Please Stop Telling Me I Should Do Things For A Living

The title, alone, sounds ridiculous. Please stop telling me I should do things for a living? What do I expect – to sit around and do nothing as a grown ass adult?

No. That’s not what I mean at all.

A couple weeks ago, we had a little family and friend get together for my toddler’s second birthday. It wasn’t too extravagant. About 20 people came by. We had burgers and broccoli cheese soup, a cake, and a donut display. Truth be told, he slept for 75% of it, having started his nap that day a little late.

As I always do: I made the party set up a little on the extra side. The table of desserts and foods looked Pinterest-perfect, which truth be told I always do. Not because I feel that I have to, but simply because I want to. It’s what I do to feel alive.

Yes. I want to have personalized water bottles and theme-specific drink glasses. Yes, DIY tables cape projects actually make me feel like I’m living my best life. This is just something that’s important to me as a parent, to give my kids some of these fun picturesque memories that I didn’t have as a child.

Sue me.

Just as with all parties I throw, meals I cook, or hostess gifts I bring, the comments almost immediately rolled in:

 Oh Heather, you should do this for a living! Seriously you should get into event planning, think of how much money you could make if you did this for a real job!

You are doing too much for someone that doesn’t get paid!

Imagine how nice this party would be if you were getting a paycheck to throw it!

[Insert drawn out eye roll]

I completely get that this is meant to be a compliment, and isn’t it just so late-stage millennial of me to be offended by something someone said that was meant to be nice?

But honestly: is there ever going to come a point when a woman can be a mom and have that be enough?

As in this is just what mom does – she throws parties, and those parties are extra.

Or when a woman, who is a mom, does something nice and it’s just a part of what she does as a mom – not something she should do in another sphere for a financial payoff; will that ever just be enough? That Mom did something really nice for us?

And really, when did we fall into this black hole of equating the things people do solely by how much money they bring in?

When people tell me that I should event plan or personalize shop or bake for a living, they are telling me that what I am actually doing for a living – raising and educating three human beings while running a household so my husband can pursue his dream job – is of little or no value to them. Like it’s temporary, or just something I do for fun while figuring out what I’ll do when I become a real adult.

Every time I am told that I should do something else for a living than what I am actually doing, a little piece inside of me breaks in half and turns on itself. What if what I do has no value?

Moreover: what if my children heard someone say that to me (which they have)? Will they begin to find no value in anything I do? If they want to do what I do when they grow up, will they feel as worthless as this makes me feel?

And the big one: what in the hell am I doing spending all this time with people who share values I don’t espouse, or want to raise my kids to learn?

There’s a folly to it all because it is meant to be a compliment: that I do something so well I could make money by doing it professionally. But does it really teach our children the value we want to teach them – that something is only really valuable if it brings home a paycheck? And, taking it a step further, that if someone does something for free they are either wasting their time and energy, or not contributing to some grander vision?

I’ve asked so many questions, to which I have one answer: a mother’s contribution is not defined by how much money she does or does not contribute to the household budget.

As I said, I do these parties, the Sunday dinners, the homemade gifts because I want to. The things I do that I do not get paid for as a stay at home mom go well beyond that, too. It’s the homeschooling, the Mom Therapist Mode. The extra curricular activity taxi cab driver. The scheduler-medication administrator-personal chef- laundry woman-housekeeper. It’s all of it.

Becoming a stay at home mom was the most valuable decision I ever made, and one even my husband continues to believe is not what I really want. Women have come so far, how could I ever want to define my life as just a mom? You could do so much more if you did something for a living.

Please stop telling me to do things for a living. As I see it, I am. I’m doing a lot of things for a living – not for a paycheck or a promotion. But to live.

Stay At Home Suckers

So just a couple days ago I posted about the Stay at Home Mom versus Working Mom debate. There is absolutely nothing new or breaking about this debate. It’s been going on for what feels like forever; and – really – it is a matter of personal choice and nothing more.

And then today I went to lunch and sat – unfortunately – at a booth next to the loudest and nastiest Working Moms that I have ever encountered.

From their patent leather briefcases to their arrogant and pompous attitudes, these ladies were without a doubt, douchesausage material. They were both loud talkers, so the entire restaurant could hear them. And they were candidates for the world’s bitchiest mothers.

