This one time, I got paid to write, and I hated it.

I wrote an article a couple of months ago called, “Yes, I’m a Stay-at-Home-Mom; No, it isn’t ‘The Hardest Job in the World.’” It was the first article I was ever paid to write. It’s also the reason I’ll never write about mom stuff anywhere besides this little blog ever again.

The article was originally published about 2 months ago on TheWeek.com and I was proud of it…at first. I naively thought it was going to be one of those articles with a snide title, but after you click on it, you see there is actually a thought process, an uncommon point of view, and, in the end, it turns out to be pretty sentimental.

And then…

People started commenting on it. Many of the comments were positive, but some were a little harsh, and a few expressed hurt feelings. I replied to every comment and apologized where appropriate. I was surprised that most people seemed to accept my apology.

When I wrote the article, I knew that not everyone would agree with my opinion. However, I didn’t realize how bad I would feel when strangers expressed distress at reading my article. I did not intend to hurt anyone’s feelings and I regret that I made anyone sad, even total strangers, even for one second. I really am sorry.

After that, I decided that it wasn’t worth it. To me, it feels like a responsibility to know how my writing affects people, especially if I get paid for it. (Note: I have written a couple of tax/finance pieces since this first article, but those don’t usually hit anyone in the feels, so they seem safe). When all was said-and-done, I decided I wasn’t going to write (for payment) about polarizing parenting topics again. Everyone seemed to forget about the article after a couple days and I was relieved to be done with it.

And then…

A couple days ago, The Week randomly re-posted my article with a new, distasteful subheading of “Sorry, not sorry.” I did not approve that wording, but I surrendered all rights to the article when I “sold it” to The Week – they can promote it wherever and however they see fit.

Immediately after it was re-posted, I received mostly negative, and some pretty hateful, feedback from readers. Someone wanted to punch me in the face and called me a twat (a twat!). Others said they didn’t understand me at all. Several people said I couldn’t possibly have a clue yet because I haven’t been a mom long enough. Many people pointed out that I probably have lots of help and other conveniences that make my life easier.

One person told me that if I don’t find it difficult, I must not be doing it right. Maybe I’m not, but I didn’t realize that people could know that…. My kids don’t give me a quarterly performance review and let me know if they’re getting what they need.

Although I do better understand now why some people found the article offensive, I want to clarify one point. I was not trying to say that raising children is easy. Parenting is hard. Period. I expect it to get more difficult as the years go by, independent of whether I stay home or go back to work. As a parent, I don’t know what the hell I’m doing. “Kids don’t come with instructions,” as the saying goes. I’m trying really hard, though, and I love my kids more than anything. I hope that counts.

So it seems I missed the mark. It was a poorly executed attempt to express my gratitude for getting to do this as my job. I thought I was letting others off the hook if they feel like they have to shower me with praise for being a SAHM.  I was trying to pay a compliment to working parents (which most parents are). I think instead of sounding like a compliment to working parents, it came off as an insult to stay-at-home parents. That’s my bad.

Practically speaking, I can’t begin every sentence with “personally,” or “in my experience,” or “in my opinion,” but I am only speaking from my own experiences. Perhaps that means I should have changed the title of the article to something more specific to me, such as, “I, personally, rather enjoy staying at home with my kids but it is completely okay if you don’t! No judgment!” or “Boring McBoring-face Article,” but I’m not sure anyone would have published that. Then again, not publishing it would have saved me some writer’s regret (not sure if that’s a real thing, but I have it).

As always, thank you for taking the time to visit my blog. I really am open to honest feedback, good or bad, but if you do comment or send me a message, please keep the personal insults to a minimum. Thanks 😉

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Swimming Skills = Mom Skills

I grew up as a competitive swimmer. To say that swimming is a repetitive and sometimes monotonous sport is an understatement. When you swim for up to 4 hours a day, you have a lot of time to yourself. Even when you share a lane with 5 other people, it’s not like you can talk to each other during the workout. I think swimming suited my introverted nature well and, as weird as this sounds, I think it prepared me to be a mom.

