Archive | January, 2012

Becoming a Stay-at-Home Mom: A Series?

[Note: Some of you already noticed this in your Google Reader, and thanks for your personal emails – I so appreciate them.  I wrote this and posted it yesterday, and then I remembered it was our wedding anniversary and, for my own sake in years to come, I didn’t want to say these things on that day.  Anyway, here it is today.]

Last night while browning the pork chops I had [what at that time seemed like] a great idea.

I thought I would invite you along on this adventure with me of becoming a full-time stay-at-home mother and all the excitement and learning curves that it entails.

But the idea is not as appealing on Monday morning, although the scene is set for telling good stories.  (Meaning the baby is asleep, the fire is crackling, the rain is falling, the house is cozy…)  The reason the idea is not as appealing is because it requires me to tell you that I am not a stay-at-home mom because I really want to be a stay-at-home mom.

I am a stay-at-home mom because I cannot get a job.

There, I said it.  I feel like there are not a lot of other people who become stay-at-home mothers because they simply are unemployable.  Most women who choose to be full-time homemakers and mommies really don’t want to do anything else more (which, honestly, is true of me) and set aside great careers to do this (which, honestly, is also true of me) and could get a great job if they wanted to (which, honestly, is not true of me).  Other people who become stay-at-home moms have “earned” it: they worked, they went to grad school, they had a career for awhile, what have you… and now they get their long-awaited reward: full-time homemade motherhood.

But me?  I worked my last shift as an ICU nurse on July 3, 2011.  Elliott returned on July 4, 2011, from a year-long deployment and we left a few weeks later for a new life in Sicily.

Even before we moved to Sicily I was trying to get a job here.  I tried for 6 months to get a job here and I was unsuccessful.  The biggest blow was being turned down for a nursing job I really wanted.  It was a cushy desk job in a beautiful office with a huge window.  I would have been the nurse working for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) Overseas and my job would have involved seeing military moms and their children, dispensing nutritional advice and breast pumps, and teaching classes at the hospital and the school about how to eat healthy food.  I would have loved that job, I know, and I would have been good at it.

But the call came the day before our Christmas party when I was up to my elbows in flour.  “Is this a good time to talk, Rebecca?” my I-thought-future manager asked.

“Umm… yes, sure.  My baby’s napping, so this is a great time to talk.”  [immediately I kicked myself for such a mommy statement]

“OK, well, I just wanted you to know that we have decided to hire the other candidate for the job for WIC.  I’m so sorry.”

She said the other candidate had more experience.  Well, I guess there’s nothing I could do about that.  I’ve only been out of university for three years and so I’ve only had two jobs, and both of them were adult ICU jobs, not pediatric nursing positions.  So I understood that I wasn’t super experienced.  And I guess I understood that I didn’t get the job (even though I’d been visiting the office and sending my resume in since July to get that job as soon as it became available).

I was pretty beat up about that for awhile.  There were a lot of tears and Elliott did a lot of comforting and Lena got freaked out because her mommy was crying.  But eventually I had to pull myself together and move on.  I had tried to get a job and now there were no other nursing positions available.  There still aren’t, over a month later, and I don’t know of any that will become available until the summer or possibly the fall.  I might apply for those, who knows?  But right now, I am a stay-at-home mom.

I want to say very clearly that I was disappointed not to get this job – or any job – but I also was seriously conflicted about it.  I love Lena so much and I didn’t want to take her to daycare on base each day (even though she probably would love being with so many other kids all day long).  I wanted to be a dedicated, thoughtful mother; I wanted to put her in cloth diapers, potty train her absurdly early, read stacks of books to her each day, take her to the market each Wednesday, set up playdates with other babies and children, and so many other idealistic things.  I love being at home, too, and I love knitting and reading and baking and keeping a tidy home.  I love the flexibility of my schedule so that Elliott and I can pack up and travel any time we get the itch.  Both Elliott and I weighed the pros and cons a thousand times of me working vs. me being flexible at home.