I told my four year old that crying is for sissies and if she has to do it, go outside.

I have too many reports to get in to do school supply shopping this year, so my husband is handling it; which is good because I could care less about supplies as long as the kids are taken care of by someone else.

So when I dropped her off at soccer, I saw some of those Stay At Home Suckers and just pitied them. I wouldn’t be able to handle my life being so boring and meaningless. I mean – they just do nothing all day!

Just a few of the gems that came from these two assholes before they clomped out of the restaurant in their Payless Shoe Source pumps.

So as to the boring and meaningless part: I can admit that as a SAHM, life can be a little mundane. You can only mop so many floors or wipe so many asses before things start to seam a little blasé. But mixed in among those terribly meaningless tasks, there really is a whole lot of meaning. And as for boring; and doing nothing all day … well, I shouldn’t even have to justify that. But were I to …

9:00 AM My Rebecca Black-ish song would not begin at 7:00 am, at least this morning. I sleep in and get up at around 9 o’clock, only to dick around on the Internet for about 30 more minutes.

9:30 AM I make crepes for breakfast. Strawberry crepes, to be precise; and no fatty crap in it so they are completely nonfat and full of antioxidants. After crepes: shower, makeup, hair.

10:30 AM While straightening my hair I finally notice that Pookie has taped something to the bottom of my mirror. I debate for the next 30 minutes while getting dressed whether this is a sign that I am winning at parenthood, or that children should never be allowed near me. I conclude that I am winning.

11:00 AM I yell and scream for about 15 minutes to “get dressed, brush teeth, wash face, wash hands, brush hair.” I feel like a broken record because for some reason other things come up – Agamemnon did something cute or a book seemed more interesting.

11:30 AM We are out the door and on the way to my father’s house, what I like to call “My Free Storage and Laundry Facility” to get my canning materials. Pookies has a 12 day trip with the Biological Bum coming up next week and asked me to can peaches to take with. We get to my dad’s by noon and he rambles about football or something for a while – my stomach is growling too loudly to hear.

12:00 PM Sawasdee for Thai. Lunch specials are nice, although Toys ‘R’ Us is next door, so between listening to the douchesausage Working Moms and eating my food, I field the begging for toys. I stick to my guns. There will be no Toys ‘R’ Us today.

1:00 PM I make a last minute decision to combine all of my stops into one, big shopping trip at Target. World Market, Home Depot, Barnes and Noble, Staples – they all get crossed off the list and we are heading for Target to get everything there.

1:15 PM On the way to Target we stop at a farm-stand to get peaches for canning. The owner asks me if I ever shop at the farmstand down the street. I say “not usually” and she says that if I promise to never shop at the other one again she’ll give me discounts. I get a flat of strawberries, a flat of peaches, and eight pounds of apples for $26. I drive away having no clue what the fuck I’m going to do with all this fruit.

1:30 PM Target. There is nothing special about Target – ever. I “check in” at Target because I want to become the Mayor of it on foursquare, but am then reminded that recently I became the Mayor of Chuck E. Cheese, for which I want to slit my wrists. I avoid the razor aisle intentionally.

2:15 PM Quick stop at Petco to get the new ‘fluff -n- stuff’ cage liner for Agamemnon. The check out guy makes a joke that he was electrocuted to explain his wild hair. I don’t give a fuck for his little antics.

2:30 PM We are home. The car is unloaded. I discover that Pookies left the milk out of the fridge all day, so will have to head out to the grocery store later. In the meantime, I clean the kitchen in preparation to destroy it canning peaches after setting out the homeschooling stuff for the day. Thankfully, homeschooling I planned for today is all do-it-yourself, so Pookies goes into autopilot.

2:45 PM Discover that the dishwasher is still broken, despite it being fixed over the weekend by hottie maintenance guy. Spend 15 minutes on hold while washing the dishes that did not get cleaned. Hang up out of anger that no one ever answered.

3:00 PM I put away all the stuff from Target and assemble the lamp I bought to make our living room look less like a dungeon. While doing so, I whack myself over the head and give myself a headache. Wine will fix that.

4:00 PM I scrub the toilets, dust all the rooms, and vacuum. Then I realize that Agamemnon’s cage needs to be cleaned, so I clean the cage and re-vacuum.

