Bonbons and Lattes

Welcome to the "On Balance" 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 Send me your original, unpublished entry (300 words or fewer) for consideration. Writers need to use their full names. Obviously, the topic should be something related to balancing your life.

By Linda Nazareth

The at-home moms spent the morning eating bonbons while I was at work, I said, sarcastically to myself. No wonder they got here first.”

At least that's what part of me wanted to snap when my daughter said I was the last mom to arrive for kindergarten pick up.

What I really said was, "“Hey, I missed all the lights, okay? And school was over like four minutes ago."

I rolled my eyes and she rolled hers back.

My sarcasm about at-home moms aside, I know that my daughter gets plenty of time and attention even though I work. My patchwork career of television, writing and consulting is an ideal way to have a career while being a hands-on parent.

I'Â’d urge more moms (and dads) to try the patchwork approach to juggling kids and work. For all the insecurity of income and loss of benefits, there are compensations. True, I have to get up around 4:30 a.m., but if I scramble I'Â’m there to pick her up every day when school lets out, and for swimming lessons and play dates, too. I have afternoon leisure--my private version of bonbons. It probably sounds sinfully decadent and just plain wrong if youÂ’'re used to a corporate environment.

Of course, some days are better than others. Picture -- —on top of late pick up--trying to convince an almost five-year-old that you need to revise a presentation because your client really wants it that afternoon. Could we maybe skip picking up your new skates? And could you be super-quiet for an hour while I work? Honey, please?

I got a cheerful "No way”!" to the first, and an "Okay, I'll try" pledge to the second. For a moment I pictured traditional working moms at the office, sitting in serenity and sipping an afternoon latte picked up from Starbucks. Anybody could get a presentation done in that environment. I'm not sure everyone could revise a presentation for a client in the car on the way to the ice rink.

This is more or less the way I planned to combine work and motherhood. Still, I wonder about the stay-at-home and working moms endlessly drinking lattes and eating bonbons in my imagination. Are they living the lives they planned? Are you?

I didn'Â’t say any of that to my daughter, either. I picked up her hand and she skipped as we headed to the car.

Linda Nazareth is an economist and the author of The Leisure Economy: How Changing Demographics, Economics and Generational Attitudes Will Reshape Our Lives and Our Industries from John Wiley & Sons.

By Leslie Morgan Steiner |  February 12, 2008; 7:00 AM ET  | Category:  Guest Blogs
Previous: The Hillary Effect on Young Girls | Next: Beer for Teens?


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.



I do get a bit tired of the stereotype that SAHM drink coffee and eat bon-bons all day. I am just as tired of the stereotype that mother who work outside the home are so productive all the time.

If the individual is not motivated to do any job or is just plain lazy, she, he or it will find a way to goof off at work, home or anywhere in-between.

Posted by: Fred | February 12, 2008 8:04 AM

and BTW, First!

Posted by: Fred | February 12, 2008 8:06 AM

I second Fred's comments.

I had a different experience with the patchwork lifestyle. I only gave it about a year, so it may not have been a fair test, but I found freelancing wasn't working as well for me as I thought.

I thought I too could be more "hands on" as a parent but instead the fuzzy boundaries - hearing my son misbehaving with his nanny downstairs; returning calls during naps; working until 2 am to get up with him at 6 - didn't work that well.

I found that my so-called hands on time was mostly me being frazzled. Getting back on a payroll where the work is slightly less "feast or famine" and where I know how much is coming in so I know how much childcare I can afford resolved that for me, for now.

I also find that when I'm not working I'm much more able to put it aside and just - play, without running through my to-do list mentally all the time.

I may make another run at it when he is older and in school and able to play by himself more, though. But I just wanted to share my experience that the patchwork life for me and my personally was not as idyllic as it looked on the outside.

Posted by: shandra_lemarath | February 12, 2008 8:19 AM

Ahhh, the grass is always greener. I have a single friend with no kids who is living the life of Riley. 3 months abroad, safari in Kenya, cool DC job..... She however looks at my marriage with kids with much the same longing.

So, there we sit, peering over the fence at each other; each imagining that the other's existance is far more wonderful and free of flaws than the our own. If we look too long - we will miss the very joys that the other so covets.

Posted by: moxiemom1 | February 12, 2008 8:57 AM

I don't think either life is idyllic. I also think kids will rail us about anything. Your daughter would be complaining if your SAHM and was 4 minutes late. It isn't as if SAHM are always on time. Some times an emergency happens as your about to walk out the door. Sahke it off. Your daughter is fine.

Posted by: foamgnome | February 12, 2008 9:04 AM

A Fredism (pls acknowledge Fred, if only silently, when you use this.)

The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence. The water bill is also higher!

Posted by: Fred | February 12, 2008 9:04 AM

I give this discussion about 10 more posts befor it turns into another "stay at home parents vs. work outside the home parents" debate.

Posted by: dennis5 | February 12, 2008 9:05 AM

Hey, can I have a "patchwork career of television, writing and consulting" too? Let's all do that!
Everybody who works in a job that requires your physical presence at certain hours of the day- quit, and do "television, writing and consulting!" Never mind that we won't have any more doctors, nurses, police officers, teachers....

Posted by: acornacorn | February 12, 2008 9:08 AM

It's harder to be either a SAHP or a working parent if you are not semi-organized.

Personally, I am infinitely grateful to the powers-that-be that have already posted the 2008-2009 school schedule on the internet. I've already signed up for planned days off in November and December, for example.