All the moms that I know are busy people, but I have a theory that most of us only do a few tasks. We’re busy because repeat those tasks over and over and over. It reminds me of swimming laps in a pool….

There were a lot of times (and I mean a lot) that I didn’t feel like going to swim practice either, but I made myself do it.  Likewise, sometimes I really don’t feel like cutting a hot dog into 32 pieces, but I do it.  I get a little tired of changing diapers after I’ve done it a dozen times in a day, and I remember getting tired of counting to 200 yards after I’d done that a dozen times in one practice, too. I guess they call that discipline and I learned it from swimming.

I don’t mind being alone, either, which is helpful when I spend all day with 2 babies who can’t exactly carry a conversation yet. That okay though, I learned at a young age how to be alone with nothing but bubbles and my thoughts. I seriously can go days without seeing anyone besides the twins and my husband. I wonder if that’s normal?

One of the most useful skills I transferred from swimming to child rearing is hands-free nose plugging. I smell a lot of smells in a day and it’s nice to be able to turn off my nose and still have both hands available. Also, like waking up for morning practice, I rarely sleep in. I don’t even think I know how to sleep past 6:30 anymore.

I think I like being a mom a lot more than I liked being a swimmer, though. There’s generally more giggling when I’m hanging out with my twins than when I used to do a timed mile. Motherhood also doesn’t turn your hair green. I’ve heard that knowing how to swim is a “life skill” but now I know that swimming also teaches mom skills.  😉

 

A Promise to My Fellow 30-year Old Women

When you’re dating someone, people want to know when you’re getting engaged.  When you’re married, people frequently ask when you’re having kids.  When you have a baby, people are curious about when you’re having more.  When you have more than 2.4 kids, people wonder if you “know what causes that.”

I’m guilty of asking presumptuous questions, but I decided I’m not going to do it anymore. As your friend, I’m going to try and think of more creative questions for you1. I’m not going to be that friend that asks if you’re trying to have kids. When you’re with me, I want you to be able to relax and not have to justify your family plans (or lack thereof). Even if I’m curious, I promise not to be the 3rd person that day to ask you an extremely personal, possibly painful, question. If you’re like me, you feel like you have to formulate a strategic response, one that doesn’t make you a total liar, but also doesn’t paint too intimate a picture of your [sex] life (while trying not to be an asshole).

If we step back and actually think about how invasive it is to ask someone if they’re “trying” to have kids, I don’t think we’d ask it the way we do: in passing, just to make conversation or fill a silence. In some cases, these are not just irritating questions, they invoke real heartache. I have several friends who are struggling with infertility right now. I know five women who have had miscarriages in the last year. When you find yourself wondering what your 33 year-old girlfriend’s future looks like, think about what you’re seriously about to ask…and then don’t ask it.

I promise you, my fellow 20-something and 30-something year-old women, that I will not inquire about your reproductive status or plans unless specifically invited by you to discuss it.

If you want to talk to me about it, I know you will. There is no need for me to ask you every time I run into you at the grocery store. If you do decide to discuss your family plans with me, I will gladly listen. I will try not to say stupid, cliché stuff to you if you’re sad or struggling, and I will celebrate all your wins with you.

Maybe we should all promise this to each other.

I, personally, am not offended by the general “kids” question, but I tend to recoil at the “trying” question. It would be nice to only discuss it by my own choice. When people ask if we want more kids, I just politely say no. I usually don’t feel the need go into extreme detail. I don’t expect to never be asked about having more kids ever again, but my goal is to maybe take an iota of pressure off my friends and acquaintances that may be at that stage in their lives.

