Friday, November 08, 2013

A Month of Gratitude: Day 8

Day 8: Being a SAHM (Stay At Home Mom)

All joking aside (it's kind of a joke, but kinda true), I love staying home with the boys.

I don't think staying home is for everyone. Some women just do not feel good about leaving the workforce and feel like they must work to feel worthy. I'm all for people doing what's best for them, and it's not my place to judge what anyone else decides to do with their life.

I can only speak for myself, and I can say that before I made the decision to stay home with Gus, I was seriously on the fence. I really wasn't sure what I wanted to do and I feel like I was called to be a SAHM.

We were stuck in Michigan from the time Gus was born (May 11th, 2010) until July 11th, 2010. Two months of being forced to stay in the state of Michigan. I wavered back and forth on the pros and cons of working versus staying home. The hardest decision wasn't the income, it was leaving a job where I felt personally fulfilled, successful, and happy. I LOVED teaching and loved spending every day with kids.

When my principal started asking if I was going to return (I taught in a year-round system and the year was ending June 30th and a new one starting July 7th), I told her I had intended on returning but until I could leave Michigan, I couldn't give a definite answer. I felt like I had time to decide, but she sent me daily emails and voice messages asking if I had decided yet. She needed to find someone to replace me if I wasn't coming back. The state of Michigan was taking forever to allow us to come home, and I couldn't give her the answer that she needed.

Time got too close and I had to submit a resignation letter because I was not going to be in the state of North Carolina to begin the 2010-2011 school year. I was upset about it, but I was so focused on just getting home, that I didn't worry too much about it. Steve and I had been apart for nearly five weeks and I was exhausted from being the only person to take care of Gus while Steve was back in NC and I was in MI with Gus.

When we returned to NC on July 11th, I had a decision to make. Do I look for a job (possibly subbing) or just stay home?

Again, God had a plan for me. He made sure to let me know that I was called to stay home, and it was in a most profound way.

It was October and Gus was five months old. I was getting into the swing of things, but still yearned to be working with children in some way. It came as a sign-- an email from Career Builder with a job opening at Primrose (a daycare). Their Holly Springs location was slated to open and they'd need teachers to fill the teaching positions. I asked Steve about it and we found it to be an amazing opportunity! I could work there and get Gus in at a discounted rate. I could take him in with me and leave with him. It'd be so great! So I sent a letter of interest and my resume.

I got a call almost immediately and was asked if I could come in the next day to interview. Wendy watched Gus for me and I headed out to a different location for my interview.

Let me say that the woman was super nice and was very impressed with my resume. She commented that I had more education than she did and that I was more than qualified to run the school (I've got my MAEd in Administration and Supervision, my MAEd in K-12 Curriculum and Instruction, and my BS in Elementary Education and I am certified in NC).

She asked me about my teaching philosophy and asked about my career and it was very easy and relaxed. I was offered the job on the spot. It was going so well and we were engaging in casual conversation and the subject of Gus came up.

I found out through my own questions for her, that I'd be required to wear a uniform (khakis and Primrose shirts that I'd have to buy myself but was required to wear... hmmmm). I would have to work on the weekends occasionally and the work day was 7am-7pm. If there was a community event (parade or sponsoring a festival) I'd be required to attend. I'd be working year-round with no breaks except for the week between Christmas and New Year and the building wouldn't be opening until mid-January anyway, so I wouldn't even get that week off.

When she told me how much it'd be for Gus to attend (with my whopping 20% discount) I was shocked. It was like $1800 a month because he was under a year.

Surely with this info, I'd be making a ton of money right? No. She said she couldn't promise how much I'd make, since it'd be up to the owners to decide, but since I had a BS degree, I'd be making the top of the scale-- which was between $12 and $14 an hour. 


Then she started asking me some hypothetical questions. Two that I distinctly remember are:
1) Gus is in the office for whatever reason. You are walking by with your class and see him in there. What do you do?

My reply was that I'd go to him and find out what's going on. EEEEEEEEEEEE--- WRONG ANSWER

2) You're on your prep and supposed to be working on lesson plans, you come out of the planning lounge (yes, the only place that you're allowed to lesson plan is in this lounge) and you hear crying. It's Gus. He's sick. What do you do?

My reply was that I'd take him home. EEEEEEEEE--- WRONG ANSWER

She let me know that my priority would need to be my job and that I'd need to ignore him in the first scenario, and call Steve in the second.

NO EFFING WAY. That was it. It was at that exact moment (I still remember the moment of clarity as if it happened yesterday) that I knew I was not going back to work. My top priority was taking care of Gus and making sure that he's raised by someone that loves him, cares about it, teaches him, and raises him to be a good person.