If there is a SAHP who can figure out a way to sip lattes and eat bon-bons while holding down the fort and dealing with all the "last-minute because you're at home and available" nonsense that family, friends and neighbours throw at you exists--well, congratulations! I'd like to know where you picked up your power panties, and find a pair in MY size.

Otherwise, I figure we're all WORKING parents. Some of us don't have a paying job (in which case, I certainly hope that the wage-earner agrees that a fully-funded IRA is a given, and follows through on that committment).

Okay, serious question. Which would you prefer, Wonder Woman's power panties and anti-gravity bra, or her "Rope of Truth"? I figure I need the rope more than the underoos.

Anyone?

Posted by: maryland_mother | February 12, 2008 9:12 AM

To me...my life is about as ideal as it can get. It's not "patchwork"--instead, I have two very separate worlds. And I can relax and be productive in each BECAUSE they don't collide.

I work full time as a professional manager--but my workload is very reasonable. I always get to leave on-time--and when I'm done at work, I'm done!!!! Nothing to think about. Nothing to take home. Just pure family time. And when I need to take off of work--whether it's because I'm a room mom and my son's class is having a Valentine's Party. Or, we're on a week-long vacation, I don't have to check email or voicemail, no one from work is going to call me on my cell phone--it's purely MY TIME to be with my family.

The idea of merging stuff, and letting all parts of my life collide sounds EXHAUSTING! I think it's much easier to have two worlds--and when I'm off duty from work, I'm OFF!

Posted by: kattoo | February 12, 2008 9:20 AM

hi moxiemom -- agree you summed it up: the grass is always greener as you imagine how wonderful someone else's life is...

and kattoo -- interesting post. there is a professor at wharton who studies whether people are "mergers" or "separators" when it comes to work and life (she uses different terms but i forget exactly what they are). her research shows that it makes people miserable to try a lifestyle that is the opposite of their personality. neither is right or wrong -- you just have to find out whether you like to mix work, kids and life all together or keep them fairly separate.

Posted by: leslie4 | February 12, 2008 9:29 AM

The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence. The water bill is also higher!

Posted by: Fred | February 12, 2008 09:04 AM

Right said Fred! Sounds like something my dad would say. I trust that Frieda is continuing to do well! Good vibes coming your way.

Posted by: moxiemom1 | February 12, 2008 9:46 AM

"My patchwork career of television, writing and consulting is an ideal way to have a career while being a hands-on parent....I'd urge more moms (and dads) to try the patchwork approach to juggling kids and work. For all the insecurity of income and loss of benefits, there are compensations."

Sounds great--where do I sign up?

As for the notion of a SAHM parent who has time to sip lattes and eat bon-bons, I know dozens of them. This is a direct quote from a SAHM friend recently, when I commented that, even though I used to be a SAHM, I don't know what I'd do with my time if I were to quit working now: "Oh, I am so busy all the time. I play tennis, get my nails done, go shopping--I'm always busy." She said it with utter sincerity and not a hint of sarcasm--to her and many other women I know, even if they are sipping lattes and eating bon bons they think they're actually working as hard--or harder than--their husbands who have it easy going to work all day, every day.

One woman I know used to complain endlessly about how, even though her kids were in school all day, 5 days a week, having a cleaning lady once a week was just not enough--she really needed someone at least twice a week. She was also totally indignant that her husband expected her to make dinner and do laundry--didn't he realize how busy she was? Ultimately, this was the same woman who hooked up with the 27 year old tennis pro--and whose husband knew about it but stayed married to her and continued to support her in the same style, but I digress.

Forget the power panties and anti-gravity bra--I'll take the tummy tuck and breast lift.

Posted by: maggielmcg | February 12, 2008 10:01 AM

along the lines of "the grass is always greener" someone once said, don't ever judge the inside of a person by how he or she looks on the outside. agreed.

Posted by: leslie4 | February 12, 2008 10:02 AM

I agree with all who said "the grass is always greener..."

SAHP or working parent we are really busy, tired and at times overwhelmed by what is by far the most difficult job in the world...raising our kids!

Posted by: michelewilson | February 12, 2008 10:04 AM

Amen, Kattoo. That's exactly how my life is. I work full time, but once I'm off, I'm off (by 4:00 every day). I don't think about work stuff while I'm at home. The evenings are: help with homework, cook dinner, sports practices, a little laundry/tv/reading and bed.

If I had to figure out a way to get work stuff done during that time, it would be horrible.

My philosophy is that I'm at work for 8 hours so I use those 8 hours productively and get everything done that I can. But my home time is mine and my family's.

To me, life is much easier with well defined boundaries.

Posted by: cheerio | February 12, 2008 10:07 AM

P.S. And this sounds like a nightmare to me: "I'd urge more moms (and dads) to try the patchwork approach to juggling kids and work."

Just personal preference, but this sounds like making life harder, not easier.

Posted by: cheerio | February 12, 2008 10:11 AM

I also think that, in general, any work/kids juggling act is easier (and with fewer financial pressures) when you only have one kid to juggle. the one-kid approach is not for everyone (including me) but it would definitely be easier, patchwork or fulltime or whatever.

Posted by: leslie4 | February 12, 2008 10:26 AM

I'm not sure if the "one kid" comment is directed at me or not, but I have two kids. Both are very active in sports.

