Wednesday, February 28, 2007

If The Shoe Fits

I am a working mom. I work full-time (40+) hours a week. When I was growing up, I always thought I would be a stay-at-home mom. However, after Paul and I were married and decided to have children this idea was not a reality for us. The bottom line is Paul and I both have to work. Could we have a smaller home? Yes. Could we spend less here and there? Yes. Could we choose public schools over private schools? Yes. But the reality is that the answer to these and other questions wouldn’t change our situation.

When Aidan was born, I had the luxury of staying home with him for 7 ½ months. I was on disability for 6 weeks and took the remainder of the time under the Family Medical Leave Act. I was so blessed to be able to stay home for those months, but the guilt I felt when I had to return to work was almost unbearable. I felt guilty about EVERYTHING!! So much so, that I couldn’t enjoy the time I was home in the evenings because I felt like I always had to “make up” for lost time. This created stress and ultimately, more guilt. I was being consumed by the guilt.

In the beginning, I felt like I always had to defend my decision to return to work to my family, friends, peers and co-workers. I had a friend, who is a stay-at-home mom make the comment to me, “I am a single mom with a paycheck.” Her husband works long hours and is always out of town on business. When he is home, they are really leading two different lives. That truly is a main reason as to why Paul and I decided that I would work outside of the home. Right before Aidan was born, Paul had the opportunity for a job outside of the state, that paid enough where we would have been comfortable with me staying home and raising our child. However, Paul would have had to work many hours, be on call all of the time, and essentially put work first. That would mean leaving Aidan and I behind most of the time. That was not a sacrifice that we were willing to make. Paul wanted to be a hands-on dad. In addition, Paul and I didn’t want to sacrifice each other, and ultimately our marriage, either. Not only are the three of us growing as a family, but Paul and I are growing together not only as husband and wife, but as parents. When Aidan is grown and moves out into the world on his own, I want to know my husband. I don’t want to realize all of a sudden that I have to start our marriage over because Paul focused all of his energy on working so that I could focus all of my energy on raising our child. We want to share both of these experiences and responsibilities.

People, to this day, say to me, “I don’t know how working moms do it.” Just this week, I had someone say to me “I don’t know how you find time outside of work hours for anything more than dinner and getting the kids to bed.” Well, sometimes that is all we have time for in the evenings. But, it is not all of the time. It is not even the majority of the time. It takes a lot of time, energy and organization to make it work. We work together and it takes all three of us to make it happen. We have learned our steps of this dance in life together and we are a stronger family because of it. We didn’t make this decision for our family in one night. We put a lot of thought and discussion into it and I am confident in our decision. I no longer feel guilt about being a working mom because I have seen that it works for us. It took time for me to realize that this WAS the right decision for us. But the reality is, Paul and I have a wonderful marriage and Aidan is a well adjusted little boy. Really, I couldn’t ask for anything more.

Now, am I saying that if the opportunity presented itself that I wouldn't stay home and raise my child? No. Am I saying that anyone who can stay home and raise their children but chooses to go back to work is a bad person? No. Am I saying that a family who chooses for one parent to work while the other solely raises their children is a wrong decision? Definitely not. Honestly, how could I? I don’t walk in those shoes. I only walk in my shoes and I can say, without a doubt, that the shoes I am wearing fit well!! The decision that we made is right for OUR family.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

My New Scrapbook Companion

I'm always looking for a new scrapbook companion. I have my ol' faithful friend, Trista...but due to geography it is a little difficult. Trista and I try to attend a scrapbook weekend once a quarter. We make it a girls weekend.....scrapbook all weekend, stay up until some riduculous hour in the morning solving all of the world's problems and enjoy our wine and cheese. It makes for a fabulous time and allows us time to catch up.

However, if I only scrapbooked on these weekends, I would be further behind than I already am. I have scrapbooked with my cousin, aunt, co-workers, sister-in-law, etc. All are great scrapbook companions, but none of them quite the die hard that I am.

Last weekend, I was on one of my scrapbook weekends with Trista so this week I've been talking alot about scrapbooking. Aidan has looked through my pages and decided that on Friday night, after daddy left for bowling, he and I would scrapbook. I was thrilled (as I am with anyone who wants to scrapbook with me). We set up the card table, pulled out all of the supplies and got to work. Aidan was most excited with my mini paper cutter. In fact, he couldn't understand why I had two and thought I was pretty selfish not to give one to him. He has so much to learn! Anyway, he completed his entire 4*4 album kit (which I purchased for $0.75 at an after Christmas sale and was saving for an opportunity like this.) After he finished his album he decided that he was going to crop his pictures for next time. He proceeded to cut the pictures into several small pieces. When I told him to separate his pieces into a pile of trash and a pile to keep for next time, he swiftly swept the entire pile into the box for keeps.

Now he's ready for the big time! He told me that Ms. Trista would be surprised the next time I went scrapbooking because I would have my baby boy with me. I'm sure Ms. Trista would like to scrapbook with Aidan...he is definitely into quantity.
While I thoroughly enjoyed my evening with Aidan and will probably scrapbook with him again in the near future, I think I'll keep those weekends for me and my dear girlfriends!!