Eating Acorns

Happy 2007 and welcome to the Tuesday guest blog! Every Tuesday "On Balance" features the views of a guest writer. It could be your neighbor, your boss, your most loved or hated poster from the blog, or you! Send me your original, unpublished entry (300 words or fewer) for consideration. Obviously, the topic should be something related to balancing your life.

By Alexandra Moses

I left my job 18 months before I had a baby. My husband took a job transfer and I saw it as an opportunity to make a change. I was bored at work, and this was a chance to find real happiness.

Then I got pregnant. My job hunt in a new city was thrown into chaos, and the circuits in my brain went haywire. Yes, we wanted children, but I didn't know whether I'd want to stay home. I'd always assumed I'd have a job to choose to leave and enough money to do it. Neither was true.

Today my son is 16 months old and I'm still at home. I'm lying if I say I'm not horribly conflicted about this. But it's not outsiders who have me alternately questioning and defending my choice. If I want to feel guilty about wasting my education, all I have to do is look at my student loan debt.

Rather, it's the war going on in my head that troubles me. When we can't afford something, I blame myself because I don't contribute to our bank account. I think about how hard I worked to get where I was -- the sleepless nights for graduate school, the moves across country for low-paying, resume-padding jobs. As trite as it sounds, I literally cry sometimes over my lost career.

My internal mommy war started from my own ideas about the modern woman -- ideas that came from growing up with nothing but encouragement for my personal ambitions. Not working makes me feel guilty for not living up to those ambitions.

Yet I love being a mother. When I do take on occasional work, I feel terrible for ignoring my teddy bear-wielding son. Why did I have a child if I wasn't planning to play with him every minute of every day?

A job interview came up over the summer and I found myself on an emotional pendulum, swinging from elation over the possibility of a job offer to fear that I couldn't handle being away from my baby. When I didn't get the job, I was relieved.

I never knew I could spend so much time locked in a mental battle that ends with me feeling guilty about all of my choices. And frankly, it's driving me crazy. I cannot ignore my polarizing feelings, but I must find a way to handle them so motherhood and work can finally come to a balance.

So, for now, I choose to embrace being a stay-at-home mom. Daily trips to the playground with the little boy who finally stopped eating acorns gives me too much joy to let go of just yet.

I still believe I can have it all. I'm just not ready to yet. And, I think, I'm okay with that.

Alexandra Moses moved to the Washington, D.C., area in 2004 from Brighton, Mich., where she commuted 90 miles a day into Lansing for her job as a journalist for The Associated Press. She lives with her husband and son in Takoma Park, Md.


By Leslie Morgan Steiner |  January 2, 2007; 7:00 AM ET  | Category:  Guest Blogs
Previous: Best and Worst Holiday Memories | Next: Nannies and Prejudice


Add On Balance to Your Site
Keep up with the latest installments of On Balance with an easy-to-use widget. It's simple to add to your Web site, and it will update every time there's a new entry to On Balance.
Get This Widget >>


Comments

Please email us to report offensive comments.



Wow! I could have written this post (were I more a eloquent and a better writer than I am). It's good to know I'm not alone in feeling conflicted about my choice to stay at home while my children are young.

For the moment, I'm rationalizing by thinking that I'll only be the mother of young children for a few short years, whereas any career I pursue will likely last decades. It helps a lot to think in the long-term, instead of letting myself get so lost in the present that it seems like this is all I'll ever do.

Posted by: NewSAHM | January 2, 2007 7:01 AM

Alexandra - you sure are in a tough spot. I found that it took about a year and a half to adjust to being a SAHM and really own it. Couple of things to remember.

1) You are working, you just aren't getting a pay check! Gettting a pay check should not be the only way by which the value of your efforts are measured. It is a lot of work and it is meaningful work. If it was a leisure pursuit we'd have special clothes and clubs to go to (insert joke about track pants and Target here).

2) You are not "wasting" your education. Again, just because you don't generate a paycheck doesn't mean you are not using it and using it well. You are teaching your son every day of his life. You are teaching him vocabulary, you are teaching him how to interpret the world around him, you are showing him the kind of person you would like him to be. Your son and any subsequent children will benefit greatly from your higher eduation and everyday example.

3) As the previous poster said, this won't last forever. Whenever it seems too much, my husband and I remind ourselves that this is what we are doing now and it will change with time. Just as we no longer party all weekend, neither will we get to hold tiny hands and read Big Red Barn a hundred times (blessing and a curse). There will come a time when our children will grow up and leave and we will have all the time and freedom in the world to pursue our passions but no warm little lumps to kiss goodnight. Don't forget Madeline Albright, Sandra Day O'Connor and Nancy Pelosi have done amazing things after staying home. Who knows what you have yet to do.
Good luck.

Posted by: moxiemom | January 2, 2007 7:39 AM

Agree totally with Moxie Mom. Think it would be easier to be at peace with staying home fulltime if you knew you could return to work eventually. I know many, many women who stayed home with their kids for a long time (10+ years) and then went back to amazing, fulfilling work -- sometimes in their prior fields, sometimes in new fields like education where they can use their kid-skills. Especially in the DC area, employers are eager for talent, energy and ambition and quite often that matters far more than what you did in the recent past -- and I do think that many people these days recognize how much talent, energy and ambition you need to stay home with kids! Of course you hear horror stories about prejudice in job interviews etc -- that is real too. But I hear more and more stories about SAHMs doing it all, just not all at once.

Posted by: Leslie | January 2, 2007 7:48 AM

"Why did I have a child if I wasn't planning to play with him every minute of every day?"

Hmmm, I don't know. Why don't you ask your husband? He doesn't have that luxury, does he? If you're this conflicted, perhaps you should let him stay home for a while and go to work yourself to relieve that inner questioning.

BTW, I love being a mother too, and I've worked nearly every day of my children's lives. It doesn't take being a SAHM to love your kids.

Posted by: Jayne | January 2, 2007 8:47 AM

Get a job, it will do wonders for the balance you seem to lack.

Posted by: Workisnotafourletterword | January 2, 2007 8:50 AM

I have to disagree with Moxie Mom's second point. When I'm with my preschool daughter, I don't think my graduate education comes into play at all. While I don't talk down to my daughter, I do use words she might understand, not the very technical terms I learned in graduate school. I also don't discuss the complex theories and applications of my field with my daughter. Also, I don't believe that my graduate education instilled in me my values and beliefs. I chose my field of study because of my firmly held beliefs. So, yes, I do think I'm "wasting" my graduate education when I'm not working in my field, and I'm home taking care of my child.

Posted by: Phoebe | January 2, 2007 8:51 AM

"Why did I have a child if I wasn't planning to play with him every minute of every day?"

It is this point where I disagree with you. It is fine to stay home. It is fine to work. It isn't fine to play with your child every minute of every day. This is not child-rearing, this is obsession. Remember how you didn't want your mother around all the time? Of course, your child is young but you are making quite a habit here. I admit to being semi-crotchety this morning and I do wish you all the best.

Posted by: dotted | January 2, 2007 8:58 AM

Alexandra, you mentioned guilt 3 times in your guest blog as well as feeling terrible and conflicted. Perhaps you should see a priest. He should be able to explain your role in a manner in which you could better accept yourself.

Quit second guessing your decisions, practice patience, pray often, and God will eventually provide you with all the answers you will ever need.

Posted by: Guilt Free SAHM & Loving it! | January 2, 2007 8:59 AM

To be honest, even if I were to SAH, I would not spend every minute of every day playing with my child. Don't you have to do housework, run errands, and just take a breather. I think it is OK, to let kids know that you are not 24 hour entertainment. It is a good lesson for them to learn to entertain themselves. I think you are actually lucky to have the opportunity to SAH. Some of us can't do to finances, spouses demands, or whatever. It won't last forever. By the time your son is in school, you may be able to find some part time work. To be honest, if your just bored, find some other way to express your self. Paid work is not the only valuable thing in the world. There are a lot of charities that can use your talent and skills. To the poster that said go to your priest, what makes you think this person is Christian? Why would she go to a priest?

Posted by: foamgnome | January 2, 2007 9:06 AM

I don't get the guilt thing. Either you are a working mom or you are a stay at home mom. Right now, I am a slacker mom because I sent my kid to school even though I have the day off. Yep, after five days with the kid and husband, I needed a break and I don't feel guilty.

I don't have time for guilt. My kid is happy, she likes pre-school and my family is doing well. My mom was a SAHM and she didn't have time for guilt either, heck she didn't even have time to take us to the park most days!

Lose the guilt and own you decision to stay home.

Posted by: scarry | January 2, 2007 9:07 AM

Quit second guessing your decisions, practice patience, pray often, and God will eventually provide you with all the answers you will ever need.

Good advice, which God should she pray too?

Posted by: Anonymous | January 2, 2007 9:09 AM

Alexandra,
It's interesting that you're feeling guilty for being home all the time and not working.

I had just as much guilt as you...but for the opposite reason...it was because I worked. I absolutely didn't have a choice. We totally need my salary...but I've felt guilty for working.

When my son was little, he split his time between relatives and daycare...and I felt especially guilty on the days he was in daycare. I felt, and still feel, that daycare is no place for an infant. So...I would feel very good that you're at home with your little one.

