Who. Are. You?

The latest video episode at momversation, Why Isn’t Just Being a Mom Enough? talks about the labels we assign ourselves and the way people look at those labels. The whole “war” between working moms and stay at home moms is well known. Some of us envy the other side, even when we enjoy the few perks of our choices – we can’t help but see the lusher, greener grass surrounding the mothers who chose Choice B. Some of us passionately believe in the choices we’ve made and like a momma bear, we’ll defend that choice to the end. Some of us had no choice and will either be content with that or longingly wish to try the other side someday. But all of us should try to support each other more – because whether we work a 9 to 5, go to school, or stay home with our kids – we are all faced with a myriad of obstacles, stressors and als0 – fringe benefits.

I started working at the tender age of fourteen and although I just barely worked after college, I’ve seen enough of the workforce in the nine years or so that I did work, to know that it is not any better for me than staying home with my son. I have workaholic tendencies which I think would have been a big concern trying to balance the two aspects of a working mother’s life. And having grown up the child of a single father, I have a few reminders from my own childhood of the advantages that being a stay at home mom will bring my own children. I never got to do the girl scouts thing or even join any extracurriculars until I got my license. There was not always somebody home to ask how my day was, if I did my homework and to make sure I stayed out of trouble. And sure I turned out okay, but I want something more than that for my own children and also to experience those things myself. And I can afford to give them that – so why would I opt out?

And you know sometimes it gets mundane. Sometimes I shut down and we don’t go out as much as we should and I get bored of playing trucks and blocks and watching PBS shows – but that’s where you say, “It’s time to find the balance.” All lives need balance – and nobody should consider themselves just a anything, in my opinion. Society likes to define people by what they do and what their interests are but is anybody really so one dimensional that this can be 100% accurate. Is anybody out there just a secretary? Would my husband happily consider himself just an engineer – or even just a father and engineer, like has no other interests outside those two things? No – we are all more than that. We have hobbies and family lives, children or no, interests that extend past our occupation or family status.We need those other things to maintain a well balanced life.

Of course when people ask you what you do at a party or other social gathering, admittedly I think the working mothers of the world have an easier time of it – more things to mention means more chances to connect with the asker and find a common thread. We SAHMs can mention motherhood and we’ll either be given the “how lucky” or the blank stare or whathaveyou – and even though we have other interests that they might connect with, it’s not an easy thing to find in that all encompassing generic question. And how do you choose the one thing? Are you interested in politics or religion or writing or gardening? Maybe all of those things – but which one do you mention because they certainly won’t want a list as long as what you might put on your Facebook profile. Having a career on top of whatever else you are doing gives you an obvious go to – you’ve made a career out of this thing, thus it is given precedence. And you know, whatever – hopefully a few people will feel the need to chat you up longer than three seconds to figure out what you are about and the ones who don’t, well clearly it’s their loss. I think the biggest concern is not how others see us but how we see ourselves. It’s a way bigger deal if you consider yourself just a

Sometimes, especially in the baby days, being a stay at home mom can feel like just a – just a poop cleaning, baby feeding, house cleaning, sleep deprived zombie. Sometimes our family lives get so hectic and all consuming that the idea of pursuing a hobby is laughable. Sometimes a career woman might feel so consumed in her job that she eats, sleeps and dreams floor plans or profit margins or some other thing and you sometimes have to step back and say, “What else did I honestly think about today?” It’s easy to get consumed in the things we are passionate about. That’s okay. Because it’s not permanent and we aren’t really just those things – they are just what we are focusing on for the sake of our survival and that of our families. Because at some point, life changes and new things will take precedence. Being the stay at home mother of a baby is nothing like being the stay at home mother of a toddler – and I’m guessing that the same will be true when I am the stay at home mother of multiples and as they get older and what about when they leave the nest? Will I never pursue a career? I don’t know. There are certainly jobs I would enjoy trying someday, later. And if our financial situation changed, I’d have to roll with those punches.

What hats you wear in your life and how you feel about those hats is an important thing to think about. Are you happy with the choices you’ve made? That can make a big difference in how you see other people seeing you and how much joy you can bring to your daily tasks. So, yes, make sure you are supporting all the other wonderful women in your lives (and the men, too!) but also make sure you are supporting yourself. Like Cynthia comments at the end of the video, own yourself and own what you do.

books & reading memes & carnivals

Friday Finds: June 26th

Friday Finds asks:

“What great books did you hear about / discover this past week? Share with us your Friday Finds!”

This week I’ve added four books to my list. I’m actually a bit relieved because last week I added so many new books that the idea of posting about all of them was just to overwhelming. Never mind the task of actually acquiring and reading all these great books – talk about a job that will never be done! Anyway, here are my finds from this week:

  • High Fidelity by Nick Hornby – After reading a review at Serendipity’s blog (she has got to be my best source for book finds) I decided I definitely wanted to read this novel. I have seen bits and pieces of the movie based off of it, but I’m guessing the book is even better. For those not familiar with the storyline: “Is it possible to share your life with someone whose record collection is incompatible with your own? Can people have terrible taste and still be worth knowing? Do songs about broken hearts and misery and loneliness mess up your life if consumed in excess?For Rob Fleming, thirty-five years old, a pop addict and owner of a failing record shop, these are the sort of questions that need an answer, and soon. His girlfriend has just left him. Can he really go on living in a poky flat surrounded by vinyl and CDs or should he get a real home, a real family and a real job? Perhaps most difficult of all, will he ever be able to stop thinking about life in terms of the All Time Top Five bands, books, films, songs – even now that he’s been dumped again, the top five break-ups?”
  • Hungry Monkey: A Food-Loving Father’s Quest to Raise an Adventurous Eater by Matthew Amster-Burton – My blogging friend Nancy @ Life With My Boys mentioned this book in this month’s What’s On Your Nightstand – a book carnival @ 5 Minutes For Books. I thought it was an interesting book to stumble upon after having just written a post about picky eaters the day before. “Hungry Monkey is the story of Amster-Burton’s life as a food-lover–with a child. It’s the story of how he came to realize that kids don’t need puree in a jar or special menus at restaurants and that raising an adventurous eater is about exposure, invention, and patience. He writes of the highs and lows of teaching your child about food–the high of rediscovering how something tastes for the first time through a child’s unflinching reaction, the low of thinking you have a precocious vegetable fiend on your hands only to discover that a child’s preferences change from day to day (and may take years to include vegetables again). Sharing in his culinary capers is little Iris, a budding gourmand and a zippy critic herself–who makes hug sandwiches, gobbles up hot chilis, and even helps around the kitchen sometimes.”
  • Mum’s The Word (Flower Shop Mystery, Book One) by Kate Collins – This book series was recommended to me by Type A Mommy in response to my own What’s On Your Nightstand post, describing it as a “light, funny mystery series” – light and funny being exactly the kind of books I’m looking to read right now. “Law school dropout Abby Knight is the proud new owner of her hometown flower shop. She adores her job, but a new low-cost competitor is killing her profits and a black SUV just rammed her vintage Corvette in a hit-and-run. Determined to track down the driver, she accepts the help of hunky ex-cop Marco Salvare. But their budding relationship is threatened when the trail turns deadly.”
  • The Funny Thing Is by Ellen Degeneres – Another book I stumbled across at Serendipity‘s blog. I am a huge fan of Ellen Degeneres and her humor – I think this book would be an excellent read and likely a good light read. “After years of painstaking, round-the-clock research, surviving on a mere twenty minutes of sleep a night, and collaborating with lexicographers, plumbers, and mathematicians, DeGeneres has crafted a work that is both easy to use and very funny. Along with her trademark ramblings, The Funny Thing Is… contains hundreds of succinct insights into her psyche and offers innovative features including:

More than 50,000 simple, short words arranged in sentences that form paragraphs. Thousands of observations on everyday life — from terrible fashion trends to how to handle seating arrangements for a Sunday brunch with Paula Abdul, Diane Sawyer, and Eminem. All twenty-six letters of the alphabet.

Sure to make you laugh, The Funny Thing Is… is an indispensable reference for anyone who knows how to read or wants to fool people into thinking they do.”

What books did you discover this week?

memes & carnivals motherhood

Aloha Friday: Childproofing Challenge

It’s time for another Aloha Friday, the day that you take it easy and look forward to the weekend, in Hawaii and blog land anyway. As you should know by now, over at An Island Life, Kailani decided that on Fridays she would take it easy on posting and ask a simple question for you to answer. Nothing that requires a lengthy response.

If you’d like to participate, just post your own question on your blog and leave your link at An Island Life’s blog. Don’t forget to visit the other participants! It’s a great way to make new bloggy friends!

I’ve been having this little dilemma for a few weeks now, basically ever since we moved into the apartment. We had our old place MM-proofed top to bottom, almost mockingly so – it was locked down, he was safe and all was well. The new apartment has meant new safety concerns that we’d yet to encounter, simply because of a different set of doors, drawers, etc. New stuff = new methods of keeping him out. We’ve done pretty well but there’s this one area that we have yet to figure out a good answer for. And there’s a time limit for how long we have to make a decision. The problem? Baseboard heaters – see exhibit A:

Basically, MM is convinced that the baseboard heater is his personal step stool for looking out the window. Never even mind the whole fact of it probably not being sturdy enough for the task in the long run, it’s a baseboard heater. Come winter this could pose a serious problem in the form of burns! So we yell at him when he does it, but he honestly doesn’t get what the problem is. And we have a new little one coming who could definitely be crawling by this winter.

They don’t appear to make anything to “baby-proof” these heaters because covering them is a fire hazard, etc. yadda yadda. Most people recommend placing furniture in front of them. But I have a small problem with this idea – it’s right next to his closet – a small piece of furniture would mean not being able to open half the closet. My husband’s idea is to put up a baby “yard” like we have put around our Christmas tree in years past, but that will also block the closet and I can’t help but think MM would just consider that a challenge, like, “I dare you to climb over me…” I don’t know. I don’t like either idea but I also don’t like the idea of my children getting third degree burns from the baseboard heater.

So I’m asking:

  • Have you dealt with baseboard heaters & child proofing before? What did you do?
  • If not, how would you child proof this space if the situation came up?
  • Anybody have a child who has actually been burned by a baseboard heater? How bad was the burn? Maybe I’m asking myself for extra paranoia here, but I would like to know what I’m dealing with, realistically speaking, you know?
  • Last question: What is / was the hardest space in your home to baby proof (or would be if you had children)?
  • Bonus [read: completely unrelated] Question: Which celeb death this week caught you most by surprise / saddens you the most? Ed McMahon, Farrah Fawcett or Michael Jackson?