I should be totally honest or if I should sugar coat my answers a bit. On one hand, you did ask me for my opinion, and on the other hand, I don't want to be bossy or sound as if I have found the ultimate truth about SAHM vs teacher.
To begin, I did not want to renew a contract with my previous school for the next year, pregnant or not. I did not enjoy teaching HS and the climate of the the school. I really struggled to fit in to the faculty and I had to develop all the curriculum myself, which was tedious and the less than enthusiastic learners I taught did not make it any easier. I felt as if I could be a fantastic, high quality teacher, but no one would notice or even care. I could be a mediocre teacher, and I'd have the same response. I could even be a photocopy-the-worksheet-and-lower-my-academic-standards-teacher and I'd gain more acceptance from the students and a few teachers. I thought this was totally ridiculous and I did not enjoy the dynamic of this job. I secretly felt relief that I could use my pregnancy as an excuse for not returning to work there.
We saved four of my teacher paychecks as a little nest egg (yes, little!) and made our budget work for only my husband's salary. We had two years of married life like this when I was in graduate school and made a mere pittance. So living on less doesn't feel too difficult unless I start to compare our vehicles, vacations, luxuries, and such to our friends who have two incomes. Then I feel a pang of guilt or sadness that my husband drives a 1992 Chevy S 10. The same truck he had as a high school senior! I realize he is sacrificing for our family, too.
I ever expect to stay home with a newborn. I really hadn't pictured myself as a wife and mom and homemaker EVER. I think I have stereotypes and therefore prejudices towards women who quit careers. I feel like some of these women are so self-righteous in their choices to raise their kids only themselves. And I judge them for having unruly children and wonder why on earth they would want to stay in the home with those kids all day. I think some of those women assume that they are totally doing the right thing for their family and that those who don't follow their path are cruel to their kids.
Another thing I thought about was how I would think about myself as just a mom. I didn't want to have this attitude about myself. I wanted other people to know that I graduated Magna Cum Laude and that I think about other things than diaper rash creams and play dates and vaccinations. I wanted people to not just see me as a mom, because I am new at being a mom and I think I have much more polished areas of my life. I mean, I have been a daughter, learner, writer, friend, wife, girl, etc. for way longer and I am proficient at those things. I am rough around the edges as a mom. I often don't even think of myself with that label its so new. I do think of myself through the lens of teacher though. Its a label I am comfortable with and one I am proud of. I have six years of practice being a teacher, however!
So, should you renew a contract and teach next year, or should you not sign a contract and stay in the home with your young children? This is a tough call. You worked so hard to get your degree and a teaching position. I assume your job is at least comfortable for you financially and logistically. Maybe its not your ideal job, but maybe it could be the door to a preferred grade level or different position in the schools.
Being a first year teacher is hard, no matter if you are a traditional 21.5 year old recent grad or you took a different path to get there. You have to discover your "teacher voice" and intuition. I am learning that I have to find my "mother voice" and intuition these days, too, which are different than how I am as a teacher. Maybe you can identify with that? Being a first year teacher in a small school is even harder, I think, because you have much more work on your shoulders to accomplish. You might also not have as good of role models or mentors, or you simply might not have enough colleagues who share your teaching philosophy. Its hard to be new in a small school because there are so many alliances. In bigger districts, this is not so, or at least not to the same extent. You are sort of a nameless new teacher, and its easier to duck under the radar and just survive your first year.
It takes practice to be a good teacher. It makes sense if you aren't feeling as awesome of a teacher if you hoped. You already have practice being a mom, so it makes sense you are more awesome at being a mom than a teacher and wondering if that is okay. I think its okay. I personally think that a person should teach the same thing two years in a row, because the second year is your change to implement the changes and perfect your lessons, while the first year is survival, observational learning, and a time to get your feet wet.