Then, during the preschool years, my son attended daycare full-time, and I felt better about it. He loved the social interactions...and it was good for him. But, I felt guilty that he was having his "preschool" years in a daycare setting...where the day is kind of long. Instead of in the co-op preschool where all of the stay at home moms sent their children for a few mornings a week.

Now, he's in school full-time, and I feel guilty that he has to go to after-care. And now HE knows the difference. He said the other day that he would prefer it if one of us (mom or dad) could be there after school so he could come home.

Do I feel good that I've earned a great living...and we live in a nice home in a nice neighborhood? Yes. Do I enjoy my job? Yes. Am I using my college education in my job? Absolutely. Do I feel guilty? YES!!!!!

We can't win! If we stay home we feel guilty. If we work we feel guilty.

Hang in there...

Posted by: Here's the opposite story... | January 2, 2007 9:13 AM

Which God should Alexandra pray to? Well, there is only 1 God, so she can't miss.

Posted by: Guilt Free SAHM & Loving it! | January 2, 2007 9:15 AM

I have 2 children and I'm the primary breadwinner in my house with no choice whatsoever about working. It makes me crazy when friends torture themselves with guilt over this stuff.

Guilt is such a destructive emotion. The sooner you get in touch with wanting both things and start figuring out what pieces of each you can have and when, the happier and healthier you get.

Good luck in your journey.

Posted by: karen | January 2, 2007 9:16 AM

So give up the kid for adoption and go back to work. Problem solved! (Decide on a permanent birth control solution.)

Posted by: anon | January 2, 2007 9:18 AM

Whatever one she believes in...if she believes in a god at all. Some people find comfort in god. Others do not.

Posted by: Which god should she pray to? | January 2, 2007 9:18 AM

Which God should Alexandra pray to? Well, there is only 1 God, so she can't miss.

please!

Posted by: Anonymous | January 2, 2007 9:19 AM

So give up the kid for adoption and go back to work. Problem solved! (Decide on a permanent birth control solution.)

YIKES! Did you get up on the wrong side of the bed this morning? Or, are you always so cheery? Or, are you just ticked that vacation's over and you have to get back to real life?

Posted by: To anon | January 2, 2007 9:21 AM

Whatever one she believes in...if she believes in a god at all. Some people find comfort in god. Others do not.

Duh, that was my point.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 2, 2007 9:22 AM

So give up the kid for adoption and go back to work. Problem solved! (Decide on a permanent birth control solution.)

YIKES! Did you get up on the wrong side of the bed this morning? Or, are you always so cheery? Or, are you just ticked that vacation's over and you have to get back to real life?

Posted by: To anon | January 2, 2007 9:23 AM

Your angst is very common. I did not have that option when my kids were babies as I was the primary family breadwinner -- they went to day care. But you what they were and are still happy and healthy kids. I did take almost a year off when my youngest was in kindergarten. But you actually have an advantage that many of us do not have and that is that your professional training as a journalist. As long as you do not think of some assignments as being beneath you, there are a wealth of freelance opportunities for journalists in the DC area, some examples include ghostwriting newsletters for the dozens of associations and coalitions in town. You can do a lot of this when your toddler is sleeping -- so you would be taking minimal time away from your child. Theat way you will keep your writing skills sharp and be connected to work for other opportunities in the future. If you sacrifice everything for your child you will resent that deep down as much as you may love him. You're his mother not his martyr. And yes, your husband should be pitching in too. Unless his job has totally absurd hours, you became parents together and both of you have to make compromises and adjustments to balance your life as a family. That may mean he gives baby the bath and playtime in the evening while you work on a project or whatever parent-sharing you work out to enable you both to continue as "whole" individuals. Good luck!

Posted by: SuzieQ | January 2, 2007 9:24 AM

Very apparent in her column that the job is the more important thing in her life, "I literally cry sometimes over my lost career."

Posted by: anon | January 2, 2007 9:27 AM

Well, Alexandra, I feel the same way! The world is not black and white for me- I can't see how anyone can just make a choice and be 100% fine with it. We are multi-faceted human beings. I don't think I'd be completely fulfilled by not working, nor am I fulfilled as a mom by working full time. I just don't understand the moms and dads who don't feel guilty for putting their kids in daycare for 12 hours/day...but anyway...I'm one of those moms now and it's tough. How can I NOT miss those playground/museum/coffee date/music class years?
But how could I not miss adult interaction, being creative, financially independent? I don't think it's as simple as make your choice and deal with it!

I was a SAHM for almost 3 years- I just returned to work a few months ago. Neither is easy.

I'm going to aim for a flex time job in the next few years. Maybe go in at 7, leave at 3, so i can be with my daughter after school. Perhaps this would be a good arrangement for you (if your husband can be trusted to get himself and your son out of the house in the morning all in one piece..haha)

Good luck and you're not alone! Being a journalist ( I was in my former life- wnt in at 6am, out at 3), these earlier morning shifts are commonplace and there are so many communications jobs in DC that you should be able to find something if you want to.

Posted by: SAHMbacktowork | January 2, 2007 9:29 AM

It's interesting to read the reactions to the post -- and of course I don't literally spend all day playing with my son! Who would clean the banana off the floor after breakfast? But I agree with foamgnome that it's OK for my son to learn that I'm not there to constantly entertain him. I do feel lucky to be able to stay home. It has been very difficult for me, but as scarry said, I need to lose the guilt and own my decision. That is exactly what I'm working on doing. And of course, I do not think that moms who work love their kids any less. I do believe, though, that guilt or whatever word you want to use to describe the feeling, can be felt by moms (and dads) whether they work or not.

Posted by: Alexandra | January 2, 2007 9:33 AM

"YIKES! Did you get up on the wrong side of the bed this morning? Or, are you always so cheery? Or, are you just ticked that vacation's over and you have to get back to real life?"

1. No, only one side of bed to get out of.

2. No, just a realist.

3. No, I worked last week in "real life".

Posted by: anon | January 2, 2007 9:36 AM

Why is your career "lost" because you had a child? Is it not possible to re-enter your chosen career after your child is old enough to go to daycare?

It sounds as if you wanted to schedule having a child as if you were scheduling a business meeting; put it on your life's calendar when it is convenient. Except, children don't fit into such a nice, neat little pigeonhole; they show up when they show up. I know lots of people who were surprised by a pregnancy and then a child, and they survived and adapted to the new circumstances. You can do it too.

Posted by: John | January 2, 2007 9:36 AM

I think each family struggles with all the choices available to them and in finding the one that works best for them. In Alexandra's current situation she has a luxury to seek out a way to earn without being tied to a job. A few of my mommy friends have been able to do this. They serve as an adjunct instructor at a community college (which typically requires a master's degree), they work with kids (coaching or tutoring), they start a home based business. I would encourage Alexandra to look around and find something she enjoys and then find a way to earn doing it. If the financial part is the biggest part of the internal mommy war.

I'm certain that your statement about playing every minute of the day was a little bit of a exageration but part of what each mom needs is to find time to be themselves and not little one's mommy. Some of us find it a work. Moms who stay home need to find it somewhere else, the gym, volunteer opportunities, a hobby. To find balance you have to remember to put yourself in the equation, it's hard for me too, but it makes me a better mommy.

In the end fulfillment is not necessarilly in the J.O.B. but in how we spend our time.

Posted by: mamamimi | January 2, 2007 9:37 AM

I just don't understand the moms and dads who don't feel guilty for putting their kids in daycare for 12 hours/day...

Self-righteous much?

Posted by: Anonymous | January 2, 2007 9:43 AM

'Very apparent in her column that the job is the more important thing in her life, "I literally cry sometimes over my lost career."'

Crying over something from time to time automatically makes it the most important thing in your life? Okay, then.

Posted by: huh? | January 2, 2007 9:53 AM

Read her other comments,

"If I want to feel guilty about wasting my education, all I have to do is look at my student loan debt.

Rather, it's the war going on in my head that troubles me. When we can't afford something, I blame myself because I don't contribute to our bank account. I think about how hard I worked to get where I was -- the sleepless nights for graduate school, the moves across country for low-paying, resume-padding jobs ...ideas that came from growing up with nothing but encouragement for my personal ambitions. Not working makes me feel guilty for not living up to those ambitions."

I have been reading this blog for sometime now. The vibe that comes thru the strongest is that my career is suffering because I had this (trophy) child.

Posted by: anon | January 2, 2007 10:11 AM

I have been reading this blog for sometime now. The vibe that comes thru the strongest is that my career is suffering because I had this (trophy) child.

Do you have kids?

Posted by: Anonymous | January 2, 2007 10:13 AM

yes, I have children

Posted by: anon | January 2, 2007 10:18 AM

"It is this point where I disagree with you. It is fine to stay home. It is fine to work. It isn't fine to play with your child every minute of every day. This is not child-rearing, this is obsession."

Dotted --

I don't think she was being literal. It was irony.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 2, 2007 10:20 AM

"Alexandra, you mentioned guilt 3 times in your guest blog as well as feeling terrible and conflicted. Perhaps you should see a priest. He should be able to explain your role in a manner in which you could better accept yourself."

Wow! First, I'm a Catholic, and I'm not even sure that's the answer. Something about going to a male who is not a father nor a husband (nor someone who is even having sex) and asking him to explain SAH motherhood to me and my "role." Ummmm, no.

