Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Me and My Brain: Working Together Since 1976

I feel it is my purpose in life to learn as much as I can and live as consciously as possible. I actually think that is the meaning of life... at the very least it is the meaning of my life. Sometimes I find myself censoring myself, not just on the blog, but in the real world as well. Mostly because I am a people pleaser and I never want to offend anyone. But I have moments when I wish I could more freely share my point of view and knowledge in hopes that it might help someone else. So I am going to try and be more open (I know you are wondering if that is even possible!... it is) and maybe be a little more controversial on the blog. I may offend you... and please know that is not my intention... but many of the things I feel strongly about are things that people tend to feel defensive about. And I'm not being judgmental... and I really hope that you believe that... because I'm really not. I know and respect that everyone comes from a different perspective and is searching for a different and unique life experience. My way is my way, and of course I believe in what I choose to do and not do, but I don't need you to choose to do it too. I really don't. This is my journey and you have yours.

One day someone asked me if I ever wanted to go back to work. The implication (and really it was) was that staying home couldn't be totally fulfilling. I'm not really sure why not. I approach staying home the same way I approached going to work. I don't know why a daycare worker is performing a valid job all day but I am not? Another day my brother asked me (Kid was 3 at the time) when I was going to put her in daycare and get a life. I don't think he was kidding. I said "this is my life." But I felt defensive and had to say something about how I didn't make enough at my job to justify daycare. Which is something I often throw around even though it has absolutely nothing to do with why I stay home. I stay home because ... (first let me say I stay home because I can)... I believe I am best suited to raise my children. And I feel that that is a 24 hour job.

I always knew that I would stay home with my children and haven't regretted one day of my decision. Not one single day have I ever woken up and wished I could go to work. Why? Outside of not wanting to miss a moment of their lives... because I find raising children to be the most thought provoking, demanding, challenging, intellectual pursuit of my life. Every single day provides another opportunity for me to expand my way of thinking about myself and my actions, about my point of view, and about my deficits. There is very little in my life that I just "do"... I am not a going through the motions type of person. Nearly every action I take is thought about and decided upon before I do it.

This may surprise everyone but sometimes I actually get Kid a Mc Donald's Happy Meal. But I don't just get her a Happy Meal. I run through all the pros and cons of a Happy Meal. The anti-biotic laden beef, the high fructose corn syrup, the trans fats, the carcinogens, the commercialization, the Chinese apples, the lead toy.... I think about all of that stuff and then I decide if making Kid happy is worth it. Sometimes it is. But, you see, I don't just buy the Happy Meal.... I think about everything that Happy Meal is before I buy it. All that thought went into lunch people. Somebody asked me if I was joking about this. No I'm not joking. When you break any decision down it seems menial... that is exactly my point. You can live your life and preform your job to a "good enough" level... or you can put thought into everything you chose to do. You can use your brain even at the McDonald's drive up window if you want to. I choose not to "check out". I choose to think and research the things (big and small) that impact my family's life. I don't know what other job I have ever had, or could ever have, that would provide me with as much intellectual stimulation. And not just that.... but actually allow me to put my education to use... every day, all day.


Suzy said...

Enjoy staying home because you can. Not all of us working Mom's have that luxury. I work because I have to, not because I want to climb the corporate ladder. I feel like I'm serving my kids in a different way in this regard. I'm helping (along with my husband) to put food on the table and a roof over their heads, and provide a decent way of life.

I stayed home when they were babies, and don't regret a second of it...poverty and all. It just goes by so quickly. I love Trace Adkins' song called "You're Gonna Miss This". Sums up my feelings on the subject perfectly.

Sandcastle Momma said...

Good for you, Mrs. F on deciding not to censor your blog! I've noticed a lot of censoring in the blog world (it has to be censored because no one is as perfect as some of these people seem to be)and frankly when I read someone's blog I want the real thing - warts, different opinions and all. That's what makes it interesting.

I have always been a stay at home mom as well. We really struggled financially when my husband first started his business but it has been worth it. Two of my kids go to public school now but my middle child wasn't doing well so we pulled him out and I homeschool him. That's made all of the difference for him and I know it was the right choice. I'm fortunate to be able not to have to work outside of our home and I wouldn't trade it for anything! The hardest part is that staying at home is a 24/7 job and there are no sick days LOL

Mrs Furious said...