5:00 PM I realize I have not planned dinner. Wine will fix that. A little tipsy, I decide to throw together some pasta with bread. More wine. Headache gone. Agamemnon happy.

6:00 PM Time to can. I burn the shit out of my hand while sterilizing the jars. Wine will fix that too.

6:45 PM Now my feet hurt. A lot. I’ve been on my feet and moving (with the exception of our Thai lunch and travel time) for almost 10 hours now. I’m pretty sure wine will fix even that. Husband reaffirms that by pouring more for me.

7:15 PM I completely forgot the milk and God forbid we have no milk; and now I probably shouldn’t drive anyway because wine has fixed four or five ailments at this point. Send husband for milk and he gets huffy. Don’t care.

7:30 PM Bath time! Worst fucking time of the day, I shit you not. I field something like forty-five inquiries about how long the bath has to be, how much has to be washed, and what alternatives are an option. “No alternatives are an option and if you don’t can it, you’ll stay in the bath the rest of your life” is what I feel like saying, but I just smile and say assertively “GET IN THE TUB.”

8:30 PM Bathtime is finally over. Pajamas are on and everyone appears to be ready for bed. I’m so tired I can barely see straight anymore, so I collapse on the couch to start working on another transcription for my dad’s next book. These transcriptions are terribly interesting but horrifically tedious to do. Wine will fix that.

9:00 PM After 20 minutes of transcription, I decide to blog instead. Now that my blog is written, there is only one more thing left to do: make myself look as horrible as possible, or come up with an excuse – any excuse – to keep my husband at bay. Fortunately, I am so tired and wine has fixed so many things today that I’m pretty sure this won’t be an issue.

Meaningless? Maybe some of it. Boring? I don’t think so. Do nothing all day? Yeah fucking right. I wish I could do nothing all day. I suppose I’m nothing more than a Stay At Home Sucker in the end; but I’d rather be a sucker than wear tacky Payless Shoe Source pumps and carry a dumb looking briefcase everywhere.

Goodnight.

What Do You Do? For Great Aunt Pat

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What is it about motherhood that makes people bitter and opinionated?

Today I was just sitting around waiting to do some mundane house chore, and thinking about how sad it is that my Great Aunt Pat passed away last night, when I logged onto Facebook and saw more of this ‘Stay At Home Moms are lazy’ nonsense.

It was posted by a friend. She is a working and school-going, single mother, to which I hold an amazing amount of respect for what she does. She wasn’t really directing it at anyone, and she was just reposting it; although, that didn’t make it any less annoying in what it implied about SAHMs. It read:

I hear you. Raising kids and running a house keeps me busy too. I also have this little gig on the side called a full time job.

Indeed.

I really don’t need to dignify this with a response; but I will anyway. Just a week or two ago, I encountered a similar thing at my local Trader Joe’s when the checker told me it “must be nice to sit around all day.” It annoyed me then too, simply because it (like the tone of this eCard) sounded bitter and implied that SAHMs are lazy.

For one, just as whether a mother decides to breastfeed or not, the decision for a mother to either stay at home or go to work is a personal one. It is based on one’s individual decisions and priorities. And it is based on what is best for her particular family unit. No one has any right to judge or “it must be nice” to another mother because she chooses either course.

For my family, me staying at home is the right decision.

Beyond that, SAHMs have just as much – if not more – work than women that go to work do. In fact, a study about three years ago found that Stay At Home Moms do as much as twice the work of a Working Mom. Must be nice to be lazy, you say? SAHMs don’t have someone else helping to take care of their kids – like a family member or daycare lady that working moms have. There are often much higher expectations placed on them – by spouses, children, and society as well. Being a SAHM is not all daytime TV and cosmos. It’s running errands, cleaning house, wiping asses, playing soccer mom, and preparing meal after meal after meal. SAHMs don’t get an eight hour break five days a week to interact with other adults. They don’t get to have extra money for things; or lunch breaks to just sit in the break room and read a good book.