I think if I were a SAHM now, I'd feel much like the guest blogger. I like going to work, but I worry a lot about my kids when I'm away, especially my oldest, who has special needs. But you can't play with your children every minute of every day. They need some independence and confidence in themselves in terms of self-entertainment and self-learning.

Posted by: theoriginalmomof2 | January 2, 2007 10:23 AM

Crying over something from time to time automatically makes it the most important thing in your life? Okay, then.

Why would you cry over something unimportant?

Posted by: to huh? | January 2, 2007 10:24 AM

It seems like not so much that her career is the most important thing in her life, as much as that she has believed that her sense of self-worth and value rests in her accomplishments at work. I think lots of us gals can relate. Maybe if Alexandra considers that it's not the 9-5 pushing paper that makes her happy, but the feeling of value she gets by doing a job she has trained hard for well, she can latch onto some way to marry her ambitions with her present SAH situation.

Posted by: to anon | January 2, 2007 10:30 AM

to huh? People cry over commercials, or sad stories, or former presidents dying, or because we're exhausted or depressed or conflicted. We don't always cry over situations or events in their order of importance. Surely you know this. If you simply can't resist the temptation, go ahead and bash her already for even considering working and stop trying to justify your criticism by using Alexandra's comments against her.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 2, 2007 10:33 AM

Hey anon, how about a new year's resolution not to be mean to people who honestly put stuff out there?

Posted by: To anon | January 2, 2007 10:35 AM

It sounds as thought Alexandra's conflict has significantly more to do with the fact that this was an unplanned pregnancy and she didn't feel in control of the timing, or the ease with which she ended up being a SAHM because she didn't have a job to which she could have returned. In other words, she envisioned making affirmative choices about getting pregnant and whether or not to stay home and her life unfolded in a different manner, e.g., we'll move, I'll get a job, I'll get pregnant, then I or we will decide whether I'm quitting, staying at home, continuing to work. Because she was out of work when she became pregnant, the choices didn't feel like "her" choices.

I'd like to know, first, how old Alexandra is, and, second, whether her husband feels similarly conflicted about being the sole breadwinner, including shouldering her education loan payments, and on the same different timeframe than the one they initially anticipated.

This column reads as though staying home might have been the first major decision in Alexandra's life that was, in large part, made for her. Had she lived long enough to become accustomed to the concept that we cannot always control some of the big things in life, layoffs, illness, deaths of parents, an unplanned pregnancy might not have thrown her for a 16-month (and continuing) loop. I suspect her spouse may feel similarly burdened or conflicted by the order of events and the realization that life isn't always under our control.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 2, 2007 10:47 AM

to anon at 10:47
interesting analysis. I'm not sure I completely agree with you, but it is food for thought.

lack of control would feed guilt though. An active decision is easier to live with than a passive non-decision, imho.

Posted by: dotted | January 2, 2007 10:53 AM

Snore. What are we supposed to be talking about again?

Wouldn't have been nice to start the new year with a blog by someone who is actually living a balanced life?

I don't see what people who are conflicted and/or imbalanced have to gain from reading about people who are conflicted and imbalanced.

Posted by: bored | January 2, 2007 10:56 AM

An active decision is easier to live with than a passive non-decision, imho.

Dotted, I agree with your comment. I also am curious about whether Alexandra and her husband ever jointly decided that what was right for their family was for her to stay home. It sounds like her staying at home might have been a default occurrence and not the result of an active decision to which both adults bought in. Why is she interviewing for jobs if she's not sure she wants to re-enter the workforce? Financial pressure? Spouse pressure? What's the deal? Whether you work or stay home, you need to know why you're doing what you're doing in order to be at peace with your chosen path.

Posted by: NC lawyer | January 2, 2007 11:04 AM

well, bored, maybe there is some solace in knowing that nobody REALLY has it all figured out and that we're all kind of bumbling through this life doing the best we can. It feels good to know that you are not alone in your struggles. If I want to hear from someone who has it all figured out, I can call my mother in law.

Posted by: moxiemom | January 2, 2007 11:04 AM

moxiemom - Hear, hear!

Posted by: NC lawyer | January 2, 2007 11:06 AM

moxiemom-
chuckle....re: calling your mother-in-law

and us ladies will be one of 'those' one day too. horrors!

Posted by: dotted | January 2, 2007 11:07 AM


to huh? People cry over commercials, or sad stories, or former presidents dying, or ...go ahead and bash her already for even considering working...

I was not bashing her for working. I was pointing out that work seems to be her (and for others on this blog) highest priority.

Posted by: anon | January 2, 2007 11:13 AM

Alexandra,

Just wanted to say thanks for your honest feedback. It's so hard to learn to accept the tradeoffs that all choices involve. If you choose to work full-time, you miss time with your child. If you choose to stay-at-home, you miss the satisfaction of a career. If you choose to do something in-between, you miss the feeling of being able to put yourself 100% into anything.

Almost all of us who read this blog fall into one of these camps, although people get a little snarky sometimes about which one they think is best.

You're doing what you think is best for now. That's enough. Moreover, that's all anyone can do.

Repeat that to yourself as often as you have to! I certainly do!

Happy New Year, everyone!

Posted by: VAMom | January 2, 2007 11:15 AM

If she is this conflicted with a toddler, wait until the toddler is a teenager!

Posted by: anon | January 2, 2007 11:17 AM

Hey NC Lawyer,

Moxiemom should do what I did about a MIL. I never had one! Of course, my wife's MIL always thought that she (wife) was too good for her husband! (must be c.s.s.s.)

Posted by: Fred | January 2, 2007 11:20 AM

dotted - as long as my boy marries someone just like me, we'll be fine! haha I truly dread becoming THAT woman for some woman. I am making mental notes as I go along in hopes of not making some of the mistakes my mother in law has made. I'll probably fail miserably. That said, I did not spend Thursday night out walking a croupy little boy for an hour for him to marry a stripper!

Posted by: moxiemom | January 2, 2007 11:21 AM

My daughter tried to eat paper until she was 2/12. At age 5 she thinks it is something Mommy made up.

I have been both a stay-at-home and a working mom. My lunch time is quieter now but I get a lot less sleep and hugs.

Yesterday my daughter said to my husband she had a great day with Mommy but tomorrow she wanted to go to day care and play with her friends. I said that was fine with me.

Posted by: shdd | January 2, 2007 11:22 AM

My daughter tried to eat paper until she was 2/12. At age 5 she thinks it is something Mommy made up.

I have been both a stay-at-home and a working mom. My lunch time is quieter now but I get a lot less sleep and hugs.

Yesterday my daughter said to my husband she had a great day with Mommy but tomorrow she wanted to go to day care and play with her friends. I said that was fine with me.

Posted by: shdd | January 2, 2007 11:23 AM

to anon,

You haven't been reading this blog for long, or very carefully, if you conclude that work is the highest priority for many on this blog. Work is, at best, a distant second or third to the majority of the board and it is a rare poster (Cream of the Crop comes to mind) who contends that work is a high - let alone highest - priority. Heck, even Leslie doesn't fit that characterization.

It's rather disingenuous to contend that you're not bashing a parent when you assert that work is a higher priority to that parent than her child. At least be honest about your self-righteousness and the very real insult you flung at today's guest blogger.

Posted by: NC lawyer | January 2, 2007 11:24 AM

Fred,

Happy New Year! Please end the suspense -- in addition to her new pink scuffies, what did you get Fredia for Christmas?

Posted by: NC lawyer | January 2, 2007 11:30 AM

Alexandra,

First, good luck to you as you search for balance. It is difficult! Thanks for your blog today.

At this point, I recommend looking for work you can do at home. Even if you have to hire a sitter for a few hours a day (or a week), it will be totally worth it. I'm an editor who does just that (although I was never a SAHM), from 9-5pm, M-F. I hired sitters for morning and afternoon shifts, and was able to evaluate them more fully by being at home working in my back office (keeping my ears/eyes open). They are all wonderful, but it did take a few duds before I found good sitters. They are good company for a quick chat during the day too.

Now that your son is older, he will benefit from the interaction with others, as many have said. I have one sitter with a 2 year old daughter and she and my son (who is also 16 mos) enjoy playing together 2x/week.

I don't know if any of this is feasible or even if you truly want to work; but I have found balance and relish both my time at work, and the breaks I take during the day to cuddle and play with my son. I know I am truly lucky and hope you can find something to balance your life as well.

I have never felt I could be a stay-at-home mom, but I also don't have such a strong tug-of-war between work and SAHM-hood, because I do work at home. I hope this option will become more feasible for many in the future, and for those where it is not, that our government encourages companies to have on-site day care centers. How much more productive would parents be if they could spend 5 minutes here and there throughout their work day hugging their child and return to work feeling good, not guilty?

Posted by: Rebecca | January 2, 2007 11:32 AM

Anon,

I'm not sure why you think that holding work to be a highest priority is an insult. What's wrong with ambition? What's wrong with working hard to build a career, or having regrets when that career goes off track for a while? Is it your contention that the second one becomes a parent, they should willingly and happily put to bed all of their ambitions?

And for what it's worth, it doesn't sound to me like Alexandra's career is her highest priority. After all, 16 months later, she's still home with her son.

Posted by: NewSAHM | January 2, 2007 11:34 AM

I of course agree that everyone who is a parent here considers their child a higher priority than their work. However, I do feel that the general tone of the blog is that "work will solve your problems."

