Wednesday, March 5, 2008

mom jeans are right around the corner

High school was 4 years, I graduated college in 3 1/2 years, so far I've been married a little over 5 years, that makes me a military spouse for the same length of time, I've been a mom for 3 years. When I look at it that way I realize that I've been a mom for less time then it has taken me to do other things, so why since being a mom do I feel like I've lost some of myself?

I love being a mom, I love getting to see the ups and downs in their little lives, any and all new experiences they have. First smiles, first kisses, first dada, first clumsy steps, first bumps, first bloody lip, singing the alphabet together, the day is filled with shared love. But sometimes I find myself forgetting who I am. I wonder if this isn't a compounded problem because so often flyboy is gone and parenting falls on me 24/7. There isn't anyone up here to give me a break or help out. I am lucky to live about 6 hour drive from my folks and I do love to go home and visit, but going home every time he's away isn't really possible or practical. That and I would probably shot myself if I spent that much time down there!

I know that I am part of the problem. I have a hard time shedding my mommy skin. Its not even so much the whole "I don't want to be away from the kids for a minute something might happen" it really is more that I don't do it very often that it just isn't normal for me. I don't know how to step away. I'm used to doing it all on my own that I don't know what to do for me anymore.

When I would go into target pre-kids I would usually go in and wonder thru the clothes first and then the makeup stuff and maybe over to books. Now I head straight to the baby section, followed by the toddler boys section, then to the toddler food section and perhaps the matchbox car aisle. If I'm in the book section its usually coloring books.

I'm not sure what to do about this or how this happened. Is this some sort of stay at home mommy curse? Am I destined to end up wearing mom jeans?

I've often wondered if mom's who work outside the home are a little better at maintaining a life. They still have a hold on their pre-children lives, they still have a rope to the outside world in a way. I have a friend whom I worked with while I was pregnant who was pregnant at the same time. She continued to work after she had her daughter and would even take her daughter to the sitter so she could do shopping alone (we are talking target/walmart shopping, not shopping at Saks). I talked to her over the summer (she was a teacher and since she was off for summer break we were going to try to get the kids together) she informed me that her daughter would still be at the sitters m, w, and fri so that she could do some acting at the local theater. I know that different strokes for different folks that just seemed... well ... odd to me. Although since she seems more together then me maybe she's the one on the right track!

I know longer know where this is headed. I just wonder what I should be doing differently. If I should be doing something differently. I really need to find a babysitter up here, that might help out some. But did you know the going rate is like 10 bucks an hour? That seems high, even for some sanity! I think about that and then I think, I'm a mom, suck it up, adapt and overcome, this is my job for the next 18 years. My friends occasionally offer to take the boys for me. But one, damn that pesky milspouse ego, "I don't need help I can do anything!", and the time that I was so fried I actually took a friend up on the offer, she forgot and scheduled a play date on that day and then tried to back peddle. I'm starting to think that when some folks offer you help its really like someone offering you their last cookie, fairly confident your going to say no so they don't have anything to worry about.

I wonder how many other moms feel like this. I sometimes look at the other moms at the park and they seem so much more together. Perhaps I'm just the frazzled sort or something. Perhaps I'm worrying for nothing and sanity is just highly overrated.


I'm curious, do you other moms out there ever feel like this? What do you do to get time just for you, esp. with a husband in the military and in and out of family life?

18 comments:

  1. You realize there is a whole Seinfeld about this. ;)
    Being libras we get into a routine and then it is very hard to break out of without anxiety. I don't have any constructive advice b/c I don't know what it's like to have kids and a military life style.
    I worry about the same things...if we were to have kids would I still be myself. Would I turn into that mom that only talks about her kid...would I turn into one of those moms who thinks she is the ONLY person in the world wide to have a kid, would I still have the same pleasures I have now....Kind of crazy, I know, but true.

    I'm always here for you if you need to talk. I love you too much to let you go insane ;) Who would I talk to if you did??

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  2. I left college when my husband joined the Army. I was pregnant at the time, and still planning on attending at least two more quarters, but things just don't work out like that, I guess. So yes, I do feel like I have lost a little bit of myself. I still have so many things I would like to do, but how does one find time?

    I absolutely love staying home with my children, but I am with you on needing alone time. And here the rate for a babysitter is $10 an hour per child. It is insane!