Posted by: cheerio | February 12, 2008 10:34 AM

Maybe I am hanging out with different kinds of moms, but I don't know any stay at homes who sit around eating bonbons all day. Then again, even if they were, who cares?

Posted by: tsouderos | February 12, 2008 10:34 AM

I normally enjoy these blog entries, but this one is pretty lame.

I'm glad this lifestyle works for the author. But dare I say most jobs don't easily lend themselves to a "patchwork" approach. For example, my profession, the law, really isn't easily adapted to such a work/life schedule.

My attempt at balance is to take a huge pay cut in favor of flexibility and be a government lawyer.

I don't idealize SAHM's or WOHM's. I assume everyone's doing the best they can for their family regardless of their particular choices.

Posted by: hockeyfan1 | February 12, 2008 10:39 AM

I think a lot depends on what you do.

Some kinds of work lend themselves to that patchwork better than others.


Posted by: RedBird27 | February 12, 2008 10:42 AM

I think the stay at home mom with a bonbon habit is a myth. I have family and friends in those neighborhoods with all the kids running around and the stay at home mommies hanging out on the front porch steps in conversation with one another or otherwise soaking up a life of leisure. If they are eating a diet of bonbons, I don't know where all the calories are going, but it sure doesn't seem to be reaching their waistlines. How about a new term - stay at home hotty. You wouldn't mind being called that, would you Moxiemom?

Posted by: DandyLion | February 12, 2008 10:42 AM

Maggie - wow, just wow! I forwarded your message to DW. She grew up in a part of Rockville that's now more commonly called "North Bethesda". She said people like you described are referred to as "having more dollars than sense."

When DW decided to become a SAHM, we had a second-grader, a kindergartner, a four year old and a newborn. Her days were filled with getting kids up, getting them ready for school, getting the school aged kids out of the house, keeping up with the newborn while trying to interact with the four year old, trying to keep the house passably clean, trying to keep everybody fed, doing grocery shopping whenever she could, and doing about 22 loads of laundry a week. (Yes, we kept track - see yesterday's discussion about my anal tendencies. :-) Yes, I helped when I could, but that was a point in my career when I was doing a lot of traveling.

So what was the difference when she was a WOHM with the newborn? Well, she hated her job, so the stress level was very high. She pretty much gave up on cleaning the house at all; it was pretty rough (and that caused more stress). She had the day-care center taking care of the newborn and four year old, and the kindergartner after school, so she did the grocery shopping and errand-running at lunchtime or between leaving work and pick-up time. And I did a lot more - but at the cost of stagnating in my career, because I couldn't travel or accept a bunch of other work assignments.

Posted by: ArmyBrat | February 12, 2008 10:43 AM

Army Brat: I worked in Bethesda proper for years -- lots of moms like that out and about when I was on my lunch hour. (My boss' wife was one -- at one point we figured out they had part-time nanny and cleaning person and yet all we ever heard was how "stressful" things were at home. Our money was on the personalities of all parties involved. :-)

Posted by: tntkate | February 12, 2008 10:53 AM

"Linda Nazareth is an economist and the author of 'The Leisure Economy: How Changing Demographics, Economics and Generational Attitudes Will Reshape Our Lives and Our Industries' from John Wiley & Sons."

Eh? Let's see how "changing demographics, economics and generational attitudes" will let us do without coal miners, Mounted Police, and airline pilots.

"My patchwork career of television, writing and consulting is an ideal way to have a career while being a hands-on parent.
I'd urge more moms (and dads) to try the patchwork approach to juggling kids and work."

by Linda Nazareth | February 12, 2008; 7:00 AM ET

Get the elevator to take you to the top of the shaft at noon so you can pick up your kid from kindergarten. Then drive back to the mine with her and her little friends so they can play in the tunnel while you're mining coal. Make sure your child's school is near your beat, so you can get her at noon and let her ride behind you on your horse all afternoon while you chase bad guys. No long flights from East to Western sea -- schedule only morning and afternoon flights, so you'll be back at your home aerodrome after your morning flight in time to pick your kid and his buddies up at noon and let them play in the aisles during your afternoon flight.


Posted by: MattInAberdeen | February 12, 2008 10:53 AM

"wow, just wow!"

ArmyBrat: Have you been reading Henry and Mudge books to your kids?

Posted by: kattoo | February 12, 2008 10:58 AM

I also think that, in general, any work/kids juggling act is easier (and with fewer financial pressures) when you only have one kid to juggle. the one-kid approach is not for everyone (including me) but it would definitely be easier, patchwork or fulltime or whatever.

Posted by: leslie4 | February 12, 2008 10:26 AM

We have just one kid--and I totally agree!

Posted by: kattoo | February 12, 2008 10:59 AM

You wouldn't mind being called that, would you Moxiemom?


Posted by: DandyLion | February 12, 2008 10:42 AM

Call me whatever you want, just don't call me late for dinner! Whatever you are selling Dandy Lion, I'm buying!

I'll say this re: the relative leisure of SAHMs. When the children are not in school it is a very difficult (both physically and mentally) undertaking to care for the children and the home. Once they are in school full time there is more freedom to manage your own time, you choose to be busy or not - but your work re: the children just shifts to a 3-9pm work day, something that I realize WOHMs do on top of their regular jobs. I would say that being a SAHM is easier if you are happy being a SAHM or you hate your job. If you enjoy your work, then being a SAHM would not be easier.

