I Am Woman.

I’m not sure how to start this. How do you address a month+ gap in writing? Maybe we can just not address it and sweep it under the rug? Heh

Well, part most of my absence can be explained by my starting work in the past month and a half. My husband and I had been talking about it for a couple of months or so before I started and I have to tell you, I was so nervous to start. I didn’t want to have to work and I was sad for the times that I wouldn’t be able to see my beautiful family.

I ended up getting a part-time afternoon/evening job at a company that I had worked at previously and that was happy to have me back. The thought of giving up family dinners a couple of times a week broke my heart. The thought of not seeing my husband when he got home from work on those nights made me sad. I wept when he, in a proud and encouraging way, called me an “official working mom” the night before I started.

Fast forward to now, and I love my job. We have a new normal in our routine and I don’t feel like I’m missing out on as much family time as I feared. In fact, I feel more purposeful with my time now that I am gone several hours a week. I knew when I had started work that being a stay-at-home-mom was draining on me most days, and though that is still my title for half the week, it feels like it doesn’t take as much of a toll on me. It feels like I have found a nice balance in my life with this new job.

Since I start working (even as little as I do), I feel more confident, have more boldness, feel like a better mom, am a better worker, and feel slightly more satisfied with myself. I feel empowered.

But here’s the thing. I don’t need to be a working mom to feel empowered. I don’t need to work outside the house to feel like I have a purpose. I don’t need to contribute financially to the house to feel like I’m doing something.

My body has the power to grow life and then sustain it. Shouldn’t that be enough to make me feel empowered?

I love being a mom to my boys. God has blessed me with the most amazing ones and I can’t believe I get to kiss those faces every day! But occasionally, in the midst of all the exhaustion and chaotic monotony, I would feel like what I was doing at home with the boys simply wasn’t enough.

Where did that lie come from?

It’s election day and I can’t help but think that tomorrow I may wake up to news that we will be getting our first woman president. Yet, I wonder why one woman is being praised for running for office simply because she is a woman, when eight years ago there was another woman running for a position almost as prominent and she was ridiculed because she her accent made her seem less educated. (This is not a political statement, just a view on how we, as women, view women.)

Since I had my boys, I have been asked by many well-meaning women if I work. Most of the times, it’s an innocent question just to make small talk, but sometimes it felt like I had to justify myself when saying that I’m staying at home with my boys.

I have never had a man tell me that I wasn’t good enough at something (or if one has, I gave him a look and moved on, forgetting all about it). A man cannot know what a woman is. Yet, over my lifetime, girls and women have done things and said things that stick with me and make me wonder about myself.No rejection stings more than from someone of my own gender.

And why?

There is no rule for what a woman should be, do, or how she should dress or act in her life. (I believe in modesty and acting in certain ways, but that’s not what I’m referring to.) 

I’m talking about the times I was teased in 4th grade for how I wore my hair.

I’m talking about the cheerleaders in middle school who were snubbed by other girls who insisted that cheerleading was not as a sport and soccer was a way better option.

I’m talking about the virgin in high school that other girls made fun of, unaware that it was her choice to remain that way.

I’m talking about the pregnant teen who other girls labeled irresponsible and shamed her for the life she has inside of her.

I’m talking about the women in college who wanted to major in chemical engineering and were told it was too hard by other women.

I’m talking about the woman who didn’t go to college because she chose to get married young and be a housewife.

I’m talking about the woman who is still single because she has no interest in committing at this time in her life.

I’m talking about the woman who wants so badly to have a life companion and is told by women that she is not independent enough.

I’m talking about the mom who formula feeds for no reason other than she doesn’t want to breastfeed and is judged for her decision, despite her healthy kids.

I’m talking about the mom who breastfeeds, baby wears, and uses cloth diapers who is viewed as over-the-top.

I’m talking about the single mom who other moms feel like she just isn’t good enough.

I’m talking about the CEO of a start-up who hears whispers of women saying she works too much and is not a good enough mom.

I’m talking about the vice presidential candidate who was mocked because other women thought she was weird.

I’m talking about the middle-aged woman who is still a stay-at-home-mom even though her youngest is in high school.