You asked if I love being a teacher. The answer is absolutely! But I love the art and craft of teaching, not just the logistics. I don't like faculty meetings, parent meetings, paperwork, or those types of things. I love creating a classroom environment that is fun and curious. I don't have that experience as an at home mom. I really miss the conversations between students and the joy I got from crafting those experiences for students. I think it makes me a little more dull as a person not to have those things in my life, and I worry that it makes me a little more dull as a mother.
Last semester, when my baby was a new born, I did not work outside the home. I had the opportunity for a little part time tutoring, but I turned it down. This semester, I am teaching a part time course at the University on MWF mornings. I have a different kind of stress this semester. Last semester, I felt isolated and defeated. I didn't feel like I accomplished much and I didn't have much pride in myself, my appearance, or my abilities. I felt like my baby was sucking some fun from my life because I nurtured him ALL the time. My job used to end around 4pm. This job went around the clock and I had no reprieve. I felt guilty for having my husband get up nights with the baby because he had to get up for work. I felt like I should have to do it because the baby was my job. Looking back, I don't think this was a healthy attitude or arrangement! It made me resent my husband for working outside the home.
This semester, my stress is a shared stress. We are better co-parents. We work together more on caring for our baby and getting him ready for day care. I think we both enjoy our time with him more. I know I do! The first day I worked, I came home and really cherished my time with him. I think I took it for granted before. Well, maybe not quite, but I now think of our Tuesday and Thursday mornings as much more special.
I really like my part time job, but I am really glad it is part time. I think that new moms have it really ROUGH if they work full time and have a baby. I think they deserve to be off work, even if it means they aren't off the clock for their kids, just so they have some slack. If I were a working mom full time, I think I would be more stressed out and irritable. I wouldn't get to relax because I'd be worried about not spending enough time with my kid when I was home with him.
People always say, "Do what ever is best for your family!", as if the mother already knows this. I think this can be trial and error! Maybe its best for you to work when the kids are X age, but not when they are X age. Maybe you can change your mind year to year. Maybe the answer is unique to your mood and desire to work.
You've had the opportunity to NOT work as a teacher and be a mom, which I haven't. You can ask yourself if you were happier during those times, if you felt mothering your kids was easier or more fun, and if you enjoyed being yourself back then. You were a student working towards the goal of TEACHER. Its okay now that you've reached your goal that you reconsider it or that you set a new goal. Don't feel like you are giving up your hard work if you don't like this teaching job. Its just a job! There are more jobs. There are more years for jobs. When I think of life in this perspective, I feel easier on myself.
Do I plan to return to work? Of course! I can't imagine not doing this. I really hope that I'll be able to have many more diverse teaching experiences. I really want to teach college freshman again. I really want to teach math to young kids. I really want to teach science to middle school kids. I really want to teach high school ESL.
Do I know when I will go back to work? Nope! I don't want to sign a contract, get pregnant, and not renew the contract again. I don't like having lots of first years in a row. Its just too much stress and too easy to do things half way. I don't think its fair to my employer or fair to myself to do that. I said this earlier, and I totally believe it. I think new moms should get to be off of working a job if they want to. They deserve time to recoup from the delivery and to get to know their children and themselves as a mother. So, since I fully believe that being at home with a newborn is a must, I won't be working then. So this question kind of gets into family planning and long range plans, and gosh, we sure haven't made those plans yet! I think I will take it one semester at a time.
You also asked how I feel about being a mom and how things are going in general. With each passing day, I feel more confidence in myself and my mothering abilities. My son and I are getting a closer relationship and learning more about each other. We can communicate. We have a pattern to our days and that is really helpful. So, being a mom is getting easier and more normal feeling. Some days are not so fun. They are boring and quiet and I crave attention, conversation, and spontaneity. Other days I think my heart is going to explode with the love that seems to grow and grow for him. I bet you can relate. I think this sounds kind of weird, but its totally true... I didn't really like being a mom at first. It was so dang hard! It was so uncomfortable to be out of control and to be worried and exhausted all the time. At about 3 months, I started to come into my own and I realized that I liked being a mother! This was a cool feeling. Nowadays, I really, really like being a mother. I expect one day I will absolutely love being a mother. Probably when my kid can talk or paint me a Mother's Day card I will have completely forgotten that it was harder than I thought and I will never imagine myself as not a mother.
