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I Am... Mama and Writer

First Mama.  Then Writer.  Though, of late, the latter has consumed a great deal of time as I work to get things in order to potentially be ...

Thursday, June 12, 2008

What Husbands Don't Know

And how can they? They rarely, if ever have an opportunity to feel the constant weight of all that being a Mama entails. I know that working Mamas do NOT have THE life, but it's not all bon-bons and sugar snaps on the stay-at-home front, either! I'm thinking about the difficulties of my SAHM (Stay At Home Mom) life because of the confrontation with Jess of the other night. I try to express to him the weight of the responsibilities I carry as well as the actual time consumption aspect of them. But I honestly feel that my DH (dear husband) really just does not hear me most of the time I speak, much less get the full meaning of the details I share. I have felt that he may, perhaps, read this blog, though. So, perhaps some of what I'm able to convey through writing (sometimes I think it is my best mode of communication, anyway) will reach him as my words when spoken have and do not.

The jobs of a Mama (SAH, specifically):

--------------Spend time with the child(ren). This, I believe is THE most important job a Mama (any) has and can fulfill. However, as you will see (if you're a dude; I know the Mamas reading already know all this!) there isn't all that much time for a SAHM to fulfill this aspect of her calling if she is expected to maintain every other job she may be (usually is) expected to juggle solo if the juggling is supposed to be maintained to HIS satisfaction (even her own degree of perfection/satisfaction however far from his that may be)!

--------------Stay/get fit by exercising to the degree necessary to lose the baby weight, lose other fatness gained over time, and/or maintain Mama's own physical comfort level. This is REALLY difficult for lots of women... especially new Mamas. It's difficult to find activities that work the body enough to accomplish the results sought after and be okay with spending the time doing that work either away from the kiddo(s) OR ignoring him/her/them long enough to get the exercise in. This is emotionally taxing for any woman and even more so for women like me who feel UBER responsible for their children (meaning that turning them over to others' care feels hyper uncomfy - even Daddy in the first 6 months!!!).

--------------Stay sane and emotionally "full" by accomplishing something each day or week that enables the Mama to relax or feel individuated. (In the last conference (LDS) one of our leaders addressed this, OH SO IMPORTANT, issue!!!!) This is so very important because an empty Mama has nothing to give the kiddo(s) much less the Daddy! Yet, even if the Mama knows the necessity of this it is still difficult for any woman in a situation in which she would either have to have a babysitter when Daddy is at work (and they don't have money for that OR she feels like she really shouldn't turn the responsibility of her children over to someone else) OR they have to have Daddy watch the kiddo(s) when he IS home. This is not a problem for Jess, but I still feel sort of guilty SOME of the time asking/requiring more of him after he's worked two jobs all week. The only thing I do with any semblance of regularity when he's around to watch the girls is exercise, which is totally beneficial, but not exactly relaxing. So it doesn't really accomplish the staying "full" bit to the degree that completing an activity that I enjoy that is also really relaxing and mentally stimulating does/would. After going through this situation (Jess working two jobs) I would totally NOT allow myself to feel guilty asking him to take care of our kiddos while I get out of dodge for an hour or two if he had only one job!

-------------Keep the house up to par. While this IS important it is, to me, the least important of many other "balls" I keep in the air at any given moment. It is also one of the most time consuming and emotionally draining (stressful!) of most issues facing any Mama. This item encompasses so many separate items. While I will not cover every mundane item, I'm going to list some and my personal feelings about them/issues with them.
--------------------------Laundry: one of the NEVER-ending jobs. The moment it is caught up with, there is more to do! This job is particularly annoying to me BECAUSE it never ends... and only gets BIGGER as there are more children to clean up after. My problem here is not the children, but the fact that I'm the only one cleaning after them. Not only does a Mama have to remember to wash (not so difficult since the piles are sitting there in front of you), but we also have to remember to get them into the dryer in a timely fashion, (otherwise they start to smell like an old person - no offense to old people!) and then to make time to fold them AND put them away in some sort of order that makes sense to the other partner AS WELL as self since he will, hopefully, be helping to dress the child(ren) once in a while, if not regularly! And then there's the SUPER annoyance of the partner or child(ren) not giving a witches wart whether the items previously folded STAY in any semblance of order. This whole section was so totally NOT a problem when it was just Jess and me or even when Ria was the only child. But I can see this area of my life becoming super huge and what I already have to deal with is overwhelming enough - day in and day out!
--------------------------Dishes: the OTHER of the never-ending jobs that I, personally, despise. I know women who actually enjoy dishes. GOOD FOR YOU! I, however, am NOT one of them. I have, even, tried to change my mind into one like those who enjoy this task. I failed miserably! I think I could even go so far as to say that I hate to do dishes.

