Anything I Can Do, He Can Do Better?

ad_wife_best_604x500 So, Dakotapastor likes to push my buttons. He seems to think he does a better job as a stay at home parent than I do (did).

As you know, I hung up my stay at home mom cape. I love my job. I might love it more than a mom of six should. If I am totally honest, being a stay at home mom was something I did, but not necessarily something I loved.  It was a bit like wearing uncomfortable, yet practical shoes. It was absolutely the best thing I ever did for my family. It was also the hardest thing I did.

I’m a smart, savvy, college educated woman. In college I aspired to working in public relations. I never really quite got there, because soon after we married I had a son, and then another, and then another and another. Four boys. True blessings. Then, baby boy went off to kindergarten and I began to wistfully peer at job listings. And then God put my career aspirations on hold. Again. With a set of twin daughters. Daughters that are full of sugar, but mostly spice.

I threw myself back into stay at home motherhood headlong.

However, I was not feeling the same sense of accomplishment that I felt when cleaning up after four little boys. While keeping up a house was challenging, it was not the challenge I was looking forward to. And, with college for the oldest looming, and the perfect job opportunities presenting themselves, I happily hung up my yoga pants and donned a conservative black blazer.

Since going back to work, running the household has gone back to being a team efffort between Dakotapastor and I. And, I am realizing that some of the things I was trying to juggle, he just naturally does better.

One example is household finances. Money stresses me out. Making sure there is money at the end of the month was giving me major anxiety. Couple that with my rather unorthodox bookkeeping methods, I was happy to turn the checkbook and all of the bill paying back to my beloved. He has absolutely no emotional attachment to money and can just balance things out easily.

Dakotapastor also manages home maintenance better than I do. I was content to ignore a leaky faucet, or work around less than efficient parts of our aging house. I hate dealing with electricians and plumbers. I’m pretty sure that they think I am an idiot, and I never can seem to communicate exactly what needs doing. So, since I went to work, Dakotapastor has spent his weekday off welcoming various service people into our home to fix everything that was sagging. And, since he also manages the finances, this does not stress him out nearly as much as it stressed me out!

He has also taken on the role of cooking dinner many nights. I plan the menus (actually eMeals plans them, but that is another post) and I make sure all of the ingredients are prepped and ready to go for him to get a hot meal on the table by 5:30. The kids swear he is a better cook than I am. . .but I think it is because he claims to add “secret” ingredients.

I suspect that if he did not love being a pastor so much that he would make a delightful stay at home dad. He has the energy for the task that I had  more of 17 years ago. By the time it is all said and done, we will be actively parenting for THIRTY TWO years! That is a full-fledged career, people! I’m certainly glad that I have a helpmate who is willing to step in and work by my side. Because, the truth is, I don’t want to have to run our household by myself.

So, is he really a better stay at home parent than me? Maybe. Does it really matter? What does matter is that our children are well loved and well cared for. I do take great pride in the way we are raising our children and for the most part, I think our household runs smoothly. Things could be neater, and we could always use more space, but really, I have no complaints. . . and I hope Dakotapastor doesn’t either.

He is saving his complaints for men’s clothing manufacturers. But that is a different post for a different day!

Things I Said I’d Never Do Saturday: Family Housework Day

The older I get the more I realize that I am doing nearly all of the things I vowed I’d never do when I became a mom. Until I get tired of it, I’ll share one of those things a week with you. On Saturday.

Growing up, Saturdays were housework days. I hated it. Turns out my mom grew up with the same Saturday routine. She hated it too. I’m not entirely sure why she continued the tradition then, except that the house needed cleaning and we were all home on Saturday. (I contend that a housekeeper would have been simpler, more efficient, and save many years of preteen and teen angst…

Fast forward to October 29, 2011. The vile words slipped out of my mouth as my youngsters scooped up their last bits of egg. “Nobody is going anywhere near the TV or the video game system. We’re cleaning the house this morning.” Ack! Where did that come from? Since when is it easier to direct uncooperative minions to do mundane household tasks in three hours when I could just lock them all in the basement with snacks and Wii controllers and get it all done in 45 minutes? What possessed me to insist that they help?

Yes, Mom. I know you are reading this. Yes, I know that I should ask for more obedience from the minions. Yes, I know they should help around the house. However, none one of my happiest household memories is of a Saturday morning spent scrubbing floors. And yes, I know how to scrub a floor now. But I still hate it. And I almost never do it the “right” way.