This is a really long letter, but its been weighing on my heart and mind for two weeks.
I'd love to hear back from you about both your experiences as a mother and a teacher!
Saturday, January 30, 2010
And I am always late.
At first, when my son was just a few days old and needed his bilirubin levels monitored, it was acceptable to arrive slightly late. Because I drove to the OB office instead of the peds office. We had very little sleep, so all was forgiven.
And then when we were fifteen minutes late for our impromptu Swine Flu visit, it was understandable that I had to turn around and drive home. Because I forgot my wallet in the house. Because once one has H1N1 and fears for her son's health, its easy for minor details like forms of payment to slip one's mind.
Now, four healthy months later, there should be no excuse for tardiness. But goshdarnit, late I am. I am always searching for a parking place not too far away from the door because its COLD, standing in line behind seven other families because everyone else schedules well baby checks the same day, or mopping up spit up that is on DHH's outfit, my baby carrier, my hair, his hair... because he still hasn't knocked that reflux.
But tardy I am. And its getting increasingly harder to justify being late.
Friday, January 29, 2010
On our way back to the mainland, we paddled slowly. It was SO HOT. We were parched and sandy. Husby had to lug the canoe back up the steep incline to his truck. To this day, I can't believe just how strong he was to do that! That was ONE STEEP HILL. I have never seen him sweat that much, but then perhaps his manhood was on the line... we had only dated six short months and he still needed to impress me!
We haven't returned to Little Berger Beach since. There were a variety of floods that covered the sandbar, and I am curious to see just what it looks like these days. Our only souvenir, apart from these photos, is a Beach Boys cd that was scratched by the sand which was strewn everywhere after that trip.
The straw hat in the photo has been worn on three beach vacations, including our honeymoon, and is in sorry shape. It is pretty much decomposing and as flat as a beret!
Oh, and weren't we just so trim and smokin' hot back then? I did pilates every day and Husby's summer job was lifting air conditioners for a heating and cooling company. I feel so lucky I allowed my photo to be taken, because back then I thought I was chubby. Now I see the pictures and have proof that we were a hot couple!
Thursday, January 28, 2010
But not this time.
I took a chance!
So, here's what I had - three sweet potatoes that needed to be used, half a red onion, half a white onion, some leftover ungrilled Cheddar Brats in the freezer, and some apple juice. I also had brown sugar, olive oil, cinnamon, salt, pepper, and cumin as staples in my pantry.
I was going to just roast the sweet potatoes, but I remembered my goal of cleaning out the freezer this month to save on groceries, so I retrieved some brats that we hadn't grilled. Husby really prefers for supper to have at least some meat in it most nights, so I thought I would add some sausage to the mix. It turns out that two of the five sausage links were Hot Italian sausage, which wasn't quite what I intended, but added some nice heat. I think in the future, I'd stick with Cheddar Brats or Beer Brats or Apple and Chicken Sausage.
So I peeled and chopped the sweet potatoes and sliced the uncooked sausage. I even left the sausage in the casing, which proved to me that the recipes that call for removing the casings is kind of a wast of time.
I chopped the onion.
Then I added all the chopped things to a large glass pan and drizzled olive oil on top. I shook some salt, cumin, and cinnamon on top. Then I added a few grinds of pepper and a small handful of brown sugar. The container I used had a lid to it, so I put the lid on and gave the ingredients a nice shaking to combine everything.
Right before I put the dish in the oven, I realized that apples would be lovely in it and add some sweetness. Unfortunately, I bought grapes and bananas this week and not apples, so I improvised with apple juice. I didn't measure the amount of apple juice, but it was a few splashes and I would guess around half a cup.
