Friday, January 27, 2012

SAHMs

From Hannah:


I didn’t always want to be a SAHM (stay at home mom). As a high school student, the idea of wiping kids’ noses and bottoms all day seemed unappealing. I did recognize the value in spending time with my children, so I tried to chose a career that would be conducive to raising children. For that reason among others, I chose teaching. Everyone knows that teachers get out of work at 4 pm daily and have summers off, right?

I learned that a teacher’s job never ends. Andrew works 8-4:30 year round, but when he comes home his work is done. Teachers have staff meetings. Masters classes. Sports games. Grading. Lesson plans. Field trips. They put in enough work during the school year to make up for the summer off. And I wanted to teach in a Christian school, where you work even harder and get paid less. I soon realized that teaching is not an easy career to mix with children. I admire those who can do it. I can’t. Before we got married, my husband told me he had always wanted his wife to stay home with the kids at least part time. He has been a constant encouragement.


Advantages
Now I am a SAHM, along with 25-35% of women with children under age 6. Everyday I get to watch my daughter grow. I saw her first smile and heard her first giggle. I take her to all her doctor appointments. Some working women can still feed their babies breast milk, but it’s not even a question of ‘if’ for me. She’s only a baby once.

Instead of hearing a report about my child, I give reports about her to whoever cares (and even those who don’t). I’ve seen quality daycare facilities, with their bright, cheery rooms. But as her mother, I love her more than a daycare worker who has 7 other screaming babies in a room. One worker told me that many babies show more excitement when they get dropped off with the teachers than when they get picked up by their parents. My heart would break.

If I did work, a tremendous portion of my salary would go towards childcare. (I don’t have a convenient fulltime grandma like a few of my friends.) I would have to pay around $200/week for a baby at many daycares here. A Christian schoolteacher doesn’t make much anyways; I wouldn’t show much of a profit for my labors. This way we get to save the childcare money.

Extra perks of staying at home include a relatively clean house and home cooked meals most days (though this is more of a perk for Andrew, not me).

I even get breaks. A friend who watches Abby a few hours a week, my women’s Bible study, and the church nurseries all give me refreshing breaks from my adorable child.

Disadvantages
As most SAHMS will tell you, life is not all home cooked meals and playtime. Some days it can be lonely going for 8 hours or more with no adult conversation other than occasional phone calls. I participate in many church events and go out a lot, but some days I find myself alone with a 4 month old. Andrew comes home with stories about crazy employees and disciplinary actions. I talk about Abigail and grocery deals.

In our culture, working moms sometimes look down on us SAHMs as if we were incapable of handling work and children. The first question most people ask when they meet is, “Where do you work?” When I answer, some consider me the equivalent of a high school dropout on welfare. I graduated magna cum laude with a bachelor’s degree, thank you very much.

I thank God for my husband’s job, but we realize it’s one income in a two income society. We have to do without the smart phones, enormous TV, Honda Odyssey, giant house (for now), gym membership, Mary Kay makeup (Andrew really misses it), Hollister clothes, dates at Fogo do Chao, and vacations in Cancun. My children won’t go to the Children’s Museum every weekend, play with the latest toys, or wear Baby Gap – unless it’s from a garage sale.

In spite of the disadvantages, for me it’s worthwhile, at least now. I almost certainly won’t stay home for the rest of my life, but I want to be Abigail’s primary caregiver while she’s little. After all, I am her mother.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

10 Memorable Events of 2011

Hannah's list



1. The day I took a pregnancy test at my husband’s request, sure that he was wrong this time, we found out we were expecting after all! My emotions were a bundle of terror and joy, but I really had no idea what we signed up for.

2. When Michiganders say, “there’s a lot of snow,” you know there’s at least 6 inches. We felt adventurous and drove about 15 miles north in 6 inches of rapidly falling snow to see a good friend’s new baby. The snow reached the bottom of the car and I drove 25 on 465. One look at Lucia’s little features and Betzy’s grateful face made it worth the drive, although I’m not doing it again!

3. In March, we celebrated my 23rd birthday with lots of people, a cake shaped like the Bible Andrew gave me, and lasagna. I’d graduated from college, worked, been married for 3 years, and generally felt much older than 23. My 30-something friends were envious though J.

4. Once a year Andrew takes a week-long intensive seminary class. This year, Andrew spent a week in Louisville studying the New Testament while I visited family in Michigan. I enjoyed the time with my family, especially my mom, before the baby came. We missed each other and talked on the phone until late at night, but absence really does make the heart grow fonder.

5. Andrew’s Grandma Wencl died in April and we drove 10 hours to her funeral in Minnesota. I added beautiful Minnesota and utterly boring Iowa to the list of states I’ve been in. I learned more about my husband’s relatives and Czech heritage as I met aunts and uncles, cousins, and random relatives. It was the first funeral I can remember attending, but not the last.

6. Ironically, in the year our daughter began life we saw more funerals than ever before. God took one of our high school friends, Ashley Cottle, and led her into His presence. A few weeks after our Minnesota trip, we drove to Michigan to be there for her husband, another friend. I don’t have more words, only this; we will never forget her life.

7. Pregnancy can make a woman feel as attractive as a giant mushroom, but Andrew surprised me with a date to the apple orchard. We ate lunch, picked 5 pounds of apples, and dreamed of next year when Abigail could run around with us.

8. After an induction and easy labor, Abigail entered the world just a week late! Both of our parents traveled the 5 hours to see her and help us out, which is the only reason we survived the first few weeks! Our church family encouraged us with visits and yummy meals. Food seemed boring when I had to cook again.

9. New parents have notoriously low sleep meters – and time with each other. For Andrew’s birthday, I sent 1 1/2 month old Abby to a friend’s house for a few hours. We celebrated Andrew’s 24th birthday with a homemade hamburger and fries dinner (his favorite) free of interruptions from a fussy baby.

10. For me, Christmas tops the list of all other events in the year. We spent Christmas with family. I realized that Christmas revolves around Abigail now for us; she received more gifts than both of us, as it should be. Eggnog, cookies, way too much food, card games, Mancala, gag gifts, and old friends completed the Christmas experience.