The poster above who said this "Get a job, it will do wonders for the balance you seem to lack", while obviously just trying to be mean, really did sum up how it often feels around here. There are many, many posters who have stated again and again that they could never be satisfied being a SAHM and that working is the only way to achieve balance. Maybe that's what anon is trying to say.

That being said...I do think that in Alexandra's situation, that working for pay would help. Her guilt seems to be mostly worrying about their finances and her student loan debt. Finding a way to write while her son naps or in the evenings/weekends when her husband is (presumably) home would go a long ways towards achieving balance and happiness and relieving that guilt.

Posted by: momof4 | January 2, 2007 11:37 AM

NC lawyer,

When the guest blogger writes-- When we can't afford something, I blame myself because I don't contribute to our bank account etc.

It certainly sounds to me that she is more interested in material things and work.

Having equal opportunity does not equate equal outcomes or having an "egalitarian" marriage does not mean that both must contribute equally at all times to the bank account or dividing every household task without regard to a person's talents, proclivities or interests.

As another anon pointed out, sometimes life interfers with a perfect little (planned) world.

Posted by: anon | January 2, 2007 11:38 AM

Why is it that all the anon posters seem so unkind. If you are gonna cast stones, put your name on 'em.

Posted by: moxiemom | January 2, 2007 11:40 AM

I think every mother agonizes over her choices regarding her child. Work, stay home, full-time, part-time. It's tough any way you look at it. Just ask yourself, what's best for my child, and for our family? And if what you're doing is the best, then you can feel good about it.

Susan @ Working Moms Against Guilt
http://wmag.blogspot.com

Posted by: Susan | January 2, 2007 11:41 AM

Hey NC lawyer,

Actually, the daughters received the scuffies. I held them back until after the sharkfest. Both girls asked where were the scuffies and then I had to bring them out.

Fredia received a gold wrist chain and some BF materials. Along with some James Bond videos!

Posted by: Fred | January 2, 2007 11:43 AM

maybe my name is anon!

Posted by: anon | January 2, 2007 11:44 AM

Well, anon at 11:38, that was my post at 10:47 that was inadvertently made anonymously and it doesn't support your swipe at Alexandra's priorities. Actions speak louder than guilty blogging. Work clearly isn't her highest priority, or even up on the high-priority list since she's not worked a day (for external compensation) since 2 months before her due date and it's been some time now. Moreover, she has a career that might easily have been continued from home on either a part-time or full-time basis had she more highly valued contributing directly to the bank account. You don't have to insult her priorities to comment on her conflict.

Posted by: NC lawyer | January 2, 2007 11:49 AM

"I think every mother agonizes over her choices regarding her child. "

I don't.

Re: signing posts - how is someone signing their posts "moxiemom" any less anonymous than signing it "anon"?

Posted by: momof4 | January 2, 2007 11:49 AM

to newSAHM,

I never said and did not mean to imply that ambition is bad.

What I do mean is that having a child does change life in unexpected ways and individuals need to temper their ambitions with the reality of being responible for another person.

Posted by: anon | January 2, 2007 11:50 AM

Fred - You're blessed to be with a complex woman: making the world a better place as a lactation consultant, and with the sense of humor to appreciate Bond. The guy with the crappy state school education scores with Christmas gifts!

Posted by: NC lawyer | January 2, 2007 11:57 AM

NC lawyer wrote

Work clearly isn't her highest priority, or even up on the high-priority list since she's not worked a day (for external compensation) since 2 months before her due date and it's been some time now.

So, why is she feeling guilty at all then? She has made the choice to stay home, she was relieved she did not get the job, what is the problem? As you point out, at times life is out of our control. Maybe we all need to come to terms with this, temper our expectations and let go of our guilt?

Posted by: anon | January 2, 2007 12:01 PM

Gee, you did not even ask what c.s.s.s. was?

Actually, wife is indifferent to JB other than she considers Sean Connery to be one of the world's sexiest men.

Maybe Fred gave JB to Fredia so Fred could watch it?

Posted by: Fred | January 2, 2007 12:05 PM

Hey, where is the Jokester today?

I could use a joke!

Posted by: Fred | January 2, 2007 12:07 PM

Momof4 - posting anon is different because many different people can use that handle there's only one moxiemom and only one momof4.

Posted by: moxiemom | January 2, 2007 12:09 PM

I am so sorry you feel conflicted. I think its particularly hard to be a SAHM in the DC area if you aren't independently wealthy. As far as the guilt goes, here is my solution: honestly do my best to see that everyone (me, kids, spouse) are getting what they need. Reassess periodically. Cut myself some slack -- my best isn't perfect. Don't compare myself to other people.

I have read recently that blogs are a significant source of guilt/angst for some people-- they read about that person A is doing this, and person B is doing that and person C is doing this other thing, and start to feel like they're the only ones who aren't doing all those things.

Posted by: YetAnotherSAHM | January 2, 2007 12:11 PM

OK, so I hereby declare that I am the offcial "anon"!

Posted by: anon | January 2, 2007 12:12 PM

anon, only Alexandra knows why she's feeling guilty, but two possibilities come to mind. One, she didn't really "make the choice to stay home." She stayed home because of the pregnancy and childbirth, the vicissitudes of the job market, the occasional inertia of the unemployed, her spouse, other influences. Second, maybe she feels guilty that she's loaded the financial pressure of maintaining the household, sans any childcare costs that would otherwise have been incurred, entirely on her spouse. I don't mean to be snarky. That may not be the way it is -- her blog didn't tell us. In other words, we don't know whether she's doing what she wants to do, what someone else wants her to do, or what. If she is doing what she wants to do, 16 months seems like quite a long time not to own her decision and come to terms with the tradeoffs involved in all such choices.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 2, 2007 12:12 PM

Alexandra, you can work from home. Despite all the nay saying and scare-mongering, there are thousands of ways to work from home while you raise children. In the 60s and 70s my mother kept books for small businesses and worked as a seamstress, all from her work room in our home. I write technical publications in my home office. My neighbor sends contractors out on projects, all from his home office. A woman at church sells on eBay, not her stuff but everyone else's stuff. My sister makes phone calls for the US Dept. of Labor. Working at home is not glamorous but it is still a job and pays for college loans, diapers, and groceries, while saving energy at the same time!

Posted by: thw2006 | January 2, 2007 12:13 PM

moxiemom - really?

-momof4

Posted by: moxiemom | January 2, 2007 12:17 PM

sorry grammar police, that should be "official"

Posted by: anon | January 2, 2007 12:18 PM

Perhaps the kid IS the excitement she was looking for, and she just doesn't realize it. And now that perhaps has worn off and her new excitement is feeling "guilty" when she doesn't really seem motivated career-wise at all. Look at her word choices, it's there.

I think sometimes an artificial or fake sense of angst is created over choices that were made, and actions that were taken, when really, there's no need for it in the first place. But it's formulated somehow, and then it snowballs into something way bigger than it needs to be.

Her child is close to pre-school age. Perhaps it's time to explore that option, and then, subsequently explore different employment options and variations that will balance out her time at work and at home.

Posted by: meh | January 2, 2007 12:18 PM

to thw2006, but then Alexandra'd have to get herself out of the box of what a SAHM is supposed to do with her time. She appears to have a very narrow vision of her options. Staying at home seems to mean that her child is the focus of her attention if not all the time, darned close to it. Her conflict doesn't stem from the fact that she's staying at home. It stems from the fact that she hasn't given herself or her child much flexibility to figure out what staying home should mean for their family. If I stayed home, I would structure the day mighty differently than the manner in which the SAHM next door structures her day.

Sheesh, people, staying at home with one's infant isn't a one size fits all choice.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 2, 2007 12:20 PM

Ha ha, aren't you clever Momof4! Boy you sure showed me. Too bad your genius is being wasted on this blog.

Posted by: moxiemom | January 2, 2007 12:22 PM

to Yet Another SAHM,


"I have read recently that blogs are a significant source of guilt/angst for some people..."

Well, if you went to a crappy state school, you have permanet guilt/angst! Right NC Lawyer?

Posted by: Fred | January 2, 2007 12:25 PM

Fred,

I haven't figured out the last "s" yet. 'crappy state school . . . what?

Alas, I was giving you more credit for the Bond choice than perhaps you deserved. There's always Valentine's Day on the horizon, I suppose.

Posted by: NC lawyer | January 2, 2007 12:28 PM

I think Alexandra sounds depressed. Some above have said to "own your decision" and they have a point. If you're not happy, then make changes. A good therapist can help you do this. Spending 24/7 with a toddler, concerns about not using your education (you're not) and financial concerns can eat away at you and affect your child as well.

It is healthy for children to spend time away from mom--be it daycare, with family, school. This woman needs a life--as in something to keep her busy and feel useful. Careers do that for many of us, but if she has to "stay home" then she needs to look into a baby sitter for some "me" time, play groups, gymboree, whatever.

Mothers who smother their children and are unhappy have entitled, unhappy nasty children. Not always, but I live in a wealthy suburb and see this all the time. I really do feel sorry for the SAH and educated.

But I digress, this woman sounds depressed and could use some therapy.

