The Grass Is Greener Here

The Grass Is Greener Here

Fifty years ago, almost half of all moms (49%) stayed home with their children.  Today, true stay-at-home moms are pretty rare:  only about 29%.

This coming May will mark 6 years since I left the so-called workforce.  The longer I’m away, the more distant the memory becomes.  I have had 6 years to reflect on my decision to leave, and overall, I am glad I quit my job to stay home with my kids.  I was so scared to quit, though.  Jon and I were engaged, and he was deployed until the week before we got married.  He and I talked about what we would do as far as me continuing to work.  Jon made a lot more money than I did, and Henry and I were planning to move from the house my mother owned (but did not live in) to the house Jon lived in with Chase and Rylee.  We lived about an hour away from each other, and my office was pretty close to my house.  I knew that when we got married, I’d be looking at an hour commute for not very much pay, plus the stress of the kids being in daycare (they were 2, 2, and 3 years old back then).

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Henry, about 2 months before I stopped working.  Most of our quality time was on my bed in the morning.  He would eat breakfast while I got ready for work.

I was just a medical secretary, but I was proud of my job.  I graduated from college in 2008, 3 months pregnant and right as the economy was crashing.  Talk about bad timing!  It took me over a year to find a job.  I applied for at least 50 job:  jobs I was qualified for, over-qualified for, under-qualified for, some not doing anything I was remotely interested in, and plenty of offers for “business opportunities” (aka scams).  I finally got a job working at a hospital as a secretary.  The job was only on an as-needed basis until I could secure a permanent job in one of the offices I was temping in.

I did get a permanent position and worked from September 2009 until May 19, 2011.  On my last day, I left work and went straight to the airport to pick Jon up.  We applied for the marriage license the next morning, waited 72 hours and were married 3 days later on May 23, 2011.  I had been terrified to put in my 2 week’s notice.  Jon and I talked about all the options, and I kept asking “are you sure?” because I knew how hard I had fought to get that job and how hard it would be to find another one if I quit.  Jon didn’t understand this because he had been in the military for 12 years at that point.

When I was growing up, both of my parents worked.  I was a latchkey kid from about age 9.  We had dinner together most nights, but I relied on friends’ moms to take me to Girl Scouts and gymnastics.  I walked to piano lessons.  I ate Little Debbie’s in the afternoon while watching Saved By The Bell, Full House, The Real World, and (most importantly) Beverly Hills 90210.  I stuffed the Swiss Cake Roll wrappers in between the couch cushions.  I secretly shaved my legs.  I went in AOL chatrooms.  I mixed up peanut butter with chocolate chips and ate it straight out of the bowl.  I basically did whatever I wanted until my father got home from work.

I always got the feeling that stay-at-home moms weren’t worth as much as moms who worked outside the home.  I don’t know if it was explicitly said by my parents, or if it was just implied. Three of my four childhood best friends had moms who stayed home, and I was always so jealous!  I loved going to their houses after school.  Their moms had snacks for us and would check in on us periodically as we were listening to music or doing makeup or whatever.  There was something comforting about going to a non-empty house in the afternoon.

Most days I love being a stay-at-home mom!  I love it for the reasons I wished I had a stay-at-home mom when I was a kid.  I like welcoming my kids home from school, having a snack ready for them, and being there while they wind down and then start their homework.  I like that I’m there to ask questions.  I like that we can have a home cooked dinner every night at 6 because I’m always here to make it.  Not only that, but Jon’s life is less stressful because he doesn’t have to worry about making dinner.  Chores that, in my childhood, would have been left to the weekend, I can do during the day when everyone’s gone.  Then our weekends are free so we can truly relax together.  I feel lucky to have a partner who earns enough so I don’t have to work.

But some days I wish I did still work.  I know it will be really hard to return to the workforce, each passing year marks another year I’ve been gone from it, a bigger gap to account for on a resume.  Do I say I spent six years vacuuming, changing diapers, and baking cookies?  I don’t know.

From time to time, I’ve gotten catty remarks from other moms who work –comments to suggest I’m spoiled.  I sense jealousy, and my instinct is to get defensive.  But really, they’re feeling the same thing I do when I think about returning to the workforce.  Every time I consider returning to work, I know there’s someone else who wishes they were a stay-at-home mom.

I could spend my days being jealous or defending my choice, but I try to have compassion because sometimes we all want what we don’t have.  Everyone has days where the grass seems greener on the other side.  I imagine that the women who get a little catty are just having one of those days because I also have those days. 

I think about where I might be in my career 6 years later, had I continued working.  But why?  I made my choice, and for now, this is my path.  I think returning to the workforce would be just as hard as leaving it.  I’m sure I will someday, hopefully doing something I love, possibly food-related.  But it’s not even on the horizon right now.

So what’s the best thing to do?  For me, it’s to revel in my choices.  I’m a stay-at-home mom!  I am a badass in the kitchen.  I get to take my kids to the pool every day during the summer.  I am always available to help with homework.  I get to see all of Ben’s firsts.  I’ll probably never be a six-figure earner or maybe never even a manager, but I’m glad there are women who are those things because the world needs both of us.

xo, Sara

PS:  This is my 100th post!  

 


Life In Between Chapters

Life In Between Chapters

When I was in my early twenties, I told everyone who asked that I did not want any kids.  Now I’m 33, I have 4 kids, and I am trying to come to terms with the fact that I’m done having children.  I never really anticipated this moment, but once Ben transitioned from babyhood to toddlerhood, it’s been on my mind a lot.  I think about things like his babbling or stumbling around trying to run, and I’m trying to savor it because it could be the last time he does it.