I used the temperature 375 because that is what I had the oven to for roasting broccoli, and it was a suitable temperature. It took about an hour for the potatoes to get smushy and the sausage to brown.
Oh my gosh, this is SO DELISH. SO SO SO Delicious! I challenge you to make this and when you do, you will be torn if you want to save some for leftovers to enjoy the next day or just gobble up the entire pan.
After preparing this, I felt like a good cook. I felt like a cook who used ingredients on hand and "just whipped up a little something". It was a nice feeling!
You'll do better to just eat it all the night of your wedding or like a few weeks later when your mom gets it from her freezer for you to put in yours.
Even if you wrap it up several times and use a freezer bag AND a freezer storage container.
Ours was skank-nasty.
I was SO looking forward to our first anniversary so I could taste some of that lovely cake - buttercream frosting and a raspberry jam layer.
It tasted like... what you'd expect something I'd describe skank-nasty to taste like.
Oh well... at least we didn't save it for our FIVE year anniversary, which is this year. I think it would have been toxic at that point!
Wednesday, January 27, 2010
Tuesday, January 26, 2010
And the wheel's kick and the wind's song and the white sail's shaking,
When the thought of a vacation enters my weary mind, as it did this morning, I think of the phrase I must go down to the sea again. And then I think of this image:
These photos Husby took as he drove my pink Neon on 98 towards Crooked Island. I wish the interstate we lived on afforded such views!
Monday, January 25, 2010
Sunday, January 24, 2010
Grief is a multi-faceted response to loss. It includes the emotional numbness, disbelief, separation, anxiety, despair, sadness, and loneliness that accompany the loss of someone or something loved. ...
Saturday, January 23, 2010
I don't have too much to write about - its a Saturday morning, and the Husb is out at the shooting range enjoying his hobby. I suppose I am enjoying my hobby, too ... photographing my son and blogging about him! I'm also doing the laundry, but I don't think that counts as a hobby. At least not for me!
I think I will make a slow cooker meal today, since it is just so gray and grizzly outside. I think I'll also get a workout in this morning while he's away (Biggest Loser Yoga with Bob or Carmen Electra... very different options!). I don't have many other plans, except to exchange the movie we watched last night for a different one using a free RedBox code at HyVee. Any movie suggestions? I'm thinking it has to be as good as the movie we watched last night - Inglourious Basterds (which, yeah, it was pretty interesting and creative and I wish history had gone down that way... but why the spelling errors?).
Oh, did I mention the little boy SLEPT THROUGH THE NIGHT, EVEN THE 3:00 AM HOUR!!! I turned off the baby monitor at 4:30 AM so I would let him work out his issues and go back to sleep because I think I might have been always rushing in to "rescue" him instead of letting him put himself back to sleep. It worked! Husb got him up and ready at 7 AM while I finished my STTN slumber. Have I mentioned before how much less sleep deprived I am these days??
I hope you, dear readers, have an excellent weekend and do something out of the ordinary. January is almost over, by the way, so you really should do something for the record books while you can!
Friday, January 22, 2010
I wanted to share this photo with you.
I don't think its the best I have taken, but it really elicits an emotional response inside me. It is just so sweet.
My husband is in charge of our baby from about 6 pm until he goes down for the night. This means he makes the decisions for bath time, diaper change time, activity time, the selection of bedtime story, and if he needs an additional feed.
I appreciate his help so much, but I also appreciate the fact that he is an invested decision maker in our parenting. Oh, he also really likes being this involved, so I appreciate this, too!
When I look at this photo, I see the tenderhearted side of the boy I dated and I feel so delighted he wanted to marry me and do this with me.
I think every parent has a favorite outfit that they like to see their child in. For me, I love these alligator pants. I've kept this article of clothing in his dresser and he's worn it from birth and even now at six months, I think he will be able to wear these pants for another month, at least.