So why do I do this? Is there a better way? (the weekly or biweekly housekeeper looks like a better option daily) I know that all of the family members should contribute since we are a community. But, the boys already do dishes after dinner (my most hated task), and while they may not do a great job… .our kitchen is mostly sanitary. They take out the trash, and they mostly keep their rooms picked up. I’m just not seeing a “Whistle While You Work” mentality going on here on the weekends.

The cleaning has to be done. A visiting child (who will remain nameless) spotted some dust and perhaps a cobweb on a table lamp a week or so ago. He asked if I ever dusted and that my house looked like a haunted house. I resisted temptation and did not chuck a dustcloth at him and tell him to “have at it”, but I did make a mental note to not bother to bake cookies next time he comes over on a playdate.

For the record, I DID dust later that day. We have an old house. Dust happens. Get over it people. AND for the record, I DID tell one of the minions to dust earlier that day. And I DID see him walking around my living room with a dustcloth absentmindedly flicking it about. Should I have followed him around, pointing out the dust he missed? Nah, trust me, that does breed a negative view toward housework.

So, I don’t think I’ll be rounding up the troops next Saturday. I WILL expect them not to trash the house. I WILL expect them to clean up after themselves, but I’m not going to expect some sitcom-worthy team effort.  I’m the mom. I don’t work for money outside the home, and this house IS kind of my job (whether I like that or not), so I will try and get more done during the week (I need to put the stay at home back in stay at home mom!) so that we can enjoy some real memory making time as a family!

Oh, and if anyone really does like to clean and wants to take a gander at my place…feel free, I’ll pay you in coffee!

Chime in! How do you handle household chores? Is it similar or strikingly different to how you grew up? Is it working for you? Want to share? You know I’d love to hear from you!

Mommy Wars and Megyn Kelly?

So, last night I was watching TV with the Rev. We usually watch movies (usually movies that I want to watch, which may or may not be a source of marital tension), but our DVR is currently empty of anything I wanted to watch. So I sat back and read and let the Rev. channel surf (sometimes I’m nice). He landed on Fox News and I looked up and noticed that Megyn Kelly was back. (she’s been back for almost a month). I told the Rev. that I liked her new haircut (I’m shallow like that) and he told me that she got all kinds of flack for taking too long of a maternity leave.

Do you know how much maternity leave she took? 3 months. 12 weeks. In the grand scheme of things, not that long at all.

Because, folks, having a baby is kind of a big deal. It takes your body on a wild ride. And then most moms don’t get much sleep for the first few months. And things are achy and sore, and clothes never fit like they should. And that cute little baby has about 4 doctor appointments in that 12 weeks.

A 12 week maternity leave is hardly a vacation. I know that she loves what she does, but I also imagine that it was very hard to leave her sweet baby girl and return to work. But she is a smart and articulate woman, I’m pretty sure that she can deal with those who are ignorant enough to think that her leave has been all massages and pedicures.

And Megyn Kelly was one of the lucky moms. Her company paid her for her maternity leave. Paid maternity leave is not a required benefit in the US. Paid maternity leave is a blessing if you get it.

I never did. I had a work out of the home job before getting pregnant with our first son, and again before the twins were born. Neither job offered paid maternity leave (though I did get my accrued sick pay and vacation pay while on bed rest with the twins), and neither paid me enough to justify child care expenses and time lost with my newborns. The decision to not go back to work after having those babies was pretty easy.

However, not everyone has the luxury to stay home with their children, and many go back to work long before they are really ready to.

I’ve had it both ways. I’ve been a working mom, and I’ve been a stay at home mom.

I’m totally going to go out on a limb and say that it is way easier to be a stay at home mom.

I could perceive it as the easier job because I really enjoy what I do. They say if you do a job that you love, you never work a day in your life.

Or, I could think of it as the easier job because I do such a sub-par job of it that I’m beyond being stressed out about my day.

The fact remains, I may not get sick pay, or paid time off, or even get paid for what I do. However, I don’t have to wrangle time off to walk my kids to school on the first day of school. If I wanted to bake, I could bake them cookies for when they came home. I don’t do laundry at night. . .as a matter of fact, I do no housework at night. After the kids go to bed I’m pretty free. Some days I wear my pajamas all day. I can shop at Target during their less busy times. I don’t have to share my coffee if I don’t want to. I’m pretty much in control of my schedule. I almost never pack a diaper bag. I don’t have to worry about who can watch my kids on school holidays. If I forget to plug in the crock pot in the morning, I usually have time to make a back-up plan meal. I have time to play on my blog.

I’m sorry that not all stay at home moms feel as at peace with their current vocation. I feel for the working moms trying to do it all. I wish there were more clear cut, easy decisions for moms.

But life is far more complicated than that.

