What’s This All About, Then?

Long after I’d had my baby and returned to work, I got asked if I could share my reflections on why I chose to be a working mom over a stay at home mom. Let me be clear: that ain’t what Laid Off & Knocked Up was about.

I have curated a select few of my posts about being pregnant and unemployed and moved them here because my hope for 2012 was to resurrect and keep up more with my original blog, Funky-Ass Monkey, and I didn’t want to maintain two separate blogs. (Maintain is really the wrong word, though, because Laid Off & Knocked Up was designed to be short-lived – it was simply a way for me document my own very personal journey through looking for work during pregnancy). Because I’ve saved only a sampling here, I tried to select posts that showed the range of emotions I was experiencing – the highs in looking forward to welcoming my first child and in finding a job at 7 months pregnant – and some lows in worrying that I would never find that job. It’s simply meant to entertain, and not offer any findings on the working mom vs. the stay at home mom debate.

For me, this wasn’t a question of whether I should or wanted to be a stay at home mom or a working mom. I wouldn’t even get the luxury of entertaining that debate. It boiled down to the reality of my circumstances. There was no question that my bank account, which was already on the fritz (thanks to dedicating 10 years to low paying museum work) couldn’t survive without a steady full-time paycheck, even without motherhood lurking around the bend.

How soon to return to work, whether to return to work full-time or cut back to part-time, or whether to be a stay-at-home mom are questions that untold numbers of moms have grappled with, and their various decisions are fraught with all manner of guilt, obligations, expectations, and a wide spectrum of experiences, all of which you can read about in advice columns and bookstores. But I’ve yet to stumble on an advice book of how best to handle being a stay-at-home mom when the baby’s not even through the first trimester. When it’s too soon to join mommy support groups, and too late to start drinking. That’s what these posts are about.

The question of whether a mom should work or stay home often gets framed in terms of independence, family preference, and personal fulfillment – and I believe that you have the right to choose what you feel is best for you and your family and that you shouldn’t have to defend your decision to anyone. These blog posts aren’t commentary on that debate. I have a lot of (deeply personal) opinions about the SAHM vs. working mom debate and how heavily that debate weighs on any new mom (or at least how hard it was for me), but I don’t share my thoughts on that in any of these posts. If you’re looking for that whole debate, you better keep googling.

Excessively Permissive Parenting, Take 2

Yesterday I was at the receiving end of a woman bitching about me to her 3 year old because I wouldn’t accommodate her excessively permissive parenting in letting her 3 year old manhandle Baby’s face.

Excessively permissive parenting seems to be a theme this weekend.

I just came back from Target, and in the baby section was a woman and her son, maybe 2 1/2 years old. Her son had taken something off the shelf and was running around with it in a game of Chase Me! He thought it was delightful, but the mom…not so much. So what did she do? She repeated “[Name], stop that.” At least 26 times.

I stopped counting after the first few dozen times. I don’t mean to sound like old-fashioned here, but hey, why not? I’m Officially Old™, anyway. But back in my day, no parent would have let their child get away with that. Do you know why your son wasn’t stopping it? Because your threats and warnings were…idle. They lacked any consequences and I guess you’re too tired to make an effort to redirect his attention to something else. If it didn’t work the first 20 times to tell him to stop, what makes you think that continually requesting that he stop will work?

Get Your Greasy Traps off my Baby

I was just at the library with Baby, and she was in her stroller just quietly watching everyone while I thumbed through a few books. I looked up to see that some 3 year old was pawing at her face with both hands. “Be gentle,” I said, wondering where the F this child’s parent was. Her mom piped up, “Just so you know, ma’am, I’ve never known my daughter to be anything BUT gentle!” Then she spent the next ten minutes making a show of telling her daughter, “Yes, I know you want to play with that baby. But that MOMMY doesn’t WANT you to play with the baby.”

Clearly I’m the bad guy here. I decided not to point out to her that ‘Be gentle’ was polite code for what I was really thinking.