I think you have missed my point.

I think the very notion that staying home is a "luxury" or to be "enjoyed" continues the belief that it is not valid, difficult, intellectually challenging work. Work.

I know not everyone who wants to can stay home and believe me I honor and respect that.

I also know some people don't want to and rightly shouldn't. I don't think every person, just because they have children, is temperamentally suited to full time childcare.

I too will return to work once my kids are school aged.

My point is simply that staying home is more than just providing your child with daycare.

Suzy said...

Mrs. F,
I completely got your point in your original post. By no means would I imply that SAHM's are merely daycare providers. By using words like luxury and enjoy, I meant that it is a wonderful thing to be present in your child's life, 24/7. It is a gift that you can share together. I was there when my girls were babies and know full well that it is HARD work. The hardest kind of work...there is nothing luxurious or enjoyable about it at times. It challenges you and stretches you in ways that nothing ever can or will. But it is also the best kind of work, and learning experience and the reason I had kids in the first place. I totally agree that it is not the right thing for every Mom out there, and that is fine. My point was that it is good to step back for a moment and enjoy it while it lasts, because it goes by too quickly. I, for one, wish I could have basked in their babyness a little longer.

Mrs Furious said...

I would stand back and enjoy it more if Baby hadn't just puked Motrin all over me! ;)

I'm glad you clarified. The reason I tend to censor myself in the first place is that I don't want people to think I'm placing a judgement on their choices. As this has of course come up in the past!

angie said...

First of all, I want to say that I know Mrs. F quite well (or at least I like to think I do). She's a SAHM I am a work outside the home mom. She co-sleeps. I can't even consider it. We have other differences in childrearing. And many similarities. But the reason I got to her for advice very often is because 1) She's wise and 2) I know she is not judging me. If I worry she is judging me I realize it's more me judging me....

I just want to add another dimension to the stay at home vs. work outside the home debate. I think in many ways working mom's are led to believe that they should feel guilty about being away from their children. And if they are not thinking of the children all day they are terrible mothers. I think of my son throughout the days (some days more than others). But I am a working mother that enjoys being a working mother. I have an extremely fulfilling job, my son loves his school and I think he gets some great skills there. Are there times I wish I stayed at home? Yes. Are there times where I am doing backflips out of daycare because I am so glad I can leave him there (after a particularly naughty weekend)? You betcha.

With either decision there is joys and sorrows. Fun and misery. I think what Mrs F is trying to say is that every choice is valid. Every choice takes hard work. Every choice requires the use of your brain. Every choice is made within a particular context. She's trying to tell you her story. And maybe asking us to tell her our stories. This world (and our kids) would be much better off if we could stop judging ourselves and each other about this choice.

Mrs F, I took this places you weren't. Sorry I am hogging so much space. Yes, I am procrastinating. But I also needed a forum to say a couple of things and I appreciate the opportunity to do so here.

Anonymous said...

I can't tell if this post is meant to be serious or a joke. You really think that deciding whether to get a Happy Meal is intellectually stimulating? I think it's great that you're raising your kids on a full-time basis (and wish I could spend as much time with mine), but I wouldn't consider my life complete without my job. And frankly, it always surprises me when you talk about how busy you are. Laundry, cleaning, cooking, shopping, and working out... it's really not as taxing as you sometimes make it sound. Us full-time moms have to do what you do PLUS work. And I still think I'm a pretty wonderful mother.

Julie said...

Mrs F & Angie, I just want to say I love you guys and wish I was your neighbor, too:)

I do love hearing what you have to say Mrs F...I feel like I have learned a lot from you and from the other women who comment as well. It is a supportive environment...even if we make different choices and have different circumstances.

Thanks for sharing your views:) Please don't forget to curse...you know i love that;)

Julie said...

Well, it was supportive until that last comment was left by Anonymous;)

Mrs Furious said...

Oh Anonymous...
I always enjoy a not too subtle attack. And I enjoy the courage with which you chose to do it... namelessly.

Mrs Furious said...

