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My One and Only Remark on the "Mommy Wars"
Just writing that title made me throw up in my mouth a little. This debate has always bugged me, because I feel like there is nothing left to debate. You have the "traditional" view where mom should stay home with the kids and has no "choice" in her life and "careers" are for bacon-winning fathers or prostitutes. You have the feminist movement followed by choices for everyone! followed by acceptance for moms with real life "careers" and a generation of latchkey kids. You have remorse and guilt for some moms, followed by a new wave of moms with working partners staying home "by choice," and also dads staying home "by choice". You have Linda Hirschman telling the moms (but not the dads, see) who choose to stay home that they aren't really making a choice because their choice isn't her choice, and you have a bunch of pissed off stay-at-home moms defending their legitimately difficult jobs, and a bunch of working moms who could stay home but don't, but who also don't want to be associated with Hirschman's illogical argument for feminism that is actually the antithesis of feminism, either. I don't identify or align myself with any of these arguments because I've literally been in EVERY. SINGLE. SCENARIO. POSSIBLE. Working out of the house, staying home with the kids, both parents working, dad staying at home while I work... And the thing about it is this, as Susan has pointed out much more coherently before: It's all profoundly exhausting and frustrating and confusing and amazing. Parenting is hard. Kids aren't predictable and they bring tension and challenge into a marriage or partnership. Working for money sucks, and no one I know is independently wealthy, so the way I see it is this: why don't we all do what we need to do to let our families survive and be as content as possible in this culture that by its very nature is non-conducive to contentment? Why all the debate? I don't so much feel like analyzing and over-analyzing the "choices" here. Seeing as how regardless of what any of us do, for 99% of the people in these discussions, at least ONE of the two parents will be working outside the home (or spending time in their home not parenting while running a home business) to bring in money, and the parenting, mixed with the relationship between parents, mixed with coordinating all that money-earning, mixed with, you know, THE KIDS, is a lot to deal with. We all have to make some less than ideal decisions. We pick the ones we're most willing to accept and hope the universe doesn't laugh maniacally and make voodoo dolls out of us. The end. This is all the half-thought-through content I can muster on what to me is a very annoying circular argument.

I stopped nursing him too soon, didn't I?
Quinn still hates me. Despite the fact that I spent an entire weekend with him, took him shopping with my sister-in-law (which meant that in the two seconds I turned my back, she let him have her son's pre-chewed bubble gum even after I told her I don't give MY not-quite-three-year-old gum, no matter how anal and paranoid that makes me...by the way, Quinn swallowed the gum. DAMN. HER.), let him stay up late with his cousin watching movies, and single-handedly dealt with his fatigue tantrums the next day without once screaming back at him, he wants nothing to do with me if John is in the general vicinity. I now realize he is completely playing us against each other and relishing the reaction he gets when he shuns me (the one I try to hide but that is so obvious, even to a pre-schooler). But still, how much does it suck to walk up to your child, your baby even, and offer to spend some special time with him reading stories before bed, and have him turn to you, whimper, then dramatically run to the other parent and clutch frantically at his shirt tails, "No! I want daddy!"? We're trying a new routine now, but the first run was tonight and it was only mildly successful; you see, a vague outline of John's silhouette's shadow was visible before Quinn was actually in bed asleep, and that's when things went askew. Damn it.

Is it asking too much for things to be stable?
Don't get me wrong. I'm glad to have my new job. It's a good job, with a good company, good benefits, and good opportunities. And you know what? All those things were true when I got laid off from there three and a half years ago WHILE PREGNANT and went into the tailspin of my short life. Since that time, I've been home through pregnancy, one toddler stage, one infant stage, one pre-toddler stage, and one pre-school stage. I've worked for two OTHER companies, had three different insurance providers and two other 401(k) plans, and have dealt with the paperwork and frustration associated with moving all of those around year after year, employer after employer. I have gained 50 pounds (pregnancy), and lost 50 pounds (post pregnancy), and gained 20 pounds (return to work stress), and lost 25 pounds (one year job stabilization before latest change). And this is all just me. This doesn't take into account John's older kids' issues of the past four years, John's exponential growth in business which has drastically changed our lives and schedules at home, or even things as simple as the purchases we've made (cars, computers, furniture, braces, counseling sessions) or the major work we've had to do to our house (piers for structural problems, outside paint, landscaping, all new flooring, inside paint, garage door), let alone the work that still needs to be done, but hasn't yet (windows, baseboards, roof, driveway, bathroom fixtures). I'd just like things to be stable for a while. I'm not saying EVERYTHING has to be stable, but it would be nice if my job could be the same job for more than a year. Then maybe the other changes wouldn't feel so much like an onslaught. And I wouldn't feel the need to snack at my desk as I try to eat away the paranoia. Hmm, two birds with one stone: less stress, less weight gain. Work with me, corporate america. PLEASE. I just. need. a break.