We're All In This Together - Making the tough decision to be a SAHM or working mother

I was sitting in my local Starbucks, forcing myself to prepare for a job interview (more on that later). But my mind wandered and became fixated on the conversation that had developed just one table away from me.

Initially, there sat a woman glancing repeatedly at her cell phone until a swoosh of blonde and a smattering of “I’m sorry, I’m so late. The babies were challenging. I’m really so sorry,” revealed a beautiful, albeit exhausted mama. As they sat and chatted I gathered that the first woman was an employer and the beautiful swoosh of blonde was a new mama to twins. The conversation soon revealed that the beautiful mama was making the hard decision not to return to work and instead, be a full time mother to her twins.

Oh, how my heart went through the roller coaster of emotions as she explained her circumstances.

“I didn’t expect this.”

“I mean, I expected a baby, but twins?!”

“I wasn’t prepared.”

“I didn’t know it would be like this.”

“It’s so wonderful… but so hard! So exhausting.”

“I just can’t imagine working right now.”

“And I made the choice to breastfeed, so there’s that. I can’t really be away for more than a few hours.”

I had a hard time not leaping out of my seat and embracing that mama. That beautiful woman with the tell-tale bags under her eyes from sleep deprivation. The unwashed hair piled high on her head. The absence of makeup on her glowing but tired skin. Maternity clothes that no longer truly fit falling on her changed postpartum body. She was still so gorgeous and spoke with so much love about her little babes. But she was also vulnerable enough to pour out her honesty on her employer and to make that very hard decision that I and a lot of other mothers have had to make. Do I stay or do I go? Work or not work? And then try and justify it to someone.

Though I was not exactly given the choice to stay home with my children (I was instead encouraged to resign while 7 months pregnant with my second son * ouch *) there was still an element of deciding to continue to focus on a healthy pregnancy and to not immediately return to work. It was hard. It hurt in deep places within me. But, at the same time, I knew it was right for me. I knew it was right for my boys. Decisions like that are never easy and I felt that deeply as I watched the beautiful mama unload her burdens on her employer.

I’m happy to report that the employer was nothing but gracious, understanding and supportive of the beautiful mama. It was so good for me to see. I smiled to myself as I heard the beautiful mama abruptly cut off the conversation and stand to leave (likely the need to nurse was creeping up), again apologizing for her lateness and for the decision she had made but parting with the kindest sentiments.

“This is not goodbye. I will be around. I will see you all. I’m so thankful for you.”

I saw the catch in her throat and the doubt in her eyes as she walked away. Was she making the right decision? How was she going to be a full time mama to twins?! Who would she be without her work?

It was then that I took a deep breath and realized, mothers, we are really all in this together. Even when we have to make opposite decisions. Whether you decide to stay home with your kiddos. Whether you decide to return to work. Whether you do it right away, or take a year or two or three off. We all have to make those decisions. To weigh what’s best for us, for our kids, for our families and to know that the decision is being made out of our deep love for them. It is not easy. But it’s so much easier when we are not judged for it.

It gave me peace as I sat and ran through possible interview questions and scribbled nervously on my notepad. It gave me a sense of calm as I questioned my own decision to return to work after being home with my kids for the last year. A decision I still jump back and forth with in my mind, like a game of double dutch.

I hope that beautiful mama flourishes at home and finds a deep joy in every moment with her twins. I hope she doesn’t question herself or feel lost in motherhood. I pray that we learn to stand together as women and support each other, even though we may do things completely different. Because we’re all in this together.

Motherhood, as a whole, is a soul-filling, heart-wrenchingly wonderful gift. The good moments are far too many to recount. There is a joy that is unspeakable, like having a hole in your heart you never knew was there become completely filled, and overflow. I wouldn’t trade it for anything. It has changed me, matured me, rounded me out and made me stronger. Do not mistake this post for anything other than a very real and honest take on the moments that aren’t Hallmark-worthy and there are many of them!