So for now, moms . . .let’s stop fighting, and have each others backs, OK?

 

Top 10 benefits of Having Twins

Before I was blessed with my twin girls I was a pretty accomplished mom of singletons. My first three sons are very naturally spaced about three years apart, and son three and four are 23 months apart (which I used to think felt like twins). We then took a long break from childbearing and were gifted with twin girls just about a year ago.

At almost 21 weeks pregnant when I went in for my routine ultrasound, I was shocked to see two little hearts beating! That is when my life changed. That was the day I truly became a mother of twins!

At first, it was hard to see past the negatives of having twins. My pregnancy was higher risk. My delivery was a three ring circus. My babies were over a pound lighter each than my singletons were at birth. Breastfeeding was harder to establish in the early days. I’m only just starting to get regular sleep at night. My laundry is never caught up. Our whole family cannot fit into one vehicle. I’ve flaked on more than one big event for my bigger kids. We ate way too much fast food for a while.

And now, when I look at my one-year-olds and see the joy in their eyes, all I see is the good, the benefits of having twins!

So, here you go, my Top Ten Reasons Twins are Great!

  1. One pregnancy, two kids.

    Sure, I got as big as a tank. Sure the reflux just about killed me. Sure, my gallbladder threatened to quit. Sure, I got really, really cranky. However, I came out of it with two gorgeous little babies in just 38 weeks instead of 82 weeks. That, my friends, is a bargain!

  2. A Sense of Efficiency.

    In my younger days, I loved the book Cheaper by the Dozen. Not the movie with Steve Martin, though that is funny too! In the book, the father and mother are efficiency experts, and they use the children (all 12 of them) as experiments. Now, I’ve not experimented (much) with my kids, but I do know that the day I discovered how to actually tandem nurse the girls was the same day I felt like superwoman! Once I had both girls at home, my life fell into a pattern: feed one, then the other, change one, then the other, bathe one and then the other. I began to respond to the random stranger that commented that I “had my hands full”, that “really, it is easier than just one kid”. If nothing else, it shut them up!

  3. Always a full wash load of diapers.

    This probably belongs under the efficiency item but it works on its own as well. I cloth diaper the babies. I cloth diapered most of the other kids as well but I was always plagued by the fact that I either washed very small loads of diapers (which never seemed efficient), or I went too long between diaper loads (eeew factor). Well, let me tell you, cloth diapering twins is not only very efficient, it is affordable and no harder than using disposables. I daresay it is easier, as I never run out! It takes me just a little over a day to get a full diaper pail full of cloth diapers ready to run through the laundry. And when I change the girls I never have a dollar sign running over her head. And that is good, we have six kids, we have plenty of other places to spend that diaper money!

  4. Two babies entertain each other.

    When I had my sons one at a time, I always had to spend a lot of time building endless block towers or doing the stoop-backed walk around in circles. With twins, I make some towers and have done some walking practice, but mostly, these two just want to hang out with each other. Separate them and they will call across the room to each other. They are true besties!

  5. Two babies don’t always take up twice the space.

    Our girls still co-bed in the same crib. At around six months they went through a patch where I thought we would have to separate them as they began waking each other, and then we went on vacation and they shared a pack n play. By the time we came back from our trip we knew that there was no way we could separate this crew! I think when they outgrow the crib we’ll just move them to a full-size bed. We also only had one swing, and one of many of the baby toys. We do have two car seats, a few double strollers, and we HAD to have two bouncy seats.

  6. Twins take the attention off of you!

    Yes, twins cause a lot of attention when you are out in public. In the early days, it is wise to budget at least an extra half hour to all of your outings, as two babies in one grocery cart can cause quite a stir. The good news though, is that no one is looking at YOU! All those crazy gawkers see are two sweet little munchkins and they will be busy making smoochy faces at them and telling you how busy you must be…or that they wish they were you…or that their second uncle was a left-handed twin. It is no matter that you have oatmeal in your hair and yesterday’s makeup, and bleach stained yoga pants and the slippers that you accidentally left the house in. All the people see is TWO BABIES AT ONE TIME!

  7. Front of line privileges at the grocery store.

    Let them both cry, you will be out of there in no time.

  8. The best nighttime snuggles ever.

    Until you have had two babies who share a birthday snuggle on your lap after a bath, you have not really lived. Trust me.

  9. More laughter than you can handle! 

    Not a day goes by when my sweet baby twin girls don’t give me something to laugh at!

  10. Two times the kisses!

    Need I say more?

Chime in! Do you have twins (or more) in your life? What have been the hidden benefits? You know I’d love to hear from you!