Posted by: another anon | January 2, 2007 12:33 PM

to another anon. please don't feel sorry for me the poor, downtrodden educated SAHM. If you think that you have to generate a paycheck to "use" your education then maybe YOU do. If you think that just because you don't discuss the theory of relativity with your toddler, they don't benefit from having a parent who understands those things then maybe they don't. I happen to believe in the value of education for its own sake. It is beautiful and wonderful to be educated and you "use" your education all the time simply by being educated, by being a curious person, by enjoying discovery. So, I feel sad for those who simply view eduction as a means to and end. It is they who are missing out and their children probably don't benefit.

Posted by: moxiemom | January 2, 2007 12:39 PM

I really do feel sorry for the SAH and educated.

wow, another anon, did you intend this comment as snarky and condescending as it came across? Feeling sorry for SAHMs who haven't figured out a good balance -- for them and their families -- between parenting, volunteer activities, taking care of elderly relatives, if applicable, pursuing their own interests and hobbies, and keeping the household generally running on four tires good tires, is one thing. Feeling sorry for all SAHMs, oh no, only for all SAHMs who are educated (whatever that means, but for the sake of argument, assume an advanced degree) is elitist and smug. It assumes that less educated SAHMs don't merit your pity because they're so dumb they don't know how meaningless and tedious their lives are. To compound the insult, you pity the educated SAHMs because they can't possibly have devised a way of life that includes intellectual stimulation and full-time parenting. How sad to view SAHMs, with and without master's and other professional degrees, with such a narrow lens.

Posted by: NC lawyer | January 2, 2007 12:46 PM

Wow Moxiemom, you sound very defensive. You are also reading what you want into what I wrote. I won't explain it to you because obviously you read into what people say what you want. I'd venture to say that if this woman has a lot of student loans and cannot pay them off, then she needs to put her education to use. There are plenty of "good" parents who do not have a "beautiful" education.

I feel sorry for you.

Posted by: another anon | January 2, 2007 12:49 PM

moxiemom - really?

-momof4


Posted by: moxiemom | January 2, 2007 12:17 PM

grow up

Posted by: Anonymous | January 2, 2007 12:49 PM

Well at least YOU had a choice, your husband did not. Stop wallowing in your angst, it really isn't becoming. Go get a job.

Posted by: Colorado Kool-Aid | January 2, 2007 12:54 PM

"Feeling sorry for SAHMs who haven't figured out a good balance -- for them and their families -- between parenting, volunteer activities, taking care of elderly relatives, if applicable, pursuing their own interests and hobbies, and keeping the household generally running on four tires good tires, is one thing."

That is precisely why I feel sorry for them. And, my comment has nothing to do with "uneducated" parents. You see, I live in a suburb where there are college educated SAHM and they are smothering their children. They put them in all sorts of nonsense programs and activities, do their homework for them, hang around school bothering the teachers (one of my kids teachers has told me this), and are probably the same people who call college professors to change their kids grades. These people need a life outside of their children. They are bringing up entitled, materialistic self-centered people. I believe that those parents who teach their children that they aren't always the center of the universe, that working (ok, paid or unpaid) improves society and the family, and that they need to learn to be independent are the better humans.

This is my opinion and I'm entitled to it. Geez, get off your high horse....

Posted by: another anon | January 2, 2007 12:55 PM

"I just don't understand the moms and dads who don't feel guilty for putting their kids in daycare for 12 hours/day..."

Everyone doesn't have to put their kid in day care for 12 hours a day. I moved to another state so that I could have more balance. My daughter goes to day care for around 6 hours a day. No, I don't feel guilty, not at all. I do feel bad that her best friend is moving up to another class and she is being left behind. ha, I guess I should feel guilty that she isn't older.

Posted by: scarry | January 2, 2007 12:55 PM

I'm surprised by the lack of attention paid to Alexandra's husband (or partner). I'd like to hear the story about the presumed discussion between them on how to balance their lives once the baby comes along. I expect many, if not all, parents struggle with how to balance their lives. I don't think a meaningful balance discussion can occur without BOTH partners participating.

Posted by: equal_too | January 2, 2007 1:02 PM

My wife and I both work; she stayed home with our 7 month old for 3 months; it was hard on her being home; it was hard going back to work. She's glad to be back at work; as am I having her back at work. Our daughter? She has a mom, a dad, and now a nanny who loves and cares about her. My wife and I get all the good and difficult of raising a child, and we get some needed help from our daughter's nanny so that we can provide for our family. It's best for us given the choices we have. Our first choice, however, would be a stay at home mom, a stay at home dad, and a nanny. That's unlikely to happen at this point, but that's our first choice should it be possible.

Guilt is for children - make your decision and give up the guilt.

Posted by: Michael | January 2, 2007 1:03 PM

Our first choice, however, would be a stay at home mom, a stay at home dad, and a nanny. That's unlikely to happen at this point, but that's our first choice should it be possible


Why do you need a nanny if someone stays home?

Posted by: Anonymous | January 2, 2007 1:05 PM

"Our first choice, however, would be a stay at home mom, a stay at home dad, and a nanny."

This seems a bit over-indulgent. Is there any room for other passions in your life?

Posted by: equal_too | January 2, 2007 1:08 PM

another anon - you are right and I am wrong - do you feel better now? If I want to argue with someone unreasonable, then, again, I will call my mother in law.

Posted by: moxiemom | January 2, 2007 1:11 PM

good grief, what is this world coming to?

Posted by: moxiemom | January 2, 2007 1:12 PM

to another anon: I initially thought you might have mispoken and you only pitied a certain subset of educated moms. That seemed to be the point of your follow-up statement. However, you still seem to be committed to your initial, broad statement that you felt sorry for the SAH and educated. If you feel sorry only for the educated SAHMs, by implication, you lack pity for the uneducated SAHMs -- as if they want or need your pity, but that's a comment for a different day.

Smothering isn't synonomous with mothering and education hasn't a bit to do with whether a parent is a helicopter parent. Helicopter parenting has a great deal more to do with too few responsibilities, shallow values and too much time on one's hands. Those characteristics are found in moms and dads bearing all degrees, work arrangements, and even neighborhoods.

Speaking of high horses, yours seems to be an ideal perch from which to look down your nose at other moms.

Posted by: NC lawyer | January 2, 2007 1:12 PM

moxiemom imposter - you are too cool. I only hope that one day I can be as awesoem and annoying as you are. Your family and employer are so lucky to have you - you must light up a room when you enter it.

Posted by: moxiemom | January 2, 2007 1:27 PM

"Our first choice, however, would be a stay at home mom, a stay at home dad, and a nanny."

...Why do you need a nanny if someone stays home?

...This seems a bit over-indulgent. Is there any room for other passions in your life?

The nanny is needed so that the parents can spend time on other passions in their lives :).

On another note, I know that there remains a lot of the Puritan work-ethic in this country. But, why is it so wrong to just enjoy life? Why does everyone have to be passionate about something, and work so very hard to achieve their idea of success? I admit to being a middle-of-the-road sort. I work 8 hours per day, enjoy every minute of my time off, never bring work home. I strive to do my job well, but never to over-achieve and reach the top. I don't really care about climbing up the ladder. It isn't worth the cost to my personal life. So, I can't afford a lot of things. But I don't really care. A house is a place to live, a car is transportation, clothes are necessary, but none have to be the "best", biggest, highest priced, or latest model.

I find that people like myself who are just trying to get through the workdays to spend time with our families are less conflicted about balance than many of you. Staying home isn't a choice for me or my friends, so we don't agonize about whether or not we're making the right choice. We just do what we have to do and move on. We may think sometimes what it would be like if things were different but we surely don't agonize over it.

Posted by: another moxiemom | January 2, 2007 1:32 PM

Alexandra - I think everybody has a certain amount of 'the grass is greener' angst regarding work and parenthood. It's totally normal.

Children have grown up to be normal successful adults with working Moms for the eternity of time. I have a problem with the whole working/non-working Mom desigination, because I know that unless a Mom has a full-time staff (and works supervising them!) she has responsiblities apart from her children.

We saw the movie 'The Queen'. In response to Tony Blair suggesting that QII come down to London and act sad about the death of Diane she tells him she has to attend to her Grandsons. Well, that mostly consisted to sending the Grandsons off with the staff to slaughter some stag. But QII felt she was fufilling her motherly obligations!

What I do wonder is, as someone who has recently moved to this area, whether you have enough outside friends. It's pretty easy to be isolated in the DC area. There is a lot of coming and going, and all those other working Moms aren't available for daytime friendships. I think that can be a problem for new Moms, totally apart from concerns about money and the future.

Posted by: RoseG | January 2, 2007 1:33 PM

I'm confused. Are there two people posting as moxiemom today? What a bummer. I like getting to 'know' people/monikers and this messes me up.

Posted by: dotted | January 2, 2007 1:33 PM

"Our first choice, however, would be a stay at home mom, a stay at home dad, and a nanny."

'Why do you need a nanny if someone stays home?'

'This seems a bit over-indulgent. Is there any room for other passions in your life?'

Hopefully, one response will cover both questions:

Yes, many other passions, that's why a nanny to take care of the kid(s) when the parents can't. Parents can be busy and need childcare outside of work requirements. If I were independently wealthy (which would probably be the requirement to have SAHM, SAHD, and a nanny), I would certainly have assistance for child-care needs.