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Henry and me in 2008

It’s weird because when I watch videos of Henry at Ben’s age, I don’t remember exactly when babbling became talking or stumbling became running, but it did.  When Ben was born, all the foggy memories of Henry’s babyhood kinda came back, and it was really fun to see all the milestones again.  Then Jon and I talked about how perfect Ben is, and how maybe we should have just one more.  Just one more, why not?

Let me back up to my four kids.  I started with Henry as a single mom in 2008.  I met Jon in 2010, and he had Chase, who is a year older than Henry, and Rylee, who is 3 weeks younger than Henry.  Henry’s birth father was simply not present, and Jon was a young widower.  His first wife died young of breast cancer, and her illness necessitated Jon getting a vasectomy to try and reduce the risk of the cancer returning.  It did return, and she passed, and Jon and I met, we dated, and we married in 2011.  After about a year of marriage we decided to try and have his surgery reversed (it’s not something military doctors regularly do, but under these circumstances, he was put on a waitlist).  Two years after that, he gets the reversal, and exactly a year later, we’re expecting.  It was all pretty amazing.  Our stories fit together like a puzzle, and not only did the reversal surgery work, but we became pregnant pretty quickly after.

I feel really lucky.  Both my pregnancies were really easy compared to stories I’ve heard.  Of course I was emotional and hot and hungry, but that’s just pregnancy.  When I think back to 10-15 years ago, though, how did I go from never wanting kids to being bummed that I “only” have 4?

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Chase, Henry, and Rylee in 2011

I am happy with our family, and logically I know five is a lot.  After Jon and I decided to try and have a fifth, we went furniture shopping a few weeks later (not for baby furniture, but other stuff).  We took Ben with us, and Ben had the best time running through all the “rooms.”  He saw the store as one big adventure!  It’s exactly how a 16-month-old should see a furniture store.

As we were shopping around, it hit me:  As adorable as Ben is, and as much as I love him, I do not want to do this again with another baby.  I nudged Jon in the store and told him I needed to talk to him about something once we got in the car.  In the car, I told him, “I think our family is perfect the way it is, and I think you should get the vasectomy.”  We had been using a less permanent method between my having Ben and now.  Jon said he agreed and has felt that way for a while, but was nervous to bring it up.  What a relief!  So that’s that.  We are done.

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Ben and me in 2015

This was just a few days ago, but now all I can think about is I am done having children.  It’s the first time since I became pregnant with Henry almost 9 years ago, that I know I am done.  Ben’s pregnancy was my last pregnancy.  Ben as a newborn was the last time I will ever have a newborn of my own to hold.  It makes me sad to think about this, and I’m not at all a sappy person.  But now I’m looking at all of them and trying to savor the moment they’re in.  When did Henry stop babbling and start talking?  When is Ben going to?  I don’t want to rush anything.

With Ben, I said I’d stop nursing at a year.  Now at 16 months, he’s still nursing.  And especially since we’ve made our final decision, I don’t want to rush him.  As long as he wants to nurse, I will let him.

It feels like mourning, a little bit of sadness.  Even though I’m still relatively young, I feel a chapter of my life closing.  I was reading another blog about this last night, trying to find someone who feels like I do.  Someone else said that this phase is murky because it’s not so cut and dry.  With other phases of life, once chapter closes, and another opens:  high school to college; dating to married; non-parent to parent.  The childbearing years and when we decide we are done are not cut and dry.  Technically I could have another child; I’m only 33.  But I know I’m done, and it makes me a little bit sad.


Homemade Baby Food: Pear Cinnamon Puree

Homemade Baby Food:  Pear Cinnamon PureeIMG_5922.JPG

When Ben went in for his 4 month check-up, the doctor told me it was time to start introducing table foods.  She suggested I start with the meats, like chicken.  When I got home, I decided that I was never going to feed him potted meat because it’s not something I would eat.  I made chicken puree for him, and he didn’t like it.  It actually smelled really good, just like chicken noodle soup, but apparently the texture of meat is a big deal for babies. 

So I moved on to other purees.  I never made purees for Henry, but I also didn’t realize how simple it is.  Not only is it easy, it’s also a much more natural and fresh version of jarred baby food.  And it ends up being cheaper. 

3Ben’s doctor also said to only introduce one new thing at a time.  So this blend with the cinnamon would be ideal after baby has already tried pears with nothing added.  This just helps because if baby ends up being allergic to something, it will be easy to pinpoint.  Since Ben is 11 months now, I like giving him things that are a little more interesting.    

If your baby is younger, you may want to add more water and puree it longer.  If your baby has teeth and is eating more solid foods, you could puree it a little less.

I have done this without my bamboo steamer, but I love my bamboo steamer, so I’m trying to use it as much as I can. 

 

Total Time:  3 hours; Hands-On Time:  30 minutes

Difficulty Level:  Easy

Makes 12 standard sized cubes

 

Ingredients

3 fresh pears

Cinnamon

Water

 

  1. Peel, core, and dice the pears.2
  2. Line your bamboo steamer with either a sheet of parchment or with the pre-cut parchment liners. You will only need to use one tier if you’re only making 3 pears.
  3. Fill a medium sized pot (about the size you’d use for rice) with water. Fit the pot with the steamer ring and the steamer.
  4. Steam the pears for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the pears are tender.
  5. Add the pears, about ¼ cup of the steaming water, and ½ to 1 teaspoon of cinnamon to a food processor.
  6. Puree until the cinnamon pears are smooth.
  7. Fill the ice cube tray with the cinnamon pears, and freeze until solid. Remove from the tray, and store them in a freezer bag.  They should keep in the freezer for several months.