I said over and over that “I’m not sure I’ll even take the WIC job if I get it,” but after I didn’t get it, I knew I would have taken it.  I would have taken it and of course complained about leaving Lena, but I would have taken it and I would have been so proud to have it.  I would have loved seeing my paycheck join Elliott’s again in our bank account.  I would have loved feeling like I could do it all: be a successful professional as well as a mom as well as a wife as well as a happy resident of a quaint Sicilian town.  I would have loved knowing I was beefing up my resume, preparing for grad school sometime soon.  I would have loved dressing up for work (no scrubs!  wowzah!) and interacting with so many different people and learning new skills and reviewing pediatric and maternal nutrition and developing this subset of skills.  I would have been so proud of myself.

Well, God said nix-ay to the pride, I guess.  And now I am not proud.  Now I am a stay-at-home mom because there is simply nothing else for me to be right now.  And I’m not even that good at it!  (But I’ll let you see that for yourself as time goes by.  As I share with you this adventure of being a full-time mom at home.  What do I do with my days?  You shall see…)

In the meantime, know that for all the pretty pictures I put up on here, for all the dreamy ways I talk about our life, for all the beautiful fodder I churn up to share with you… I am a little ashamed that I am doing this instead of working as well as doing this.  I am a little sad because it has been a steep, swift change from my first job out of college at the top of my game to quietly nursing a baby to sleep three times a day.  I am not used to it yet.  I do not own this transition yet.  This is not me yet.  I don’t recognize myself in all this, I don’t look at my life and say, “Yes!  This!  This is me!  This is who I have always wanted to be, this is where I want to expend my life’s energies, this is the fullest realization of the person God created me to be!”

The truth is that I just don’t know yet what God created me to be.  I know that it looks a lot different from what I imagined.  I know it is better than I could ever have imagined, not because it is more glamorous or more beautiful or more fun, but because it is right and good and true and desired by God.  I am desired by God.

That’s all for now; I hear my baby waking up from her nap.

12 :: in motherhood, thoughts

Becoming a Stay-at-Home Mom: A Series?

[Note: Some of you already noticed this in your Google Reader, and thanks for your personal emails – I so appreciate them.  I wrote this and posted it yesterday, and then I remembered it was our wedding anniversary and, for my own sake in years to come, I didn’t want to say these things on that day.  Anyway, here it is today.]

Last night while browning the pork chops I had [what at that time seemed like] a great idea.

I thought I would invite you along on this adventure with me of becoming a full-time stay-at-home mother and all the excitement and learning curves that it entails.

But the idea is not as appealing on Monday morning, although the scene is set for telling good stories.  (Meaning the baby is asleep, the fire is crackling, the rain is falling, the house is cozy…)  The reason the idea is not as appealing is because it requires me to tell you that I am not a stay-at-home mom because I really want to be a stay-at-home mom.

I am a stay-at-home mom because I cannot get a job.

There, I said it.  I feel like there are not a lot of other people who become stay-at-home mothers because they simply are unemployable.  Most women who choose to be full-time homemakers and mommies really don’t want to do anything else more (which, honestly, is true of me) and set aside great careers to do this (which, honestly, is also true of me) and could get a great job if they wanted to (which, honestly, is not true of me).  Other people who become stay-at-home moms have “earned” it: they worked, they went to grad school, they had a career for awhile, what have you… and now they get their long-awaited reward: full-time homemade motherhood.

But me?  I worked my last shift as an ICU nurse on July 3, 2011.  Elliott returned on July 4, 2011, from a year-long deployment and we left a few weeks later for a new life in Sicily.

Even before we moved to Sicily I was trying to get a job here.  I tried for 6 months to get a job here and I was unsuccessful.  The biggest blow was being turned down for a nursing job I really wanted.  It was a cushy desk job in a beautiful office with a huge window.  I would have been the nurse working for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) Overseas and my job would have involved seeing military moms and their children, dispensing nutritional advice and breast pumps, and teaching classes at the hospital and the school about how to eat healthy food.  I would have loved that job, I know, and I would have been good at it.

But the call came the day before our Christmas party when I was up to my elbows in flour.  “Is this a good time to talk, Rebecca?” my I-thought-future manager asked.

“Umm… yes, sure.  My baby’s napping, so this is a great time to talk.”  [immediately I kicked myself for such a mommy statement]

“OK, well, I just wanted you to know that we have decided to hire the other candidate for the job for WIC.  I’m so sorry.”

