Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Q&A Part IV: Being a SAHM

I always get so excited when soon-to-be mommies want to know what it's like to be a Stay-at-Home-Mom because I love talking about my experience so far. Its hard to believe it has been almost two years since I quit my administrative job at the college, and yet I still feel the same way I did when I was only 3 months into my new role. In fact, to answer my real life friend Bre and bloggy friend Alison's questions, I thought I would repost something I wrote in October of 2008, when Addie was just 7 months old. I still feel the exact same way...although now I have added another little cutie to the mix. I will talk more about being a SAHM with 2 kiddies after you reminisce with me for a moment. I wrote...

As a stay-at-home mom, I often get asked the question, "Don't you ever get bored at home all day?" If I don't have the time to explain, I simply answer "Hell no." But if I do have the time and/or I am just annoyed enough to make the time, this is how I explain myself.


Since I work in education, I will try to explain my new role as aSAHM in terms of running a college because it is surprisinglyVERY similar. Lets break it down by department shall we?

Business Affairs
Like the business office at most institutions, I am not responsible for making any money, but I am responsible for overseeing where it is coming from and where it is going. I write the checks, sign the checks, deposit, withdraw, balance, save, invest...I think you get the point. I have to have excellent filing skills, bookkeeping skills and money management skills (still working on that one). If the check book is balanced, I get a smile and a nod. If the check book isn't balanced, I am sentenced to an eternity in hell. I will always annoy the carp out of everyone who has to deal with me but that'sjust what I have to do keep this department up and running.

Human Resources
Like the business office, the human resource department doesn't make any money, but is responsible for paying everyone else. In my case it is Comcast Cable, Nicor, CommEd, GMAC Mortgage, AT&T, the guys who spread our mulch every spring...I think you get my point. Also, I am in charge of understanding our health benefits. I mean, it takes a 3 ring binder just to explain our deductible so obviously this is a pretty overwhelming task at times. But unlike the HR departments at most institutions, I don't have a quick connect button that I can hit when I need to call these people. I have to listen to Kenny G for 45 minutes just to get to the menu where I select 4 for a live person. And remember...I am also in charge of getting everyone to their doctors appointments. Most HR departments don't drive you to the doc. But if paying everyone else AND coordinating benefits were not enough responsibility for one department, I also have to be concerned about team morale. When everyone seems stressed about their job, or in my case, when everyone feels stressed about life, I have to be ready with team building activities. When Addie is upset because she is cutting a tooth, lost her favorite bug rattle AND pooped her pants...I have to talk in my silly voice and sing ItsyBitsy Spider while I crawl on the floor and find a new toy for her to play with while I change her diaper. When Eric comes home after a long day at work and is stressed about the long hours and our "lack of alone time", I have to forget about my long day and pretend like I want to play "dirty school teacher" and rub his shoulders. Seriously...I have a new found respect for this department.

Marketing and Communication
This is the department I have the most fun with. I sort of look at this blog as my family website. Anyone wanting to know what's new in the Davis household can come here to find out. I update this blog regularly so there are no complaints :-) I also like to brag about my family, which is really what marketing is all about isn't it? If a college has a beautiful campus...they sell it. If a college has an excellent graduate program...they sell it. If a family has the cutest baby on the block...they should sell it. Just as I do. Hahaha!
As far as communication goes, if it weren't for me, everyone in our family would think we fell off the face of the earth because Eric is SO not the communicator. He would go a week without calling anyone and then look confused when everyone wonders where he has been. Now don't get me wrong, he is an excellent communicator at work and I am sure all his colleagues would agree. But at home, I have to decode everything he says. For example, if Eric says "I am going to Joe's house to watch the Bears and have a beer or two," I know to ask if by "Joe's house" he means the bar, if by a "beer or two" he means 7 and if by "watching the Bears" he means watching every NFL game on TV that day. Luckily, I know to ask these questions so when Dana calls looking for her husband, I know how to report back :-)

Institutional Advancement and Planned Giving
I am always looking for creative ways to bring in family income without having to go back to work full time so for the sake of this explanation, I will refer to this department as Family Advancement. I would love to advance us into the next tax bracket without having to work an outside job. When I figure out how to do that, I will report back.
As for Planned Giving, we are not quite at the fundraising stage in our household yet. However, I know I am only a few years away from Addison going to school and joining clubs and dance teams and that means a mountain of cookie, candle and wrapping paper order forms that I will have to solicit to every family member, friend and neighbor I know. And you bet your sweet ass I will be stopping by the home of EVERY person who has ever dropped off a girl scout cookie order form at my house. I mean...who needs 17 boxes of peanut butter patties in one year. I mean...I ate them...but I wasn't happy about it!!

Academic Affairs
This is actually a very important part of being a SAHM. Addison isn't in day care with lots of other kids participating in fun educational activities every day. It is up to me to create fun activities that will keep her attention for longer than 25 seconds. And that is a LOT harder than you think. Luckily, Addie has lots of babies to play with each day because my sister-in-law and cousin-in-laws all stay at home part-time or full time with their kids. We try to schedule at least one or two play dates a week. I think it is good for Addie to get out and socialize with other kids, even if they are family :-)
Another important part of academic affairs is planning a curriculum. Trust me, I have a LOT of experience with this in the academic world, but I have NO experience with this at home. Do I let Addie watch TV or not? What toys are educational and which aren't? Do I sign her up for baby music or baby sign language? Will too much exposure to the Disney Channel give her ADD? So many things to think about! And she is only 7 months old!!! Did I mention that I also have to grade freshman English papers and create lesson plans during my free time?