More than anything, when someone says “what do you do?” a SAHM’s only response is (usually) “I’m a Stay at Home Mom.” While there are a lot of things that SAHMs like to do beyond being mothers, it’s people like that checker at Trader Joe’s and things like that stupid eCard that make us (sometimes) feel that we can’t even talk about the things we enjoy beyond cleaning house and wiping up puke. It’s as though to pay society back for our staying at home, we have to cease to exist outside the role of “mommy.”

Onto my Great Aunt Pat. She was a fly lady. There are a lot of people you say after they pass “she was a real nice lady,” when really she was mean or cranky or didn’t even really talk much. But Great Aunt Pat really was a real nice lady. Possibly the nicest. Those of you that have been around for awhile remember that earlier this year I embarked on a massive cross-country train trip to my hometown just outside of the city of Chicago; and while there we got to see Great Aunt Pat. It was one of the most fun days any of us had on that trip.

Great Aunt Pat joined the world of Facebook awhile ago. She emailed me shortly after and asked “what do you do Heather?” and I gave her the usual SAHM response about being a Stay at Home Mom (and, in my case, homeschooling). She didn’t respond. Then on our trip to Chicago, Great Aunt Pat repeated the question “what do you do?” – only this time when I started in with the SAHM jargon again she told me that she knew what I do with my time, but what she really meant was what else do I do? 

It isn’t often that people take the time to ask a SAHM what else she likes to do with her time besides being a mother. They are usually too busy talking about how much more they do at their little side gig called a full time job.

I – for one – have become exceedingly tired of this bitterness that is apparently a part of being a mother. Being a Working Mom is a lot of work. Being a Stay at Home Mom is a lot of work. That’s it; let’s leave it at that. Instead of judging each other for choosing a life different than our own; and foisting our opinions in an effort to justify our own adequacy – why don’t we just all shut the hell up and do like my Great Aunt Pat did: ask what else each other does.

Tomorrow, when I take some time to read my new book about my favorite writer, and work on my first painting in what feels like forever, I’ll be taking some time to do the what else that my Great Aunt Pat took interest in. That won’t make me less of a mother; and the “must be nice”s of the world will just have to keep their opinions to themselves.

But for now, I’ll also ask all of you faithful blog followers: what do you do?

6 Things Pretentious Parents Do

I don’t mean things cool as fuck parents, such as myself (BAHAHA!) do. Like drink. And say words like “fuck.” Be honest about shit and write blogs about our terribly mundane lives. I mean things pretentious parents do. I like to call them the ass-wipers.

The ass-wipers are the parents that baby their children well into adulthood. That wipe asses way past potty training. They are the helicopter parents and the parents that blame all of their children’s shortcomings on other people. They are the SOAPs (Summertime Overachieving Parents), as well as the all-times-of-the-year OAPs. They are the people that tell other parents what to do; that are bitching about Octomom stripping; that look down on others with passive aggressive statements like “oh … we don’t [insert activity] …”

As the weeks of overindulgence in summertime community activities continues, I can see now that they all do some very core things the same. All of them; every one of them does at least the following six things:

Share Chicken and Rice Recipes

Before I started homeschooling a few years ago, we had started off with parochial school. For those not familiar, that means run by Catholics, prayers between lessons, and shit. It’s the bridge between 50 kids crammed into one public classroom and uber-private $18K a year school.

The school had each teacher send home a monthly newsletter, on which the pretentious parents had a “corner” to talk about stuff, share information, etc. As one of two room moms, I had no interest in spending time on this so asked the other room mom (the Queen of the Pretentious Parents) to do it. Every month she gathered information from other parents and shared it there; and every damn month after the next, included was a recipe for chicken and rice. Sometimes it seemed like this was all the people could talk about – their damn variations on chicken and rice.

Respond To Everything With “Do You Love It?”

Conversation overheard between two pretentious parents, yesterday morning:

“So how was your weekend?”

“Oh, it was okay … Dill came home from work early Friday so we had a little extra time together.”

“Did you love it?”

“I did. We went on a date night to this new fusion place – I had a cranberry martini.”

“Oh, I bet you loved it.”

“What about you?”

“Parker went camping with his brothers so it was just me and the kids. We ran errands, went to a movie.”

“What movie?”

“Oh the new Ice Age. It’s a little wild for the kids but I figured ‘what the hey!'”

“I bet they loved it.”

“And then we ran some errands and I got those new U Kotex tampons.”