I do expect more of myself around the house now that the children are in school. The house is cleaner, the meals are more varied and yummier, I actually iron things now. I am also able to indulge (if that's the term you like) in my own interests which include more reading, woodworking and volunteering with a group that helps families during down times (finally, my stellar secretarial skills are appreciated!). As I've said before, I think, for our family at least, things are softer around the edges this way. I'm less stressed, my husband is less stressed and when we are with the kids we aren't distracted by things we have or haven't done. Works for us.

Posted by: moxiemom1 | February 12, 2008 11:03 AM

What is always absent from this discussion is the realization that for the vast majority of parents, having one non-income-producing adult at home is simply not a viable option, no matter how much less stressful it would be.

Posted by: hockeyfan1 | February 12, 2008 11:11 AM

hockeyfan1 - actually, that's not "always missing" - in fact, it's always brought up.

(dennis5 predicted back at 9:05 that this would degenerate into another version of SAHP vs WOHP. It's taken more than the 10 posts he predicted, but we're probably heading there.)

Posted by: ArmyBrat | February 12, 2008 11:22 AM

being at home with kids is a strange combination of stress and boredom. i have a lot of both right now because i have had sick kids at home and the virus keeps spreading -- one gets better and then the school nurse calls about another one...sure i'm next.

Posted by: leslie4 | February 12, 2008 11:24 AM

you know, this isn't actually a bad post. i think the author missed what SHOULD have been its main, and fully valid, point. instead of being titled "Bonbons", it should have been titled, "How to Suck It Up and Behave Like an Adult with your Kid Instead of Saying Idiotic Things."

and actually, the author did a good job: her kid said something which made her defensive, she thought of an immediate comeback denigrating another group so she'd feel better about herself, BUT she didn't say it! because she's an adult doing a decent job parenting her kid, and decent parents learn to suck it up and NOT say the things they want to say.

now THIS could actually lead to a decent discussion of what things your kids say that trigger you to want to say idiotic things, and how you prevent yourself. (or perhaps people could give "bad parent" examples of overheard discussions between other parents and their kids, when the parents did NOT exhibit such self-control.

Posted by: newslinks1 | February 12, 2008 11:30 AM

I have to agree with hockeyfan1. These discussions sound as if you have all of these options to choose from. But sometimes, you are simply doing what you have to do to pay the bills and sock some money away for the future (if you are that lucky to be able to do that).

For us, doing what we have to do is pretty complicated and sure isn't giving us a lot of family time. The three parents work varying shifts so that one parent is always available to take care of the children (child care? who can afford that when one parent makes $6.50 an hour before taxes?) This means that two of us work at jobs that we hate and one of us works evenings and may be switching to working overnight to get full-time work. I expect to see this kind of scheduling for the next 2+ years until the youngest is in school.

All flexibility means for us is survival. There are no happy pictures of taking off early to spend quality time with children. Taking off early for me means that I get to pick up the ex and the kids to take them to a local mall to do the car switcheroo so that my husband can take her to work (and then go home with the kids) and I can continue on to my second job with some hope that I can get there with more than 15 minutes to eat my supper before going on the floor to sell.

Or flexibility means that my husband gets to work Saturday AND Sunday so he can take the kids Thursday night while the ex and I work. It was the only shift available to him if he wanted to get off of Thursday night.

Don't get me wrong. I am grateful that my first job allows me some flexibility so I can leave when I need to. I am also grateful that the boss at my second job and my husband's job was flexible enough to rearrange our schedule so neither of us worked at the same time during the week. We wouldn't be surviving without that flexibility.

But we don't have the luxury of making choices of whether or not one of us gets to stay home. We don't even have the luxury of changing jobs to work at something we might like because it doesn't have the required flexibility to survive.

I am sorry if this sounds like a rant but it does bug me a bit that people talk about these things like they are choices... maybe for some... but not for all of us.

Posted by: Billie_R | February 12, 2008 11:41 AM

"I would say that being a SAHM is easier if you are happy being a SAHM or you hate your job. If you enjoy your work, then being a SAHM would not be easier."

Ding ding ding ding! Once again, MoxieMom hits the nail on the head. Same thing with the "patchwork" vs. "structure" bit: if you're trying to fit your life into something that isn't who you are, you're going to be miserable.

This column really bugged me. First with the completely unrealistic fantasizing about how much easier other folks have it on both sides. "Anyone" can work in a nice office full of peace and quiet and lattes? Dang, I really gotta get me one of those. Working would be MUCH easier if it weren't for these darn clients calling all the time and expecting me to drop everything for THEIR crisis du jour. :-)

But the part that really gets me is the whole "wow, I must be really great to manage everything despite all this chaos." "Everyone" can't do what you do? Ummm, really hate to disappoint you, but most everyone I know deals with stuff like this. You wrote a presentation from the car? Big whoop. I'll see you the back seat of the car and raise you editing a brief while home with the flu and a sick toddler. And even if it were true, ummmm, so what? It makes you better somehow? And that's critical to your happiness why, exactly?

IT'S NOT A COMPETITION. Building yourself up by tearing other people down went out in, like, junior high. If what you're doing works for you, most excellent. If it doesn't, and if you have a choice, then choose something else. But be happy and content with your own successes and triumphs. When you achieve under tough circumstances, that in and of itself is fantastic -- regardless of whether your neighbor has it easier or harder.

Posted by: laura33 | February 12, 2008 11:44 AM

Off topic but I am curious:
Do you ask people to remove their shoes when they come in to your house?