And it must be said...
No working moms don't do everything a stay at home mom does plus work. That is fucking ridiculous.
At the very minimum we are caring for our children an additional 8-9 hours a day. At the very minimum we are providing a full day of "daycare". We stay-at-home moms are running our own daycare centers during the day... and just like you doing our very own 2nd shift at night.

Julie said...

Plus, I don't think my boss or coworkers ever followed me into the bathroom to keep talking to me when I worked at the Ad agency...and they were some pretty relentless people.

Jennifer said...

It is a debate that cannot be won, nor can it change ones view on the topic.

I have summers off with my son, vacations off with him and holidays. But I work full-time the rest of the time. Some people feel that my life lacks focus in either area. Some people think it is the perfect opportunity. I happen to think that even though it sounds cushy and wonderful, I am working full time for demanding full grown people and then when I am home I am working for a half grown fully demanding little boy on my "vacation". It is all in how you perceive it. Each side has their own reasons for what they do and it makes me wonder what gives other people the right to judge what you or I choose to do with our own lives.

Even if it is not valid or challenging or whatever .. who cares. It is your life. I don't have to live it and I don't have to come here and read about it if I don't want to.

It is all a waste of time to even try and debate the subject. Because someone will always feel just as strongly the "other way". It is the same way with breast feeding. OY.

Just my thoughts on the never-ending topic.

Mrs Furious said...

The beauty is I'm not even trying to have a debate. I'm not talking about anybody but me and why I stay home (now)... for myself. And why for me it is an intellectually stimulating choice.

Anonymous said...

Just wanted to say...that anonymous was not me! :)

I was a SAHM...still am. But, it's a little different these days with both boys off at school all day.

I started my own internet business SIMPLY so I can still be here when my boys need me.

I think every Mom needs to make the decision that is right for them/their family.

I just wish ALL MOMs would support each other.


Anonymous said...

Mrs. F-

Love the blog. I love it even more when you throw some challenging conversation out there.

Totally agree with you. I've been a SAHM and now I work part-time. I've worked full time (youngest was age 1 to age 2) Currently, my youngest has to attend daycare 2-3 days a week.

What you are doing right now (SAHM) is your *job*. Damn that you don't get a monetary payment! It is hard. It is rewarding. It sucks sometimes too.

This debate (SAHM-vs-Working outside home mom) rarely comes to an agreement. Each side has to defend themselves because each side feels judged. shrug.

I know you are not judging. But you have been judged by others, I can tell. (the luxury comment). you are not sitting around eating bon-bons.

You are teaching your young beautiful souls how to be enthusiastic, smart, kind, loving human beings. The fact that you are financially able to do that at this moment (and we all make sacrifices to make our lives work) is wonderful.

We have much much debt that we are dealing with from the early SAHM years. Would I trade it for the 1 year at home with my infant children?

Absolutely not.

Keep the dialog coming. I look forward to my daily dose of Mrs. F. :o)


Mrs Furious said...

LOL... I knew it wasn't you :)

"I look forward to my daily dose of Mrs. F"

Thanks, because sometimes the negativity makes me want to bail.

emmyjw said...

I agree with a lot of what has been said on both sides. I have worked full time, part time, and now I am basically a SAHM(I only work every other weekend). For me, the SAHM/homeschooling part is the hardest most rewarding job I have ever had. My job as a nurse is sometimes rewarding too, but mostly it is just a job.I don't think being a working mom is easy, I was tired when I got home, but being home all day is just as hrd in different ways. We all have to make the choices we feel are best for our families and let other people do the same.

angie said...

Julie--I wish you were our neighbor too.

Annonymous, those comments aren't helpful or insight and are just cowardly to post without a name.

Everyone else who replied since me. You are spot on. It's great to see a community of women who can support each others' decisions and can understand that no decision is an easy one and no life is an easy one. They all have their challenges and joys.

Sorry Mrs F, I am acting like I own the blog :-)

Mrs Furious said...

"It's great to see a community of women who can support each others' decisions and can understand that no decision is an easy one and no life is an easy one. They all have their challenges and joys."


Robin said...

Wow, anonymous has some pent up aggression.

