Thursday, July 9, 2009

My Side of the Fence

Sometimes what may appear as greener pastures may be nothing more than a patch of weeds. I just finished reading Dr. Laura Schlessinger's book titled "In Praise of Stay-at-Home Moms."

I have known that there is a lot of controversy around mothers and women in general. Sadly, women seem to always find a reason to be in competition with each other. What's worse is they always find a way to put each other down about anything and everything. My sister shared some of her experiences with me and all I could say was "Welcome to Motherhood!" But in reality she would have been criticized for any choice she made about anything in her life. She is a woman.

Like I said, I knew there was controversy but I didn't know it was an all out war. Not until Bug’s kindergarten teacher as well as the school counselor told me I needed to send my kids to pre-school. After reading this book, I have more confidence in my decision to keep my kids out of pre-school. That decision should be made between a husband and wife and God. When Bug was about to turn 3 years old I remember freaking out a little thinking I only had 2 more years with him before I had to share him with school. I feel that same way about Tag. I only get one more year with him before he goes to kindergarten. I'm not worried about their academic intelligence, nor am I worried about their social skills. My kids are normal and well adjusted. I miss them when they are gone. They are my life.

Living in Utah there wasn't as much war about whether or not a woman stayed home with her children. Many women did stay home because that was the culture in Utah. At times I felt like I was a drain on society. I felt guilty for getting a BS degree with the intent to stay home if I ever married and had children. I especially felt like a lazy bum when so many of my SAHM acquaintances justified their decision by working from home. They would do anything to make a buck and had a way of making me feel bad for not. In Utah I felt like I was in competition with other SAHM's and I was losing because my house wasn't perfect 24/7, my son wasn't walking by 9 months, etc, etc, etc.

After moving to CA, the mommy guilt shifted. I feel like I am viewed as irresponsible for having 3 kids, two years apart in age, all from the same man who happens to be the only man I ever married! I am criticized for not paying hundreds of dollars on state of the art pre-schools and over scheduling my children to the point that people need to get on a waiting list for a play date. A friend of mine recently told me that she is not going to enroll her 4 year old in pre-school anymore because it's nothing more than a really expensive play date. I heard a description of a pre-school/day care that was different from the other facilities. This one let the kids go in and out as they pleased. Snacks were not scheduled. Kids were not forced to join in any art or science project but if they got "stuck" in one spot too often or for too long they were encouraged to join an activity. I am not interested in paying for that when that is essentially what I do at home with my own children! I don't need to pay someone else to raise my kids.

I loved this book. It reminded me of everything I have. And I have it all. I have a wonderful and supportive husband. I have 3 of the cutest and smartest kids. They tell me constantly that they love me. Ok, lately Tag tells me he loves me on one day and I tell him I love him every day and he laughs. Then he admits he loves me every day too.

This book told me to stop being such a perfectionist. Hubby will roll his eyes when he reads that one! He's been telling me that all along. But maybe it took reading it in a book to realize that the house doesn't always need to be spotless. I have relaxed on this cleaning compulsion of mine. I used to sweep after every meal and snack when Bug was a baby. I think of that every few days when I finally get around to sweeping because I don't think Little Miss needs to eat petrified hamburger chunks off the floor. Cheerios are ok but meat is questionable.

The whole stop being such a perfectionist thing also helps when I realize that my kids are not going to be perfect. They never will be nor were they ever meant to be. Because I stay home with them I have gotten to know them really well. I am learning what works on each one (and it's not the same for any of them.) I am learning that Bug is very slow to adapt to some activities. We have a hard time getting to school without tears. At least he is having a good experience and is fine once we get there. I can only imagine his therapy bills if I sent him to a pre-school or daycare because I had to. He doesn't get a choice now. School is mandatory. Summer school is not but we committed to sending him to the art and drama classes so he doesn't get to choose. But I feel better knowing he had 5 years to be a free kid! I don't pick him up from school only to cart him off to a million activities. He comes home and gets his emotional needs met from me.

I vow to never again feel ashamed that I just stay home with my kids. I do so much more than that. I am a mother!

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