Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Eating Bon Bons...

The choice to stay at home with Paisley was an easy one for me. I always knew that if I could afford to do it, I would. Having said that, I totally recognize that not everyone can do it and that not everyone wants to. We are making some major financial sacrifices to do this and I personally am taking on a lot of risk. A recent remark by one of Alberta's politicians brought this issue of working mom versus stay at home mom back into the limelight, at least for a few days. There were all kinds of articles and editorials and commentaries on the subject. I found some of them asinine but most of them sat comfortably on a spectrum that almost any woman can identify with. I can see why some women go back to work. I can see why they might not feel fulfilled at home. I don't think those people are bad parents but it's not what I choose to do.

This subject is a contentious one and unlike so many other "parenting issues" it seems to remain bubbling beneath the surface. Women avoid the subject because it can create feelings of inadequacy, hurt and anger and because, for the most part, we are afraid of being judged or misunderstood. Each side of the debate is knee deep in misconceptions: working mothers are selfish and career focused, stay at home mothers are lazy or boring or we do a disservice to the feminist cause. Kids from daycare are better socialized, stay at home kids are more loved. None of this is true and the situation varies so much that it's difficult to draw any real conclusions. I have met some seriously sub-standard parents whose kids would probably benefit from day care. Parents who do nothing with their children except watch TV and push them out of the way or leave them in their crib for hours. I also happen to know of a few day cares where kids are left to their own devices and aren't monitored or challenged. A high quality environment is what kids deserve, whether it be at home or elsewhere.

Having said that, there is one thing I hear a lot that does bug me. "Oh, I wish I could do that but we can't afford it." "It must be nice to have a choice" etc. Now, if you are a single mother or someone who really needs two incomes to cover your basic necessities, fair enough. But the vast majority of women who say that to me are living in a huge house, with two cars and going on yearly tropical vacations. That is not struggling to survive. That is a choice. It is a choice to place the maintenance of a certain lifestyle over the opportunity to stay at home. I don't care that they choose that - it doesn't affect me. What annoys me is that they are unwilling to make the sacrifice but won't admit it. Not to me and probably not to themselves. Brian and I don't like having to choose between Drumheller and Kamloops for a summer vacation instead of Italy or France. We don't love living in a small townhouse with one vehicle and not a lot of spending money but we chose this. We felt it was more important for Paisley to have a parent at home than it was for us to have a big house and lots of money. Our choice isn't a popular one these days but it works for us.

Being a parent is hard and being a mother in 2009 in even harder. We have a lot of expectations placed on us (admittedly, a lot of them are self imposed) and some tough choices to make. It sometimes frustrates me that it is still the woman who has to make these choices and sacrifices. Nobody, not one person, asked Brian if he was taking parental leave when we were expecting Paisley. It's not something most people even consider. I am fortunate that I can work from home because it has made the choice and transition that much easier. I would still love to live in a world though where as many men stay at home as women. If nothing else I think stay at home parents would get the respect and credit they deserve.

Thursday, June 04, 2009


We had a long talk last night. About our life and the fact that we are in a rut. It is hard to avoid. Our life contains a toddler and a restrictive work schedule on Brian's part. We are not unhappy but we are not overly happy either. We just are.

Just being is something that Brian and I have fought against, both as individuals and as a couple, from the very beginning. We travelled, we ditched lives when they weren't working and found new ones. We ditched churches when they weren't working. We got married when it was right for us and chose careers when we were sure of what we wanted. We did things our way. To be fair, we are not now in a situation we didn't choose. We really wanted a baby and I wouldn't change that for a second. Having Paisley is the best thing I've ever done. But we chose to settle down for the time being and put down roots. Life is funny - when you travel and live in so many places it is is exciting but lonely. When you stay put you feel so...put. But, I also feel like I am a part of something, part of my community and of the city. It has taken nearly 4 years for me to feel like that.

I want more for us. I don't want to live completely independent lives during the week, only to have beautiful collisions on the weekend. I don't want to have to pencil conversations or sex into my planner to ensure it gets done. To check the boxes. I don't want for us to be so tired all the time. This kind of life is what leads to someone waking up at 45 and not knowing what the hell has happened. It leads to mediocrity.

Reality is limiting. We are limited by time and money, two very crucial things. Brian's work schedule is difficult but there isn't much we can do (at this point in the game) to change it. And he likes it. We don't have the money to travel or explore or get away for a few days even. We have to be creative within the confines of our lives.

This is not a unique situation. Across the city and the planet, young families are feeling this way and many of them are far worse off than we are. At the same time, knowing that other people are in the same position as me doesn't make me feel better. It makes me even more motivated to make sure we don't stay this way - living by default, in a crowd.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

The Blogosphere

Jen recently wrote about her struggles with the state of the blogosphere and the status of her own blog within that community. I too have struggled with this recently. Since becoming a Mom I have less time, and lets face it, less interest in blogging. I feel like I have less to say that would interest people. It was easy when I was travelling and I had some weird and wacky adventure every week. It was easier when I had hours to devote a post so that I could work on it and get it just right. Now I am forced to quickly bang out blog posts and they aren't well written. I don't even re-read them before I publish. They could be so much better but I just don't have the time. To make matters worse, I have another blog which I have been spending far more time on and this one has sort of faded into the background. It is read by family and young people and so I am more guarded. I read some other blogs and I feel ashamed that theirs are so good and mine is so weak. I have never benefited socially from blogging like Jen or so many other women bloggers and I have maintained it out of a sense of duty. Duty to what few readers I have and most of all, to Paisley. Her monthly newsletters are what keep this blog going at this point.

I am out of adventure and angst. I have no major decisions facing me and my existence is pleasant, if boring. Not great blogging material. I do not want to be a "mommy blogger" and my writing work is all covered by non-disclosure agreements so I can't really venture there. (Although, let me tell you - there is some crazy shit going on in the world of marketing!)

Despite all of this, I just can't do it. I can't bring myself to pull the plug - not yet any way.