I am a SAHM, and I do the job for the same reasons you do Mrs. F. I didn't always want to be a SAHM (When I was younger, I wasn't even sure I wanted to have children.) But once my husband and I decided to start our family, we knew that I would stay home with them. They are just so impressionable in those first years, and I want to be the one doing the impressing (how do you like my made up word?)

I'm not sure whether I will go back to work once they are in school. My mom tells me that she wished she hadn't gone back to work...that it is important to be there when they get home and be available for carpools and to be room mom, etc. Get lots of face time, you know? If I go back, it will probably be part time.

I also feel the need to defend my position as a SAHM. I feel like people look down on me because they don't see it as being as valuable as working outside the home. So I find myself talking about how day care is so expensive, my salary wouldn't cover it. (Not true...when I quit my job, I was making more than my husband.)

I respect people who decide to go back to work. The job of SAHM isn't for everyone, and I applaud them for recognizing that in themselves. I also feel bad for people who want to stay home, but can't afford to. I will say that we have made quite a few sacrifices in order for us to be able to afford it.

As far as moms who work outside the home having to cook, clean, etc, on top of having their job. Being a SAHM isn't any less work than working outside the home. You are playing with and engaging your children all day. They require a lot of attention, so you don't have time to shop, clean, etc. You find yourself doing it at the same time working moms do it; in the evenings after the kids go to bed, and on the weekends when your spouse is home.

It would really be nice if everyone could just support everyone else's position. There is really no need for comments like anonymous'.

There Angie, I left a big ol' comment, do you feel better? ;)

Mrs Furious said...

well said.

Liz said...

Hi Mrs F! I'm excited glad you're going to try to be more open! I love the honesty that comes out in your blog already. It's the main thing that keeps me coming back even though your kids are pretty cute.

I love working outside the home. Having a kid has made me so grateful for my career. It now seems like such a gift to be able to get out of the house and spend all day sitting alone in my office and talking to adults. I fear that if I didn't have that break, I'd be a crappy mommy, I'd spend all day being frustrated and well "furious" at everyone. But realistically, I'd probably adapt, as most people do.

My husband was a SAHD for 18 months and I'm soooo glad Charlie was able to get one on one care from his father for the very early days. Now he's in day care 3 part time. One of my great joys now is being able to observe the things he learns at school and the relationships he builds without me. I'm so proud of him being this little individual with a separate relationship with the rest of the world.

I love what Jennifer said - even if it is not valid or challenging, it is your life. That's what's important. The less time we spend making judgments or getting defensive, and the more time we spend sharing our stories and just getting to appreciate each others choices the better. I have tendencies that make me quick to judge SAHMs like the first Anonymous, but I'd like to stop being that way. And getting to know you all on this blog helps with that.

Another long comment!! But some topics just need it every now and then. Thanks for hosting us all Mrs F.

Mrs Furious said...

"glad you're going to try to be more open!"
I'm going to try...

Now I still don't really get this part of Jennifer's comment:
"even if it is not valid or challenging, it is your life"
So I find it interesting that you quoted it... because I'm not sure what parent's life choices aren't valid or challenging... or who could possibly be the judge of that.
I suppose a crazed drug addict... but then again I guess there life choices are certainly still challenging ;)

Liz said...

I hope Jennifer weighs in again to confirm the intent of her statement then! (As I am about to interpret it for her.)

I thought she was talking about suspending judgment. Lots of things other people choose to do would not be valid choices for me or would not challenge me or stimulate me the way they stimulate others. I might not accept the challenge of homeschooling. I might not be inspired by menu planning (but I am!).

And vice versa. I want to get away from making those judgments of other people. It's nasty and it makes me feel bad. And it's totally a bad thing to teach the kids!!

What's important is getting to know women as individuals and learning from their experiences about the choices they made.

lucinda said...

To the woman who cannot believe there is intellectual stimulation in making a food choice (Happy Meal?)... one of the blessings of a functioning intellect is that one can experience anything in all it's complexities, nuances, connectivity and wonder. What you find stimulating is only limited by your imagination.

michelline said...