She said the other candidate had more experience.  Well, I guess there’s nothing I could do about that.  I’ve only been out of university for three years and so I’ve only had two jobs, and both of them were adult ICU jobs, not pediatric nursing positions.  So I understood that I wasn’t super experienced.  And I guess I understood that I didn’t get the job (even though I’d been visiting the office and sending my resume in since July to get that job as soon as it became available).

I was pretty beat up about that for awhile.  There were a lot of tears and Elliott did a lot of comforting and Lena got freaked out because her mommy was crying.  But eventually I had to pull myself together and move on.  I had tried to get a job and now there were no other nursing positions available.  There still aren’t, over a month later, and I don’t know of any that will become available until the summer or possibly the fall.  I might apply for those, who knows?  But right now, I am a stay-at-home mom.

I want to say very clearly that I was disappointed not to get this job – or any job – but I also was seriously conflicted about it.  I love Lena so much and I didn’t want to take her to daycare on base each day (even though she probably would love being with so many other kids all day long).  I wanted to be a dedicated, thoughtful mother; I wanted to put her in cloth diapers, potty train her absurdly early, read stacks of books to her each day, take her to the market each Wednesday, set up playdates with other babies and children, and so many other idealistic things.  I love being at home, too, and I love knitting and reading and baking and keeping a tidy home.  I love the flexibility of my schedule so that Elliott and I can pack up and travel any time we get the itch.  Both Elliott and I weighed the pros and cons a thousand times of me working vs. me being flexible at home.

I said over and over that “I’m not sure I’ll even take the WIC job if I get it,” but after I didn’t get it, I knew I would have taken it.  I would have taken it and of course complained about leaving Lena, but I would have taken it and I would have been so proud to have it.  I would have loved seeing my paycheck join Elliott’s again in our bank account.  I would have loved feeling like I could do it all: be a successful professional as well as a mom as well as a wife as well as a happy resident of a quaint Sicilian town.  I would have loved knowing I was beefing up my resume, preparing for grad school sometime soon.  I would have loved dressing up for work (no scrubs!  wowzah!) and interacting with so many different people and learning new skills and reviewing pediatric and maternal nutrition and developing this subset of skills.  I would have been so proud of myself.

Well, God said nix-ay to the pride, I guess.  And now I am not proud.  Now I am a stay-at-home mom because there is simply nothing else for me to be right now.  And I’m not even that good at it!  (But I’ll let you see that for yourself as time goes by.  As I share with you this adventure of being a full-time mom at home.  What do I do with my days?  You shall see…)

In the meantime, know that for all the pretty pictures I put up on here, for all the dreamy ways I talk about our life, for all the beautiful fodder I churn up to share with you… I am a little ashamed that I am doing this instead of working as well as doing this.  I am a little sad because it has been a steep, swift change from my first job out of college at the top of my game to quietly nursing a baby to sleep three times a day.  I am not used to it yet.  I do not own this transition yet.  This is not me yet.  I don’t recognize myself in all this, I don’t look at my life and say, “Yes!  This!  This is me!  This is who I have always wanted to be, this is where I want to expend my life’s energies, this is the fullest realization of the person God created me to be!”

The truth is that I just don’t know yet what God created me to be.  I know that it looks a lot different from what I imagined.  I know it is better than I could ever have imagined, not because it is more glamorous or more beautiful or more fun, but because it is right and good and true and desired by God.  I am desired by God.

That’s all for now; I hear my baby waking up from her nap.

16 :: in motherhood, thoughts

happy anniversary to us!

We’ve been married for two years today… such a long time, I know!  So much has happened in these two very short years.  Weddings and home-buyings and deployments and deaths and travels and births and good-byes and moves to Sicily!

I remember this day last year very well.  Elliott had flown home at last after getting caught in the middle of the Arab Spring uprising in Cairo, a terrifying 36 hours for us until he called me as he ran to board the last plane out of Egypt.  We met up with his family on our anniversary morning to have brunch at The Chesapeake Room on Barracks Row and then Elliott, Eden, and I went for a walk before we went to Bradley class.  I was 7 months pregnant at the time and stepped off a step on our walk… and suddenly I couldn’t walk any farther.  I thought I had twisted my ankle, but it wasn’t my ankle, it was my foot.  An x-ray the next day confirmed I had broken my foot!  What a fun day.  If it isn’t one thing, then it’s the other, it seems, with us.

