I want chocolate. Now.
It’s official, I am taking a break from the glitz and glamour of freelance writing.
I just turned down my first assignment, like, ever! Lately I’ve been feeling a little uninspired work-wise and I’m afraid it was starting to show in my writing. The whole reason I got into journalism is because I loved writing, but since I’ve been doing it for money, I’ve slowly been breaking up with it. I still love writing my blog and once I’m into a story I love that too, but the work involved before the writing begins, plus the cost of daycare for all those days I look at my computer numbly has been leaving me flat.
So here I am. For the next couple of months I’m a stay at home mom. I’ll read those SAHM comments on facebook and truly know what they’re talking about. Crayons in the toaster? you got it! Kids who hate throwing stuff out? Amen!
I’ve been talking about making this change for a long time. Before I had kids, and even when my muffin-heads were babies I thought they’d need me more when they were wee — and in a sense they did, they needed someone to pay constant attention to them. But did it have to be me? I’m not so sure. NOW though all I can think of is who else would drive them to their activities? make sure they do their homework? (yes, I’m trying to be better about that one!) and keep track of who their friends are (especially the ones I don’t want them hanging out with)? I feel like right now, I’m the only one who can do those things well. I’m so lucky to be able to do this that I feel I must give it a fair chance — not a chance 2 days a week when I don’t have a story hanging over my head.
Plus, the life of a freelancer is friggin’ hard! I miss my office friends SO much, although I definitely don’t miss my commute! I’m lonely all the time. I have no co-workers, I have to focus on work when I’m sitting in my messy house and all I can really think of is how I should be cleaning it and I have noticed lately that I’m plugging my kids into the TV WAY too much, just so I can get work done. I’m at that point where I don’t feel like I’m doing anything well, I feel like a crap writer and a crap mom!
This is a big step — and not at all a step 16-year-old feminist Dana would approve of. But you know what? 37-year-old feminist Dana is also a realist and she says I have to try. If I don’t like it then it’s probably the wrong choice for our family but if I do…
Is it the yoga? The vitamin D and B12? Or could it be (gasp) me? I don’t know. All I know is I looked at the calendar the other day and I didn’t care that it was January. This winter has been a pretty good one for me — by this point in the season I’m quite often a snivelling mess of Seasonal Affective Disorder. But so far, so good!! Woot!
And, since spring is so close, I no longer resent the stores for showing me lighter clothing than is seasonally necessary, so I’m making my list and planning my spring wardrobe, are you?? Here’s what I want:
1. Pink Blazer, $130, Banana Republic
2. Dolman sleeve sweater, $44.95, Gap
3. Windowpane dress, $178 Anthropologie
4. Tuesday Heels, $298, Anthropologie
5. The day dress, $298, Anthropologie
Dear children of mine,
I love you. I love to cuddle you, snuggle you, bake with you, read with you and shop with you but I do not want to play — nor do I want to do any or all of the following: go tobogganing, play Barbies, skate (indoors or out). If these are activities you are interested at this time, please go ask your father.
I decided a long time ago that I am not the fun one. I am so many other things, the one who cleans up your vomit (your father can’t go near the stuff without making an even bigger mess), the one who makes you brush your teeth, the one who lets you get into bed with her at great personal risk to her own sound sleep. But I am not fun. This is me, and like it or not, this is all you’re getting. I’m like an indoor cat and you are energetic outdoor puppies. I love when you’re with me, I enjoy our time together, but when was the last time you watched an indoor cat play fetch?
I know, I know. I’m the meanest mommy in the world. That’s OK. I’m cool with that. And I love you.
Help! Beyoncé says I should be financially independent. Apparently in the January edition of GQ she says . “I truly believe that women should be financially independent from their men. And let’s face it, money gives men the power to run the show. It gives men the power to define value. They define what’s sexy. And men define what’s feminine. It’s ridiculous.”
Well I hate to say it, but back off B. I wish I could be financially independent and still live the life I lead. I wish I made zillions of dollars for writing my blog and slaving over my stories but I don’t. I also don’t look as good in my underwear as you do.
Lately I’ve been struggling with the whole financial dependence thing myself and when I read her comments I felt a stab of resentment. I mean it would be awesome if all women were living that life but they don’t. I don’t. As much as it’s my ideal, it’s not my reality right now.
Look, let me get one thing straight, I admire her for being awesome. I don’t care if she lip-synched the national anthem or not, she’s flat-out amazing. Likewise, I have the utmost respect my friends who’ve decided that staying home with their children is the best thing for their families.
I just…struggle with being dependent. You know?
I realize you are probably barfing in your toque right now. I know this is a very elitist, white, middle-class post. I took women’s studies, I am fully aware of how very Betty Friedan my dilemma is; just as I know that I am so, so lucky to have this choice to make. Does that knowledge make any decision I make cut and dry? Absolutely not.
Both the hubs and I made concessions in our careers after we had children. He left the firm that he loved but had him traveling CONSTANTLY because it was hard on all of us to have him away so much. I eventually left editing because I was tired of commuting for 3 hours a day, only to pay someone else most of what I earned for watching my kids. By the time I got home, I was zonked. So I stopped working full-time and I more or less gave up my financial independence. Now I’m toying with the idea of pausing all work for a while, just until the kids are all in school full-time. And it terrifies me.
I was raised to be a strong, independent woman. I know I can support myself because I’ve done it. I’ve lived on my own and been just fine — I paid the bills and the rent and I even supported my cat.