So, before you draft up a hateful comment or even thoughts about me and what a terrible person I am for not singing anything but the praises of perfect motherhood, stop and take a breath. I am not a perfect mom. I am anything but. What I am and what I strive to be every day is an honest, authentic and vulnerable mom. If you are too, you can surely relate to just a few of these… and if you can’t, you are either rocking motherhood, or doing it completely wrong. ;)

15 Things I Miss Since Becoming A Mom

I miss sleep. Specifically, sleeping when I want, how long I want and where I want. Since day one Baby Deux let it be clear that he was not a “sleeper” and now, nearly 9 months later, he has set that decision in stone. I’m up 3 to 4 times a night still, often waking for the day at 5 am. I am a complete and total mombie most of the time. I gave up caffeine during pregnancy and quickly gave up on giving up caffeine after this one was born. I fantasize about my bed. I also fantasize about checking into a hotel, for the sole purpose of uninterrupted sleep. Sleeping in? HA! Unless you count 7 am sleeping in. Oh, how I miss sleep!

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I miss eating what I want, and when I want. It’s really a wonder that I’m not skinny, because when I’m alone with the kids, I never really eat. What I do eat are things that can be hastily prepared and more hastily eaten. They typically have little nutritional value and serve no real satisfaction. When I do make something worthwhile during the rare times that he baby is not screaming and the toddler isn’t demanding something, the toddler then demands that which I am eating… And then drops it on the floor or spits it out after tasting it and declaring it “yuck”. I’m so hungry.

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I miss not being covered in spit, poop, formula, and God knows what else. Hollywood A-listers think it’s fashionable to change outfits multiple times a day. For me, it’s a must. Unless I want to walk around smelling like miscellaneous bodily fluids. Sometimes I do grin and bear it, because you know, there’s always those piles of laundry and the very real possibility of nothing clean to wear. Will I ever have stain-free clothing again? Will I ever bother getting “dressed” on a regular basis again? I don’t know. Because getting a little poop on my yoga pants seems less daunting than on a silk top.

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I miss showering on a regular basis. Before you cringe your nose up and think, “Eww gross. She doesn’t shower.” I mean, a regular, daily, hot shower with a complete regimen of cleaning and conditioning my hair, shaving my legs, exfoliating with some lovely smelling shower gel, and various other treats of grooming. Showers have become hasty, incomplete and often accompanied by the screaming of a baby and the incessant door-knocking of a toddler asking what I’m doing even though it’s pretty obvious as my shower door is clear. I have become an absolute pro with dry shampoo and super on-trend “messy hairstyles”. It is kind of embarrassing inspiring how little I wash my hair.

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I miss accomplishing minor tasks. These days it feels like everything is a marathon of effort while juggling kids. Load the dishwasher? What used to take 10 minutes, now takes well over an hour and happens in several increments. Run to the grocery store? With children. Um, no. It feels like nothing is simple anymore. Nothing is quick. And, nothing is accomplished without the “help” of my toddler. BTW, how UN-helpful are toddlers?!

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I miss the entire world not seeing me naked. Since a few weeks into pregnancy, I felt my privacy bolt for the door. Between exams, childbirth and postpartum, way too many people have seen me naked. I used to be pretty modest. Okay, REALLY modest. But now that my body has been an incubator, my breasts have been a cafeteria and I’m NEVER alone, I just never get to be naked, alone. The minute I’m trying to get in a shower, use the restroom, change my spit up covered top or slip into my PJs, there is always SOMEONE standing there biding for my time and attention.

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I miss getting in the car in like, 2.5 seconds. I hate being trapped in the house all day, but most days, the very thought of coralling my children together, packing a sufficient diaper bag, clicking everyone in and out of car seats and just driving with two little monkeys in the car is enough to send me to the couch, never having seen the sunlight. Getting in the car takes FOREVER and usually ends in me cursing under my breath, sweating profusely and usually forgetting why I dared to even leave the house in the first place. Again, this is why I’m pretty much an exclusive online shopper. Being outside in the world is exhausting!

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I miss dating and romance. I know that my husband feels the same. The business of raising children can suck a lot out of you. When you add the business of work in there (husband’s work), we have no energy and time left for each other. It’s not often the daily conversation veers from how much the baby pooped or what crazy disrespectful thing the toddler said or did. We’re trying… but parenthood tends to consume romance like the cookie monster consumes cookies. And I’m saddened that’s the only analogy I could come up with because my days are filled with Sesame Street instead of reading novels.