She said she'd love to have me and if I wanted the job, I'd need to come in for a week of "shadowing" another teacher and I would then have to teach for a week and have the owners come in to observe me to make sure I was a good fit. 

Um... no. I taught for ten years. Was a mentor teacher for four, was a cooperating teacher for student teachers for two years, was grade chair, on the leadership team, my school's teacher of the year and a semi-finalist for county teacher of the year. Two Master's degrees and a BS... and you want me to be "judged and evaluated for worthiness" to be a daycare provider?!? A job that you don't need anything more than a high school diploma or GED to get? It was the final nail on that coffin and I shook my head, thanked her, and told her that I didn't think it'd be a good fit for me.

I walked out of there a changed woman. I was 100% confident in my conviction of being a SAHM. If I wasn't going to work for pay, I'd put all my effort into being the best SAHM that I could be.

There was too much to gain from staying home and too much to lose from working. 

Fast forward three years and I am loving being at home with the boys. Don't get me wrong, there are days that I am so exhausted and just want to sleep the day away, but I have two people that depend on me for everything. So I make each day the best that it can be.

Today is one of those days where I am so thankful to be staying home with the boys. Not only because I love that I don't have any stress in my life (it's amazing what stress-free living does for the soul), but because I am always available for what the boys need.

Hugh needs an appointment for this... I can take him. Gus needs to go here for that... I can take him. We've got a MOMS Club thing at this time, sure! Let's go!  It's awesome to just be able to go and do and enjoy.

Gus went to school with the rash on his back and neck and I got a call at 9:30am from the nurse that I'd need to come and get him. I called the pediatrician's office and got an 11:50 appointment. Got Hugh and we headed to get Gus. I didn't have to fret about asking permission from someone, I didn't have to stress about someone covering for me while I was gone. I didn't have to worry about what to do about Gus and Hugh after getting him from school. I just went and got him.

I am grateful that I have the luxury of staying home and being here for my boys. I don't have to share the role of mom with a sitter/nanny/daycare provider. It's just me. I'm #1 and I like it that way.

Here are some funny SAHM things that I found online that made me laugh:

In all reality, it's not always easy. In fact, most days it's hard. However, it's worth it. It's hard to never get a break. There are times when Steve comes home from work and the last thing I want to do is make dinner, because I've been dealing with shenanigans all day. Some days I just want to use the bathroom in peace. Some days I want to just got into my room and lay on my bed and take a quick nap, but I don't because I'm terrified that I'll fall into a deep sleep and something horrible will happen while I'm sleeping.

I live for the weekend because I finally get a break. I'm thankful that Steve allows me to sleep in on Saturdays. It's what keeps me going Sunday-Friday.

Thursday, November 07, 2013

A Month of Gratitude: Day 7

Day 7: My Basement

When we moved from Michigan to North Carolina, we desperately wanted a house with a basement. Mainly because our house in Michigan had one and we had a LOT of stuff in the basement and wanted to have a place for all of our stuff.

However, after our house-hunting trip over Memorial Day 2007, we quickly learned that finding a house where we were looking was hard to find. We found our house and fell in love, but it didn't have a basement. We spent five months with our garage acting like a basement, and then my dad came down for Thanksgiving and helped Steve build shelves in the garage. We instantly had a ton of additional storage that we didn't have before. We also threw everything in the FROG (finished room over the garage) and that room was not usable.

When Gus happened, and I started staying home, I started to see the need for a playroom. All of his toys were in the living room, and the room was being taken over by baby toys. My friend Wendy offered to help me convert the FROG into the guest room and then make the guest room a playroom. We did this like a month before finding out that we were moving. The timing was horrible.

I never got to enjoy the playroom as it was intended.

When we moved to Georgia, we decided that a basement was a must-have. All other things that I wanted (pool, gourmet kitchen with a double-oven, screened in porch) didn't happen, but we got our basement. And it's finished and beautiful.

Up until a few weeks ago, we had not been using it as I had hoped we someday would. All of Gus's toys were up here on the main level or in his room. The basement was not being used, except by the cats to eat and use their potty, and then the guest suite when we had visitors.

I'm not sure what caused me to suddenly want to use it... maybe it was going to Kirsten's and seeing her house so CLEAN and EMPTY. No clutter, no toys everywhere, no junk everywhere. I feel like there are just piles and piles of crap and I'm over it. I want it gone.

So I told Steve I wanted to move everything to the basement. He was immediately on board. We spent the ENTIRE day on a Saturday moving toys, putting up shelves, organizing the bins... but when we were done, it looked incredible.