I bought them for him at a resale shop when I was about six months pregnant. I was shopping with my mother in law and she convinced me it would be okay to buy the baby a few things. I had felt so nervous about buying anything for him. I was so scared that we would have a fully furnished but empty nursery.
When I saw the racks and racks of adorable baby clothes organized by size and color at the shop, I relaxed a little. Then I spotted these pants. They just might be the best $1.99 I've ever spent! I felt silly only buying one thing, so I looked for a coordinating top. In all, I selected about four items and my mother in law bought six or seven. The lady rang the purchases up and placed them in a bag and handed them to me, because after all, I was obviously the owner of the baby clothes.
I experienced a different feeling walking out of the shop with a grocery sack full of baby clothes than when I entered. I think this feeling as normal. Its a normal thing for a pregnant woman to buy baby clothes. Its normal for her to feel excited about tiny socks. Its normal to wash and fold and prepare a cozy nest for the baby.
Up until that point, I really did not allow myself to experience these normal things. I was too afraid of infant loss.
After we left that shop, we went to Target and looked at baby furniture. I was feeling much more relaxed from the first shop, so when my MIL suggested I look at the cribs and consider one for Baby H, I complied. She immediately fell in love with a cherry sleigh style crib. It was lovely! I agreed to let her spontaneously purchase the crib for his birthday present. In fact, I was happy that we had the first piece of furniture for his room! I think I feel justified in making that purchase because we had proof that we were going to be parents. I had those alligator pants as proof I had a real baby who deserved a real crib and did not deserve a mom who was in denial about being pregnant just to save herself heartache of a loss.
I really, really love those alligator pants.
Thursday, January 21, 2010
- I've been considering how its possible to feel such great joy for one friend and such great sorrow for another. Two friends shared monumental new via email with me this week, and both pieces of news affect their family, their view of mothering and womanhood, and their futures. I emphathize for both women so much that it makes my brain spin that I can feel so much emotion that is so different!
- I got two compliments about my cooking recently. Apparently, cooking is percieved as a hobby of mine and we eat exotically at my house. I really didn't think these things!
- I took a two hour nap this morning while baby napped. I am so glad that he takes consistant two hour morning naps now, because three months ago, I would have had to have a 45 minute nap, which would NOT have cut it!
- This post isn't spell checked. It isn't proof read, either. I wish Blogger would go ahead and install auto spell check!
- We visited DHH's paternal grandparents last weekend. He had two gifts waiting for him. Seriously, this kid is almost six months old and he is still getting new baby presents? I guess that is because he is so likeable and our family is so generous!
- I still haven't bought another digital camera. I cannot committ to one I like more than the one I returned to Crutchfield. I need quick shutter speed and nice quality in low lighting. So I am sticking to the one I have now until I can make up my mind, or the one that is out of my price range drops!
- Coupon lady is going to ride again! I've been collecting them for a few weeks and am going to make a well organized coupon only trip to the store this weekend.
- I really enjoyed having MLK, Jr. day off this year. Last year, my school district did not value it as a holiday and used it to compensate for a snow day. This year it was a relaxing long weekend and I was able to watch a few diversity specials on TV. I saw a clip of these two dynamic 5th graders who won I Have a Dream Speech Contests and they totally energized me. I got to thinking about how much I like teaching that age group and how really my life is different because of the Civil Rights Movement. My life as a white person is different than it would have been had I lived sixty years ago. I can only imagine how differently my son's life would be.
- I made French Toast this morning even though I was so nauseous. And it was delicious!
- I'm not going to take a pregnancy test until next week. I'm not thinking that its going to be positive. I don't want to deal with how I will feel about seeing the results, whatever they may be, so I will avoid it. Oh, and in somewhat related news, I found a coupon for $5 off EPT. Ha!