Jess and I had a deal early on that if he cooked, I would clean up... and vice versa. If I was lucky I may have seen the realization of that deal a whole handful OR two times! It's not happened consistently. (Of course not, you're thinking if you're a woman married longer than 18 months!) It is no longer reasonable for me to expect it to happen according to our deal anymore. I realize this. However, I also realize that when Jess IS home he sleeps a REALLY lot. And he cooks. And he STILL thinks I should clean up after him/us!!! After I have cooked ALL week (and yes, I usually DO cook for the lunches we share as a family!!!) AND cleaned up afterward. Seriously, people! Ooops, I meant: SERIOUSLY Jessie!

NOTE TO READER: these things I'm pointing out as gripes do NOT usually bother me. By this I mean that I'm not all down in the mouth and angry all the time because of all that I have in my head and weighing me down emotionally, mentally, and spiritually (to some extent)... at least I'm not anymore. I just recognize them as parts of life to deal with and feel happiness in the things that are happy to me (and there ARE plenty, truly!). I am simply illustrating for other clueless members of the male "species" those things than trouble lots of women (I think I should know since I am one, after all... AND since I also happen to speak with lots of them!). I just want to make it clear that I actually love my life most of the time. While I do love my life, I still want to make these issues very clear to the member of the Mars Clan who is most important to me: Jessie.