Posted by: Michael | January 2, 2007 1:34 PM

Another Anon--
You're certainly entitled to your opinion, but it doesn't reflect well on you. It's one thing to disapprove of someone specific, but generalizing the way you have is ignorant. If you expressed your opinion in a non-anonymous forum, I'd be embarrassed for you. You come across as bitter and jealous.

The world is full of people raised by SAHMs who have none of the character flaws you describe.

Posted by: YetAnotherSAHM | January 2, 2007 1:36 PM

crappy state school syndrome.

Well, for Valentine's day, maybe a Mel Gibson movie!

Posted by: Fred | January 2, 2007 1:46 PM

Alexandra, your blog post sounds very real!

There is time to get back to the career. What might help is making sure that you are doing something to stay current or connected - take a class, attend professional networking events, etc. - once a month or so. It helps a lot to keep your hand in, and because you're not actively competing you may be freer to make good contacts.

Meanwhile yes, embrace the acorns! :-)

I work part time from home and the balancing act doesn't get any easier once you get back to working, just different.

Posted by: Shandra | January 2, 2007 1:47 PM

I am a SAHM and happy with my decision. No guilt here. But I'm lucky that my husband and I can make the arrangement work financially. I do believe there would be more stay at home moms (and dads) if people could afford to drop out for a year or two to care for their child. The guest blogger seems to have a lot of financial guilt, which is understandable. She spent a lot of money and time studying for her degree, and it's not producing anything for her right now. And she's also dealing with her own lack of financial contribution to the household.

There are no easy answers. The other posters are correct that everyone muddles through as best they can. We do our best and we hope for the best. What else is there? And everyone has a different opinion about what constitutes a meaningful life. That's why it's pointless to take another person's advice too seriously. You know yourself. If it's really making you unhappy to stay at home, go back to work. (And then you'll get to feel guilty about daycare!) :-) Again, no easy answers.

But isn't raising a child - whether you're the mom or dad, or SAH or work - isn't it all about sacrifice and selflessness, at least in the early years? No, I don't mean you should be a martyr for your child. But every parent is denied lots of important things (time with the spouse / time at hobbies, etc) because they're a parent. It's a new phase of your life. It's not about you anymore, at least not most of the time.

So - it seems to me that all this motherhood stuff always comes down to 'Remember who you are - you're not just a mom.' But sometimes that gets taken too far. The fact is you're still you - of course - but you're also a mother. And for the first few years of your child's life, that's your primary job (whether you work outside the home or not.) The things you did before the baby, the career plans you had, the relationships with your spouse and friends - all of those things change, sometimes a little, sometimes a lot. And the changes can be wonderful. Or they can be wrenching (as the guest writer knows.)

Instead of looking at what you've lost by having a child, consider what you've gained. Does it balance out? It might not, if you're looking at it from the perspective of your pre-mom self. But things are different now. You're different - so think differently.

What I mean is - of course you're not going to feel the same about your life / career post-baby as you did pre-baby. Everything changes.

Just my opinion.... I've appreciated reading all the thoughtful comments today.

-Solange

Posted by: SMC | January 2, 2007 1:49 PM

have cmac and pittypat gone on vacation together? It doesn't seem quite right to be here without either of them . . .

Posted by: Anonymous | January 2, 2007 2:15 PM

To Dotted, who said I'm confused. Are there two people posting as moxiemom today? What a bummer. I like getting to 'know' people/monikers and this messes me up.

There are at least three, and possibly four or more people posting as moxiemom. Moxiemom seems to think that she is somehow not anonymous, and that her posts are identifiable as hers by her tagline/signature. As several people have pointed out, not only is she posting anonymously, it is simple for someone to post posing as her. The solution to the former problem is simple--if she wants to distinguish herself from the rest of us anonymous posters, she can use her legal name. The solution to the latter problem is not so simple. On some WP forums I am required to post under my WP login (which is many cases is anonymous, and moxiemom could have chosen that as her WP login). The advantage of that system is that you know for sure that if a post is signed by a person, that they did indeed send that post, and not an imposter.

Posted by: not really moxiemom | January 2, 2007 2:31 PM

Dotted, momof4 is being clever. Thank you for making my original point for me.
The real moxiemom

Posted by: moxiemom | January 2, 2007 2:33 PM

to not really moxiemom: oh, give it a rest, already. All moxiemom is saying (on behalf of many of the regulars, btw) is that it's difficult to have a dialogue with someone who won't identify themselves even by a web moniker. It's not that tough to come up with one, really. Your "legal name" solution isn't a solution since I can post under George W. Bush as easily as he can. Please play nicely in the sandbox, or at least don't play dumb when we complain about the anonymous snark-types. They are consistently more vicious then those who identify themselves in a consistent manner, and tend to flame rather than argue rationally.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 2, 2007 2:38 PM

Oops, the anon post at 2:38 is mine. Sorry for the inadvertent irony.

Posted by: NC lawyer | January 2, 2007 2:46 PM

I think that as long as the things you can't afford are not necessities, then you're doing fine and have the luxury to choose what is best for yourself.

However, you really do need to resolve your guilt over this. There are a million possible choices, and only you can sit down and make the serious choices for what works in your individual situation. But swinging from one guilt trip to the other obviously isn't a way to live or be a role model.

I know it's not as easy as "Just stop being guilty." But that doesn't make it any less necessary to achieve.

Posted by: Liz D | January 2, 2007 2:48 PM

An education is never wasted. Raising a child is hard work and you would feel guilty for abandoning your child for a paycheck. Just live with your choices and be happy. Money is over-rated, anyway.

Posted by: osisbs | January 2, 2007 2:56 PM

Enough with the guilt already. Thank your lucky stars that you have a choice whether or not to work; if you need more things to fill up your guilt-ridden hours, volunteer at a local school or library or with people who are less fortunate than you are. Since you're a writer, volunteer those skills -- write or edit a newsletter, for example. Or maintain a school website -- just because. I would bet you wouldn't have a free minute to blabber about balance and guilt.

Posted by: anon2007 | January 2, 2007 2:57 PM

Alexandra - at the end of the day just a reminder to hang in there. All this stuff is difficult and no matter what your choice is there will always be people who will criticize you. Thank you for being brave enough to speak honestly about where you are. I think you speak to a lot of pepole, not all of whom might post here. You will find your way. Listen to your gut - only you know what is the right decicision for you and your family. You are doing a great job. Best of luck.

Posted by: moxiemom | January 2, 2007 3:05 PM

osisbs, My paycheck pays the mortgage, the light bill, the sewer bill, and 80% of the other bills around my house. If I selfishly and thoughtlessly quit my job, we would be homeless and without health insurance. Maybe in your world money is over-rated, but in mine, it means survival, and loving my children means supporting them. Please consider the breadth of your insults before you speak to all and sundry about abandoning children.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 2, 2007 3:07 PM

Hey, Alexandra! I'm from Brighton, Michigan too (ok, I'm from Howell...same difference). Nice to see the pen of a hometown face! Hang in there. You're making the best choices for you and your family right now.

Posted by: Heather T. | January 2, 2007 3:11 PM

To NC lawyer

You said give it a rest already, but I only posted as moximom one time. As I said in my later post, at least three people have posted as moxiemom today. I posted once, presumably moxiemom posted as herself numerous times, and at least one other person did so. Momof4 self-identified one time that she did it. That leaves one (or maybe two) unaccounted for. From this I conclude that several people found moxiemoms plea for people to refrain from quote posting anonymously unquote to be disengenuous.

Further, you confused my discussion of the two resultant issues. The first issue is anonymity. If moxiemom chooses to use her legal name, she will not be posting anonymously. If someone chooses to use GWB, or any name other than their own, they are in effect anonymous. The second issue is the one you are really addressing. Leslie has chosen to enable people to post under any name they choose. Other WP forums require the use of your WP login name. In my case (as in many others), my login name is just as anonymous as the name I am using with this post. But the difference is that it will be abundantly clear where posts are coming from--no one can post using my login name, and I cannot post using anyone else's.

You say that quote All moxiemom is saying (on behalf of many of the regulars, btw) is that it's difficult to have a dialogue with someone who won't identify themselves even by a web moniker unquote. As a semi regular, I agree with that, and when I post, I have a regular web moniker that I use. Other than today, I have always used the same screen name. But I say that this little episode serves to prove that point rather than disprove it.

You further state that anonymous posters are more vicious and tend to flame. Well, moxiemom didn't let her supposed lack of anonymity stop her from being catty when her point was disproved.

Posted by: not really moxiemom | January 2, 2007 3:15 PM

"If you feel sorry only for the educated SAHMs, by implication, you lack pity for the uneducated SAHMs"

False logic....I guess the really "educated" are not on this blog.

Boy, many of you are vicious and nasty. It would seem to me that people are entitled to their opinions and their anecdotal observations without being personally attacked (someone called me "bitter and jealous")--I don't think you can surmise what I am like personally by any post, especially those read by people who superimpose their own anxieties onto their reading of them.