So if you’re reading this, consider it a contract. When we’re hanging out, I won’t bring it up. Like I said, I know you will talk to me if you want to. I promise to take all my cues from you, and I hope it makes me a better, more compassionate friend. ❤

 

1 I wasn’t kidding about finding more creative questions…. Have you read any good books lately? What was (or is) your favorite college class? Do you have any fun plans this summer? If animals could talk, which one would be the most annoying? Do you snore? How’s your job going? What “old person” things do you do? What makes you roll your eyes every time you hear it? Where do you see yourself in 5 years? Do you go to church? What’s your least favorite question to be asked in a job interview? Do you watch trashy reality TV (because I do)? Want to discuss politics (I probably don’t, but we can)? Have you ever tried a greyhound cocktail? When is the last time you told a lie? Do you have pets? What’s the hardest you’ve ever worked? Apple or PC? Do you think collegiate athletes should be paid? What’s your favorite recipe right now? How are your parents doing? What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever gotten? How do you think I should deal with my kids’ tantrums? What songs hit you with a wave of nostalgia every time you hear them? What’s your favorite season? Do you have a cure for hiccups? If someone narrated your life story, who would you want the narrator to be? Have you ever done Hot Yoga? Who’s your celebrity crush? What are your thoughts on carrying debt? Do you have a favorite charity? What’s your favorite movie? Have you heard any good jokes lately?

Yesterday

Yesterday was a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day.

We didn’t sleep the night before because H was running a fever.  I called the doctor in the morning and made an appointment.  We stopped for gas on the way there, but when I got in the car after filling up, it wouldn’t start.

Of course the car couldn’t have broken down at home.  Of course my in-laws were out of town and of course the twins (and I) were extra grumpy from illness/lack of sleep.  Of course!

At first I couldn’t get ahold of anyone nearby who could possibly help me.  Also, no one at the gas station was willing to help.  I know people busy and everything but it still sucked.  I didn’t want to abandon my car in front of a pump and I wasn’t sure the cheap stroller I brought would make it all the way home.  I really thought H needed to see a doctor and I hate being late (or a no-show).  It was a lot.

Another helpful thing is that I cry when I’m super stressed.  The twins quickly lost patience, so if you’re counting, that’s three of us crying.  I wonder why no one wanted to help us? 😉

Luckily, a couple of guardian angels came to our rescue and I eventually got ahold of my husband who left work to come help.

Things started to look like they were turning around.  We are lucky to have friends in town and I was lucky to catch my husband at work when I did.  He left his car with me so I could take H to the doctor.  The twins took a nap and I rescheduled the doctor visit.

But there’s that thing that people always say – about bad stuff happening in threes?  I don’t want to believe it, but I kind of do.  That probably makes it a self-fulfilling prophecy….

The day seemed to be getting better, though.  The car issue turned out to be a pretty minor fix and we confirmed at the doctor that H didn’t have a UTI or anything else serious.  We just hung out at home the rest of the afternoon.

After we fed the twins dinner, the third thing in the bad-day-trifecta happened.  M (the healthy twin) walked up to me with something on her face.  I looked at her and thought, “where did she get avocad – IS THAT THROW UP?  DID YOU THROW UP?!”  Sure enough, there was green throw up on her face and hands.  My husband put her into the bath while I searched the house for a pile of barf.  I found it and cleaned it up.

After we put the twins to bed, we started making dinner for ourselves.  Also, a stiff drink.  I barely even flinched when the big clock hanging high on on fireplace crashed down and shattered all over the living room.

But then I started to wonder – was that the third thing?  The throw up incident wasn’t that bad, she somehow managed to get all the throw up on our waterproof floor, and she doesn’t seem sick.   So is the sliver of glass in my foot the third thing?  I feel certain that the first two things were H’s fever and the car breaking down.  I thought the throw up was the third, but maybe it wasn’t.

Or maybe the shattered clock is the first thing in another series of three?

Nah, I’m sure that’s not it….

 

 

Diaper Wrestling

Turns out you have to be pretty strong to be a parent. Like, physically strong. My twins have entered the diaper-change-resistance phase. They’re super busy these days, doing baby stuff, cruising around, climbing on stuff, and playing, so I guess they just really don’t appreciate my interrupting all of that for a fresh diaper. And, what the heck, have they been doing Crossfit or something? They are shockingly good at wrestling out of diaper changes. They twist and kick and – my personal favorite – push off the wall behind their changing table. I try to pin them down, but usually I end up just waiting until they tire out before taking off the dirty diaper.