Anyway, hopefully this anniversary will be a little less eventful.  Thus far Lena and I have spent it curled up in front of the fire as the rain pours down outside.  Tonight we’re leaving Lena in the hands of a sweet Italian woman and are going out to a new sushi restaurant that our friends can’t stop talking about.

Just for fun here are some photos of our beautiful snowy wedding by our awesome photographer friend:

the men get ready

walking from the carriage house to the mansion to greet his bride
 
joyful preparations!

first look & my sweet Grampie
 vows (we couldn’t stop smiling!)

quick and cold portraits outside… snowflakes on our noses and eyelashes

 dancing the night away
4 :: in husband, wedding

happy anniversary to us!

We’ve been married for two years today… such a long time, I know!  So much has happened in these two very short years.  Weddings and home-buyings and deployments and deaths and travels and births and good-byes and moves to Sicily!

I remember this day last year very well.  Elliott had flown home at last after getting caught in the middle of the Arab Spring uprising in Cairo, a terrifying 36 hours for us until he called me as he ran to board the last plane out of Egypt.  We met up with his family on our anniversary morning to have brunch at The Chesapeake Room on Barracks Row and then Elliott, Eden, and I went for a walk before we went to Bradley class.  I was 7 months pregnant at the time and stepped off a step on our walk… and suddenly I couldn’t walk any farther.  I thought I had twisted my ankle, but it wasn’t my ankle, it was my foot.  An x-ray the next day confirmed I had broken my foot!  What a fun day.  If it isn’t one thing, then it’s the other, it seems, with us.

Anyway, hopefully this anniversary will be a little less eventful.  Thus far Lena and I have spent it curled up in front of the fire as the rain pours down outside.  Tonight we’re leaving Lena in the hands of a sweet Italian woman and are going out to a new sushi restaurant that our friends can’t stop talking about.

Just for fun here are some photos of our beautiful snowy wedding by our awesome photographer friend:

the men get ready

walking from the carriage house to the mansion to greet his bride
 
joyful preparations!

 
first look & my sweet Grampie
 vows (we couldn’t stop smiling!)

quick and cold portraits outside… snowflakes on our noses and eyelashes

 dancing the night away
3 :: in husband, wedding

100 things to do in your 20s

Once upon a time the author of TwentySomeone gave me a copy of it.  I liked the book a lot, but my favorite part of it, the part that I come back to again and again, is this wonderful list in the back of the book.  So many of these things are on my bucket list of life!  And others of them just make me chuckle.

Here, with full credit to the authors of the book, is the list.  I highlighted my favorites, whether or not I actually do these things.  Which do you like the most?