One can surmise that most women who "choose" to stay at home are of the educated sort. Fewer less educated women of lower socioeconomic standing can afford not to work. In fact, you can say that these poorer (financially) families don't have as much time to hover over their children and indulge them 24/7. And maybe these parents need more flex time to spend with their children. I work a flexible job so there are times I am around in the mornings and I'm telling you there are an awful lot of wealthy, educated SAHMs who are unhappy and have nothing better to do than focus solely on their children. That is the downside to a parent who doesn't have much else to do. I know women who SAH who have started businesses or do charity work who do not hover over their children like the mothers (like Alexandra) who feel they need to be at their kid's beck and call 24/7. I had a SAHM and thankfully, my parents had lives apart from their children. I am concerned about those kids who know nothing but that they are the center of the universe.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 2, 2007 3:18 PM

"I don't think you can surmise what I am like personally by any post, especially those read by people who superimpose their own anxieties onto their reading of them."

Well, I don't think that you can surmise what Alexandra is like from one post on a blog either, but you feel free to judge her as a hover mom.

Posted by: scarry | January 2, 2007 3:26 PM

So being with a child 24/7 is not hovering? You've got to be kidding....

Posted by: another anon | January 2, 2007 3:31 PM

To NC Lawyer,

You sure have been forgetting your name a lot recently. CRS maybe? :)

Posted by: Fred | January 2, 2007 3:39 PM

OK everyone....I posted as "moxiemom" ONCE. And I signed it within the post so that she would know it was me. And it was a JOKE, albeit a bad one. And I got slammed for it, so consider me sufficiently disciplined and running off with my tail between my legs.

All of the other moxiemom imposters were not me. I haven't even been here since the 12:17 post, because I've been off using my education to smother & hover over my kids...err....taking care of my kids.


Posted by: momof4 | January 2, 2007 3:41 PM

go, Scarry! go, Scarry!


Certainly, Ms. Anonymous Poster, you are entitled to your opinions and anecdotal observations. And other posters are entitled to comment on the values and assumptions that seem to underlie your opinions and anecdotal observations. A blog is not a one-way conversation where you get to criticize and make sweeping assumptions about all manner of women and choices, then sit back protected by the teflon of polite discourse.

and, no, you cannot surmise that women who choose to stay at home necessarily are of the educated sort. Many are. Many others are not. For every affluent mom who has the choice to stay out of the employed workforce, and takes advantage of that choice, there are many other moms whose income is so low that the economics of working don't make sense, e.g., if a family's combined income is less than $50K, they live in an urban area, and they have three children under 5, it doesn't make sense to pay $25K for childcare. This blog has a broader readership and participation than you want to acknowledge.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 2, 2007 3:42 PM

So who wants the name of All Knowing Mother in Law?

Posted by: Fred | January 2, 2007 3:43 PM

Michael, I have to admit that you have stumbled upon an interesting balancing question. What if any of us were rich and money was not the real stumbling block to balance that we so often discuss. What would a balanced life as a parent look like? I agree that outside care, like a nanny, would probably be included but not exclusively. I'd want to spend plenty of time with my kids as I'm sure my wife would want the same.

Maybe the balance question would be more interesting. Would one parent take on the role of manager while the other remained a helper? Would division of household labor be an issue or would it be totally outsourced? Do we really want to outsource all aspects of home care?

I would propose that intimate knowledge of all aspects of our lives is something we don't want to lose. In fact, with limited resources being an issue for most of us, maybe contentment is just a mindset away.

Posted by: equal_too | January 2, 2007 3:45 PM

Fred...I do I do I do!!!

waiting with bated breath.

Posted by: dotted | January 2, 2007 3:47 PM

Fred, I admit it. The explanation is either C.S.S.S., or that pesky ADHD problem, or some combination of both:>)

and dotted, who knew you qualified as the dreaded All Knowing Mother In Law? What's the most over-the-line piece of unasked-for advice you've ever tendered, do tell?

Posted by: NC lawyer | January 2, 2007 3:50 PM

Dotted,

You have to ask permission of moxiemom for that title.

NC Lawyer,

CRS = can't remember stuff (you know what the "s" really stands for!)

As my wife's mother in law said to her, "You are too good for him. What do you want? A new fridge? A washer and dryer?"

(Fredia already had a new car.)

Posted by: Fred | January 2, 2007 3:55 PM

As both a mother-in-law and a daughter-in-law, I admit to experiencing some doozies this holiday. E.g., from my mother-in-law who said, "have you gained weight?"

And most unasked for piece of advice to my daughter-in-law: "You really should write those thank you notes as the wedding gifts arrive."

laughter is the leavening of life and helps me get through the 'doozies.'

Posted by: dotted | January 2, 2007 3:59 PM

Quite a dilemma. If you are looking for a way to stay close to your child while putting your Master's to good use, I suggest reading up on Maryland's laws, then committing to home-schooling your son, if your finances will allow it. It's a great way to ensure he gets a good education while avoiding the coarsening effect of public schools. But make no mistake - it is not easy. It is every bit a full-time occupation, and one with loads of flexibility that will result not only in a well-educated, productive member of society, but also in a well-deserved boost to your self-esteem when you graduate your son and send him off to college.

Posted by: Larry | January 2, 2007 4:02 PM

Fred,

My friends' explanation is that there is finite space in our brains and, at a certain age, every new bit of information pushes some old bit of information out. So that part about inserting my name before hitting the submit button? It's entirely supplanted by minute detail of each ACC team's trend, injuries and overall prospects as we head into our conference games. Disclaimer: This is not intended to be a scientificly plausible explanation for CRS.

I'd take new appliances (of my choice) over a new car any day, and if they come with custom cabinets, it's even better. A girl can dream, can't she?

Posted by: NC lawyer | January 2, 2007 4:03 PM

"Actually, wife is indifferent to JB other than she considers Sean Connery to be one of the world's sexiest men."

Fred --

I once saw Sean Connery quoted as saying: "There's nothing wrong with slapping a woman around occasionally when she needs it."

After that, I could never watch him in another movie. Ugh!

Posted by: Anonymous | January 2, 2007 4:09 PM

Well, that damned usc won but the Saints are also doing very well.

Fredia in the last 2 years has received
a) new car-- courtesy of the younger daughter totaling the mommy van (fortunately, no breast pumps were injured)
b) new custom cabinets
c) new appliances including a stand alone ice maker
d) new furniture

(b,c,d courtesy of Katrina)

So maybe dreams can come true in unexpected ways!

Posted by: Fred | January 2, 2007 4:12 PM

Dotted, Oh my. How did you respond to, "have you gained weight?" I'm guessing that, had it been me, I've had mumbled something about a pound or two, then changed the subject after 10 seconds or so, and, as the hours passed, thought of 25 appropriate and increasingly funny responses. Did your MIL leave her filter at home just on this occasion? or is it always missing in action?

and, just to kid you, did your son write any thank you notes for the wedding presents or did you daughter-in-law write them all?

Posted by: NC lawyer | January 2, 2007 4:13 PM

to Jan 2,

Well, there is aways Mel Gibson, NO wait, ehhhhh Brad Pitt?? The guy running the car ferry?

Posted by: Fred | January 2, 2007 4:14 PM

Guilt, though a thoroughly human emotion, is not productive. I suggest that you:
-- Remember that raising a child IS work, honorable and hard work, even if no paycheck is involved. Try to make the best of the (flexible) situation you have, and use your days wisely. And ignore the snarky comments from know-nothings who put down stay-at-home mothers.
-- Consider that at some point in the future, you will likely have to go back to earning an income, and realize that the longer the break the harder it is to re-enter the workforce. So it would be wise to take up some part-time, freelance or even volunteer work to keep yourself in circulation and your professional skills sharp.
-- Make sure you hook up with a network of other parents to share ideas and company and to learn the ropes of raising a child in your particular community. Isolation is the bane of the stay-at-home mother -- and it creates too-fertile grounds for angst and guilt. (Having a network of parent friends can also help you keep in professional circulation, as mentioned above.)
-- Realize that taking time off from paid work isn't a sin. Academics take sabbaticals to refresh their brains, mountain climbers and skiers take time off from their work to pursue their passions, and so forth. As much as I love the mountains and skiing, raising a baby is a lot more important, in my opinion, than any of those other pursuits that cause people to interrupt their careers. Taking a break from paid work to raise children -- especially the first one, when the whole motherhood experience is new and mystifying -- isn't necessarily a career-killer. Nancy Pelosi was for many years a stay-at-home mother.
(Side note from one who never got the opportunity to stay home full-time with my little ones -- many of us are envious of your situation!)
Good luck.
(And p.s. to Leslie -- maybe a good idea for a future column would be a list of now-powerful and accomplished women, like Pelosi, who were stay-at-home mothers in their earlier years.)

Posted by: anon mom | January 2, 2007 4:17 PM

Bumble bumble, crs. lurk off.

Balance accross spiritual, family and work means not compartmentalizing, firewalling, gate-keeping etc. Be the ball Noonan. Shunanananannananan

Crying when you want, but trying to laugh more than cry seems a whole hell of a lot more fun. Just because you cry doesnt rank priorities sportsfans.

Eating acorns? Super image. I remember trying to whistle with an acorn. Coulnt ever get it quite right. Tasted like autumn.

Sitting with my mom on the path to school hearing the acorns drop like rain as the wind blew...

Well written thanks.

Happy New Year Everybody

Take break: dance, sing, create - at work too if you can get away with it! Some bitter pent up anger around on this blog people. Dont forget to breathe. In 1-2-3 and out 1-2-3....