“Do you love them?”

I’m not even shitting you – every other phrase out of their mouths faithful blog followers.

Wipe Asses – Everywhere

Now I’ve been known to carry those disposable wipey things with me. They come in handy when I don’t want to look like we haven’t bathed in weeks. But pretentious parents earn their subtitle of “ass-wipers” for a reason, that being they are constantly wiping, anything and everything.

The fundamental reason why people get sick so much now is because of these people. They are constantly over washing, over sanitizing, and over-wiping everything down, removing not only the bad germs but the good germs. Ironically, these are the people that think breastfeeding in a public pool is acceptable – where milk and all of the bacteria, viruses, and fungi within it can mix with the water to contaminate other people.

My point is that the pretentious parents are not only over wiping, but in doing so overprotecting. They are the helicopter parents whose kids can’t wipe their asses themselves – both literally and figuratively.

Bring Their Digital Cameras With the Huge Zoom Lens and Snap 10,000 Photos

I’m not one to bag on people for having hobbies, or for taking pictures of their kids. But when I’m trying to take a few shots with my little HTC EVO, or God forbid my Nikon, it gets pretty damn annoying when these pretentious parents are knocking over everything and stepping in front of everyone to get their large zoom lens in the right angle (messing up everyone else’s shots) so as to create 10,000 copies of the most precious image of their little gem.

Of course if they didn’t, then they wouldn’t be able to enter their kid in those Cute Baby Gap contests and then ask you to vote every day for a month and a half for their kid, right? That’s besides the point, though.

Pretentious parents are always the ones who seem to have thought that because they could buy a digital camera they both (a) are now professional photographers, and (b) can and should turn everything into a photo shoot. This makes it difficult for cool as fuck, relatively mediocre, parents such as myself, though – because not only does it make my kid think I’m a dick that doesn’t care, but also gets in the way of being able to make my own memories.

Call the Poor Doctor For Every Single Sneeze and Scratch

Recently, Little Pookie fell and scratched her leg. It was a typical scratch. It wasn’t deep; I cleaned it and put Neosporin on it. End of story. Then on the way into her science camp, she was talking about the scratch and another pretentious parent said “did the doctor make it all better?” She responded “my mom did!” And the woman, looking horrified, said “you didn’t take her to the doctor?!?!?”

This is an extreme example, but I can’t tell you how many times I have seen friends that rush their kid to the doctor for every single sneeze, cough, or runny nose. And the antibiotic over usage is astounding. I’m no doctor, but I know what ours has said – sometimes a sneeze is just a sneeze and nothing more.

Convince Themselves They Enjoy Housework

Were any of you around when I talked about Hello Kitty Toaster and I getting into an argument about housework? She isn’t even a parent yet, but you’d better believe that when she is one she is going to be a pretentious parent. The crux of the argument was that she said she enjoyed doing housework. Not the house being clean afterwards, but doing it.

Pretentious parents, and future pretentious parents, seem to be the masters at convincing themselves that they love doing housework. And why wouldn’t they? They have to enjoy what they do otherwise they will be miserable.

I’m perfectly fine with embracing my misery though. Cleaning up after the ungrateful slobs that live in our house is not fun. I hate it. Cooking healthy and delicious meals for them to either scarf it down like feeding time at the barnyard, or throw it in the trash and say it’s gross without trying it – well, that is just absolute bullshit too. I can’t stand these pretentious parents that claim they love cooking and love cleaning and “oh please, can you give me some more laundry to fold?!” And what is worse about this is that anyone who is honest – God forbid that – is called a jerk by these pretentious-everything-shits-roses-parents for doing so.

I call bullshit on all this pretentious parenting. From the ass wiping to the 10,000 photographs of the bastard kid standing in front of a flower. Let’s get back to cool as fuck parenting, like I had when I was little. My Little Ponies on TV and my mom always bitching about how my dad acted like she was a slave. Meals other than chicken and rice every night and being told to brush it off and carry on every time I fell and scraped my knee. Those were good times; better times you might say.