-----------------------------General ORDER: This is hugely annoying to Jessie because he just doesn't seem to be able to ignore the little things on the floor. I'm sure it's also annoying because he thinks, "All she has to do it get Ria to pick it up!" But, you see, there-in lies the problem! What child WANTS to pick up their toys regularly? Okay, so regularly in our home because of Daddy's schedule means twice a day... a little excessive for any kid. But if she wasn't such a snotty butt about it I would totally be okay with asking her to clean up her stuff an hour before Jess gets home at 2pm and then before bed. But I really dislike fussing at my daughter. I have anger issues I'm trying to overcome, remember?!! There are plenty enough stupid little things I have to mentally wrestle with myself over so that I don't blow a fuse every hour on the hour... I don't want to add fussing at Ria to pick up twice a day. But, I have. It's an issue to Jess, so I'm trying to get Ria to clean up her stuff so it won't be on the floor when he gets home (TWICE A DAY!).
----------------------------Sweeping/Mopping: To be totally honest, I don't even bother mopping with any regularity. Ria gets to earn some money sometimes by cleaning spots. We barter for the price of each spot, then we work with money after the jobs are done. It can be quite fun. I don't mind that so much. But when the whole house is troubled (as in dirt actually STUCK to the floor rather than just hanging out there) that job is so much more frustrating than simply mopping would be. You see, I have two small children who sleep like me. So what? you say. SO... that means I can't do much of anything that makes any sort of noise anywhere near them - especially since our house echoes a bit. And sweeping is only half as frustrating as mopping. The girls will, for the most part, stay out of the way in the room I'm working on. The previous sentence is where the problem with mopping lies... they think they can play in the room I've finished. But, of course, they really can't because the floor is WET. Ah the minute annoyances that combine to drive a Mama MAD!
----------------------------Maintaining extended family relations AND contact with local and long-distance friends. Admittedly the friends are a part of a Mamas way to stay sane, but for an LDS lady they are also very likely part of her responsibility, too (like VTing, which I LOVE, but is also a stressor, however positive, at times). While this area of responsibility is one of the most enjoyable of the many jobs a/this Mama has, it IS exhausting at times because there are periods of days, at least for me, when I just don't want to talk to ANYbody! (Like the last couple days, for instance!) But if one who communicates suddenly goes incommunicado, even if for only a few days, people start to worry that you've gone all weird like you did after 9-11. Just as a source of comfort... even during my worst and darkest months of PPD (post partum depression) I don't think I was as bad as I was at my worst after 9-11! This is a key bit of info for anyone who knows me. Let me break it down. YES, I DO get depressed. Sometimes, even, REALLY depressed. But if it doesn't get to the point I was at in during the PPD I suffered with after Ria, then I'm really REALLY quite okay (because it's no where near as bad as I've visited in my life!). No matter how long it takes, I DO (usually with the help of God and/or a loved one) pull myself up or kick my own butt out of it! I cannot foresee an event (barring Jessie cheating, beating any of us, or a child's death) that would put me over the edge I've already visited regularly! Since PPD I haven't been anywhere near that edge. After 9-11 I was, admittedly, bungee jumping off of it with a faulty bungee (thankfully it didn't fail completely while I was jumping!), but I'm quite okay! Aren't I? haha just a joke. I totally AM okay!!!
--------------------------------BLOG could actually be part of the last section or part of WORK FOR MONEY, but since the latter is not so much pertinent and the former doesn't really qualify (since most of my extended family does not read my blog) I'm making it a separate area. I think it's appropriate to include because it's pleasurable for me, but I also feel sort of like I NEED to do it, too. Jessie's family keeps up with us through it, after all, and he has shared the URL with more people from work than I have with my own friends!
--------------------------------BILLS are not necessarily a woman's job, but they are THIS woman's job. I'm not saying, at all, by any of the following that I do not want this job. I know the I'm more capable, so I do it and I try really hard not to complain often or loudly about it. However, I am going to enumerate the difficulties for my DH and any other man whose wife silently bends under the weight of THIS responsibility. #1 problem: it's ALWAYS there (unless you're super smart and have no debt whatsoever!). #2 problem: not wanting to mention it as much as it nags at the sides or stage of my brain because I don't want to stress my DH out as much as I feel stressed (at least, not most of the time). #3 problem: it's ALWAYS there! #4 problem: Did I mention it's ALWAYS there??? #5 problem: oh yeah, THERE it is AGAIN! Seriously, though... the worst of the #ed problems is the constant fear (or resurfacing of the reality) that there will not be enough money to cover the requests and requirements for said money!

Yes, this is NOT a job every SAHM undertakes, so perhaps it shouldn't be considered at part of the tasks inherent to the work. But since this is MY Blog, it IS! Also... I do believe a majority of parents who value their child(ren) and those child(ren)'s education over the things they could otherwise do or have FOR their children will one day choose to homeschool.

Now, I do NOT mean School at Home, here. I mean HOMESCHOOL! There is a HUGE and fundamental difference. One is MUCH easier than the other. Can you guess which is easier? If you said School at Home, then.... ding-ding-ding... you are RIGHT! And this is only ONE of the many issues a prospective homeschool parent, who is also a responsible parent, need inform themselves about. (Do you see the invested time studying, reading, and learning inherent in reading between the words of that last sentence???)

Homeschooling is FULL of issues that, to be responsible in the undertaking, a parent (at least one of them) has to read up on and make firm decisions about. I have only begun to scratch the surface on this area (researching issues and making decisions). In only 2 days I spent more than 8 hours in that research. Okay, so that's technically "only" part-time work. But combine it with all the other things I need to/should/want to do each day and there is WAY more to do daily than can BE done in the 16 hours I'm awake... which should really only be TWELVE since I'm preggie. Did ya know THAT? Pregnant women are SUPPOSEDLY SUPPOSED to sleep at least 12 hours a day. That's how TAXING pregnancy is!!! (Yes, I know, if you are a woman you are laughing your butt into shapely sexiness at the idea of regularly sleeping 12 hours each day - even IF preggie... but that's what the reading I've done suggests!)

