Required disclaimer: I may wear scrubs each day but I am not a medical doctor, and this is my personal experience and opinion. Every one of us is created different and your body may react differently, but this is my story….
I have had just a glimpse of a different life, just a mere taste, and I think it’s time to end the age-old battle between working moms outside the home and those who work so hard at home. It’s a choice depending on life circumstances, and sometimes it’s not a choice, but a necessity for special circumstances. Suffice it to say, celebrate the choice, appreciate where you are in, and just stand still long enough to enjoy it. In this post, I refer to stay at home moms as “work at home moms” because honestly, I do not see what else you call it. These women and men, although I just use the female reference for simplicity of this post, labor at home for their families, and work very hard- cleaning, repairing/fixing things, errands, finances, chores, kids, sometimes homeschooling, volunteering at schools, churches, and hospitals. I refer to moms who work at an office, or outside the home (even if part-time) as moms who work outside the home, but let’s face it, these men and women are juggling all of the above plus the job(s) outside the home. It’s amazing what they can do and accomplish, often on little to no sleep.
I fall into the category of a mom who works outside the home and I can attest to a zombi-ish state on most days. However, over the past two weeks, due to circumstances outside my control, I have had the rare opportunity to get a glimpse of the work at home mom and wife’s life. Unlike maternity leave, though, there was not a newborn at home, both kids were in their respective schools, and the probability is high that I will be paid back for this lost time. During this time, I have come to both understand and respect work at home mommies so, so much more. The days just fill up, and there’s sometimes not enough time to do it all! And add to that, one, two, three, or more kids at home, school drop-offs and pick-ups (no aftercare), and perhaps even special needs children, and voila! These mothers (or fathers) don’t just work, they work their **** off! I don’t know how you do it all, but I completely am in awe. It is a non-stop day, and you wake up the next day and the next and you get to do it all over again.
Sure, working outside the home is no picnic either. The commute is awful, the work is often piled sky high, and my home looks like a tornado ripped through it all the time. But I get a little distraction or escape daily. I can shut my office door, get my work done, and I can sip my coffee whilst I read and reply to the countless e-mails in my inbox. I am interrupted by a knock on the door by colleagues with whom I can have pleasant adult conversations with, and then still return to my work undaunted. Sure, there are crazy emergencies, and deadlines, but I get to control them and I get to choose how I react to the stress. I can either let it overwhelm me and freak out, or just get it done. I use my lunches to either workout, run errands, or eat lunch peacefully at my desk whilst knocking some work out.
A work at home mommy with kids at home can’t often control what is going on around her and has to simply react. She has to structure play time, learning time, keep doctor’s appointments, pay bills, manage household finances, shop for groceries, run errands, and keep her sanity. The knock at her door is often while she is trying to escape to use the restroom or shower in peace. She often can’t return to what she was doing undaunted. As I can attest, she often eats her breakfast or lunch standing up while serving others, if she eats at all. I have literally had to take breakfast with me and eat it in the car while doing drop offs. Forget about running errands in peace if the kids are at home. Activities with kids are exhausting because you’re watching them, helping them, and not really distracted or engrossed in something fun (other than your smart phone). Granted, those are the moments working outside the home mom really misses, and often cries at work because she can’t be at the park with her daughter after 3 p.m. pick up. It’s a choice, and often a hard one. It’s sometimes not a choice if finances are at issue, or she’s a single mommy, but it doesn’t take away how hard it is for working outside the home mom.
Work at home mommy has a hard time breaking away for even a coffee break. The entire day is planned for her. If all her kids are in school, she has a chance to do something fun with friends, but her friends are all in the same boat, so scheduling is tough. Often, work at home mom finds herself living Groundhog’s Day– different week, same routine. Cleaning bathrooms and rooms 1-2 one day, kitchen and flooring on day 2, and basement on day 3 (or, some other order). Dishes are always part of the daily routine. The following week, this repeats in some form or fashion. Add in there menu planning, and cooking and shopping for the ingredients. She may have time to work out only if her kids are not there, and even then it is a luxury. Chores are still chores, and errands are errands, but work at home mommy has an advantage that work outside the home mommy does not have: She can always be present. She is there! When the school calls, she can run there. When something was forgotten at home by little Joey, she can run it to the school, or just be more present at the school and in her kids’ lives. She is there when they get on the bus, get off the bus, or for pick up and drop offs, and after school care is provided by the best care provider ever – her! This makes me jealous and a bit envious of work at home mom. Don’t get me wrong, work outside the home makes time for her kids too when she can, and she cherishes those moments too. She volunteers for field trips and classroom parties at the school when she can, and she always schedules doctor’s appointments too. It’s just that some weeks, work outside the home mom will be out of town, or she has to schedule around work commitments, so her schedule is more unreliable than work at home mom. And if work outside the home mom is as lucky as I have been with my employer and my supervisors, she has a lot of flexibility, but work outside the home mom feels guilty when she has commitments at work and has to miss something for her kiddo. Likewise, she feels bad or feels she is letting her colleagues and others down when she can’t be at a work because of something for her kiddo. It is literally a two-edged sword. Work outside the home mommy is always packing her bags and going on a guilt trip no matter what.