I'll start off by saying I truly respect the mothers who have the drive to stay at home and nurture their children. If they are truly dedicated and making their choice to stay home because it's what they really want to do and not because they feel guilted into it. I also truly respect those mothers who realize staying at home isn't something they're cut out for. I'm definitely one of the latter mothers. I love my children and enjoy them. But I'd rather slit my wrists than stay at home with them 24/7!

I think it's a shame that anyone would attempt to make someone feel as if their choice wasn't valid. I know as a happily working mother I've been asked why I even bothered having kids if I'm going to give them to someone else to raise. Stupid people. My kids have quality time with Mommy and Daddy and know they are loved. And my girls learn it's ok to want to work outside the home. That being a good mother doesn't necessarily mean staying at home. And that you shouldn't feel guilty if you have to or want to work outside the home. Even if money weren't an object and I were as rich as Bill Gates, I wouldn't be a full time mother. I'd be doing charity work or something like that. I truly have no frame of reference for WANTING to be a SAHM. And I know my daughters, who have never had a SAHM or co-slept, don't feel any less loved and cherished by their parents than does my nephew, who has a SAHM and co-sleeps.

Stay at home or work outside the home - know yourself and what you enjoy. Then do it.

Mrs Furious said...

"one of the blessings of a functioning intellect is that one can experience anything in all it's complexities, nuances, connectivity and wonder. What you find stimulating is only limited by your imagination"

Thank you Mother.

We all know our family is known both for our superior intellect and our colorful imagination. ;)

Mrs Furious said...

"Even if money weren't an object and I were as rich as Bill Gates, I wouldn't be a full time mother. I'd be doing charity work or something like that."
Yes I totally get that. And I'm glad you made that point.

okay I see.

michelline said...

Mrs. F, I think - not that you need my validation :)- that this was a wonderful post and helped my understanding of why a woman would feel fulfilled being a SAHM. I actually read it several times before commenting. It won't change my mind on what is right for me, LOL, but it does provoke thought.

Mrs Furious said...

It is of course not meant to change anyone's mind. It is simply to show that anything you do, if you choose to do it thoughtfully and with purpose, is your own life's work.

katieo said...

Oh I'm so late to the conversation!

Mrs. F, I find raising children to be the most thought provoking, demanding, challenging, intellectual pursuit of my life.
I feel the same way.

It's challenging in several ways. Without anyone evaluating my work...my day in and day out work, there tends to be little in the way of validation, appreciation, and recognition. There have been moments where I have wondered, "Is what I do actually making a difference? Is this important?" I really believe it is. There have been several victories that have taken every last morsel of my intelligence (as well as creativity, patience, and prayer) and my husband will be the only one who will even come close to understanding how difficult the challenge was and how much it took out of me. I tell often tell myself that I'm sowing seeds. I just won't be able to see (most of) fruit of my efforts for many years to come.

I could say a lot more but I've got to go to bed!

Now, of course, this is ME. My experience. And whose to say I won't be a working mom someday. But for right now, I can't imagine anything that would fit me better. To each her own! :) Great post!

(and p.s. There are lots of us SAHM moms who don't co-sleep, lol...)

Deb said...

Hmm... silly me. I thought the point of your post was that you can engage your brain in anything you choose to do and to any level of detail you choose to do it. Whether you run a Fortune 500 company or your home. It's all about creativity and the willingness to throw yourself into your life's efforts. If you choose to do something, you might as well be great at it, right?

Well, Anonymous (the first one) has certainly shown me the light. I totally misunderstood your entire blog, Mrs. F. I am shamed. Clearly, these are just the rantings of an insane woman who is spending too much time thinking about inconsequential things like childrearing and should be taking better advantage of her VAST quantities of downtime to sit on her amazing shrinking butt, watch Oprah, and eat bon-bons.

In all seriousness, I love your attitude, and I think it pervades your entire blog, Mrs. F. That's why I come back. I'm pretty tired of people "phoning it in", and I think cooking meals for your family and deciding if happiness is worth the price of the saturated fat that accompanies it is pretty important shit. If I didn't, I wouldn't be using my own degree and experience in the very same manner. (Without the bread-baking part, unfortunately. I'm phoning it in and doing store-bought.)

Nutmeg said...