- Watched a few movies lately. I've decided that I am truly becoming a movie snob. TV series are spoiling me. I can't belive that people settle for poor script writing and plots that resolve themselves in only 90 minutes. Husby totally agrees, and can't wait for Jack Bauer's escapades this season.
- Ordered LOST Season 5 from amazon for 20 bucks. HURRAY! Can't wait for the UPS guy to deliver it tomorrow.
- UPS guy is at my house A LOT. I think once our February budget takes its shape of nonline shopping (I invented this word), I won't get to chat with him as regularly as now. Which is several times per month. And yes, Abbie, he does look just like the UPS guy on Legally Blonde !!
Take the fun, Mom to Mom quiz and discover your parenting style.
2) The thought, "I felt exactly this way when I was pregnant."
Yes, folks, the voices in my head are already pestering me to seek the truth!
Wednesday, January 20, 2010
Tuesday, January 19, 2010
I never identified with any character on Friends, especially Monica. (Though my husband tells me that I am a weird mixture of Rachel and Ross... I don't see it).
And so my parents struggled to get me to keep a clean bedroom and later a clean car. I struggled to keep an organized dorm room, but pretty much could never study in my own room because of the life that was in my room and all that stuff. I had once had the Champion of Tidiness as an apartment mate, and it nearly killed me to pretend to be a neat person.
Then I married and became a home owner, and presto! Suddenly I was supposed to know how to run a household and manage its cleanliness.
I guess there was a place for finishing school, after all! I could have used some lessons in ironing, defrosting a freezer, and proper care and maintenance of household appliances. Because seriously, I don't really know much about these things. Like, did you know you are supposed to wash your washing machine monthly? And there are little comparments in the machine that pop out and are FILTHY so you must rinse them? I randomly discovered this when I thought I broke our machine.
So, two years ago I read through Matha Stewart's Homekeeping Handbook (which is insanely heavy and very informative).After I read it, I was on a mission to be a better homekeeper.
Fast foward to now, and I have found a great way to be better at doing my least favorite things (housework). Warning; this is a terribly nerdy thing of me.
Really, I was embarressed to even tell Husby about this as it is pefect fodder for teasing. When I told him, I warned him that this would be an off-limits area for teasing.
Okay, I joined this site called Flylady.net about three weeks ago. I am following her baby steps and getting my house under control, one day at a time. There are many habits one is supposed to start, including getting up in the morning and getting dressed - from face to shoes - and making sure your sink is shiny each night before bed. I've been trying these tips and so far, I'm making better housework progress than I have in the last five years!
So, since I cannot organize clutter, I am getting rid of things. Today's task is to rid mismatched socks and other clutter in my dresser sock drawers. My goal is to get the two sock drawers I have consolidated into only one! Does anyone else have 2 drawers for socks? I thought it would be good to seperate my athletic socks, dress socks, wool socks, and hose... but the system isn't working too well! How many socks do I need, anyway!?!
So, I'm going to go check my Control Journal and start flying with Fly Lady while little DHH naps.
Seriously, these Ugly Doll things are odd! I mean, does this doll have one dead eye? Why is it sticking its tongue out? All I know is that its ears/antennae are perfect to chew.
I wonder if my parents thought our Rainbow Brites or troll dolls were this bizarre!
Monday, January 18, 2010
I sort of love when my husband naps because afterwards, he is not crabby. And immediately afterwards, he is in a kind of drugged stupor and is confused about everything and looks so funny.
My husband's family is a Big Time Nap family. Compared to my family, they nap like clock work on weekends and days off. My family really only naps when we are sick or especially tired, or, in the case of my father, when we are sitting in a VERY comfy recliner!
I don't like to nap as much. During pregnancy, I was a Napaholic. Now, I sort of like having time to myself to just be quiet each day, a need wich can be fullfilled by just driving home the long way or zoning out to the morning drive by media.
So, right now the two males in my house are napping while I read blog posts, print coupons for tomorrow's shopping trip, and fill out day care paper work.