  1. See the Grand Canyon.
  2. Get the libretto, learn the words, and then take in a great musical or opera.
  3. Go to Africa.
  4. Read great books.  Pick out a list and start working through it.  (For example, read all the Pulitzer Prize winners.  Then read all the Newbery Award winners.)
  5. Meet with God every day.
  6. Get out of debt.
  7. Learn another language. (How about Icelandic?)
  8.  Go on a mission trip.
  9. Reconcile with your parents and siblings.
  10. Buy some original art and hang it up in your home.
  11. Listen to classical music.
  12. Climb one of the fourteeners in Colorado (or the Alps for that matter).
  13. Do something crazy–skydiving, swimming with dolphins, running with the bulls, etc.
  14. Invest in understanding yourself by getting some counseling while you’re young.
  15. Decide to marry only the Right Person in the Right Way at the Right Time.  Don’t settle for anything else.
  16. Occasionally give money away when it doesn’t make financial sense.
  17. Adopt a team and root for them.
  18. Take your kids, nieces, or nephews to a game of the team you’ve adopted.
  19. See the castles and cathedrals in European cities.
  20. Read through the Bible several times and get ot know what’s in it.
  21. Make true friends and keep them.
  22. Recycle, and start a compost pile.
  23. Learn to like Bob Dylan.  He’s worth it.
  24. Paint, draw, write, sculpt, create.
  25. Know what you believe and why.  Truth matters.
  26. Pay off your credit cards every month.
  27. Swim in the ocean.
  28. Pray at the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem and walk where Jesus walked.
  29. Thank your teachers.
  30. Put some money in mutual funds.
  31. Drink strong black coffee and grind your own beans.
  32. Learn to make a dish that becomes your specialty.
  33. Write letters like songs and songs like letters.
  34. See the Egyptian pyramids.
  35. Become a member of a church and get involved there.
  36. Encourage your pastor.
  37. Visit your grandparents.
  38. Mentor someone younger than you.
  39. Take five hundred spontaneous road trips that don’t have a purpose.  Just have fun on the road.
  40. Plants some roses or tulips or rhubarb or anything and then learn to take care of them.
  41. Memorize Bible verses.
  42. Vote.
  43. Read The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien at least twice.
  44. Listen to Garrison Keillor.
  45. Go to a pro hockey game and sit as close to the rink as possible.
  46. Learn to play an instrument, however poorly.  Take lessons.  It will help your other creative endeavors, and you may just love it.
  47. Turn off the television.
  48. Go whale watching.
  49. Read a newspaper every day.
  50. Go to nursing homes and hang out with the elderly every now and then.
  51. Keep a journal.
  52. Record an album of original music and lyrics and keep it for posterity, even if the quality is poor.
  53. Send hand-written thank you notes.
  54. Visit your friends where they live now, and enjoy the time catching up.
  55. Learn to take good pictures and throw out the ones that are bad so they don’t clutter up your desk.
  56. Join a local softball, hockey, basketball, or volleyball league.  And play nice.
  57. Build your personal library.
  58. Give away your stuff.  (You really don’t need as much as you think you do.)
  59. Come up with a realistic and workable filing system so you know where important things are and you can find them when you need them.
  60. Disable call waiting and just talk to whoever you were talking to in the first place.
  61. Be mindful of the gas level in your car (and do something about it!) so you don’t frustrate your spouse.
  62. If you’re married, don’t wait too long to have kids.
  63. Call people older than you “sir” and “ma’am” just to be courteous.
  64. Listen to good teaching tapes.
  65. Fast once a month.
  66. Clean your refrigerator and your bathroom regularly.
  67. Volunteer.
  68. Know where the best parks and used bookstores are in your town and visit them frequently.
  69. Camp out every once in a while, and enjoy sleeping under the stars.
  70. Always buy used cars.  (Let someone else pay for the depreciation.)
  71. Han up a world map somewhere in your home.
  72. Celebrate holidays for the real reasons they were created.
  73. At least once a month or so, get up early and make sure you see the sun come up.
  74. Keep a “People and Praise” file so that when you get notes of thanks and affirmation, you can keep them for when you’re feeling blah.
  75. If you’re single, invite over your married friends; if you’re married, invite over your single friends.
  76. Eat popcorn and apples on Sunday nights.
  77. Attend community theater, no matter what the review in the local paper says.
  78. Call talk-radio shows and make good points if you get on.
  79. Allow people at least one quirk.
  80. Start a book club with nonbelievers.
  81. Be gracious (especially in public) when you don’t get your way.
  82. Sew together a blanket out of all your old T-shirts so you don’t have to throw them away just because you don’t wear them anymore.
  83. If you have a hobby, invest in good equipment so you can do it well.
  84. Throw a surprise party for someone.
  85. Try to develop the habit of eating meals at the same times each day (this will help if and when you ever start eating regularly with someone else later in life).
  86. Get a library card and use it at least once a month.
  87. Take walks.
  88. Get to know the person who delivers your mail.
  89. Go to free art shows and pretend you’re at the Louvre.
  90. Get some of your wedding pictures taken in black and white.
  91. When you eat out, forgo the chains and support local establishments.
  92. If you own a vehicle, keep it from becoming a pigsty.
  93. Go to the dentist and the eye doctor regularly.
  94. Bring doughnuts or bagels to the office for your coworkers every now and then.
  95. Sing hymns or original songs to your kids before you go to bed.
  96. Seek out someone to mentor you.
  97. Look at your baby pictures and reflect on where you’ve been since they were taken.
  98. Talk to store clerks.
  99. Start to memorize the Westminster Shorter Catechism.
  100. In everything you do, seek to answer the question, Who am I?
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