It just completely infuriates me that every mother has to feel guilty for ANY decision she makes (regarding this working/stayhome thing) and needs to justify it strangers, acquaintances, and loved ones.

But dad?

No one questions that decision, there isn't usually a decision there.

I will weigh in and say that I think E. is better served going to daycare. I am pretty sure that if I stayed at home with him, my anxiety disorder would really limit the amount of other people and activities he was exposed to and he is a MAJOR extrovert. So we would be cooped up on our own all day (taking walks and playing outside), but with no one else.

And he would shrivel up and die because GOSH that is so boring. (if he could talk that is surely what he'd say)

I am currently having my bellybutton pinched off... so suffice to say..

Go Mrs. F!

Jennifer said...

Thanks Liz. That is exactly what I meant by that statement. If I chose to stay at home and still put my child in daycare and sit out in the sun all day .. who should care? It is my choice, my life. Who is to say that your choice is more valid than mine .. I would have a rockin tan and you would not! lol.

The comment was also meant to address Annon .. if this person has a problem reading about the particular stress you have in a day, don't stop by and read it. It is really that simple. I come here to read Mrs. F for inspiration and for laughs and for her intelligence. I don't judge her, she doesn't judge me. It's a wonderful world when you choose to be nice and positive.

Julie said...

Laundry, cleaning, cooking, shopping, and working out... it's really not as taxing as you sometimes make it sound.

This was in the comment by Anonymous#1. I don't think you make it sound any more taxing than it is. You show real life, baby...real life!!

Another thing, when I judge myself and my parenting skills and wonder if I am doing all that I can or get upset when I do lose my cool and then wonder if I am a good mom, my husband tells me the fact that I care so much shows I am a good mom...he says that the crackhead mom isn't doing that. Um, yeah, I compare my parenting skills against a crackhead:) Hey, I always win:)

Mrs Furious said...

Oh Deb
I thank you from the core of my being.
I have been sitting here vacillating between moving on and issuing a smack down the size of Texas.
Some people just aren't smart enough to read my blog ;)

"It's a wonderful world when you choose to be nice and positive."

"But dad?
No one questions that decision, there isn't usually a decision there.
It's an evolved world we live in isn't it?

The best part about this whole situation is that even if you don't feel guilty of your choice on your own some one will come along and try to make you feel that way. Priceless ;)

Cara said...

One of the reasons I do not have children is because I would want to stay home with them and raise them, and I really do not want to stay at home. Not that staying at home is bad, just not for me. I think what you do is ridiculously impressive. My mom had a daycare, which i grew up in, so I saw all the kids who would be without their parents and how different thier lives were from mine. And all the work it takes to take care of a child is waaay harder than a job otuside the home. it is also way more important.

khb said...

Mrs. F. Thank you for sharing your life with us. I don't understand why anyone would attack you, especially when you weren't out there making judgemental or controversial comments to begin with.
I've been a SAHM, a working mom, and a hybrid of the two. Having done it all, let me just say that keeping house is a million times more difficult when you are a SAHM because cleaning up after kids who are in constant motion around you day in and day out is (as my mom would say) "like straightening deck chairs on the Titanic." When kids go off to daycare your house stays pristine while they are away.
To Anonymous #1 Thank goodness your children are in daycare. Hopefully their daycare provider can teach them to be understanding, empathetic, respectful, and well mannered. Your judgemental, caustic, and bombastic remark clearly demonstrates that you lack the aforementioned qualities and are therefore unable to teach them to your children.

Dinah Soar said...

My babies were born in 1968 and 1970. My husband's job provided us the bare necessities. As nice as more stuff would have been I chose to stay home with my children. It was demanding and no easy task but most rewarding.

There were days when it was grueling and I looked forward to easier days when my children were older. But all things considered I have not regretted it.

You make a great point. If working in a daycare is valid work, then so is being a sahm. I do get tired of the attitude that stay at home mom's are not doing real work.

I never thought of being a sahm as being a luxury, although I did consider it a privilege.

It is most important that a woman carefully examine her choices and decide for herself what she desires instead of being influenced by the rest of the world and just going with the flow.

Whatever our choice may be, we are the one who must live with it.

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