There are pros and cons to both lifestyle choices, but it is what it is, and it’s best to find silver linings in what you are present in now. Know that no matter what you choose, someone will be in awe of your choice even if you are not. There is still so much judgment about work at home mommies, and it’s just wrong. They don’t sit around and do nothing all day. They don’t have all this free time – in fact, the day just flies by before its time for pick-up and after school activities. They are running kids from music lessons, to gymnastics to swim and appointments. Their houses are not always the cleanest, and they don’t need to get lives- they have amazing lives, and they are living in the present. All of us can learn something from work at home mommies.
There is also so much judgment around work outside the home mommies, and this is wrong as well. These women are often working upwards of two jobs, commuting daily, and still balancing and juggling their jobs, parenting, household responsibilities, and all of the other things. They are trying to do it gracefully as possible, so cut them some slack. They are not neglecting their children, nor are their children growing up any less loved than yours. Often, they are loved even more because their parents cherish every second they get with them.
Whether you fit inside one description or another or a totally different one, doesn’t matter. You are a mom and with me, celebrate choice. I have seen the light and it took a forced furlough for me to understand what my life could be like if I made a different choice. If you feel you need to change things, try to imagine yours differently and you may appreciate how the other half lives. But, more importantly, hopefully, it will remind you that wherever you are, whatever choice you made, you are living an amazing life and doing the best you can do! You are where you are supposed to be! If you are not, don’t be afraid to change it. For now, celebrate the choice you made, celebrate the choice I made, and let’s be on the same side.
Here’s to the Internet, here’s to a match making website a friend recommended to increase my chances of meeting “the one” while I got stationed all over the world. Here’s to countless disappointing dates, numerous guys who wrote me and let me down, a few relationships and those I thought “got away” before he wrote me. Here is to an E-mail correspondence sent on April 6, 2003, from a guy 92 miles away. I knew nothing about him, not even his name. Here is to finding that E-mail three days later and recovering it from the trash can (thank you Hotmail(c) for not deleting it permanently). I had deleted it there because I had recently ended a bad relationship and was done with relationships forever (spoken as a dramatic reading). Here is to the end of that relationship and here is to my inner voice saying, “what the heck? I’ll write him back at least.” Here is to writing, “Hey, I’d love to meet you – feel free to call me..” and here’s to not playing games and giving him my number. Here is to him calling right away and not playing games either. Here is to setting up a date right away. Here is to taking that chance, and meeting in-person despite the butterflies deep down inside. Here is to having no expectations, no regrets, and putting no pressure on the relationship at all. And despite my asking him on the first date whether he was a Republican or a Democrat (don’t ask what party I was then-such a long time ago), here’s to him asking me out for a second date. Here is to dating, the big proposal, and everything since… the good, the tough, the very tough, the great, the sweet, the sour, the blessings, and the miracles in the life we have made. Here is to a decade gone, and the hope of so many, many more to come.
Here is to the journey, the destination, and everything along the way. Here is to having no regrets but learning, growing, crying, laughing, singing, and dancing together and with our children- daily.
Here is to a decade ago today.
Two date nights in one month, how lucky are we! Hubby and I got to go to the Arvada Center for the Arts and Humanities the first time since we moved to this town and got a real treat on Saturday night- Chess, A Musical.
The Musical- Chess, A Musical has amazing music- really good songs with the highlight being Act II opening with “One Night in Bangkok”. It was a feast for the eyes and ears with all the colors, dancing, and of course, the song is a fun song anyway. There are scores that you will recognize from the 80s and 90s and although I cannot figure out the decade that it is set in, I am assuming it was 80s (before the fall of the iron curtain and the USSR) but then in Act II, you see one of the characters using a cell phone so it could easily be 90s as well. The story, to my surprise, is a love story with all the twists and turns of a giant Chess game and world politics as told through a chess board. It is a good story and was done well in this production that is playing at the Arvada Center (Denver) through April 15. Tickets to the Arvada Center productions are extremely reasonable during normal production dates but here’s a secret on what we did to make it even cheaper since we are not avid theatre goers. We got discount tickets because we went to a dress rehearsal. So the tickets were over half price off. And even for a dress rehearsal, there was not an empty seat in the venue! And, if you buy your tickets at the center instead of on-line, you can avoid all handling charges. But should you decide to catch the normal shows as well, the prices are very reasonable and much cheaper than the Performing Arts prices for downtown venues. And there ain’t a bad seat in the house – check out my venue review below. We sat front row but honestly, you are better off sitting half way up in either the center or prime sections (see seating Chart- Arvada Center) for a great view of all the action!