The one thing they hate more than diaper changes is getting their boogers wiped off their faces. H will be standing across the room, make eye contact with me, and then go, “Mmmm nom nom yum yum,” while licking and smearing snot on her face. I laugh/shudder and secretly grab a Kleenex. Then I have to play it cool, hiding the tissue while I casually walk over to her and, at the last second, whip out the tissue and try to clean up the mess. She grabs at it and cries and whips her head around. Sometimes I end up making it all worse.

Kids are gross.

The other day I caught Millie dipping her binky in the toilet. That girl is like a honey badger – she does whatever and doesn’t care. [The toilet lid is now locked].

Kids are so, so gross.

But they’re also so, so cute. They have been super cuddly lately (when I’m not trying to wipe their butt or their face). I think they know it makes me melt when they lay their heads on my chest or walk up and give me a smack on the lips. In those moments, I would seriously give them anything they wanted. I don’t even care that I’m being manipulated because their cuddles are that awesome. Even when they get boogers on me or kick me in the face during diaper changes, I can’t think of anything better than a hug from my little twins.

Twin Language?

A few months ago, the twins started giving each other stuff. H, in particular, has discovered that if she gives M a toy, then M is much less likely to steal H’s toy. I can also give one baby 2 sippy cups and tell her to give one to her sister, and she does it (usually). Of course they grab stuff from each other a lot, but when they share, my heart explodes a little (in a good way).

My very favorite thing they do is find the other’s binky and then bring it to her. I think it is so cute, but just this morning, I realized how amazing it is. One of them makes her distinct binky whining noise, and her sister will find her pacifier and deliver it. I think this is the closest thing to a twin language that I’ve observed with my girls so far. At least in this specific instance, they are able to discern what the other needs and can meet that need.

They have always instinctively known how to bother the other, but I don’t have any of those awesome videos of them babbling to each other as 3-month olds that you see on YouTube. They have been able to make each other laugh hysterically since about 8 or 9 months, but I’ve never observed the unique baby noises that people refer to as twin language. For now, their twin language seems to be more unspoken, I guess. I often wonder what their relationship will be like as they get older. I imagine they’ll probably fight pretty passionately (they already have some pretty considerable wrestling matches) but that’s okay with me as long as they love each other more intensely. The twin bond really is so cool, one that I can never fully understand, but it’ll be pretty cool to watch it develop as they grow up.

Confessions of a Helicopter Mom

There are so many things I swore I’d never do once I became a mom. I never pictured myself as the mom who makes visitors wash their hands before touching her baby. I am that mom. Although I’ve never identified as a “germaphobe,” I used Purel so often during the newborn months that I developed eczema on my hands. I literally killed the skin on my hands for fear of germs. My perceived threat of RSV or the Flu was almost paralyzing.

As it turns out, I’m a helicopter mom. My natural instinct is to hover constantly to [try to] prevent every possible bad thing that could befall my girls. I can walk into any room and spot 9 different ways my kids could seriously injure themselves. Is that dresser bolted to the wall? What if they jump headfirst off the back of the couch? Did I cut this hot dog small enough? Can they reach that knife on the counter?  I’ll stop there, you get it.

Last summer, when the twins were about 9 months old, my husband and I were sitting on our front step with them. Faster than lightning, one of the girls put a rock in her mouth. I noticed it immediately, being the hoverer that I am, and took it out of her mouth. “I think we should let them eat a couple rocks. They’ll learn,” my husband said (obviously, he keeps this chopper grounded sometimes). We sat there a couple more minutes before it hit me – didn’t we recently spray weed killer all around our house? What if there was weed killer on that rock? I could barely sleep that night for fear that she had been poisoned. She was fine, of course.