News flash: Just because you think it’s okay for your daughter not to exercise any impulse control doesn’t mean others have to accommodate your excessively permissive parenting style.

 

Shaking My Fist Skyward

So after this weekend of 105+, I take back pretty much everything I’ve ever said about “So what it’s hot! It’s hot everywhere because it’s summer. Just adjust accordingly!” Fate, you cruel bitch. I surrender.

I attempted to entertain Baby but she got bored (as did I). Here was our itinerary Saturday:

Our afternoon walk around the hood? Too hot, so that’s out. How about playing with your bear? Bored already? Here’s your lamb! Ok, let’s read a book…or 8. Still no good? Let’s listen to music while you crawl around…what’s that noise? Oh Jesus. She’s trying to eat a diaper. Luckily it’s a clean one. Wanna go swing in your…oh, no. it’s too hot out there and your swing is in the sun. You wanna go to…um….hmmm…the mall, I guess? What do you mean people watching doesn’t entertain you longer than 30 minutes? Sigh. Let’s go…um…well….home, I guess.

Remember your bear? Oh, right. You’re bored with him. Well, try it for awhile while I google playgrounds. Oh, City of Tempe, why is your website so anti-informational?! I can see that you have playgrounds but no info about any of them – do they have baby swings or just big kid equipment? Are they shaded?  Let’s just go drive around and see.

Hmmm. No luck but at least you’re down for a nap. Jesus. I’m starving. I could really go for a burrito. Hey! There’s a burrito place on the other end of Kiwanis Park. OMG! It has a drive thru! “Phone pickup orders only?!” Fine. I will pull over, look up your website & phone in my order from 5′ away. Oh, c’mon people. Your menu is a PDF that won’t open on my phone – time for a redesign, seeing as it’s 2012, guys. Forget it.

And that was just Saturday. I googled Saturday night looking for activities in preparation for Sunday. There are indoor playgrounds…at $9 a head and nowhere near me, so that’s out. The children’s museum online reviews say it’s a madhouse on weekends and toddlers beware.

Sunday, I decided to take her swimming. City of Tempe – WTF? The only pool you have open before May is the wave pool, and @ $7, kinda steep for a public pool. At least it’s indoors. But the waves are bigger than I envisioned – way too ‘scary’ for her, when she’s scared of the pool in the first place. Looking online, there is only other public pool open this weekend. Too bad it’s practically in Queen Creek, but hey, we got no other ideas, why not? After a 25 minute drive, it’s a 20 minute line to get in. Once we got in, it’s a f*ckin free for all. Parents not watching their kids who were practically running over Baby and definitely splashing her in the face. Thanks, little Assholes. We left after 15 minutes of ‘fun.’

So, yeah. I surrender. I have no idea wtf to do w/ her this summer. From what I read online, you get the same sort of Lord of the Flies experience at baby splashpads, other pools, & indoor playgrounds. Baby storytime at the public library? Tuesday afternoons in Tempe, Tuesday mornings in Mesa, Tuesday mornings in Chandler, Tuesday mornings in Scottsdale (are we seeing a pattern?) Did you know that more than 73% of moms are working moms? Cuz apparently public libraries don’t. (I realize that work isn’t always M-F but, c’mon).

I give up. This summer is going to be like Groundhog day.

blech. sick.

My life since last Thursday can be summed up as: alternating between tylenol and sudafed every 4-6 hours. I feel awful. I think it’s safe to say that I have been more sick since Baby was born than any other time in my life. Even though I managed to get a few catnaps this weekend and barely did anything besides lay around moaning, I stil felt straight up awful this morning. But I decided to go to work anyway because I have no sick time anyway and thought I could at least tough it through the morning with more sudafed and tylenol, like I did last week.

So I was sitting around literally counting the moments until I could bail, feeling just shitty, when my boss asked if I could go to the training workshop today in her stead. Why? “I feel so sleepy! My cats kept me up ALL night!”