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  3. I don't have any kids, but this post reminded me of something a friend of mine said the other day (she has two little girls about the same age as -1 and -2). I had commented that some day I want to be "like her": a really great SAHM who has it all together, with fun, happy kids, etc.

    She looked at me for about 5 seconds and then started laughing hysterically. She then said pretty much the same things you just said in your post. So I don't think you are "insane" and I'm pretty sure all of those put-together mommies feel the same way you do.

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  4. I don't have kids yet, so I can't give any "been there done that" advice. But I would think that if you're feeling like you need to get out and about every now and again without the kids, then go for it. I don't think being a parent means that every second of every day has to be all about the kids. You're still your own person too. I was under the impression that places like Tiny Tumblers and Gymboree were places where you could drop off your kids for a few hours while the parent wanted to have some alone time. And I know this might seem weird since Flyboy isn't home that often, but maybe next time he is home, tell him to have a boys day with the kids and then you can go do your thing for the day and then have a girls night out with your friends.

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  5. I am a working mom and I still go the the kids section first. I will make sure my son has what he needs before my needs. It is just part of being a mom I think. But I think it is harder for you because you parent mostly by yourself. If you have a friend that you could swap babysitting with. For example, Tuesdays you watch her kids for a few hours and Wednesday she watches yours every week. Start slow, get a book and read while the kids are napping instead of chores. Just take small moments of time to spend with yourself.

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  6. I'm not sure what base your at, I would guess Quantico by the picture today, but if by any chance your at LeJuene I've got a great babysitter for you.

    Being that I am neither married, nor a parent yet, I can't really dispense any advice. I can say that the first way to solve a problem is recognizing that the problem exists!

    One of the best gifts you can give your children is a happy parents.

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  7. I think I could have written this post myself...

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  8. I totally understand :) I don't have a spouse to speak of, and the little man's daddy is around so I'm not alone in this parenting gig. However, being the more responsible of the two, I get to do the grown-up things :) Since his dad has him half the week, I do get some alone time and I try to do something nice for myself. Usually I end up with a book or I'll treat myself to a movie. It's hard to get out of the mommy groove, but I find that if I do take some time for myself, I have more patience and I'm able to be a better parent. That's just me :) And no...I don't have it all together, though I sincerely wish I did!!! :)

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  9. I think a lot of those moms you see on the playground are probably not alone as much as you are...or they're really good fakers.

    I don't have any good advice on this yet, either. But I would think that maybe when Flyboy is home next that leaving him with the boys for an hour or two so you can do something--anything--just for yourself might be a good start. Even if it is just getting a haircut, or doing the grocery shopping in peace. Start small. Think of a hobby you might like to start, or a movie you'd like to see, a book you've been dying to read. See how you feel.

    And just think--one day, they'll both be in school!

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  10. During our last deployment my kids were 3.5 and 4.5. I had done it all several times before on my own, but I knew the time had come....I needed some help for my sanity. I put an add in the local college newspaper, interviewed several young ladies and hired a part-time babysitter. It was worth the money, not only for me, but for the kids as well. It was a change of pace for all of us, yet they were still safe and secure in our home, with someone I trusted and neighbors nearyby if help was needed.

    That time allowed me to do a few errands on my own, get a haircut and volunteer some of my time in adult minded things that were important to me, the woman. Then I would head back home and be the all important mom, but a little refreshed and more grateful than ever for my children.

    I admit that I don't have it all together, just peek into my windows and you will see that. But, I am okay with that fact. I do what I can, when I can and to the best of my ability at that moment!

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  11. I keep telling myself to hire a babysitter, but I never do for two reasons: one, as you said, they are ridiculously expensive, and two, I am a little nervous about who I leave them with. Luckily, I typically can leave them with friends who also leave their kids with me on occasion, but sometimes it doesn't work out. And I don't do it as often as I want to.

    I have a hard time even leaving Oliver with the kids, although that isn't because I don't trust him. Sometimes he's home so rarely that I feel like I need to maximize the time we do have. I've been working harder to take the time I need lately, though, and it helps. I'm dreading the next underway with two kids....

    Our CDC does allow you to leave the kids for two hours at a time; maybe you could look into that. I haven't registered them yet, but I know I will next time their dad goes out. It's only $3 an hour per child. It's so hard to remember that it's ok to take time for myself! I feel like I have to be on top of things all the time, and since I never am, it's frustrating. Definitely something I am working on.

    And I would love the submarine craft directions, but I can't figure out how to email you - duh.