The basement is being used daily now and the boys LOVE it.

I've hosted playgroup here three times already and everyone has enjoyed coming to "Toy City." Hugh's PT likes to work with him down in the basement because she can show me things to do with him using the toys that we have.

I've been able to host friends here and I'm having two MOMS Club parties here and will be using the basement.

I am really thankful that we have the space, the comfort, and the awesomeness. I love being able to go down and watch Gus and Hugh play for hours and not ask to watch television or want to play on an electronic device. It's wonderful to see Gus pretend play and talk to himself while he plays. SO FUN!!

Wednesday, November 06, 2013

A Month of Gratitude: Day 6

Day 6: Friends

It's so hard to make new friends as an adult. 

When we moved from Michigan (where I was born and raised and the place I had only known) back in June of 2007, it was hard, but I was a teacher. I knew that I'd be surrounded by other teachers and could make new friends through work. 

I didn't find it too difficult to adapt at work and immediately made two really good friends. All was good and I was adjusting to our new "home" but still homesick. The first few years of being away from everyone that I knew was REALLY hard. There were plenty of tears shed and I longed for familiar faces and people who KNEW me.

When Gus came into our lives, I decided to leave teaching and stay home with him. I knew that if I didn't like staying at home, I could always find another teaching job, or at the very least, sub for the year until a job opened up.

However, I really enjoyed staying home with him. My old neighbor, Wendy and I became really close (she was a SAHM too). I joined a local MOMS Club there after my SIL Heather told me about it. I went to a few things, but never felt like it was my group. I never made really good friends and they all seemed to know each other already. Gus was only five months, so I didn't do a lot of things with him, because he was so little. I found myself having nothing in common with most of the moms in the group. Don't get me wrong, there were some really awesome people, but I wasn't close with them.

Wendy told me about Triangle Mommies and so I joined. I went to a MNO and ended up meeting Kristen and found out that her daughter was only four days younger than Gus. We decided to get together for a playdate and we were instant friends. Another friend from TM had triplets that were eight days younger than Gus, so we'd all get together for great fun. Gus was the only boy, but he loved his friends.

I LOVED my friends. I felt so happy and fulfilled and loved that I was able to find such great people to spend my time with.

Then we moved to Georgia. I had just started to feel happy about being in NC and we had the opportunity of a lifetime and we took it.

Did we hesitate? Not at all.

However... the fact that I'd be forced to make friends all over again was scary.

When I left teaching to stay home, I still remained in touch with my teacher friends and saw them. Several had kiddos and stayed home too, and we did playdates. I never had to make new friends as a mom, because I still had friends from my childless days.

But moving to GA was different. We were faced (again) with not knowing anyone and not having any friends here. I know two people that live here, one was in Phi Sigma Pi with me and while I love her dearly, she's about an hour away and works full time. The other, Michelle,  I adore and is a sorority sister and did her student teaching with me, but she's about an hour away and teaches-- I see her in the summer).

So... yeah.

I decided that I'd look at Atlanta Area Mommies (affiliated with Triangle Mommies) and I went to a playdate that was HORRIBLE. I did meet a friend through that, her name is Dina and she's awesome, but we're on different schedules with preschool and whatnot. But talking to new moms on a search to find your place, is SO HARD. SO FRUSTRATING, and SCARY.

I mean, I freeze up, cannot think of what to say, and I'm totally awkward. It's horrible. I knew I had found the right group when I felt like I could be myself and not have to worry about coming across like an idiot.

I joined MOMS Club not sure what to expect. I am so glad that I did. It's been the greatest thing that I've done since moving to Johns Creek. 

When I first joined, the chapter only had 18 members. I immediately liked the people that I met and fell in love with Kathryn. She's such a great friend. I could write a book about how much I love her and why she's so great.

I have met and added more and more friends since living here. While I like all the moms in my chapter, I do have some favorites and I enjoy doing things with them outside of MOMS Club. They add a richness to my life and make me feel incredibly blessed.

As I'm getting older I'm realizing that I've never been one to have a single best friend. I have a desire to have a best friend, and someone to do things with and be around, but it never works out. For whatever reason, I feel like I'm always getting the short end of the stick in some way (either we spend too much time together and need a break, or they make other friends and pull away). 

When I meet someone, I always wonder if they're best friend material. Most people I meet are not. They're great people... but best friends aren't supposed to be easily found. I guess Steve will always be my one and only best friend. I do long for a female friend to consider my best friend.

As an adult it seems silly and trivial to even contemplate these things. However, it's sometimes lonely being in a state with no family and not having people who've known you forever. 