But I don’t think I could raise three kids on my own doing what I do. And that bites. But still, something about quitting entirely and depending on him 100 percent has me resisting it.
Even if I’m only making a couple of hundred bucks here and there, I have deluded myself into believing that I’ve still got my hat in the ring. That if, God forbid, I ever needed to pick up where I left off, I could.
But this is a partnership. And so I trust him to take care of me for a while. While I take care of us.
What’s with this crazy pressure I put on myself? Do you do it too? Does this post even say anything?
My friend Alison says I should write my own parenting book. She says it will be sassy, clever and funny, just like me. At first I laughed it off, I mean, I’m basically the anti-parent. I always feel like a fraud giving parenting advice, even when I worked at a parenting magazine! Essentially, I’m the bad mom in the corner who learns everything the hard way — good old-fashioned trial and error! But Alison got me thinking, maybe there is a market for my style of detachment parenting. Take a look at these anti-parenting tips and let me know if you think there’s a market out there!
1. Let your kids go out in the snow wearing their spring coats. If your poppet values looking cool over being warm, teach him about natural consequences; once he feels the chill chances are good he’ll choose his down jacket over his spring vest tomorrow. My son recently came home and said a teacher told him he needed to wear a warmer coat from now on. For some reason when she told him his coat wasn’t warm enough he was all ears, but when I told that he threw a fit and refused to listen! Yes, you’re absolutely right — he should listen to me — but he doesn’t always.
2. Sometimes kids suck. I absolutely encourage you to cherish the magic and joy of watching your kids discover how the world works. Little ones are sweet and cuddly and right after their baths, they smell really good. BUT… sometimes all those discoveries lead to tantrums and fighting and vomiting. And those things suck!
3. TV is a good thing. Some days I just really, really need my kids to watch lots of TV. TV is a perfectly good babysitter as long as you don’t use it constantly. And I hereby give you permission to let your kid watch too many shows in a row, once in a while.
4. It’s OK to have a mommy mentor and make all your decisions based on what she says. Sometimes I don’t know my ass from my elbow where my kids are concerned, preventative discipline? punish? I don’t know! Luckily my friend Monica is super smart — like the smartest mommy I know. She has four older kids and chances are good she’s already been through whatever battle I’m currently fighting. So a lot of my decisions are based on her advice or actions. If Monica says no electronics allowed at table, I think WoW! What a great rule! Then, I make that a rule at our house too. (This drives my daughter Charlotte crazy!)
5.GO AWAY! Once a year I flee the country for a few days to visit my aunt and cousin in Charleston. This serves two purposes. 1) I get to escape the Canadian winter and realize that yes, this season of slush and bleakness will soon pass, just as it does every year and 2) It gives me the chance to relax and miss my kids. I know not everyone has the opportunity or means to flee to Charleston, (although I’m sure my aunt would be happy to see you) but going on a girls getaway to a cottage for a couple of days is just as good. Try it, you’ll like it.
6. Take care of you. Kids are demanding and wonderful… and demanding. It’s easy to get so wrapped up in their web of needs and wants that you forget about yourself. Ask yourself this, did you skip your shower this morning so you could get them out the door? Did you eat at the counter while you made their breakfast? If so, you might need to take a few minutes each day to meditate, take a bath or arrive early to pick them up and just sit in the car sipping a coffee and enjoying the quiet — do something just for you.
7. It’s OK to hate being a mom sometimes. No one ever says that, do they? If advertisements on TV are to be believed we’re supposed to lovingly stroke the sides of our kids’ little faces all day long. But no one loves every minute of motherhood. If one of your holier-than-thou friends says she does, remind her about the time her daughter was car sick in the back of taxi on her way to the airport. Her grimace of disgust will prove my point.
8. Go on a dates. The whole reason I got myself into this parenthood thing is because I went to a bar one night and fell in love/lust with a total dreamboat I met there. This family is a direct result of his dreaminess. The times I forget that are often the times I dislike my role as mom/wife the most. So, after two rounds of marriage counseling, the hubs and I have learned a few things. The first is that I am always right (heehee!) The second is that we need to take care of our relationship, even when our kids throw themselves onto the car demanding to come on our date with us. If this happens here’s what we do: The passenger gets out of the car, throws said kid inside the house and then runs back to the car. Meanwhile the driver revs the engine ready to squeal away at a moment’s notice. Then we take off to a mini mall for a cheap dinner at a franchised restaurant. Nothing says romance like the smell of burning rubber .
9. Do homework or don’t do homework. I care not. Here’s the thing, two of my three children are pretty volatile. Sure they’re cute and sweet and charming but put their homework in front of them and they turn into rotten apples. They scream, they cry, they procrastinate — often they lie about whether they have homework at all. Now, I could go all helicopter on them (yeah, right!), or I could let them figure out the consequences of not doing your homework. IE, fine, you can tell your teacher why it isn’t done tomorrow. The thing is, I already did gr. 3, I know the answers to these questions and while I’m happy to sit with my daughter while she does her homework I refuse to do it for her.
10. Newsflash: You are a good enough mom! Women have been mothers since the dawn of time; parenting books, mommy blogs and all other guilt-inducing media are a relatively new phenomena. Your job is to raise them the best you can and try not to screw them up too much. But no matter how hard you try, you will screw them up somehow. So keep them clean. Teach them how to love each other and themselves. But chill the f*ck out and remember that you’re raising them so they can live in this world once they leave your house, they won’t learn anything if you don’t let them make mistakes now. And if you screw up along the way remember that you’re not alone. I’m right here, screwing up with you.