Why do we, as women, feel the need to berate or belittle other women because of their life choices? Why do we question their success and their methods? Why do we find fault in what they do? Why do we feel the need to dwell on their mistakes or faults?

I am strong, emotional, a self-doubter learning to be confident, empathetic, nurturing, a good listener, a tad insecure, and smart. I do not need to be extremely successful in my career to feel like I made a difference. I do not need to play with my kids every second of every day to feel like I’m a good enough mom. I do not need a woman as president to tell my future daughter that she can be anything she wants to be.

I am a wife, a mother, a daughter, a sister, a friend, a worker, a child of God.

I am woman.

 

 

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The Day I Didn’t Hold My Son

Absence makes the heart grow fonder. 

Sometimes I feel like that saying rings true even with my own kids.

I love my boys more than I could ever express, but sometimes I just see hear a little bit too much of them. I need time alone to recharge, and sometimes it feels like that time should last a week.

My husband and I have been toying with the idea of me returning to work part time. While figuring out hours and making sure my boys are well cared for are my main hindrances, I think about all the positives that come along with me leaving the house for a few hours a week. Aside from the small amount of extra income, I think about the time that I would be away from my family. A small part of me grows sad thinking about it, because I’m so used to being with them day in and day out. Yet, I imagine that the distance apart would make the times together that much more special.

Almost anyone who is a stay at home parent, especially to more than one kid, knows that breaks are few and far between. When I had just Joshua, his naps were moments of freedoms for me, time to regain sanity and accomplish some chores, do some schoolwork or just have a cup of coffee in peace. With two, nap times are rarely at the same time (if Joshua takes a nap at all), no matter how much I plan out the day.

This moment was so rare that I had to take a picture of it.

It isn’t uncommon for me it have to fold laundry without one of the boys “helping” or make dinner while begging Joshua to get out of our teeny kitchen.

What was once a mindless chore for me to enjoy (yes, enjoy) in peace and quiet, often turns into a battle where I feel like I’m losing my mind if I don’t remember to practice patience.

Today was one of those days. I put the boys down for a nap at the same time. We had spent some time in the heat outside, jumped and danced around with Joshua, and counting how many hours they had been awake, I was sure they would both sleep indefinitely.

Joshua never slept. Ethan took a nap that was half as long as normal.

I was tired as it was from cleaning different parts of the house all day and even more frustrated by this lack of quiet time. I brought the boys downstairs while I finished folding laundry. Ethan has this thing where he doesn’t cry, he screams. And it’s the perfect pitch to shatter my ear drum. So I listened to that while I tried to finish my chores.

Eventually, we got to a peaceful enough point when dinner was almost finished where I made an alphabet tracer for Joshua with a $3 chalkboard from Target and chalk paint.

He’s writing in his own H. I think it’s his favorite letter. 

Wouldn’t it be great if every moment was like that? Would I value more time with them like that if I was away from them more?

The truth is, it’s easy to get annoyed when I’m trying to finish up dishes and Ethan is screaming bloody murder from the high chair, begging to be held. It’s almost easy to stay annoyed for the rest of the day at my tired baby, because I know that if he would have had a normal nap, he wouldn’t have been tired at this time.

But at the end of the day, I look back and wonder if I should have held him more, regardless of how I felt or what needed to be done.

See, back when he was in the hospital in January, during his first day in the PICU, I wasn’t able to hold him. I had asked the nurses, but from what I understood, they didn’t want compromise with all the wires and machines that they had hooked him up to. I felt so helpless, watching my sleeping, helpless, frail baby fight for his life. As his mother, my innate job was to give him life and I could not do a single thing about his condition at that time.

It sucked.

The next day, the nurse on shift encouraged me to hold my baby boy. I was as giddy as a child on Christmas morning. It was the sweetest feeling in the world.

This was such a wonderful moment for me. I held him for what felt like forever.

So, on a day like today, when I imagine how good it would be to get out of the house, away from my screaming boys, I find it important to remember that there was a day when I couldn’t hold my baby. I hold on to Ethan extra long at night, after he’s fallen asleep, and stroke his sweet face and hold to his little hand. I want to savor every part of him, in the moments when I can. Whether I’m at home all day or work full time outside of the house, I want to take advantage of the time I have with my boys because I do not want to imagine another day where I long to hold my baby but cannot.