Follow-up question:
Do you prefer hardwood floors or carpeting?

Posted by: KLB_SS_MD | February 12, 2008 11:59 AM

KLB:

I don't think I have had to ask. People normally just take off their shoes with asking.

I prefer hardware, tile or cork flooring over carpet. I find carpeting hard to keep clean and fluffy with pets and kids and even the big kids in the house.

Posted by: Billie_R | February 12, 2008 12:13 PM

"(dennis5 predicted back at 9:05 that this would degenerate into another version of SAHP vs WOHP. It's taken more than the 10 posts he predicted, but we're probably heading there.)"

I'm not trying to start a debate. My point was that for most people, there is no debate. They just do what they have to do, which involves working.

I have no problem with those who are able to have one parent stay at home. I think it's great.

Posted by: hockeyfan1 | February 12, 2008 12:14 PM

KLB: ix-nay on asking for shoe removal, unless we happen to know that the shoes in question are muddy. Let's just say that I grew up with some people whose shoes you didn't necessarily want removed in front of you.

Re flooring: DW prefers hardwood or cork. I prefer carpet. So we have hardwood and cork, with tile in the rooms where that's most practical.

Posted by: ArmyBrat | February 12, 2008 12:24 PM

"I'd like to know where you picked up your power panties, and find a pair in MY size"

Me too, me too! I'll take the power panties, you can have the Rope of Truth.

As usual, I am in complete admiration of moxiemom, in this case for taking the exact opposite approach of the guest blogger - appreciating what you've got without feeling the need to endlessly criticize other people's choices. Falsely romanticizing SAHP and "regular" WOHP so you can then tear them down for having such less-difficult lives than you is a game you are sure to lose in the end.

Posted by: LizaBean | February 12, 2008 12:28 PM

I will go one step farther than LizaBean and say that appreciating what you have goes farther than just SAH parents vs WOH parents. Look at single vs married. With children vs without. Big city life vs suburbia. Each has it's ups and downs and isn't for everyone.

Posted by: KLB_SS_MD | February 12, 2008 12:38 PM

Golly LizBean, thanks! You made my day. You and Dandy Lion are my favorite people today!

KLB - If it is someone I know well and I just mopped or it is wet outside, then yes. Any other guest in my home is free to do whatever makes them comfortable! I prefer hardword or tile to carpet. Much easier to keep clean. I like something that I can wash, esp. with cats and kids.

Posted by: moxiemom1 | February 12, 2008 12:42 PM

Note to self: Do not trifle with laura today.

Posted by: mn.188 | February 12, 2008 12:48 PM

Right MN, Laura doesn't seem to be her usual happy Mamma bear self today.

I like a house with 50% carpeting and 50% exposed hardwood floors. I like the ambient sound that the hardwood floors project over the muffled sound that wall to wall carpeting produces.

But when playing horsey with the rugrats, crawling over hardwood floors is not my idea of fun. things also break easier on hardwood, but then when my daughter was crawling around on the rug that we put over the floor when she had reflux, yuck!

Just can't have everything my way..

Posted by: DandyLion | February 12, 2008 1:15 PM

I hope the kids recover soon, Leslie. I also hope (in vain, no doubt) that you don't get their disease.

Thanks LizaBean, I think I'd find that rope more useful anyway.

That's right kids...take more of that line...because I'm going to tie you to chairs and get the information out of you one way or another, eventually! Then you'll be sorry.

Ahh, memories. Siblings united in trying to pull the wool over parental eyes. At least they will have that to remember as adults.

Hardwood is my preference. Between the kids, the mud, the dogs, the dirt, and my husband's "less than charming" habit of busting up kindling and even splitting pieces of wood at the fireside, on the ONE carpeted room in our house.

I ask you, how in the world can anyone view that as a reasonable thing to do? It's a terrible mess, difficult to clean, a real vacuum-killer.

Okay, another suggestion for "how to rile up friends and family".

Upright vacuums, or canisters?

I prefer the canister type.

Posted by: maryland_mother | February 12, 2008 1:24 PM

"I would say that being a SAHM is easier if you are happy being a SAHM or you hate your job. If you enjoy your work, then being a SAHM would not be easier."

This is why DH stays home. I love my work (although I love staying home too), but DH both is happier staying home and did not enjoy his paid work. He is a great father, and from 5 to 8:30 pm and on weekends, I am a great mother. For us, it's a great blend that reduces the hecticness of family life while maximizing the rich, beautiful parts of parenting. I do miss having the kids "just to myself" sometimes, so I'll probably start stealing the kids from DH on Saturday afternoons once we're done moving.

I have often said that I am not living the life I planned. I am living the life I dreamed. Having a man who values family and the home enough to make them his main work is a wonderful thing, and being in a situation where we have that choice is great. I love that I can do my hobby for eight hours a day, get paid, and then go home to my family for a few hours of fun and bonding . . . and screaming, and yelling, and tantrums and messes. Did I mention we have toddlers? LOL.

We are moving to a home with hardwood downstairs, carpet upstairs. My ideal. Hardwood in the areas that get the most mess - the entries from outside and the kitchen and dining room. Carpet in the areas where we'll be horsing around before bed. We'll probably have a "no shoes" rule and provide slippers for people to wear.

Posted by: ethele | February 12, 2008 1:33 PM

klb, I like hardwood and cork. We are putting cork flooring in the kitchen and laundry room later this month. Cannot wait. Quieter than hardwood, semi-green, etc.

