Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Credit Where Credit is Due

A snow day! No work! Staying home! My little munchkin! Kisses, smiles and hugs!

All glorious things to make my Valentine's Day special!

The "special" factor was going strong most of the morning until it was getting close to Elaina's nap time and she was restless and nothing held her attention for longer that a minute. All except for the great thrill that she got by giving every blessed block, babydoll, book and sippy cup a ride down her slide. She slid her little pull-out sofa bed to the bottom of her slide and launched the contents of her toybox to sudden impact upon her landing pad. Goofball. Amazing how she decided that she would be tired before she could lend mommy a hand in the clean-up/ put away efforts. It took everything in me to resist taking a nap with her today. Warm and snuggly next to my girl, melting away into the sunny dreamland of clean houses and foot massages? Mmmm-mmm, my favorite of all time! The practical, sensible mother in me, pushed my hind end out of her room and let her sleep on her own while I tended to the maid's duties. About that maid.... I haven't seen hide nor hair of her in my house in years!! I may have to consider firing her.

As I'm busy unloading the dishwasher, cleaning off the table, and shuffling laundry through and through, I begin to think that this is a lot of work. Disciplined, calculating work that doesn't end until you're so passed out from the day's exhaustion that you're practically unconscious, but still can't go to bed until midnight when the laundry is finished and put away because you know it won't happen with a toddler on your heels the next day. Could I really do this everyday? Congratulations and best wishes and job well-done to every stay at home mom that exists. (With the exception of those who beat their children and really do tie them to chairs. Please never stumble upon my blog. Freaks.)

When we had planned on having Ava at home, I actually did quit my job (just short of my resignation letter) and had every intention on staying home. There wasn't anyone who I could be willing to trust, nor saddle with the responsibilities of her specialized care. It had to be me. When our big, beautiful, healthy Elaina blessed our lives, I entertained the thought of staying home with her too. For us, being a stay at home mom meant sacrificing a second paycheck and the equivalent of the little "extras" which I have grown very fond of. One paycheck means eating in more than out, shopping a little less, and trading in my SUV for a more practical vehicle requiring a more practical monthly payment. None of this would break us. Not one of these things was too much to ask in exchange for raising our daughter whom I love more than the world itself.

On the other hand, choosing to be a working mom meant 8 hours of adult conversations, mandatory dress code, and a second paycheck to continue to splurge on the little extras that make our life so comfortable. Additionally, the fact that we don't have family anywhere close by, I welcomed a secondary caregiver to provide love and attention to Elaina as a "grandparent" figure. We hit the babysitter jackpot when we met Nancy and her family. Nancy provides care for several other kids throughout the week and the interaction and social skills that Elaina is gaining from the whole experience is a great bonus. She loves playing with her daycare friends and looks forward to going to "Nanna's" each morning. If she put up a fight or clung to me crying each time I walked out the door, I might be singing a different tune. I appreciate that her whole world isn't centered around her mommy and she is learning independence at the same time.

Sometimes I like to think about trading all of this in if I had the courage to be a stay at home mom. You know what? I've got it easier now. I'm ashamed to admit that working is easier than caring for my own daughter full time, but I have to believe that it's true. In the days that I'm homebound and without Eric, the little luxury known as "down-time" is non existent. By leaving the house for my other work, I am actually guaranteed approximately an hour of peace and quiet as I commute. I feel like I can give my best to my child and my work place when I'm not feeling overwhelmed and have some time alone to re-group and not wonder if Elaina is in the den coloring on the computer screen again as her mommy is vegging out in the next room. Of course, by Wednesday I am looking forward to the weekends, and swear that I could just hold her and squeeze her tight, giving her kisses until Monday morning rolls around.

With either decision, the bottom line is that moms work hard. In the grand scheme of things, being Elaina's mom part-time or full-time, however you want to look at it, is the greatest promotion I have ever been granted. Ultimately, I'd like to re-think my decision to stay at home full time when Elaina gets more involved at school and with extra-curricular activities. She'll already have established a great basis of independence and may look forward to sharing her full time world with her full time mom.

Does anyone else think that the term "working mom" is somewhat redundant? Kids are work. The best kind, admittedly so, but work and dedication and responsibility no matter how you look at it. Are there any other moms that have the same feelings?

To the stay at home moms... you're number one! Now put in a vacation request and get yourself that massage that you deserve!! Working moms... might as well do the same!!

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