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  12. Wow, I had a telling moment reading this. The ex-co-worker who kept her kids at a sitter through the summer so she could pursue drama... my first thought when you said it seemed off was to nod and think, yeah, sounds a little selfish.

    !!! Wow! Selfish to take time for yourself, be adult, hang with other adults, get some fun, pursue a hobby you love, and be able to be sane and together for your kids? Hmm. Maybe not. I guess it initially sounds selfish to me b/c there's a little jealous hmph! since I don't get that luxury. I spend the one day I get a week with the kids at daycare to work on my thesis, run kid-unfriendly errands, and clean. I'd love an extra day every now and then to go see a movie, use the spa gift certificate that's been sitting here for over a year waiting to be used, sit and read without interruption, go for a hike on rocky terrain, etc. Alas...

    I think we lose ourselves in our kids only when we forget to maintain that boundary. Yes, we're moms 24/7, and to some degree we won't ever escape that, but you can be an on-call doctor 24/7 (ish) and still take time to lose yourself in extracurriculars. It makes for a better doctor and a better human. Likewise, being a little bit selfish makes us more sane, so we're better moms.

    FWIW, I need to find that boundary again. It's so blurry, I can't tell where it begins and where it ends.

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  13. leanne,
    you sound totally normal dear. i highly recommend you get a sitter or someone else you can trust to let you have an occasional sanity break. you don't have to do it all every single day every single moment.

    you are awesome, don't forget that. you have a heart of gold ... and you need to be good to yourself, too ... you'll be better for it .. and for dash 1 and 2, too.

    don't be hard on yourself. the rest of the world will do that to you. don't be one of them. see you in a bit :) kathleen

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  14. We all lose a little part of ourselves, it's how mommyhood works,lol. It just about not getting too lost into mommyhood. It's hard to balance both mommyness and work. I work 40 + hours a week with my commute time. I always feel guilty that I never spend enough time with the punkin. With Mr Medic gone and my parents an 11 hour plane flight away... I too would once in a while like to take a break.. mostly to get my hair done,lol. Luckily with my job.. I still have my sense of self and I feel that it my link to sanity. I do though go to the kids section first and when on my lunch break always end up wandering into the children's place or gymboree. I'd love to be able to stay home(financially i can't) .. but sometimes I think I'd go crazy without that other interaction with adults.

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  15. There's nothing selfish in taking time for yourself. And if you need something to justify it, consider that the children really do have fun when Mom's away. It's also great to have other kids or a fresh face to play with, somebody who's sole priority is the child and not the rest of the house and bills and other things. That's why I love getting a sitter for a while, because they devote themselves entirely to my kids (and the occasional meal).

    Or I set up playdates where I can leave my son with his friend for a few hours. It's great!

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  16. Ok, were you writing this just as I was writing my "identity" post? Because I could just tack this to end and say "what she said", lol. I can soooooo relate! I've let myself sink into the deepest depths of Mommyland. I don't even realize I'm leaving he house without make-up, without having done my hair in my sweats anymore. How does this happen??

    I don't know if it's just a stay-at-home mom thing or if it's truly more prevalent on base. Here, we all look a mess at the school bus stop and no one cares. Not sure if that's a good thing or a bad thing! Makes it easier to let yourself go. At least off post you might have a "put-together" woman cross your path once in awhile to remind you there is life besides candy land and cheerios :)

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  17. It sounds like I could have written this almost word for word... very familiar.
    I rarely have "me time", and hiring a sitter for it just seems unnecessary. I'm not one to overanalyze the loss of the former me. I'm just doing my job as mom, and the return is so much more than whatever I'm missing. I have friends that go on vacation without the kids or husband and have weekly time scheduled to do their own thing, but that's not what I would like to do.
    The IKEA around here has a great little play area to drop off the kids while you shop/eat, so I've utilized that a couple times. Other than that, sounds like we're in the same boat.
    As for mom jeans... I LOVE Not Your Daughter's Jeans brand... at my age I can't pull off jeans from the junior's dept., but these are cute!

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  18. Aah the balancing act. First, let me say you haven't lost your identity in becoming "mommy" -you've just added it to what existed. It will take a front burner- but most stoves have 2 front burners- and you usually only stir one at a time. Asking for help isn't a sign of weakness. You'll come back refreshed and ready to tackle the ups and downs of motherhood (and wifehood). Even when alone, you'll shop for the kids first- it's in our nature- and it's okay. Find what works for you and your family.

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