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Watching my TV shows. I’m actually not much of a television watcher but I do have a few shows and sitcoms that I enjoy and feel like they offer a bit of a mental break from parenting. However, I do not often get to watch these shows as there is house-filling screaming often covering any attempts to listen to a television, or when the television is on, the toddler demands such gems as Caillou (who is the worst little human being on the planet), Yo Gabba Gabba, Paw Patrol or some other monstrosity of children’s programming. I am convinced that the people who write these shows are plotting my demise.

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I miss my body… or the body that was. I’ve never been a super model, but there was a time when I was in decent shape and actually enjoyed the way I looked. Pregnancy and motherhood has stripped a lot of that from me. I’m always working on my weight. I am marred by pregnancy stretch marks. I am unshowered (as I have previously spoken about). I’m super out of shape. And it just plain sucks. I know there’s a lot of sentiments out there about embracing your super powerful and amazing mom body and all it’s capable of and seeing your stretch marks as “tiger stripes” and all that. Honestly, I’m just not there yet.

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I miss peace and quiet. Is there ever going to be a day where my house is not filled with screaming, crying, “NO!”, “MINE” and all that other ruckus? Though I love the sounds of my children’s laughter and cooing filling the house and it was a sound I dreamed of when I was thinking about having children… well, I guess I didn’t take into account the screeching and tantruming that would come with it. There are days where I feel like I would drag my out of shape body up the side of a mountain just to experience some peace and quiet. Somehow, earplugs just don’t do the job.

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I miss having a clean tidy house. I guess I gave up on having a clean house long ago. Though having that would fulfill my ultimate fantasies, most days I just want a house that is somewhat tidy. Having boys has taught me that we have going to have to live in filth and chaos for a couple of years. I’m not yet at peace with that fact. I’m trying to convince myself that the desire for minimalism that I am currently going through is more of a psychological maturing instead of me just wanting to get rid of everything in sight so it’s physically impossible to make a mess.

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I miss having an semblance of free time. Though I would not take my single days back for anything, I do so miss the concept of free time. I was drowning in free time as a single. I could do what I want, when I wanted, for as long as I wanted and for pretty much any cost. I took lessons. I took trips. I had hobbies. I had stories to tell about things I did. Some days I just want 5 minutes to read a chapter of a book so I have something to talk about besides diaper changes, what that jerk Caillou is up to or the latest color of my son’s runny boogers.

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I miss having actual adult conversations. Spinning off the last point, because I have no free time, I really have no life outside of motherhood, and in turn, I have nothing interesting to talk about. My husband and I get caught in this unending rut of talking about his work or something to do with our children. We have become the most boring people on the planet. I so wish I could have just one smidgen of “the most interesting man on the planet’s” life just so I could have something to talk about.

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I miss being able to be spontaneous. It’s not that I was ever a spontaneous person before having children. In fact, I used to get regularly ridiculed for being such a planner and so very type A. At least there was the possibility, every once in a while, for the hubby and I to decide to pack a bag and head for the coast at the last minute. Or, see that one of the bands we like was playing even a few hours away and decide to jump in the car. With children, we have to plan with such precision and thought that it’s plain exhausting. Not to mention the ridiculous amount of things we need to make sure are with us. Even packing the diaper bag gets overwhelming at this point. It would be so nice to decide to do something… and then just do it. And simultaneously have the funds to actually do it. Life used to be so easy!

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So, there you have it. Please, tell me I’m not alone.

What do you miss since becoming a mom (or dad)?

Seeing as my most recent posts have been a bit on the serious side, and another serious one is in the works, I thought it would be fun to lighten it up a bit and share my current favorites. I haven’t done this in a long time! Almost a year, in looking at my recent posts! It’s hard to think of favorite things when you are often covered in spit up, poo and various other fluids. Ah, motherhood!

Since it’s been such a long time, instead of doing a monthly bit, I thought it would be fun to just jumble together all the stuff I’ve been loving this spring (and summer since, hey, summer officially starts this weekend!). Enjoy!