Posted by: Fo3 | January 2, 2007 4:19 PM

Fred,

I've never before considered praying for a natural disaster that only strikes my house and harms no family members (with and without fur), and for my son to get his drivers license, but you've given me a whole new perspective on the upside potential for both events. Dreams can indeed come true (although, not apparantly for Michigan).

Posted by: NC lawyer | January 2, 2007 4:24 PM

I think you need to lighten up a little. First of all, who cares whether you are using your graduate degree or not? That hardly needs to be part of the equation when fashioning a life for yourself. (This is from someone who has multiple advanced degrees, some of which I use daily, others of which have been completely forgotten) You sound personally dissatisfied with your life right now, and you are chalking up to guilt. It is a bad moment to be reassessing, when the kids are under age three. They represent a hard limit on what you can do right now, but that won't be forever. One day you'll have time on your hands again (and you'll miss you son's babyhood). I think you need to find your moments of satisfaction. Life will never be perfectly balanced. Enjoy the good that you have. Work more, if you want to and can fit it in. Or don't. All of this is so fleeting ...

Posted by: tu | January 2, 2007 4:29 PM

NC Lawyer,

We are doing OK, in fact, I am suppose to be painting some windows and door trim right. Always something to do in a house.

The best news is that No. 2 daughter is not going to Iraq but to the UAE. She is in the Air Force.

Now if LSU wins, my boss will be happy!

Posted by: Fred | January 2, 2007 4:32 PM

and I'm hoping for a Wake Forest miracle tonight...

I just laughed to my MIL. At her age, she's earned the right to say whatever she wants.

And for the oldest son, that is why it is one of the reasons why it is one of the stupidest things I've ever said...when it came down to brass tacks, I immediately gender-classified...after a lifetime of fighting it. And it was tackless to boot. (by the way, neither ended up being good about writing thank you cards. sigh.) I'm sure I'll top it at some time but I'd rather it happen in some far distant future...

Posted by: dotted | January 2, 2007 4:38 PM

Fred -- Awesome news about No. 2 daughter! Along with the pride you must feel on a daily basis, I imagine you and Fredia might breathe significantly easier if she's based in the UAE. To lesser concerns, I'll root for LSU if you'll root for Wake Forest. It's a small trade that will make at least two places of employment better places to return tomorrow.

Posted by: NC lawyer | January 2, 2007 4:41 PM

Yea, I was in Nam in 71-72, no fun.

But my favorite college, Slippery Rock, is not in any bowl games!

Posted by: Fred | January 2, 2007 4:51 PM

Thanks for all the supportive and provocative comments. They have given me a lot of food for thought.

And dotted, love the MIL comment. When I took my son to a babysitter for a few hours, mine told me that it was OK, he probably wouldn't remember. Lovely!

Posted by: Alexandra | January 2, 2007 4:58 PM

Alas, Fred, Slippery Rock is yet another delightful school subject to characterization as a c.s.s. It is your favorite because . . .?

Post obtaining my undergrad degree from that fine c.s.s. in Virginia, I attended a private college which spun its perpetual lack of bowl-calibre teams as indicative of its commitment to academics. Perhaps Slippery Rock can use the same appealing bunch of phoootey to explain its absence from the BCS system. (Blogs do force us to be creative with our word choices, don't they?)

Posted by: NC lawyer | January 2, 2007 5:00 PM

Hey Alexandra, one last thing. Be kind to yourself.

Posted by: moxiemom | January 2, 2007 5:02 PM

"And other posters are entitled to comment on the values and assumptions that seem to underlie your opinions and anecdotal observations"

Well I disagree..obviously these other posters do not know my values or what I am assuming. They are only superimposing their own prejudices upon my post. Pretty sad. Many of you need to get a life and off this blog.

Posted by: another anon | January 2, 2007 5:07 PM

I love Slippery Rock only because of its name! I don't even know where it is! I did know a guy whose college team played S.R. in the Tidey Bowl.


(yea, it is in PA)

Posted by: Fred | January 2, 2007 5:11 PM

well, another anon, speaking of "getting a life", at least the rest of us are not feeling so superior about all of our parenting choices that we feel the need to badmouth to strangers on a blog the choices of entire swathes of women in our own neighborhoods. You can disagree 'til the cows come home, as they say, and you'll still come across as defensive and disdainful. We know your values by the way you express your thoughts and the nastiness of your tone. When you have a positive comment to share, feel free to rejoin us, but you might have to actually bear some feedback from the plebeians.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 2, 2007 5:18 PM

But Fredia did lose some breast pumps in Katrina. Just my stubborn insistence that we pack the car with less valuable things like the computer, the photo albums and the younger son.

I did buy a new car last year but only becaue some bozo stole my old one. So, like I say dreams can come true in ways you don't expect them to do so.

Posted by: Fred | January 2, 2007 5:40 PM

"We know your values by the way you express your thoughts and the nastiness of your tone"

Wow, you are amazing...you can detect tone in a written statement! And it is not up to you to invite or disinvite others. Who made you the queen of the blog.

I do not feel the need to defend myself. It seems to me that there are a lot of unhappy people such as yourself out there who choose to attack others instead of looking into themselves for the nastiness that really inside themselves.

I am entitled to my opinions based on my experience and anecdotes. Perhaps you see yourself in these anecdotes and lashout at the messenger. Recognize it for what it is.

Posted by: another anon | January 2, 2007 5:50 PM

Ah, Fred, I'm betting that even the best of insurance policies doesn't exactly make you whole. I'm glad you opted for retaining the younger son, hee, hee. I'm dreaming of an ACC win tonight, just so GOd doesn't feel boxed in by a more narrow request. Ha!

Posted by: NC lawyer | January 2, 2007 5:51 PM

another anon, entitlement seems to be your only topic of the day. since you're spoiling for a fight and swinging at ghosts online, please don't kick the dog.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 2, 2007 5:53 PM

I reread my original post and I did not at all attack Alexandra. I think you people read what you want to into people's posts and then go off about some imagined slight. Geez, telling someone that they obviously need a change and perhaps couseling (she sounds depressed) is not an attack.

Posted by: another anon | January 2, 2007 5:54 PM

Kicking the female dogs seems more like it....

Posted by: Anonymous | January 2, 2007 5:56 PM

another anon, if you are the same anonymous poster who posted at 3:18 (and how would we know) and to whom Scarry responded, your statement was, "I know women who SAH who have started businesses or do charity work who do not hover over their children like the mothers (like Alexandra) who feel they need to be at their kid's beck and call 24/7." then criticizing Alexandra's mode of parenting certainly qualifies as "an attack on Alexandra."

One or two posters have suggested that you might consider being more precise in your criticism of certain parenting behaviors instead of painting all moms within range with the same broad brush, but you're doing the same thing in this arena in post after post. In response to your spot on suggestion, What say you recognize your increasingly strident comments directed at "you people" for what they are -- insecure and defensive.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 2, 2007 6:08 PM

Alexandra,
My heart goes out to you when you say you cry over your lost career. I had to give up a great career for reasons beyond my control (for different reasons than having a child, though) and had to start a new career from scratch. The loss of my first career is still a great source of sadness. Now, my new career is sort of taking off (finally), and I now have reawakened my ambitions from my first career and hope to start pursuing it on my own time -- but as an avocation, not necessarily for money. It has been a long struggle, based on knowing in my heart what I want my life to be about in the long run. All in all, I hope you can be true to yourself. That is the best example to set for your son. He should be happy to have a happy mom, even if she has a career, as long as you are there for him for the important things -- by that, I mean that when he faces a real problem, you will listen, guide him, and take appropriate action. If you struggle with guilt issues, may I recommend an old out-of-print book "The Art of Selfishness." It explores how to be true to yourself from various angles when faced with conflicting demands.

Posted by: Diane, Baltimore | January 2, 2007 6:35 PM

Were you really letting your kid eat acorns, or was this a metaphor that I didn't get?

Posted by: DC | January 3, 2007 11:02 AM

If I came to your house today and demanded that you give me your child, that you could only see him once a month, what would you feel? Well, that is what you will feel when your son is 18 years old and about to go to college. You won't feel any happier about it. Knowing this, enjoy the hell out of every moment you have with this baby. You want to pay off your student loan? Work on weekends while hubby bonds with him. When he's in elementary school, he can use the afterschool care and you can have your full time job then. Guess what? He'll be in elementary school in 5 years. Take him to places you would want to go for the next 5 years...museums, gardens, parks. He'll love being there just because he's with you. Plan ahead with diapers, food, a place to nap, etc., so that he'll be comfortable. Don't waste this unparalled time.

Posted by: mcleangirl | January 3, 2007 12:37 PM

I gave up my career and start working out of my home so I could spend more time with my son. At first it was really rough--I think I was able to contribute $16.75 to the monthly kitty (I run a website/blog and sold stuff on ebay for a profit that I found in local antique shops).

Things are much better now. I make a significant amount on google ads and work when I want and can jump up to see my son when needed. It's not the same amount as I made before (though more than many people make full time), but I definitely feel a sense of worth contributing something and has eased the financial pressure a bit.

As a writer, there is really very little stopping you from continuing to write. That you don't have an audience (yet) shouldn't stop you--you can build one like 1,000s of others have done (i.e. Time Magazine's person of the year). Think about it...

Posted by: Bloggrllls | January 8, 2007 1:58 PM

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 

© 2007 The Washington Post Company