I’m sorry. What?

Your kitty cats? You mean the ones that require constant vigilant supervision, feeding, bathing, entertaining, diapering, and soothing? Oh, wait, no. That would be my nine month old. That I took care of all weekend with, I’m quite certain, the flu. So pardon me if I’m out of give-a-shits.

A Problem Only for Upper Middle Class Moms

I started my new job almost a year ago, when I was six months pregnant. And within a couple weeks, my new boss connected me with a woman who works here who had just come back from maternity leave. I went up to talk with her one afternoon because she’d just enrolled her daughter in the same daycare we were considering. We compared notes on the daycare, and, naturally, touched base on a lot of other baby-related issues: hospitals and birth, pumping at work, and, of course, sleep. She told me the following anecdote:

“We had our first overnight away from the baby when she was about 3 months old. My in-laws kept her while my husband and I just went down the block and checked into a hotel. Right after check-in, we ordered room service, took a tylenol PM, and slept for, like, 12 hours.” I thought she was kidding. Thing is: she wasn’t kidding. One of my friends says to me, frequently, and with pity, “I always tell [our other friend] how bad I feel for you guys because you don’t have any family here, so you’ve never really had time away from Baby! I’m SO sorry! It must be really difficult.” Is it hard? You betcha. Is it worth every sleep deprived moment? Absolutely. Would we give anything for a night of uninterrupted sleep, since it’s been nine months without so much as a night off?

Sorry, had to get another cup of coffee.

Yes.

But let’s keep this in context. Do you really think that moms around the world feel sorry for themselves because they can’t get a night off? Do you think that moms across the US have the luxury to entertain the thought of getting a full night’s sleep, nevermind in a ritzy resort where they get room service and a pedicure and facial the next day? We certainly don’t. Clearly a first world problem. Especially in this sh*tty-ass economy.

Our world has been turned upside down, but in all the right ways. We are blessed with a healthy, adorable, loving, curious, funny, happy Baby. We couldn’t be luckier. So we’ll have to put up with being  sleep deprived and caffeine-dependant until she sleeps through the night since we don’t have someone who can take her. If that’s the biggest problem we have, we’re doing pretty damn well. We’ll just keep brewing more coffee so we can keep up with her.

Maybe I Will Let Her Get a Tattoo

Stroking baby’s sweet, soft back after a bath, I jokingly ask My Better Half™ “Is this where she’s going to have her tramp stamp?”

“No. That’s where she’ll have a tattoo that’s ‘STAY AWAY FROM MY GIRL.’ Better yet, just a photo of MY ANGRY FACE.”

Cleanup on Aisle 3

Purely hypothetical question:

If you are at Barnes & Noble with your baby, and your baby suddenly and unexpectedly starts projectile vomiting, are you supposed to a) seek out a store manager to let them know and apologize profusely, or b) race out of the store to minimize any more barfage?

Hypothetically.

Best Argument I’ve Ever Heard for Going to Church

After a nearly sleepless night, during which baby slept no more than one continuous hour at a stretch, with long droughts of zero sleep in between, I was racking my sleep-deprived brain for things to do with baby today. I don’t really have any friends with babies nearby, so I can’t just call on one of them to hang out at their place. I’ve been on walk after walk after walk and it’s not even 10 a.m. Plus it looks like it’s going to rain any second. The malls don’t open til 11 and I don’t have any money anyway, even though they are indoor spaces to walk gawk at people. The zoo and the desert botanical garden are outrageously expensive, and given that baby is sick, we would probably have to forfeit most of a visit anyway, so I don’t feel like that expense is justified.

And that’s when My Better Half™ said “You know what is indoors and has free babysitting and is open this time and is free? Church!” Note to self: gotta find out timing of nearby church services for next Sunday. I think if I time it right, I could go from one service to the next, drop baby in babysitting for each service, and get in two naps! Followed by donuts.