I Don’t Work, “Get a Job,” Yadda yadda yadda

So, faithful blog followers, I’m super tired and we’re on our second viewing of Freaky Friday (that horrifyingly stupid movie with Jamie Lee Curtis and Linsey “I’mma fuck up ’til I die” Lohan) – so needless to say I’m feeling a little snarky. Last weekend, I went to this writers group meeting for an anthology that I submitted a piece to for publication. Of course, like every good writer I thought the other pieces submitted in the same category as mine all sucked. I mean they sucked hard. They sucked harder than that one time I had to suck all of the pimientos out of an entire jar of Spanish olives to make a log of Jamaican jerk cheese. That hard.

So one of the submissions that was – fortunately – rejected was about that terribly cliched topic of whether or not stay at home moms actually do a lot of work. In all seriousness, anyone that thinks to the contrary is an ass hat-jerk face that needs to have a serious date with my fist up their ass. But the other group of people that is way overdue for my fist up their asses is this group of morons that keep writing these idiotic diatribes about the plight of the stay at home mom.

The submission that was rejected for this anthology was one of the worst. To be honest, she sounded bitter. One of her worst lines went something like ‘so the next time you look down at me for not having a real job, Mr. PhD, remember I’m raising the children that may one day be saving your life.’ I am (of course) paraphrasing, but doesn’t it just make your blood boil to read that ignorant shit?

There are of course a few things that need to be addressed here:

For one, a stay at home mom or stay at home housewife does a lot of work – no if’s, and’s, or but’s about it. If I were to write one of these terribly self-aggrandizing essays, I would probably just write about a day like the one I had today. I would talk about how my day started at 7 am when the kid got up early because she went to bed early, and proceeded to turn the TV on in my bedroom to those frightening Yo Gabba Gabba shows and turn the volume higher and higher until I got up. Then it was teeth brushing, face washing, body bathing, clothing, and making breakfast. By 10, we were on our way to get the oil changed in my car. By 10:30 we were going to get early lunch at Subway. By 12noon we had gone to UPS, the Harbor Gift Shop, Kinkos, Staples, and Radioshack. By 1 in the afternoon we had done a major grocery shopping trip and were lugging all the bags into the house and into the refrigerator and preparing a healthy snack. After that were two hours of homeschooling, followed by three loads of laundry, more homeschooling, and the preparation of a healthful dinner of turkey, wild rice, and carrots. As if this were not enough, it was then time for more teeth brushing, more body washing, more clothing (only this time in pajamas), forty-five minutes of homeschool reading, and now I finally have some time to work on my latest knitting project and write this blog and (hopefully) sleep.

Staying at home is a lot of fucking work. Everyone knows this. We do not need more pithy and hostile diatribes written to justify that fact.

The second thing to discuss, though, is that Ms. Hostility up there does have a good point – there are a lot of people that still seem to look down on the stay at home act. I, myself, struggle to find meaning amidst all the laundry and errand running and it doesn’t help when I have assholes like Hello Kitty Toaster posting on Facebook bull shit about stay at home mothers or housewives needing to go out and get jobs. This reminds me of people that put others down for eating food they don’t believe to be healthy (which Hello Kitty Toaster incidentally does all the time) – as if they are so miserable in their own diet that they have to put down others to make themselves feel better about their decision to not eat carbs or fats or whatever it is they choose not to eat. I think this is the same thing that is going on when someone genuinely does look down on or talk down to stay at home mothers. Secretly, deep down inside they want to stay at home and raise the kids or whatever it is they’d want to do at home, and have to put others down to make themselves feel better about their decision to embark on a fulfilling life working at Burger King (or whatever their career choice may be).

There is absolutely nothing wrong with being a stay at home mother or housewife. Despite the truth to this, though, we still don’t need it stated more. For years, this has been stated – in essays, articles, blogs, you name it. I can remember reading an essay in high school (over 10 years ago) called ‘My Mother Never Worked’ and it was all about the enormous amount of work the author’s mother actually did as a stay at home mom. The topic is overdone and no matter how many angry, hostile, and seemingly moronic attempts people make to justify that, it doesn’t work. People will always look down on it because people are assholes who think their way of life is the way of life.

So get over it. Move on. Get a hobby or go back to judging others for eating carbs or not eating carbs or whatever the fuck you want to judge them for. I’m just so tired of hearing people bicker and bitch about this topic. Shut the fuck up or you’ll be having that date with my fist up your ass.