Spring Summer 2015 Favorites

1. My love for Brandi Carlile’s music knows no bounds. Her newest album The Firewatcher’s Daughter is just plain incredible. Buy it. Put it on repeat. You will not be disappointed.

2.  Now let’s talk about crack. Hair crack, that is. This stuff was recommended to me by my stylist as a cure-all for dry, frizzy, unhappy hair and oh, she was right. It’s a miracle worker. Work a small amount through damp hair and blow dry in. It smells great and makes hair silky and smooth. Love it.

3.  I don’t wear a lot of lipstick, especially as a SAHM right now, but I do like an occasional pop of color on weekends and when I go out. I am loving Urban Decay’s entire lipstick line but for spring and summer I’m really liking their Sheer Revolution lipsticks. They give a shiny and sheer wash of color on the lips, are totally moisturizing and look great with very little effort. My favorite shade is the coral-toned Sheer Streak.

4.  This one probably highlights my immature mind, but I love dude humor. Men are simple, goofy, uncomplicated and somehow also crass and crazy. When life gets really serious and really stressful, I have found comic relief in the show Impractical Jokers. The concept is basically four friends trying to humiliate each other, but I tell ya, it is laugh out loud funny. I cannot get enough.

5.  One of the hardest things about motherhood to two little kiddos is the total lack of free time I have, especially during the witching hour (pretty much just before dinner time). I have found it nearly impossible to get a healthy and balanced meal on the table. Enter in Hello Fresh and my life has been saved. Every other week or so (I decide when) I get a box of super fresh ingredients and awesome recipes to create three quick and tasty meals for my family. I have not had one bad recipe yet. It has made my life mounds easier and has exposed us to some new and exciting foods. Use the code “XBRDKW” to get $40 off your first box. You will not be disappointed.

6.  I don’t even think I can express in words how obsessed I have become with Sia. I had heard whispers of her in the music world but never really paid attention. Then one day I was doing some freelance work and listening to iTunes radio and the song Elastic Heart came on. I stopped what I was doing, checked to see what was playing, and that was the beginning of my love story. I immediately purchased her album 1000 Forms of Fear and have had it on pretty much constantly since then. She is weird. Like, Lady Gaga weird. BUT, so incredibly talented. Really, one of the best songwriters I’ve heard in a long time. This album is freaking incredible.

7.  Yes, I have become a part of the Fitbit cult. I was looking for an easier way to track my activity (or lack thereof!) and didn’t want to have to wear a bulky pedometer as I have in the past. I have to say that this thing is pretty cool and has been an easy motivator to try and get in 10,000 steps a day. I’ve seen a noticeable difference in my health since using it. The unexpected perk has been for me to see my sleep patterns and how very badly my non-sleeping baby is affecting my sleep. I guess that’s not a perk but it’s nice to see it right there in writing, “You logged 4 hrs. 31 minutes of sleep”. As in, NOTHING!

8.  HONY! If you haven’t heard that then you have no idea what an amazing obsession Humans of New York is. What started as a project to capture 10,000 portraits of New Yorkers by photographer Brandon Stanton has now grown into a book and a worldwide sensation. I dare you not to get enthralled in theses snippets of people’s stories and their photograph. The Facebook feed often has me in tears or in quiet contemplation. It is an awesome glimpse of humanity and all of the different shades, backgrounds, moments, memories and stories that build each one of us. It is brilliant.

9.  With hot temps upon us I have been drawn to really simple but striking and unique jewelry. After seeing a similar pair of earrings on a friend, I was particularly drawn to ear cuff earrings and found these amazing ones by Sigalit Alcalai of Sigalita on Etsy. They are comfortable, they are gorgeous and I am pretty much going to rock them all summer long. All of her jewelry is gorgeous and is handmade in Israel. I am swooning over her work!

10.  I stumbled across these adorable Alphabet Art cards by Basic Grey and the designer in me fell in love with them, but the mom in me just had to have them too. I have hung them up on a blank wall in our playroom and am just smitten by the playful illustrations and the creative interpretations of each letter of the alphabet. My favorite is probably the “Cowboy on a Cow dangling a Carrot with a Cat and a Cupcake”. You have to see them to understand how stinkin’ cute they are.

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