Note to self: add pregnancy as another of the many exhausting (mentally, physically, emotionally, AND spiritually) things I do as a woman/Mama!!!!!

So there are the issues to research= TIME and MUCHO TIEMBRE!!!

Then there's the actual preparation of WHAT to teach. (Did you see more hours of research and decision making inherent in that first/only sentence?? Yep, it's HOURS and not just HOURS once in a while, but, I'd say, at least once a week to figure out the week ahead If you're that organized)!!!

--------My personal first step into this realm of actually focusing on homeschooling (rather than just teaching reading as I have been doing) as someone who believes herself to be a responsible homeschooler, is to determine WHERE to go and WHAT to do with my homeschooling child. HOW does one do that?? Well, a really great starting point (I think) is to figure out what the state or commonwealth in which you reside expects of a child at any given grade level; perhaps first focusing on the grade the child would next enter as a result of their numerical age. This means both the minimum standards AS WELL AS what the parent has to do to jump through the hoops established by TPTB (the powers that be) for those who choose to go against the mainstream TO homeschool!

Now, you could probably get your local librarian to help you locate all the pertinent info (online or off), but that requires the time and opportunity to do such a thing during normal operating hours. Do you see the futility of such a proposition if you have a toddller or more roaming around??? You could get the URL(s) from a teacher you know (if you know one with whom you feel comfy speaking about the alternative education of your child) OR you'll have to do a little digging for the information on your own. (Did you hear another bit of minutes piled together to get that info!??)

Once you find said info you have to either export it, copy and print it, copy the info into a safe notebook, and/or print it out for regular access/planning purposes... Then you have to read and evaluate what is in front of you. Do you think TPTB make it easy for a layperson to understand the establishment's expectations of their educational system. Uhhh... NO!!!! Why the heck would they make it easy!!?? They don't WANT you taking their tax money away by keeping your child home! And if you think I'm just being paranoid, you have NOT informed yourself!!!!

Back to the subject: thankfully I do have a background in education, so most of the benchmark info is pretty easily decipherable, but it took me a few minutes to sort of alter my brain to function in teacher mode to GET what was written "plainly" in front of me! And I, given my teacher training, am still a little confused on some of the benchmarks for Math and Science (since my background was English THAT section, at least, made sense to me). I feel so sad for someone who doesn't have the background a trained teacher would (even if they never taught in public school)! There would be even MORE research/TIME! involved for translation purposes for such a person!!!!!

The next step is to determine how to present the material you've determined your child needs to learn/understand. More than likely, if you are homeschooling, you do NOT plan to stick to the basics required by your state, so there's more research into additional kinds of education and things developmentally appropriate for your child at their given stage. In this step is the decision about prepared curriculums vs. piecing it all together one's self... A whole cirriculum is attractive (possibly easier?!), but there-in lies a problem of money (for poor homeschoolers like muuuaaa). And if you do decide to use some existing material, you have to figure out if there are any inappropriate parts. Even Christian materials for a Christian (like myself) may contain questionable material (like the trinity, for instance, since that does NOT fit the cosmology/diety I know!).

Then there's presentation. Thankfully, for me! Ria (and most children, really) just loves to learn so MUCH that I could totally botch this section and she would still come away from the whole thing a much smarter chickie. But this step also requires some time. Often time spent on the preparation of presentation materials, thinking about how to share the info with the child, and then the actual DOING. Which brings me to:

Last, but CERTAINLY NOT least, there is the actual time spent on the education of the homeschooled child(ren). While this is, or at least, SHOULD be, enjoyable time spent with one's child, it is often fraught with annoyance and frustration - especially in the early days (after the first few really fun ones)! The child doesn't necessarily want to sit for extended periods of time (and I'm not even talking the kind of time they would have to sit in their desk at school - even for Kindergarten!) doing something other than what they actually CHOOSE/WANT to do at that moment. Ria LOVES school, but her fidgeting and fussing get really annoying really quickly. Okay, so you already know I've had anger issues... the previous sentence as an example of one of the many times during the day that I am extremely careful (since quitting the yelling about 4 weeks ago)!

