Tuesday, March 26, 2013

To Work or Stay at Home: Is the Grass Always Greener?

I saw an interview the other day with a woman named Sheryl Sandberg, who is the COO of Facebook. The conversation was all about her new book, Lean In, and how not just men should be getting important roles in the workforce. Sandberg's main point was to say women should be treated equally and deserve high powered jobs just like men, which is not necessarily a novel idea (nor an idea that I disagree with). But the interesting part was when the interviewer asked Sandberg if she felt like she had a good balance between her home and her work. As a married mother of two, she seemed pretty reluctant to admit any difficulties in navigating her extremely busy lifestyle (after all, this was an interview in support of women working, admitting it was hard might be like admitting it was wrong). Sandberg, like all of us (working or staying home), seemed to be trying to convey the message that she could do it all! and everything on her plate was manageable.

This really got me thinking about the work vs. stay home discussion that has been passed around mom groups everywhere. There's no easy answer, and there are obviously pros and cons to both. But when Sandberg was asked if she felt like she spent enough time with her kids, the busy COO said that she, like every working mother, feels "job guilt" about not spending enough time with her family and is "somewhat intimidated" by moms who DO stay home. I started going through my mental rolodex of working moms that I know and I couldn't disagree with her. In fact, I couldn't recall many (if any) that had not mentioned at one point or another that they sometimes wished they could stay home or felt guilty that they couldn't. On the flip side, as a SAHM (Stay At Home Mom) myself, I have often felt intimidated by working moms because when people ask me "what I do" it often falls flat to say, "Oh, I stay at home." It seems that some people have a viewpoint that SAHMs lounge around most of the day and then cook dinner at night, leading me to feel defensive and inadequate compared to moms with "real jobs."

Which leads us to the topic of the discussion, is the grass always greener when it comes to your career as a mom?

To be honest, right after Titus was born I wondered if I had made a HORRIBLE mistake in quitting my job as a crisis counselor. I had such a passion for my clients and our ministry, and all of the sudden instead of a highly challenging and stimulating job, I was now sitting on the couch 17 hours a day and watching Real Housewives marathons because he would only sleep if I held him- and when he wasn't sleeping, he was eating.

I was bored. I'm not afraid to say it. And here comes more word vomit: sometimes I still am. Don't get me wrong, I'm not complaining, I'm just trying to be transparent here. Titus is almost one and although things have gotten much more interesting around our house as he's gotten older, there's not much mental challenge in walking a baby in circles or sitting behind him while he bangs on the coffee table. I love him dearly and I find him so funny and sweet and entertaining, but that doesn't mean that he fills the mental space that my job did. In fact, that's why I started my Etsy shop, because I needed something to STIMULATE me. That is, in fact, the best way to phrase the missing piece of the puzzle. When you hang out all day with a person who can't communicate and does very little besides roll around and drool and try to eat their own fingers, you don't feel very stimulated. I know, there are play dates and trips to the park and running errands, etc., but in all sincerity, a majority of my week as a SAHM is spent staying home (i.e. the title), even with all that stuff plugged into our schedule. And when we do get out of the house for "activities" ( Target, mall walking, Hobby Lobby) it seems like we mostly do so just so we can fill up the time in the day, not because we actually need to do it.

On the flip side, I can't imagine having to get myself and a baby dressed and ready to go in the morning. Most days I wear yoga pants and sometimes I don't even brush my teeth til 10am, so I can't imagine getting my hair and makeup and clothes fixed plus diaper bag packed and breakfast for a baby. And if I only had time to clean, cook, and do laundry after 5pm I feel like it would never get done! My house would be a total disaster. Not to mention that I would hate only getting to see Titus early in the morning and late at night. Plus, even if I still had my old job, the majority of my income would go to childcare, which would make the financial benefit just about a wash.

So what's the answer? Work and feel guilty for missing out on time with your kids and rarely having a clean house? Stay at home and feel jealous of those who leave the house each day and actually have adult conversations?

I know for me I wouldn't trade staying at home for anything. That's not meant to sound noble, there are definitely days I wonder what it would be like had I chosen to do things differently. But at the end of the day, I know for me the pros outweigh the cons at this stage in our life. When I'm done having kids and they're a little older I think I would love to go back to work, but its been a huge (and ongoing) process for me to accept that this is not a temporary setup, but instead the career path that I have chosen long term. I will hold the job title of "mom" longer than any other job in my life, and this is only the beginning of putting others wants and needs ahead of my own each day. And as cheesy as it may be to say, I really can't imagine doing a more important job than raising my children to be respectful and contributing members of society and trying to create a sane and stable living environment for them to grow up in.

So what do you say? Is the grass always greener? Have you ever wondered or wished you were doing the opposite of what you chose?