Regarding the guest blog, I've got nothing to say. I have become so sick of my own introspection that I'm working very hard at being more shallow. It gets to the point some days where I am literally sick of myself and need some air. :)

Posted by: WorkingMomX | February 12, 2008 1:35 PM

"and screaming, and yelling, and tantrums and messes. Did I mention we have toddlers?"

ethel, I'm sorry - I was thinking you had teens. :-)

Posted by: ArmyBrat | February 12, 2008 1:39 PM

WorkingMomX - you crack me up!
Maryland_mother - I hate vacuum cleaners of all kinds. You are either pulling a heaving lump behind you or pushing something in front of you that doesn't fit under anything. I especially hate the canisters since one attacked me on the stairs as I was vacuuming them - it fell off the step and hit me on the head, knocking me down the last five stairs like a slinky. I ended up on my butt up against the wall with the darned thing in my lap.

Posted by: KLB_SS_MD | February 12, 2008 1:39 PM

I thought everyone had said it all today until KLB's story about a vacuum 'cleaning her out'

or did the vacuum learn that trick from your dog?

Posted by: dotted_1 | February 12, 2008 1:45 PM

hard wood floors with area rugs, please.

we had a fire in nyc caused by an overheated canister vaccuum put back too soon in the hall closet. killed both cats. so that's an easy choice for me --

back to the topic: the trick is to acknowledge how your life stinks (at times, in certain ways) without being an annoying, god-awful polyanna the way our culture pressures us to be. at the same time it's also critical to be grateful that your life doesn't stink as much as it could. this is the key to work-life happiness. you've got to own up to how hard your life is some days (because everybody's life is hard) and be happy it is not as hard as others.

you can always find people who have it better, and worse, than you do. the important thing is to remember both sides of the equation.

Posted by: leslie4 | February 12, 2008 1:52 PM

the trick is to acknowledge how your life stinks (at times, in certain ways)

AKA: it's your turn to take a bite out of the sh*tte sandwich that life periodically provides!

Tastes better with mustard, I think. Or with a hot mango pickle.

Posted by: maryland_mother | February 12, 2008 1:58 PM

Eh, sorry, DandyLion, MN -- yeah, it's been a rough couple of weeks (really HATE the flu and hate travel, so when they combine, all bets are off). Guess I'm unexpectedly cranky today. So I'll go focus the negative energy on annoying client stuff and spare y'all. :-)

Posted by: laura33 | February 12, 2008 2:02 PM

Oh, don't do that Laura - it's kind of fun to see you all wound up :)

Posted by: LizaBean | February 12, 2008 2:06 PM

«Do you ask people to remove their shoes when they come in to your house?»
«Posted by: KLB_SS_MD | February 12, 2008 11:59 AM »

Shoes, polite people know to remove them, put them next to shoes of other visitors, at doorway.

«Follow-up question:
Do you prefer hardwood floors or carpeting?»

Wood, this is stronger for standing, for walking. Rug, this is softer for prayer.

«Five times a day,
Five times a day,
Allah hears us pray,
Allah hears us pray:
Fajr before the sun comes up,
Zhuhr at the height of the noonday sun,
`Asr prayer in the afternoon,
Maghrib after the sun goes down,
`Isha' when it's all dark outside --
Five times a day!»

Posted by: abu_ibrahim | February 12, 2008 2:07 PM

Laura,
It is nice to hear someone else gripe for a change - at work it is usually me.

Posted by: KLB_SS_MD | February 12, 2008 2:08 PM

I make people take their shoes off when they come in my house. We also just recently went from carpeting to hardwood floors and I like them a lot better.

Posted by: sharonw | February 12, 2008 2:15 PM

Aw Leslie, nothing like a dead cat story to bum me out.

Laura, in an attempt to make things seem not so bad for yourself , I'll give you afew words.

About 20 years ago when I was losing my vision, I used to wake up before work and do the "finger test" to see if I could make it in. Finger test? That's when I turned the light on and held up 2 fingers a foot away from my nose. If I could see them, I could make it to work.

Thank God I'll never have to do that again!

Posted by: DandyLion | February 12, 2008 2:18 PM

"I make people take their shoes off when they come in my house."

Okay, I'm coming up with a visual of you wrestling them off of their feet if they decline to follow your wishes.

I can't imagine that's actually the case though! But if it is, do you provide slippers?

Posted by: maryland_mother | February 12, 2008 2:29 PM

How many kids realistically need to be picked up by car by their very own parent every single day after school?

And what percentage of that time should kids be given a choice as to how their afternoons/evenings will go in terms of picking up "fun stuff"?

Posted by: EmeraldEAD | February 12, 2008 2:31 PM

We take off our shoes in our home as well. Most guests pick up on it when they see the shoe rack in the hallway. But I don't force people to do it. I think extended family members know to do it in our home. But I have this friend that has a sign on the floor in their front hall that asks people to take off their shoes. Get this. You can't even leave your shoes in the hallway. He wants them to be left on their front stoop. Even in the winter. I think that is a bit much. Floors can take the occassional guest with shoes on.

Posted by: foamgnome | February 12, 2008 2:33 PM

"How many kids realistically need to be picked up by car by their very own parent every single day after school?"

Only those who have to be driven in with their large instrument for the school orchestra because the county REFUSES to let the kid take it on the bus!

Not that I'm bitter, of course.

