Thursday, March 09, 2006

Why I Work as an At-Home Mom

You know there are many times when I'm doing some distasteful task like changing a particularly disgusting diaper or staring at the fridge... pleading with it to make dinner that I wonder what the holy HELL am I doing.

There was a time when I thought myself "important." I held positions with others reporting to me. I did productivity reports and wrote recommendations. I traveled and presented. I billed back and expensed. I innovated and expanded offerings. I shook a little. I moved a bit.

But there are these moments in motherhood that bring you to your knees. And to the veteran's out there... I know that I'm just on the brink of many many days ahead of such cut me some slack and the "You have no idea..." I know that the challenges change as the child does. And as my "skills" do.

But still. There are days that I look at Liam and pray to God that I'm not screwing him up in some way. When I think of the jobs I've held and the positions of power or titles. The client companies from Fortune 25 that I interacted with. They were so much easier.

Now this isn't to belittle. Definitely not. It's just... to be fair - many times you can leave work at the office. You can have your weekend. You can go on vacation. At least I could. People like Dan have a different story. He works all.the.time. He has this Goddamn Blackberry that I would like to chuck far far away but also happens to affords us the opportunity for me to be at home. In fact during his review, Partner A thanked him for helping out on Christmas Eve with his son's To-Be-Gifted iPod. Christmas Eve, people. Anyways, I know out-of-home work is hard. But for me - I could leave it at the office more often than not - if I chose.

I sometimes think of how compentent I felt at the office. How in charge of myself and my output. Stressed? Yes. Irritated? Sometimes. But overall I knew what the hell I was doing MOST of the time. Now?

I truly feel I'm faking it about 50% of the time.

To be honest this number has gone down. The first 3 months? Oh Lord I would say I was faking it about 75% of the time. I had never changed a diaper before Liam. I was nervous to say the least...but I faked it.

Liam has this requirement that after his nap there be a drink and the choice of two snacks available to him on the end table in the living room. The end table is pretty close to the bottom of the stairs so it is one of the first things he sees when we come downstairs. We discovered this requirement when he started screaming after naps. I knew he was hungry and usually would get him first and then get the snack wehn we came downstairs. No... this was not good for the little mister. He wanted, of course, the immediate gratification of the snack.

So we started this new routine of two snacks (small offerings) - a bowl with diced fruit and a bowl with either cheerios/goldfish/puffs/etc. Then a drink - usually milk or water. Yesterday when he came down, he saw the offering and screamed. Big fat tears. Honestly I think he woke up too soon - not a long enough nap and he was super cranky. But he did it again today. But today. He cried off and on til dinner. A change in the rules perhaps.

Now in my head I know - he's hungry, he's probably still tired and so he's cranky. Additionally, his teeth have really been bothering him this week. His nose is like the Niagra Falls of snot and the coughing from it is disrupting his sleep. I know all this.

But the overpowering thought is Oh my God what can I do to make.the.crying.stop. Because it's the whiney sob. The standing in front of me, blocking me, and demanding to be held. He usually wakes sometime between 3:30-5pm. I start prepping dinner around 4:30-5. The crying, the wanting to be held/read to/climbed over, this inhibits me making the dinner which will make him feel better.

So the crying and whining continues as I try to pull dinner together... of course one of the sides fails miserably... and my head is pounding feeling like it may blow. And I speak a little too loudly or curtly and it just makes it all worse. I feel bad, he is worse.

I'm not faking anymore...I'm just not managing well. The feedback I'm getting is that I'm failing to meet the need. I'm not innovating. I'm not presenting fresh ideas or turning tides.

I don't feel compentent in these moments. I feel lacking. Very very lacking. And this lacking kills me and I end up apologizing to Liam because I don't know what to do to make him happier/less like he is chewing on nails. Typically we look at each other... and if I'm really losing it I start to cry too.

And guess what Liam does?

He leans way in and hugs me. And simply says, "Mama."


  • At 10:21 AM, March 10, 2006, Blogger Jenni said…

    Aw. he is such a sweetie.

    So. Help. Me. God. he has started the incessant whining for EVERYTHING. Drives me up the wall. Tell me it stops at some point??? please??

  • At 11:41 AM, March 10, 2006, Anonymous Kate said…

    Suz – you are still a mover and a shaker! These days it is to the tunes of Elmo and the Wiggles though!

    Let me just cut through the bull shit that says that working outside of the home gives a rest to the stresses of Mommy-hood.....NOPE!!! I am a Mom 24 hours a day - it can never be turned off......Being a Mom, never stops, does it? The juggling sometimes makes my head spin!