The Venue– “I can’t believe we have never been here,” I said to my husband as we bought tickets earlier in the day at the box office, located inside the Arvada Center. What a great venue! I cannot say enough great things about this venue and I may be biased because I live near it but there are so many great things about this place. You may know how I feel about venues like the Wells Fargo Center, the Pepsi Center, and the Denver Center for Performing Arts. Yeah, it ain’t good. I am just not a big fan of downtown Denver venues that charge you an exorbitant fee for parking miles away, takes hours to get in and out of the venues, and takes forever to get to/from due to downtown traffic and the maze of one-way roads that frustrate me. I have to say, the Arvada Center is a gem convenient to the cities of Arvada, Wheat Ridge, Westminster, Broomfield, Lakewood, and Golden. Located on Wadsworth Blvd off of I-70, it is easy to get in and out of and at 7pm on a Saturday, even Wadsworth is easy to navigate. Parking is free, ample, and very close to the venue no matter where you park. The venue is cozy and small and only fits about 400 people so there is a a hassle-free fun experience even at intermission and no lines in the ladies’ bathroom (BONUS). There is not a bad seat in the house- you can see the stage from every seat and there will not be a head or two in your way. There are no lines for concessions or snacks either. And get this – the concessions are even cheaper than at the movies. For $4.25 we got two giant cookies, and teas and I saw the alcohol and soda prices so you can see how reasonable they are: $4.00 for beer, $5.00 for wine, and $2.00 for a soda. Teas, cocoa, and coffee were only $1.75. I remember my friend paying $8.00 for a wine at the Pepsi Center for a concert. The lines are short, and there is no concessionaire peddling CDs, posters, and other such items either. The entire affair is class through and through. Even before the show and during intermission, you wait in the art center and there are exhibits to look at including beautiful paintings.
Additionally, did you know the Arvada Center offers summer camps and programs for kids throughout the year? You can also rent out their venue for weddings, and other occasions. Outside the Center, there is a play area for kids to climb a giant dragon and sculptures and a little rock garden. Just a beautiful venue for shows, events, and if you choose to enroll your kids at their various classes you should look at and download their entire catalog from this link.
We had a great time exploring another gem of our city yesterday and seeing a great musical to boot. You won’t want to miss this and the other productions coming this season to the Arvada Center.
We saw the movie, Friends with Kids on Saturday, a rare date afternoon, and it was a cute 107-minute movie. The movie poster kinda gives it away: PICK TWO and the choices are: Love, Happiness, and Kids. Ha! It’s a cute movie and well-done depicting the lives of married couples, friends, and couples with kids and finally, friends who want to remain friends having kids.
The movie has a lot of things that I think anyone with kids can relate to – it is not just for married couples or couples in a relationship. It’s about single parenting too and the challenges in general that life, marriage, love, and kids can bring no matter what your status. I cannot give up too much here so you can go see the movie but all I know is, hubby and I related to a lot of the scenes and how life changes after kids no matter what you think will happen. The thought-provoking conversation at a dinner among friends was a bit too much for us. I think there are some things in a marriage that should be reserved for discussion between the couple and not to be shared with a group of dinner guests but, that one scene aside, I really liked the movie. It takes all kinds to raise kids and yes, even the guy or gal who thinks everything will stay the same in their relationship. Granted, that may spell disaster for a relationship but alas, with the first-time marriage divorce rate approaching 51% in America, I think that the character who plays that guy is somewhat accurate. In any case, for hubby and I- we talked about kids have strengthened our marriage. It is a conversation-provoking movie so, be prepared.
And in the end, of course, it is hard to be parents and no matter how you do it – with someone, without, or just as friends, parenting is challenging and yet, the most rewarding job you can have as well. It can strain your marriage and strengthen it at the same time, or destroy that relationship but again, it all depends on the circumstances and the people involved. All in all, it is a cute date movie which will make you laugh out loud, nod in agreement, shake your head in disgust, cry, and make you go home and hug your kiddos too!
Have you seen it? Let me know your thoughts and no spoilers please. Thanks!