Learned Behavior

Around 7ish every morning, my freshly awoken daughter usually makes her way to my office upstairs, wiping sleep from her eyes and carrying a plush toy. She always asks if we can spend some time together, and while I’m usually an hour or so into my work day, I try to pause and give her some time. Breaks are healthy. :)I noticed after about a week of this routine, she’s started showing up at my office more often. Truth be told, she’s always itching for reasons to go in there, and I can’t blame her for that. My office is chocked full of stuff a toddler would like to get into – markers, a glass angel figurine, paper, pens, a stapler, a turquoise file cabinet, a vase full of brightly colored artificial flowers, etc. (my office is my own personal paradise). But lately, when she shows up at my office, it’s with one of her wooden chairs, her play “computer” and a dolly that she’s lovingly referring to as her baby that day. 
She will plug away on her pretend laptop, scribble pretend notes on scratch paper, pick up her “baby” and sing to it, then gently tell it that she has a meeting to go to, and talk to her friends on her toy cell phone. 
She said to me, “I’m doing work just like you, mommy!” and I must say, my heart was touched. 

From last year. We like to sing along to the Frozen soundtrack when we do…just about everything.😏

First and foremost, our children learn how to act based on observing our behaviors, and it seems that I’ve been able to pass on some behaviors I was hoping my children would pick up, specifically, my daughter. I want her to see her mom as a working woman. 

I want her to see that it’s possible to be a career woman, and be a family woman, and be happy maintaining both. Now, don’t get me wrong – this is not my attempt to control her destiny in any way. She is free to choose what her adulthood will look like when the time comes. If she wants to be a stay at home mommy, she’s free to. She could marry a rich man and spend her days shopping and lounging (how nice, right?!). She could decide to work full time while attending night school to become a doctor or lawyer. She could also put herself through grad school while taking care of children of her own. I will support all of that as long as it’s what she wants because I love her. I also feel a sense of pride in getting to show her one version of womanhood that I’ve found to be respectable and commendable. 

While I was out grocery shopping with Adrian this week, another mom approached me as I was piling my selected goods onto the checkout conveyor belt with my 3-month old strapped onto my chest. “I’m impressed that you’re out shopping with your baby!” she told me. I thanked her for that compliment, and we chitchatted about diaper deals and managing outings with kiddos. Later that same day, as I was talking to my husband about future plans for our family, he reiterated his appreciation for the energy I bring to our home.

I think all moms can list at least 50 tasks that are just everyday responsibilities that have to be maintained in order for life to go on at home. What we don’t always do is step back to take in the scope of all these tasks. We chauffeur, we cook, we comfort and cuddle, we wake up in the middle of the night, we wipe noses, we wash and fold, and many of us do these things while also working jobs full time. Some of us even work those full time jobs out of the same homes we work so hard to keep clean and inviting (like me!).

Make no mistake, our children see us doing these things. They may not always express their gratitude (just two days ago, Kennedy told me to go away while I was dropping her off with her grandmother 🙄) but they do take notice of us tucking them in at night, waking them up in the morning, and always being there. My daughter sees me working and deems it cool and important, which I take as a positive step in building her identity. When she gets older, I can let her know about the time I spent in school to be able to work the job I have, and hopefully that will inspire her, too. 

I like this version of motherhood on me. It’s been a crazy ride to adjust to the growth of our family while also returning to work, but I feel like myself doing this. I also feel like I’m putting my best foot forward in setting an example for my children, who will hopefully come to conceptualize womanhood as including lots of things beyond just beauty or homemaking – it’s also intelligence, multitasking, and serving. 

You Betta’ Work, B*tch!

Since the move, I’ve been working from home. Because I also have a child, this makes me a work-at-home mom (WAHM). I’m a WAHM. Wait, I’m a WAHM? Well, yeah, I guess I am! This reality has certainly hit me like a ton of bricks.

It’s not that there’s anything bad about WAHMomhood at all – in fact, I admire women who can juggle the tasks of their jobs with the needs of their children, who are often present under the same roof while they complete their tasks for work. I’ve always respected StayAHMs and WAHMs alike because it takes a lot of patience to stay at home with a baby, toddler, or child all day long, and even when your kids grow up, at least for WAHMs, your main environment for everything really is your home. You sleep there. You cook there. You entertain there. You relax there. You work there. It seems like a closed off existence to me, which is why I was never really that fond of it. SAHMs and WAHMs have to put in more effort to have social interaction; whereas the rest of us who hold jobs outside of the home have it built into our routine of seeing others at our places of work, those moms have to seek groups to spend time with in order to socialize. It’s not automatic. Through that, these women also work hard to maintain their own identity outside of their status as parents. I can imagine this is challenging, and I commend those who live this lifestyle happily and confidently.

Doc McStuffins sets the perfect audio background for grading papers.

Doc McStuffins sets the perfect audio background for grading papers.

Just after having Kennedy, I never imagined I’d be an “at-home” anything. I knew I wanted to have a job with flexibility so that I could easily be near her, but I didn’t envision being a stay-at-home mom. After all, I have too many clothes, and shoes, and purses for that.

Despite my reluctance to fill the role, I’m not finding it to be all that bad. The most challenging part is scheduling my day so that all of my tasks get done, but I have my family helping with that. It’s easy to get wrapped up in playing with your child, then suddenly you realize they’re probably hungry, you feed them, you clean them up after feeding, you change a diaper, you get a bottle ready to put them down for a nap, and finally you lay them down. Just like that, two hours have vaporized off your clock. This happened to me plenty in the beginning. I am still learning to optimize my time while also keeping my baby fed, rested, and occupied with things that are not my computer, mouse, iPhone or iPad (when I’m using it).

I had previously thought of WAHMomhood as something that was all or nothing; the day I decide to start working from home, I will work from home for every job I hold in the future. It seems practical, especially as we discuss the possibility of having more children. However, I can’t say at this point that I’m ready to give up working outside of the home. Let’s face it – with an economy as unpredictable as ours is, most of us don’t have the luxury of saying there’s anything we will or won’t do to make money. Jobs are still hard to come by. I’m just grateful to have one right now.