Sunday, December 19, 2010

SuperIma Sunday Check-in: Inagural Edition

My post about being a SuperIma came straight from my heart on a particularly bad day.  It was inspired by another blog post I read on my Google reader, and when I tried to find the exact post, by Reader navigation skills failed me. I looked for half an hour so now I give up.  But I presume that mother would forgive me.

Anyway.  The number of comments that post received was, to be honest, record breaking here at the Frugal Ima.  (6 comments!  and none of them were mine!)  Each of them choked me up.  As I read them, here's what I was thinking:
1.  I am not alone.
2. I am not alone.
3. I am not alone.
4. I am not alone.
5. I am not alone.
6. I am not alone.

Wow.  What a relief.

This change from full-time working Ima to full-time stay-at-home Ima has been a difficult adjustment to navigate, in more ways than one.  In fact, I think I haven't been so much navigating it as resisting it, ignoring it, weeping about it, and being angry about it.  For me, the switch is complicated by a few things (which are totally whiny and you don't have to read them unless you really want to know):

1.  I am a perfectionist.  Any job I have, I want to do well.  So, actually, I have noticed myself being obsessed with being a perfect stay-at-home mom.  This post and your responses made me realize "perfect" is very different for this job than in any other job. At my old job, my supervisor would meet with me once a week, ask me how planning for a program was going, or how many students I had met with.  We would (partly) define my success and progress that way.  When you're a stay-at-home parent, every benchmark of success is relative and mostly self defined, making "perfect" a moving target.  I won't get an evaluation until my kids are my age.  From the lady wishing her rabbinical school would just give out letter grades like a normal school (LOVE YOU RRC!!!!), this is a huge, almost devastating change.

2.  I don't like this job.  I just don't. I like my kids, and G-d knows I LOVE MY KIDS, but I enjoyed them 100 times more when I was working full-time.  That's the simple truth.

3.  "Help" is Expensive.  Even if I want to hire someone to watch the kids a few hours a week so I can catch a break, or send out David's shirts to be pressed, or get a house cleaner, the weekly dollars add up.  We lost our entire emergency savings account when we had to (essentially) short-sell the house, and we're aggressively saving to build it back up as quickly as possible.  It's tough for the Frugal Ima to justify hiring someone to help me do a job that I don't get paid for (yeah, I get paid in kisses and love, but they don't pay the bills.)

4.  I am an introvert.  I've always hated parties, and don't especially enjoy being out of the house. I feel "recharged" after some quiet time at home as opposed to connecting with other people.   All the things that are supposed to help stay-at-home parents adjust - "Getting out" and "meeting people" - are pretty much the most arduous things I can imagine doing.  It's not that I don't like the other parents who stay at home - it's just envisioning the stress of getting everyone ready to leave the house (including myself! Because those who truly know me know all about my Hermione hair...) When you are a stay-at-home parent, being an introvert is really tough because you have a deep need to be at home but at the same time OMG home is your JOB now, and fills you with stress, because you don't even know if you're doing a good job at your job (see point 1)  and.....yeah.  You can imagine.

I haven't quite worked out how to address each of those challenges yes, but I do know one thing.  This past week, when I had the stomach flu on Thursday and Friday, I mostly laid on the floor moaning.  The laundry didn't get folded and the kitchen floor wasn't swept.  But when my little boy wanted to snuggle with me on the couch, I said "Sure." instead of "Ima has to fold the laundry now."  And my heart felt so joyful in that moment.  And no one died because the laundry didn't get folded that day.   And I felt marginally better.  And happier.

So each week, I'm going to post here the one thing from my job I'm going to let slide just a little bit, and what it's going to make room for.  Because I really need it, you guys.  Parenting is hard, and full-time parenting is harder, for me at least.  And I really need your support.  Here's my very first "SuperIma Check-In."

This week, I'm going to serve some veggie chili we have stashed in the freezer for dinner one night, which will give me at least 45 minutes of "freed" time.  I'm going to spend 45 minutes uninterrupted by children, email, or internet, working on some writing I've been doing for pleasure.  The few times I've done that in the past couple of weeks, I've felt a small sense of accomplishment, and G-d knows I need that right now.

I'm inviting you to join in.  You don't have to link back to me, or follow any rules.  (I'll put a Mr. Linky, but you can just link to your post in the comments, or tell us about it in the comments.) Just tell us what you're going to do for yourself, and maybe what you're going to let slide a little bit.
You deserve it.  And I support you.

Yes, I realize that these are all what my dear Israeli bestie Hela calls "Tzarot Shel Ashirim" - "Problems of Rich People."  Trust me, David and I spend time every day feeling thankful for all our (many!) blessings.  But that doesn't negate the fact that I'm still having a tough adjustment period here, and I don't want to make myself feel guilty (er) for feeling that way.

I hope you'll forgive me for increasing my posts just a bit on the "Ima" side of "The Frugal Ima".  (And hey! If it really bothers you, you can stop reading.  I'm not monetized. ;))


  1. I seem to be posting a lot to your blog, especially since I just started reading. But, I'm really enjoying it, I especially appreciate your honesty. It's nice to hear some one else say that they "hate this job." I feel that way, ALOT! I love my girls, more than I can find words to describe, and I don't my the cooking some of the time, but the rest of it, yuck. I was an attorney in a prior life and there's plenty about my job I don't miss, but there's a lot I do miss. Staying home with kids, especially after having a professional life is such a huge adjustment and I think that adjustment is ongoing. Don't be so hard on yourself, it really stinks, a lot of the time.