Food Service
The "Jen Cafeteria" is open 24 hours around the Davis household since I am still breastfeeding. Luckily, there is only one menu item for Addie to chose from so at least she can't be picky. However, we are on solids now too so after I prepare three organic meals a day for her, I also have to nurse her. Its an all day job. And in addition to feeding her, I have to feed myself and a picky husband. I have never been a very good cook, but I am learning and getting better each day. I plan meals now, just like the cafeteria at my old school, and if anyone doesn't like what's on the menu...they can makeRamen Noodles in their dorm.

Housing
Speaking of dorms, before I moved in with Eric, his old house looked like a dorm. He was using a microwave stand as an entertainment center, he had a Christmas tree still up in his living room in April and he had a missing kitchen cabinet door...still not sure about that. Also, the only food in his refrigerator was a jar of pickle relish, a few packets of Arby's sauce and an old take-out container from the dinner down the street. Poor guy. So that'swhen I had to step in and turn that house into a home. And honestly, I loved every minute of it because in case you didn't know, I LOVE to decorate and redecorate my house. Home Goods and I are BFF :-)

Maintenance
Where do I begin. Between grocery shopping, stocking the pantry, stocking the bathroom, stocking the nursery, getting my oil changed, taking out the trash, recycling, doing the laundry, scrubbing the floors, scrubbing the toilets, vacuuming, decorating the house, watering the plants and flowers outside, etc...its a wonder I am able to accomplish my other 200 tasks each day!!! This alone counts as one job, in my opinion.

Well...I hope I made my point. Being a SAHM isn't always as easy (or as boring) as people think it is. I use to be a workaholic too. I worked a full-time administrative job, commuted 2 hours a day AND taught freshman English. I know what it is like to love to work and I also know what it is like to leave the job you love behind. I don't feel like my day or my life is any less chaotic then it was when I was working a full-time job, but it is certainly more rewarding. Even though I do get a little overwhelmed from time to time with all the "departments" I must oversee in this new role, I still remember what my old college president use to say....its all about the kids. And in my case...its all about Addie :-)

Gosh...it almost brings a tear to my eye thinking back to when my big girl was just a little baby. And now I have ANOTHER baby at home with me all day. I can't say that any of these responsibilities have gotten any harder since Blake arrived, but I would definitely say that my day has become much more chaotic. Sometimes, that chaos is overwhelming and stressful. I will call my mom or one of my best friends and cry about how I feel like I am failing as a housekeeper, or cook, or teacher, or wife, or worst of all...mommy. But everyone has those days don't they? Doesn't every mother, whether they work or stay home, feel like a failure sometimes? I think it just comes with the territory. Mommy guilt sucks. But its always there and you just have to accept the fact that you can't be everything to everyone all the time. No matter how hard you try. If I was a good mommy one day, and spent my time playing outside with the kids or attending a class at the library, then odds are I sucked as a housekeeper and a cook that day. But on the other hand, if I spent my day cleaning the house, paying the bills, and making a healthy, 4-course meal, I probably sucked at being a mommy that day. Even after two years and two kids...I still don't have all the answers.

But...what I can tell you all with absolute certainty is that being a Stay-at-Home-Mom is the BEST job I have ever had. I have never regretted quitting my full time job for one second. Sure, there have been many days where I wished I was going to work (just to get a break and to see my darling work friends that I miss SO very much), and there are days I wish we had the extra income. Living on one income is tough and you have to make sacrifices. I have learned a lot about budgeting and I try to do my best with coupons. I also check BabyCheapskate EVERY day for deals on baby/kid stuff and they have helped me a lot. But like everything else in my life...budgeting and trying to find ways to save money is still a work in progress. But the sacrifice is oh so worth it because I wouldn't trade what I have going right now for anything. Not even a new Coach purse :-)

Now, to wrap up this fun post, I thought I would also answer Kate and Chelle's questions about my decision to go back to work one day. I did take this semester off from teaching at the college, but I do plan to return this fall. I can't begin to tell you how much I LOVE just teaching one class a semester. I feel like my students get so much more attention and personal time than I could ever give if I were teaching full-time right now. So while my kids are young, I plan to only teach adjunct classes. I may go up to 2 or 3 classes a semester once the kids are in school, but as long as Eric and I can handle it financially, I would like to be a SAHM for a while. I want to be there to get my kids ready for school in the morning and be home when they get off the bus in the afternoon. I want to be able to go on field trips with them and help plan classroom parties. I want to volunteer for bake sales and fundraisers. I want to be there for all of my kids games, competitions, meets, whatever. I guess I just want to be everything my mom was to us when we were growing up. I guess for me...work can wait :-)

Well I hope that answered your questions ladies!!! This was such a fun subject...thanks for letting me chat away :-)

6 comments:

  1. I love this comparison!!! I'm going to have to keep this one in mind the next time someone asks..."what do you do all day?" It drives me insane! I just told my husband the other day that next time someone asks, I'm just going to say I'm a live in nanny & housekeeper! : )

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  2. This is an amazing post! Funny and oh so true. I think all hubs should read it!

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  3. This is such a good post... I love it! Thanks so much Jen =) Super interesting to read all about life as a SAHM.. hopefully someday I'll be fortunate enough to be able to be one too =)

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  4. Yay I've been waiting for this post! Thanks for doing such a good job answering the question! I can't wait to be a stay at home mommy and reading about your experiences just make me more excited about it! :)

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  5. I remember this post from the first time... still love it! Makes perfect sense! :)

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