The actual time spent on 1 subject (reading), for us, is usually only about 30-45 minutes. Sometimes even less, actually - like when I accidentally choose a WAY TOO EASY book for her to read! But since I've been feeling the need to really get INTO school we've been doing 3 and 4 subjects/learning lessons, which easily puts us up to 2 hours. Yes, this could (in theory) be split up through the day, but, in reality, the splitting doesn't work so well most days. I am most assuredly NOT complaining about this time. I'm simply illustrating the issues for the dude most important to me (and any curious by-standers that have made it this far).

---------------WORK to make MONEY--------------------------------------------
In case you're wondering, since I haven't mentioned it in quite a while, I have officially give up working my ETSY shop like a real business. I still intend to try to sell a bit around Christmas, but I'm not even hyped up about that any more. WHY?? Well, because Jessie made it SUPER clear that he was so totally not supportive of my efforts (because the house was the ball dropped when I added the WORK ball to the juggling). It's been really sad letting go of that dream of a way to get Jess home more, but it's also made my life easier. I honestly cannot imagine how others juggle it all WITH a creative job! And since Jess was totally unsupportive (he didn't DO anything to help, but he also was not okay with me letting the ball roll away from me either) I have completely dropped that ball. I even threw away the business cards associated with it. The store is still open, but I'm not advertising or trying to move prospective buyers my way.

However, when someone is involved in such a pursuit there are myriad time drains attached. I will list without explanation since it's not super pertinent to my life any longer. Creation of product, packaging of product, self-promotion (SO MUCH TIME!), market research, product research, comparison shopping to improve marketing, self-education on techniques to improve product, and so much more!

This is critical for the homeschooled child. Not only for the social interaction it provides and stimulates, but also for the change of environment inherent in GOING TO CLASS. While the activities are chosen by parent and/or child, there comes a time in every child's experience when they just want to quit. Ria arrived at that point very early in her dance year. Jess and I have decided how to deal with this situation and that's what we did. For every time a given child wants to quit something we will allow them to do so only after a give period of time. Ria was 3 when she wanted to quit and we never really had a conversation about this whole subject with her because by the following dance class she was excited and wanted to go and NEVER wanted to quit during the remainder of the school year. Currently she is asking when she will get to go back to dance class (we're off until September).

So, even though the parent gets to choose class times (for the most part) we have to live according to anothers' schedule for those classes. This past year Ria has attended Dance class, Story Time (not officially a class, but counts to her), and Joy School (which turned into Play At The Park). Because of shortage of fundage I could not enroll her in Karate (which I TOTALLY wanted to do!). And because we don't have a piano as yet (also no fundage) she has not started piano lessons (which would also be taxing if not imposible due to lack of money). I'm hoping to have enough money to start Ria (at least), but hopefully also Kat in swim classes. So as of August I WANT to have them both in swim class and the following month they will both start Dance! That's a significant amount of time AND money devoted to only two classes (for two children)!!!!

So, is there any wonder that a Mama feels overwhelmed on a regular basis? And, please, Jessie, (or random dude trying to learn a bit more about his Venus Bride) don't think this is a comprehensive explanation. These are only the things that are most present (CONSTANTLY) and pressing on THIS Mamas mind RIGHT NOW. There are more issues that are a bit more philosophical and troublesome more mentally and emotionally than these highlighted and verbosified upon. (Yes, verbosified is probably NOT a word, but I like to make things up... I'm a creative person, after all!) ^_^ I'm sure I've also forgotten one or two that troubles me regularly, but I forget things REALLY regularly. Can you imagine WHY!!?? After this tutorial, I would have to say you are COMPLETELY and UTTERLY HOPELESS if you answered the last question to the negative!

1 comment:

Valerie said...

Gosh Tori...all I can say is ditto! Bein a SAHM is quite taxing, and the men folk just dont get it!
sorry to hear about the etsy thing. i know how excited u were about that!

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