At least it's every other day, but still it's a major pain in the @ss. Why couldn't the child love the bassoon, or the french horn, or a viola half as well?

*sighs*

Posted by: maryland_mother | February 12, 2008 2:35 PM

"But I have this friend that has a sign on the floor in their front hall that asks people to take off their shoes. Get this. You can't even leave your shoes in the hallway. He wants them to be left on their front stoop. Even in the winter."

I don't think idiosyncratic covers this very well. That's kind of mean-spirited.

Posted by: maryland_mother | February 12, 2008 2:37 PM

MM:He is kind of weird. He has lots of issues with all sorts of stuff.

Posted by: foamgnome | February 12, 2008 2:40 PM

" "He wants them to be left on their front stoop. Even in the winter."

I don't think idiosyncratic covers this very well. That's kind of mean-spirited."

This, combined with your vision of the host wrestling the guest to the ground to get the shoes off, is giving me giggles. "You WILL force your cold toes into freshly frozen leather, by golly!"

Posted by: LizaBean | February 12, 2008 2:45 PM

MM:He is kind of weird. He has lots of issues with all sorts of stuff.

Posted by: foamgnome | February 12, 2008 02:40 PM

Hopefully he's a good enough friend to overlook (most) of the other stuff. I bet you invite him over to your place, or suggest dining out more often than not! At least that way you get to keep your shoes on, don't have to sing the "Hippity-hoppity Song", or whatever.

;-)

Posted by: maryland_mother | February 12, 2008 2:46 PM

LizaBean,

It is starting me down a dark path, I find myself wondering what kind of OTHER "Reindeer Games" this guy must like to play.

Okay, I think I'm now in the right mind-set to vote. That's always good for a giggle, right?

Stay warm, dry and keep those shoes ON your feet when walking to the car, people!

Posted by: maryland_mother | February 12, 2008 2:48 PM

MM:Actually are kids are friends. He is a nice enough guy. But very strange. Kids are super sweet though. He doesn't usually come to our house because he has some sort of allergy to scents. I mean like all scents. dishwasher soap, coogone, perfume, dryer sheets, you name it. So we try to meet in public parks or at their house. It is actually easier for us. We don't have to clean for a play date. We do only do play dates in the warmer weather.

Posted by: foamgnome | February 12, 2008 2:50 PM

I meant cologne and our kids.

Posted by: foamgnome | February 12, 2008 2:51 PM

ArmyBrat--if I ever won the lottery and were able to quit working I could write a book of SAHM stories that would shock and horrify you. Like Leslie said, staying home with kids can be a mixture of stress and boredom and when you mix that with a "more money than sense" mentality of escapism all bets are apparently off. It always amazes me that the world assumes that if a parent is home raising kids full-time they spend all their waking hours either doing laundry, volunteering at school, on the floor playing games with the kids for hours or doing elaborate craft projects. Yes, there are definitely those types of parents--but they can be working or stay home parents; if you're not that kind of parent you're not going to become that kind of parent just because you're home with your kids.

My point is that people assume that kids of SAHM parents are luckier and better off than kids of working parents, but I've seen PLENTY of cases where the kids may as well have been left home alone or would have gotten more attention from a babysitter.

Posted by: maggielmcg | February 12, 2008 2:52 PM

Come on, Maggie, and if I quit working I could write a book on horrifying working mom stories. Let's not start that up. :) Though it is late in the day and it's likely fewer posters are around . . .

Posted by: WorkingMomX | February 12, 2008 3:35 PM

Thanks, DL. And just to show you how fickle I am: my afternoon appointment was cancelled, I do NOT need to drive to Frederick into a major snowstorm, and so instead I can go spend the rest of the afternoon with my kids. And now I am happy. :-)

Posted by: laura33 | February 12, 2008 3:37 PM

Am I the only one who's baffled by people who claim that if they weren't FT WOH they'd be bored just taking care of their families, homes, etc.? Most people I know (even FT SAH) have so many hobbies and/or outside interests that there aren't enough hours in the day!

Posted by: mehitabel | February 12, 2008 4:01 PM

Re working at home (which I do): It IS necessary to "make a space" both physically and temporally -- as nicely as possible -- otherwise people who assume one's time is open will feel free to nibble away at it.

Laura, I'm glad you don't have to make the long drive in the snow today after all.

Fred, I hope Frieda's recovery is continuing as well as you'd all hoped.

Posted by: mehitabel | February 12, 2008 4:08 PM

to mehitabel: Actually what baffles me is how people like those maggie describes don't go out and FIND something they enjoy doing, rather than just passing time. It may be how I am wired but I need a "purpose". Simply focusing on looking good (gym, salon, shopping) is a little shallow and Nanny Diaries for my taste.

Posted by: tntkate | February 12, 2008 4:17 PM

This may or may not be on topic, but I'm curious what people have told their bosses when they are pregnant with the first kid, have the option to stay at home, and are not sure if they will want to or not? We have been saving my salary and trying to live on my husband's in case that day comes, but I have no idea if I'm going to love staying home or hate it or want to work part time. This is not an immediate issue for us but it might be in the next few years, and I'd be curious what others' experience is. In theory I wouldn't have to say anything, but I like my boss & I would want him to be able to plan.

Posted by: teaspoon2007 | February 12, 2008 4:33 PM

tntkate, You put it so well!