    The one thing I've been trying to do for myself is take a walk, almost everyday if possible. I usually have my 2 1/2 year old with me in the stroller, but I still go and it makes me feel good. I've been really stressed the last couple of days because my first grader is now on Winter Break and I'm worried I'm not going to get my walk in because she's home and will whine the entire time if I force her to come with me. My husband leaves fairly early for work, so going before he leaves will be hard and it's dark by the time he comes home. So, I made a deal (or a bribe depending on how you look at it) with my oldest that if she comes with me on my walks, with no whining, procrastinating, or otherwise problematic behaviour, I'll pay her 50 cents for each walk. I figure it's cheaper than a babysitter or gym membership. So that's what I've committed to doing for myself on a daily basis.

  2. I LOVE being a stay-at-home Mom, and I STILL think it's super hard. I feel like I don't even have time to eat, let alone clean my house. I admit that I have been paying someone to clean my house, justifying it by saying that it was that much more time I get to spend with my little one. She doesn't even do a great job - she's just quick and its easy for me - but I feel guilty every single time she shows up. Which is why when she comes next week, it will be the last time, at least for a long time. Even though this was my choice, I've given myself a lot of breaks (maybe even too many) in an attempt to make the adjustment easier for me. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't, but luckily my circumstances are my choice and reminding myself of that usually eases the sting of the bad days.

    I think that what you did today was very difficult and I honor and thank you for that - being honest about your circumstances, not just with yourself but with the blogging world, is hard. It's not easy to admit that while you love your kids, you would still like to have a full-time job. Thank you for sharing. It is nice to know we're not alone. And husbands, try as they may, just do not understand.


  3. You two - thank you for your comments.
    @Hal - We all need breaks. I think that the societal expectation is that stay-at-home motherhood is such a privilege (and it is!) that we are supposed to enjoy every single 12-hour working day. And do it well. I'm proud of you that you admitted a cleaning lady would help you adjust.

    @Mom of 3. I am so so glad to have you checking in. Winter break STRESSES ME OUT. Granted, I don't have the schlep to and from preschool, and the baby will get to nap, but still - what am I going to *do* with them all day? Sigh. A walk sounds like an incredible idea. Do you listen to music? Do you have a rule that your 2.5 year old stay quiet? Or does she just do it?
    I'm proud of you for committing to do something for yourself, and mentally allowing your 1st grader's entertainment to take a backseat to your needs, even if half an hour.

  4. Leigh Ann, I can't believe how often I read your posts and find my heart singing because there is someone out there who really, really gets me. I am so glad to hear another introvert identifying that characteristic as something that makes parenting little ones REALLY HARD. I made the move from full-time to part-time work about 18 months ago, and I won't lie to you - the days that my kids are at daycare and preschool from 8:30-5:00 I feel like a much better mother to them than the days we are 'together' all day.

    One thing that helps me survive the longer stretches of time together (as in, multiple days when I'm home with them) is scheduling activities or play dates with other kids. It seems counterintuitive, to increase the noise and mess, but it helps. When my kids are busy playing with other kids, I get to work on dinner with fewer direct interruptions - and I get to commiserate with one other adult of my own choosing. It does increase our food budget a little bit having a few extra mouths to feed, but it's cheaper than therapy.

    I have also found a small number of things to do around town that are great for corralling little ones and are free or inexpensive enough to do once a month. They can play in a contained area, and I can sit back and watch. We have a membership to the local Children's Museum - they have an infant/toddler play area so even the baby can join in. Again, lots of chaos around, but I am not in charge of every moment's entertainment.

    Must go - the four year old has asked me to create a puppet show with him, and much as I'd rather sit here quietly and write, I don't want to say no.

  5. @Stephanie. My heart sings back atcha. :)
    Okay, so it actually doesn't seem counterintuitive. And the food budget thing doesn't really bother me that much, we usually have leftovers.
    I'm going to ask you an honest question, though - do you clean FOR your playdates? Because my house is usually in such a disastrous state (not *dirty*, just a mess - see the original SuperIma post) that I am totally mortified at the thought of anyone seeing it.
    You have inspired me to look online for free indoor playspaces. The only one I can think of is the mall, which freaks me out at Christmas time - too many people around during the day who wouldn't normally be, kwim?

    Have fun playing puppets. :)

  6. i love this post, especially as i sit on the couch, feeling like a slug, nursing a baby and looking out at the total mess that is my house but knowing that if i stand up to clean, i'll have to put down this warm little bundle of new baby...and having this terrible war inside myself of wanting to enjoy every minute but hating the mess...and we all went out for dinner tonight becuase i just couldn't deal with debating over vegetables at home...sigh.

    hang in there, friend, you're DEFINITELY not alone!

  7. Phyllis, you have a newborn. You are in charge of nursing. You aren't in charge of mess clean up or arbitrating vegetable wars.

    Leigh Ann, no, I don't clean up before people come over - at least, not for the people I invite over to play before dinner. There is a mutual understanding among us that we never need make apologies for the state of our houses. We are not 'company'. We are the village it takes to raise up these kids with sanity intact. Now, if my MIL were coming over, that would be a different story.

    There is, however, the added benefit of having all the kids (and an extra grownup to supervise) clean up the toys before eating, which could leave the house tidier than they found it!

  8. Phyl! I can't believe you're commenting again. You *are* SuperIma! Stephanie is right, you are in charge of nursing and that is all, which you already know, but still I know it is hard to sit there and nurse and ignore the mess. Poor Nesi suffered most out of my babies from that, I'm afraid.

    Stephanie - You've inspired me. I've made a call for soem challah-making playdates from my son's class this Thursday. I'm not going to make a big deal out of cleaning ahead of time. I'm going to see how it feels. It might be liberating. Thank you.


Thanks for your comments! They make my day.

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