WAHM


Sorry for my long silence recently. Even though I blog everyday (in my head) I don’t always get around to posting all the witty and brilliant thoughts I have about life. So here’s the Cliff’s Notes version of the past two weeks:

  • Mike and I went to the Major League Soccer Championship game – Houston Dynamo vs. New England Revolution. It was lots of fun, even though Revolution lost. The highlight of the game was when the crowd (mostly DC United fans) started chanting “YOU GUYS ARE BOORING” and then moved on to chant “DC UNITED”. That was when the game started picking up…
  • Thanksgiving happened. We had a great time on the Eastern Shore hanging with my dad, stepmom, sister and stepbrother. Except when hunting season started on Saturday. Then we got the hell out of dodge. I wanted to write a big long post about all that I am grateful for (and there’s a lot) but then the tryptophan kicked in…sorry about that.
  • Emma learned how to clap yesterday. Just like that. My mom was clapping and singing a song to her and she just started clapping along. And she hasn’t stopped since. Clapping seems to be her new expression of happiness – every time I turn around she is grinning from ear to ear and clapping. When we are in the car and I look at her in the rearview mirror, she’s clapping. Taking a bath, she starts clapping. Changing her diaper, she starts clapping. It’s a riot. But now I feel like we need to stock up on some quality children’s music so she has something to clap TO.
  • And finally, Emma is officially a toddler. She walks everywhere, and fast. It was an overnight thing really. One day we were propping her up and convincing her to take a few steps, the next day she was walking around the house like she had been doing it all her life. She is unstoppable and into EVERYTHING.

Which brings me to the main point of this post: someone please help me. My sweet toddler is wreaking havoc everywhere she goes. The tupperware from the kitchen ends up in the living room, her books from the bedroom end up in the dining room, her toys from the den end up in our room (and I am pretty sure I have already mentioned the dog food that ends up in her mouth). She requires constant supervision and almost never sits still.

When she was six months old and I needed to make dinner, she could sit pretty happily in her jumpy seat while I cooked. When she was nine months old the activity center was the thing. Now? I am lost. Now, I am looking for that magic toy that will occupy her for more than five minutes. She doesn’t watch television so that won’t work as a solution (although I am beginning to see why so many little kids do) but I am pretty open to almost anything else…

Anyone?

Alternatively, any good recipes for dinner that only take 5-10 minutes to prepare?

Via Strollerderby comes this article by Steve Almond over at Babble. He writes about the “joy and pain of being a work-at-home parent” and how to balance working with spending time with his family. It seems like his wife is the primary caregiver for his daughter, so while a lot of what he writes about resonated with me, there were definitely parts where I found myself thinking “Huh, must be nice…”

Reading his article made me realize that we need a new category of parent type. We have working parents and stay-at-home parents and work-at-home parents, but what about us stay-and-work-at-home parents? Being the primary caregiver and a work-at-home parent has a unique set of challenges and experiences that isn’t quite covered by the other categories.

We could call ourselves working-stay-at-home parents, but that implies that there is a non-working stay-at-home parent, so that won’t work. We could say staying-work-at-home parents, but that’s just weird. Staying where? How about working-during-naps- and-any-other-time-the-kid-is-occupied- and-also-on-weekends- but-otherwise-hanging-out- and-having-fun parent? Hm, catchy.

Some days things don’t go as planned.

Some days Emma is three minutes away from a full on two hour nap, when the deck cleaning guy arrives and rings the doorbell and the dogs bark like crazy and my work phone starts ringing and Emma starts crying and the nap goes down the tubes along with my list of to do items for work and I wonder why in the hell I ever in a million years thought this arrangement would work.

Today is one of those days.

I have two jobs. I am the primary caregiver for my daughter Emma, I am also the legal administrator for a private adoption agency. I am a mommy full time, and I am a legal administrator the rest of the time.

When we had Emma we knew we needed my income, so being a full-time stay-at-home mom was not an option. We also knew, even with my income, that full-time childcare in any form was going to be very difficult for us, both emotionally and financially. This meant we were going to have to get creative. What we came up with is the hybrid arrangement we have now. I go to my office one day a week and make up the rest of my 35-ish hours a week telecommuting from home – during naps, in the evenings and on weekends. We have a babysitter who comes for the one day I am in the office, and then one or two other afternoons during the week, for a total of about 15 hours a week, but I am the one with Emma the majority of the time.

I have, in the past, worked for a company or two that claimed to be progressive and concerned with the happiness of its employees. When push came to shove, that turned out to not be true. I am incredibly grateful to now have a truly progressive boss who cares about my family and my happiness.

I am planning on writing a lot more about my experiences as a work-at-home mom, partly because I feel a little lonely in my not quite working mom/not quite SAHM status and I could use some company. I am also hoping writing about it will help me organize the experience, because the bottom line is that I still don’t know if it’s working. I have days when I feel like the luckiest mom around, to be able to hang out with my daughter and still work as a professional on a team of adults. Then there are days when I can’t imagine what made me think this would work as I look at my email inbox, the blinking message light on my phone, my screaming child and the piles of laundry building up all around me. So maybe writing about it will give me some perspective. I can only hope.