    I totally hear ya with the whining... I am NO good at dealing with it either. Give me a full fledged tantrum any day over that constant whine...... Making dinner isn't easy with a child sitting on your feet!

    I love your site, Suz!

  • At 12:09 PM, March 10, 2006, Blogger Claire said…

    Susie, you're cool. Liam's cool. Everything is gonna be okay. Everybody else out there is wingin' it just like you. Me? I never changed a diaper before Isaac. I occasionally am rewarded with the feeling that I know what I am doing...and then he changes the rules on me.

    My advice? TV, baby! Bring on some Wiggles!

  • At 12:56 PM, March 10, 2006, Blogger Angela said…

    Susie- I think you kick ass.

    Those little boy hugs sound scrumptious.

  • At 4:28 PM, March 10, 2006, Blogger Odd Mix said…

    I was trying to think of something pithy and eloquent that would make you feel better. However, I think Liam already did that. That little hug and "Mamma" tells you that you are doing it "right". No Fake!

    Keep it up. Some days will be harder, some easier - but the hug will always be worth it!

  • At 7:02 PM, March 10, 2006, Blogger Susie said…

    Kate, I'm not sure what you mean by "cut through the bull shit." I didn't say anyone could leave the stresses of motherhood at home...I more intimated that in MY experience, I could leave office work at the office... and motherhood was a different thing entirely. It isn't something you can leave anywhere. So actually I said the same thing you that what you were doing? Backing up my own feelings with yours? Or was there a different argument in there that I'm missing?

    Thanks to everyone for their support. Like Odd Mix said, some days are harder and some easier.

  • At 7:46 PM, March 10, 2006, Blogger LotionBarBunny said…

    Susie, when Liam grows up he will forgive you for the faking it--because to him-- YOU ARE A PERFECT MOM. :) There is no wrong or right. He will be so glad you were right by his side, and looking back, you will be glad too--no regrets. ;)

  • At 9:36 PM, March 11, 2006, Anonymous Kelli said…

    Oh Susie-Q....I am so glad to read that you feel inadequate sometimes too. You know why? Because I think of you as one of the most tuned-in, instinctive and truly caring mothers that I know.
    It will get better. They don't call them 'terrible 2s' for nothing. Just know that Liam is one LUCKY little boy to have such a cool lady for his momma.

  • At 5:46 PM, March 12, 2006, Blogger mrtl said…

    I can totally relate to this. What's worse? Thinking the second kid's going to come and that we're totally prepared for it because now we're experienced.

    Whole new set of challenges, new personality. Juggling schedules. Maintaining sanity.

    I hate myself for thinking that we had it so easy with just one. I was so completely overwhelmed then, so it's unfair to berate it.

  • At 11:33 PM, March 12, 2006, Blogger Susan said…

    We like to joke that there is always a Phase going on at our house. Charlie went through the same thing Liam is now--late in the afternoon, nothing made him happy except for me to carry him. Everywhere. It was great! (Okay, no, not really.)

    And then he outgrew it. But by then, Henry was in some other phase, and then Charlie started, oh, I don't know, getting out of bed 20 times at night, and then that stopped and now . . .

    It used to drive me batty, this sense that dammit I JUST figured out what the hell you all needed, and now you don't need that anymore! And really, it still wears me out. But my mantra is (say it with me): IT'S JUST A PHASE.

    Fortunately, loving the Mama is NOT a phase. It's forever.

  • At 9:23 AM, March 13, 2006, Anonymous Kate said…

    oh crap Suz - I though we worked this out and now I feel like I have to defend my comments in public - gulp!

    Anyway - total miscommunication - I should of said something like 'let me add to your post and say... coming from a working mom - let me cut through the shit'... see how that changes everything!?! ;)

    Comments are hard I think - I was writing like I was in a conversation.....this is why YOU are the blogger and I am not!

    I was merely ADDING another point of view to your post - in no way did I take offence to what you were saying. You didn't 'hit a nerve'. We are in total agreement.

    Crap, damn shit! I hate that you thought I was being a bitch!

  • At 1:01 AM, September 02, 2006, Blogger Christi said…

    I noticed that your little one turned two today (on Carrie's blog). Happy Birthday to him!

    I'm working on my third now, with a three and one year old, and all I can say is that every single word you wrote was so true it hurts! As much as I hate those days when you can't do anything right, I would not give them up for one single second of being competent at work!


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