Posted by: mehitabel | February 12, 2008 4:44 PM

"Hobbies Are Rich in Psychic Rewards"
http://www.nytimes.com/2007/12/02/jobs/02career.html?_r=1&scp=1&sq=hobbies&st=nyt&oref=slogin

By EILENE ZIMMERMAN
Published: December 2, 2007
New York Times

Q. Between work and family, you have little time or energy left for hobbies, like crafts, painting or music. Without them, though, life feels mundane. What can you do about it?

A. Squeeze them in, even it's for just a few minutes at a time, because those moments can change your mood and your mind-set.

When people do things that make them feel good, like a hobby, it activates an area of the brain called the nucleus accumbens that controls how we feel about life, said Dr. S. Ausim Azizi, chairman of the department of neurology at Temple University's School of Medicine in Philadelphia who studies brain activity and cell signaling. Activities you enjoy also stimulate the brain's septal zone -- its "feel good" area -- and that makes you feel happy, said Dr. Azizi.

Q. Are hobbies good for you?

A. Yes, and in many ways. Hobbies can enhance your creativity, help you think more clearly and sharpen your focus...

Posted by: mehitabel | February 12, 2008 4:51 PM

"How many kids realistically need to be picked up by car by their very own parent every single day after school?"

Mine. They go to a charter school 4 miles from home that doesn't provide bus service.

Posted by: dennis5 | February 12, 2008 5:07 PM

mehitable - I'm with you. I have neighbors whose little darlings (9,11,14,16) can't get up early enough or brave the cold temps waiting for the bus so mommy warms the car in the drive every morning and drives them to school. Mind you, the car needs warming in the drive because the garage is full of plastic stuff they bought for the little dears. I never got a ride unless I had some unweildy (sp) science project to take in or an injury.

Posted by: moxiemom1 | February 12, 2008 5:19 PM

laura, FYI - I was applauding your initial comments. Didn't think they were negative or snarky at all. I'm sorry that didn't come through in my earlier one-liner. It's safe to say after all this time that you can interpret any comment I make to or about you as a positive.

"How many kids realistically need to be picked up by car by their very own parent every single day after school?"

Mine, too. There's no bus service at our school. Judge not when you don't have a clue, LOL.

LizaBean, your closing comment on yesterday's blog is in a class all its own. A more apropros response has rarely, if ever, been posted here.

Posted by: mn.188 | February 12, 2008 7:03 PM

Yes, there should be some age at which kids aren't driven to and from school. BUT - who knows? It just depends. If the kid goes to school far far away - then who knows. I was walking home from elem by 3rd grade alone - crossing one large street - but - there was a crossing guard there. And I had walked home for two years with my sister after school.

My parents by the time I was in 3rd grade pretty much made it my business to get to and from school - and after school to any activities I had - religious school, dance or whatever. I had to get there and at least from religious school someone picked me up from there.

But it IS annoying that these days many parents don't think that their kids should ever be able to make their own way home. As I said - you never know - but if it's walking distance...

Posted by: atlmom1234 | February 12, 2008 8:54 PM

As for on topic - I've been SAHM, and now WOHM. There's good and bad with both. We didn't much vacation when I was SAH - but now we do more, nothing fancy. But maybe we wouldn't need as much vacation if one of us SAH cause there'd be less stress in certain ways - not freaking out cause of what's for dinner, or someone needs to go shopping for whatever, or something's due at school, or whatever.

Of course, I had different stress when I was SAH - mostly due to money issues. Not that that is GONE now that I'm working.

Honestly, I don't know how anyone does it. One of us has always worked less than 5 miles from home when we're both WOHM and we have always had a nanny or au pair. So someone has always been there to help out with laundry/dinner, whatever (although today I went home around lunch to meet the glass guy). I know I have it SO easy compared to others (like the single mom I work with). And I'm still not sure how I make it work.

Posted by: atlmom1234 | February 12, 2008 9:32 PM

Oh, and Leslie - you definitely have it right.

There's ALWAYS someone who has more and/or less than you.

One needs to be happy with where one is. I have an unhappy sister who starts many conversations with: well, no one else I know has a vacation house - or has a car in the (NY) city - or whatever or what not. Not that that's what SHE wants, but that she has more than someone else. To me, it's just a sign of insecurity. Why do you compare yourself to everyone else all the time? Unless you're unhappy in your own skin.

Of course, we look to and at others all the time - and as people have said - we can ALWAYS find *something* about someone else's life that we covet. But the caveat is that the other person has a whole life, and while one thing may look good, another isn't so good - one doesn't get to pick and choose. But if your whole life is spent comparing to others and making choices and decisions based on that - then one is not much doing things that makes one HAPPY, just doing things for other people. Not something that I would look forward to.

I hope that makes sense...

And then there was the person who described to me in the elevator how she was going to her floor with all sorts of stuff she got from the cafeteria and she was telling me how she got ketchup all over herself and the elevator. And I was thinking: wow - that's something that I fear is going to happen to me every day. There but for the grace of g-d go I....:)

Posted by: atlmom1234 | February 12, 2008 9:37 PM

For those who think I have no clue- I didn't say that NO kids need to be driven to and from school every day. My question was realistically- how many need to be in relation to the whole population?

As well- why does it always need to be THAT parent? Whatever happened to carpools?

This transportation problem really isn't a big deal for MOST people, and it certainly isn't a problem for more than a few years.

Posted by: EmeraldEAD | February 13, 2008 2:52 PM

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 

© 2007 The Washington Post Company