Saturday, March 9, 2013

11 Months

Dear Titus,
At 11 months you...
  • You weigh about 20 pounds.
  • You are wearing 9-12 month clothes (pants are still long) and size 4 diapers.
  • Your sleep has been weird the last few weeks and you've been sleeping 7:30/8 until 6:15-6:30! You. Are. Killing me. Get back on schedule, child! You still take two naps (10:30 and 2:30).
  • Your two bottom teeth are all the way in and you have FOUR top teeth that came in at the same time. Yikes.
  • You learned how to stand up in your crib last month and I think it's so cute seeing you on the monitor holding onto the railing. You look like the captain of your very own crib boat :)
  • You have officially reached the "drop everything to see what happens" phase. Off your high chair, pulling things off the coffee table, anything you can grab.
  • You have learned what the word "no" means, and your favorite "no" activity is turning off the tv or turning on the xbox. When I say "no Titus" in my stern voice you shiver like you're cold! You also stop pushing the button and don't do it anymore so I guess you don't like to get in trouble.
  • You still don't have "stranger danger" or cry when we leave or drop you off at the nursery. But when we are in a large crowd you do like to stay close to me and you're pretty serious. People try to make you laugh and you just bury your head in my shoulder or stare at them.
  • You are eating tons of table food, we let you try most things we're eating. Your current favorites are blueberries but you don't care much for grapes.
  • When we close the back door you cry because you want to be outside (even when it's raining or freezing!). Your daddy said yesterday he's never seen a baby this passionate about being outside! It's so true.
  • You are getting so blonde! Everyone comments on it when they see you.
  • We bought an iPad holder for the car and you have FINALLY stopped yelling and crying everywhere we go. I've never been more thankful for technology!
  • You pull up on everything, which means you also fall off a lot of things! Every day you have a new bruise on that big, sweet head of yours.
  • All you want to do all day is WALK. You can't do it alone yet, so you hold my hands and basically run through the house or use your walker to walk by yourself.
  • You offer me your food and think it's so funny if I eat some of it. I love that you're sharing!
  • I catch you talking to yourself when you're playing alone and I keep wondering when you'll say you first word and what it will be. I have my money on "fan" or "dog!"
  • You love it when mommy or daddy dance- you start smiling and giggling like it's the most hilarious thing ever! You've even started rocking back and forth as your own "dance."
Oh sweet boy, where to begin? You have become even more fun over the past couple of months. Your personality is really starting to show and I'm not ashamed to admit that you are a total momma's boy! There is something so fulfilling about pouring so much time and energy into you each day and then seeing you recognize me as the one to go to when you need comfort or giggles. You also love your daddy, and your favorite thing to do with him is to "play video games" when he does. Daddy gives you a remote and lets you push all the buttons just like he does and you think it's so fun! We could not be more excited for each new stage of entertaining things you learn how to do, but we will miss our "baby" when he turns a year old next month. But no matter how old or big or grown up you get, you will always be mine. We love you to the moon and back, buddy.


Friday, March 8, 2013

Spring Mantle Decor

I got a few questions from the pictures I posted of my Spring mantel decor, so here is how you can do it in your own home if you want!

The first element I used for the mantle was the weathered barn wood frame Garland made for me and I first featured at Christmas. It's just some old wood that he nailed to a couple pieces of framing to hold it together. Extremely easy project!

Then I took off the Christmas wreath and replaced it with this book wreath I made a couple years ago. I LOVE this wreath, it goes with anything! You can see that mine is different colors because I used a few different books and hung it on my front door, so they aged different colors in the sun. Make sure if you use different books that you do a better job of spreading out the roses so you don't get clusters of one color or the other (like mine).
If you want to do a wreath on wood like I did here's the easy trick: Buy a 3M hook and hang it on the backside UPSIDE DOWN. Then just tie a knot with the string around the hook as shown here. Genius! Thanks Pinterest!

Next I lined the frame and wreath with the mercury glass vases I made this summer. This was a super easy and inexpensive project, probably totaling $10-15 for 10 vases.
 Wild flowers from Hobby Lobby on half off! Oh, how I love that place. 
 I stacked some old books I got at a garage sale on both sides just to give plenty of variation on height.

Lastly I made a fabric garland to hang down from the mantle. This was my favorite part! I went and bought fabric scraps from a fabric store for $7 and that was the total cost! I used twine I already had and a lot of elbow grease. Depending on the type of fabric you get will depend on how easy or difficult your project is. A couple of my fabrics had stitching or were just really thick and it took a lot of effort to cut through. The plain cotton fabrics were really easy though! All in all it probably took me 3 hours to make and it's about 5 feet long. Here is the tutorial I used, but it's pretty self explanatory.

All in all the whole mantle probably cost me about $35 including the vases, wreath, books, barn wood frame, flowers, and fabric for the garland. Easy update for spring, now we just need to weather to catch on to the change in season! Happy crafting!