It’s hard for me to describe the compulsion I feel to protect my kids, but that’s really what it is for me. It’s like an overactive instinct that is not helpful in reality. The good new is, I’ve identified this unhealthy tendency of mine and I’m working on it. I completely understand why being an overprotective parent is not healthy for anyone involved. I really do. My kids need to learn their own lessons and I’m finally realizing that those lessons will probably bring bruises or casts or illnesses with them. I also know that it is not even possible for me to prevent e-v-e-r-y-thing from harming them. The act of trying to absolutely protect them is likely very harmful in itself. And so, I’m doing my best to stay grounded because what a good helicopter mom would do is…not be a helicopter mom.

Belly Buttons

Recently, H noticed M’s belly button.  Usually when I’m giving them a bath, H will poke her little finger into M’s belly button and they’ll both giggle.  She never remembers her own belly button until I remind her.  The whole thing is ridiculously cute.

Sometimes I explain to them why they have belly buttons: that’s how I fed them while they were in my tummy (an oversimplification, I know, but they can’t even say “belly button” so….).  I go on to tell them that I have a belly button because that’s where I was attached to GaGa (that’s what they call my mom).  It got me thinking how crazy/awesome belly buttons are.  I have probably thought about my belly button (or anyone else’s) for a grand total of a minute in my whole life.  But then I had the twins and now I’m fascinated.

I worried a lot (A LOT) when I was pregnant.  Eventually, I had one realization that eased my anxiety the most: my babies would never be safer than when they were in my belly.  Floating around in there, sleeping, growing, and physically attached to me by a leash.  I accepted that there were plenty of things that could go wrong in utero, but there were more things that could go right.

I am always amazed at how the twins are their own people with their own personalities.  They never let me forget that they make their own decisions and that I have very little control over them.  Their little belly buttons are a reminder that I once did have some sort of control (they ate more Pop-Tarts during that time than I would ever allow now that they’re on the outside).  I don’t know why, but for some reason it’s incredible to me that we were once attached to each other.

Moral of the story is, you wouldn’t be alive if you didn’t have a belly button.  Thanks, Mom, for my belly button.

The Work Decision

I decided to start working again.  I started to miss it and I don’t want to get out of practice. I start next Wednesday!

[Sidenote: my twins are licking the floor right now.]

Even though I missed working, it was still a tough decision to make.  I went back and forth many times about it.  These past 16 months being at home have been the best time of my life.  Plus, I don’t have to go back to work right now.  We really have a good routine, and I’m a little nervous to throw off the balance by adding work to the schedule.

I’m fortunate to work for a small business (that I previously worked for) whose owner is basically the nicest guy I’ve ever met.   He understands that I have little kids and he doesn’t want me to feel like I’m missing out on them (and I actually believe him when he says that).

I’m only working part-time and I get to work from home (which is awesome).  That way I can listen to Bubble Guppies in the background while I calculate clients’ tax liability.  This could be the worst good idea I’ve ever had….

The Santa Lie

Christmas is my favorite time of year.  I have loved it for as long as I can remember.  I’m excited to see my kids’ excitement when they’re old enough to understand.

I just have one major problem: Santa.

I can’t understand the Santa lie.  I hadn’t given much thought to it until last year, which was the twins’ first Christmas.  We got them a couple of things and as I was writing their names on the packages, it suddenly hit me.  Is this gift from ‘Mom and Dad’ or ‘Santa’?  Right at that moment (and again this year) I started plotting how we could not do Santa in the future.  Sorry kids, those presents are from Mom and Dad; we shopped for them; we paid for them or made them for you; we wrapped them.  I want our kids to understand how those gifts really got there and, yes, I want them to say thank you to us – not an imaginary guy.

The one benefit I can see to perpetuating the Santa lie is that you can threaten your kids to behave at all times or poof! no presents at Christmas.  It still doesn’t quite get me there, though, because I feel like I could threaten them myself….  I’m probably naive to think that my kids will ever listen to me, but I’m a first-time parent, so I’m totally clueless.

Pretty much the only thing holding me back from going full-out truthful parent is that I don’t want my kids to ruin Santa for other kids.  I guess I have a couple years to figure that one out, but if anyone reading this has any ideas for me, or any reasons why Santa is a good idea, please send me a message!

Thanks for reading and Merry Christmas!