I do want to say that I do have some friends here that I am VERY close with. I've been somewhat guarded with finding a best friend while here in GA. So instead of making best friends, I've made GREAT friends. Maybe they're even better than best friends because they're not a single person as "my person" instead, they're each there for me in different ways.

I'm so thankful to have Kathryn, Lesley, and Kirsten in my life. I feel like I could (and do) call any of them at any time and they'd be there for me. That's something to be able to say.

The three of them care about me, do things to make me smile, and let me know that they value me in their lives. I haven't seen Kirsten in a while because she's been busy with her kiddos and babysitting another child, but I miss her dearly. 

I talk to Kathryn and Lesley via text, FB, or the phone on a daily basis (usually). I am incredibly grateful for having them in my life.

I'm meeting more and more new moms to my chapter and I have become quite fond of a few of them. Several are in my baby playgroup and then another I see at events. All of them make me laugh and smile, and I can see the friendship with them blossoming into something awesome.

I am blessed. I am loved. and I am so grateful for the amazing friends I've made here in Georgia. I feel like they're the best friends that I've ever had.

Kirsten had these sent to me tonight via Meaghan (another mom in MOMS Club). She knows how much I love these... so she sent me some. I adore her.

Tuesday, November 05, 2013

A Month of Gratitude: Day 5

Day 5: Hugh Being Okay

As a parent, there are a lot of fears and unknowns, but one of the biggest things that scares any mother, is the fear of your child being hurt.

Oddly enough, I feel like I had a premonition about what happened this morning, about an hour before it happened. I can't explain it, but I will say that if it ever happens again, I'll listen to it and not ignore it like I did today.

So this morning, around 10:00, Hugh was playing on the main level of the house. He usually crawls from the livingroom to the kitchen, through the kitchen and into the dining room, then into the foyer, and into the office and comes back up the hall to the livingroom. Everything is baby-proofed, so there's nothing that he can get into that can hurt him. Except for one thing.

I had this random premonition that he was going to fall down the stairs just before needing to be outside to get Gus off the bus. It was a random thought and one that I quickly dismissed because the door is usually almost totally closed, and he hasn't gone near the door.

Well... I should have been more diligent and removed him from the office. Instead, I let him keep playing and then right around 10:55, just as I was needing to get Hugh and go out to the bus for Gus... I hear "THUMP.... THUMP... THUMP................." and then the most God-awful cry I've ever heard.

I knew immediately what had happened.

Hugh fell down the basement stairs. From top to bottom. I'm guessing he flipped over several times and then landed on the tiled (not carpeted) floor. :-(

I ran to the stairs and looked down and saw him. I started crying. He was screaming, I was so scared and shaken. I picked him up and tried to comfort him. He immediately clung to me for dear life and I could tell he was so frightened. I couldn't tell if he was hurt or not.

I rushed him upstairs and then sat on the couch and tried to look at him, but he was still screaming. I hugged him and kissed him and tried to calm him down, and finally I was able to get a look at him. He appeared okay, but had a HUGE knot just above his right eye.
It immediately turned a purple color and swelled up. He has a bunch of redness and bruising on the left eye and then his necklace cut his neck during the fall.

I was trying to get my BabyHawk prepped so I could wear him outside, but he was miserable and only wanted to be held. I finally got him settled in and he was lethargic. I was able to text and call Steve to let him know and he said to look online for signs of a concussion.

We waited for the bus (it was later than usual today) and got Gus off the bus and we headed inside. Hugh was very clingy (which he is anyway right now) and kept crying. I didn't know if he was in pain or was just shook up, or hungry, or all three.

I talked to my friend Kathryn and she suggested that I call her mom (a pediatric nurse) and thankfully, she was able to help. She told me to check his eyes and make sure they were dilating when light was on the pupil (they did). She said to put some ice on his bump and that he would be okay to go to sleep, just to touch him every 15-30 to make sure he stirred. She said if he threw up to take him immediately to the ER.

She said babies are very resilient and not to beat myself up over it. 

I feel terrible. My poor sweet boy.

However, he took a nice nap and when he woke up, he was VERY happy and was back to his usual happy self.

I am SO thankful that he's okay. It could have turned out much worse and I can't allow myself to think about the "what-ifs" because they'll get me all upset and it's not worth it. I'm just grateful that he's okay, and so thankful for Kathryn's mom for talking to me and helping me feel better about my sweet baby.

I'm guessing that he'll probably look horrible tomorrow and might be super sore. I'll give him some Motrin in the morning before playgroup and then I'll make sure to give him snuggles all day long.

There's a gate on the door, but it's not working as it should. I'm hoping that Steve is able to take care of it so that I don't ever have to worry about something like this ever happening again.