Wisdom Comes Suddenly

I’m Not Martha. I’m In-Sourcing.

August 19th, 2012 · 9 Comments

Winter 2008, the 3 of us with the flu, when it hit me: “this working thing is no not working for us…”

I think I do a pretty good job of choosing my soap boxes wisely.  You won’t hear me rant about politics (not here, not anywhere, not with a goat, not on a boat, not with a Donkey, not with an Elephant…you get my drift).  I don’t live with the illusion that my view of God is correct or superior in its probability.  I don’t even subscribe to a health philosophy 100% of the time.  80% of anything is enough for me.  I work out begrudgingly, and sneak donettes into my diet more than I should. Which is to say I should probably never eat those toxic circles of lard, but I MUST.  OH YES.  I MUST.  I believe choosing a school is personal, and public vs. private holds no water with me.  How the heck would I know what school is best for your child?  The Information Superhighway has turned the world into a glass house.  “No stones allowed”, is my motto.  At least 80% of the time.

But the Stay At Home Mom vs. Working Mom debate just pisses me off.  Has always, will always, can always…make me madder than Max when I take away his fried chicken.  Affirmative: I feed my cat fried chicken.  I’m trying to respect his religious preferences these days (our cats are Jewish…long story). But back to the point at hand: THIS is the DUMBEST argument ever proffered into the American Stratosphere. It has pit woman against woman, and what’s more idiotic than the war itself, is how we let it happen.  Women are supposed to be evolved.  Communicative.  Loving.  WE SHOULD HAVE KNOWN BETTER.

I can only assume it started as jealousy between two friends, one who wanted to have a career, but felt pressured to stay home, and one who wanted to stay home, but had to work for economic reasons.  And from there, it has blown into books, Oprah interviews, Editorial columns, magazine articles, endless blog posts, and now that I think about it, why hasn’t the movie come out?  Hollywood has dropped the ball on Mommy Wars, the Movie. If  they’ve got time to make another Bourne movie, they’ve got time to put Kristen Wiig in a cast of woman who can make snarky facial expressions while doing embarrassing things (i.e. intercede between squabbling siblings in a  parked minivan, trying to be stealthy while using the toddler potty stashed in the back.  I’m not saying I’ve done this, but rather merely suggesting it’s not wise to ingest 2 chili cheese dogs and onion rings right before making a long commute through an area of town with no public restrooms.) But I digress. I think we can all agree that Kristen Wiig should have the lead, yes?

But then the Pinterest Posters started, and well now…that is JUST ENOUGH.  It reads, “I hear you. Raising kids and running a house keep me busy too. I also have this little gig on the side called a full time job.” Walk away Lori.  Put down the keyboard and walk away. Because that’s just idiocy, plain and simple.  Who on earth imagines that a Stay At Home has the exact same job as a Working Mom?  That we do the exact same things, only I have 8 more hours per day in which to do it?  That’s about as true as me loving the act of cleaning this house, then making some tea and sitting down at noon to watch ma’ STORIES.  Shush.  No talking during The Young and the Restless.

I’ve juggled a career with Motherhood.  I have been a Stay At Home Mom.  It’s NOT the same ‘tat tall folks.  Not even close.

After ruminating on this topic for quite some time, Greg summed it up quite nicely for me: “Lori, you in-source as much as possible.  Working Moms outsource as much as possible.  Therein lies the difference.  One way is not better than the other; they are just different ways of doing business.”  Leave it to the Operations Officer to make it simple.  From a distance, this makes me look like Martha Stewart, and it makes Working Moms look like ladder climbing CEOs.  In reality, the truth lies somewhere in the middle.

(1) Many of my working friends have given up the illusion that they can “do it all”, and have outsourced housekeeping.  GOOD MOVE.  House work is thankless, no matter what your job title.  My Mom is retired and has a housekeeper, because hell…she’s retired!  She doesn’t want to spend her free time scrubbing toilets.  I in-source…I scrub my own toilets.  OK, to be fair, I sometimes scrub toilets.  Sometimes I blog instead.

(2) Many of my working friends outsource birthday parties at professional establishments.  And for the all their guilty conscious hoo-ha for not baking the cake and making the hangy-thingys, I have the EXACT SAME guilt for in-sourcing the parties, and spending too much time gluing the hangy-thingys and not playing with my kids. Fishing line and thumb tacks doesn’t equate to my children receiving more love.  It just means I have more burns on my fingers from hot glue guns.  All Mommas love their babies; we just express it in different ways.

(3) Many of my working friends opt out of chairing large PTA events, choose medium-sized events instead, or do their events with Co-Chairs.  Smart move.  An all-school event can be a full-time job.  Santa Shop was a 60-week commitment for me, and there were weeks I easily spent upwards of 30 hours working on it.  On the other hand, Stay At Home Moms Chair tons of events and attend ALL of the PTA meetings.  It’s what we do when we’re not watching our stories and lunching with the ladies.  We call it “having an excuse to be around adults”, and it’s wonderful.  I love me some PTA, and I’ve enjoyed every minute I’ve spent volunteering with those lovely parents.

(4) Many of my working friends try very hard to volunteer at school as much as they can.  When a scheduling conflict arises, they outsource to me, and I gladly help out.  It’s very important to me to have working friends.  While I teach their daughters the virtues of friendship and global awareness in Daisy Scouts, they teach my daughters that careers in teaching, law, medicine, and the sciences are every day things, well within their grasp. I see our support of each others schedules as mutually beneficial.  We all want the exact same thing: to raise healthy, smart adults who engage in socially responsible and meaningful lives.

(5) One of my closest friends is a Scientist with an international reputation.  I’m always amazed at how present she is in her child’s life, despite the pressure she must feel at work.  You know what? All of my working friends impress me with their focused presence.  I take her daughter to school, and she bought me a VIP parking spot.  She outsourced on something I had already in-sourced, and lo and behold, I’ve got my name on a parking spot right by the school’s doors.  HELLO?  WIN-WIN?!

(6) If there is something I can make, rather than buy…consider it in-sourced.  Disney Vacations?  Nope.  I in-source with creativity and crazy crafting.  Really cool Halloween costumes?  In-sourced. Pottery Barn Kids?  Went there once, walked right back out.  Spare time? Spent crawling on the floors of Consignment Shops, buying second hand (and loving it! I consider it my own pot-shot at rampant consumerism.) Cooking? In-sourced.  School lunches? In-sourced. After-school activities? In-sourced. Jam? IN-SOURCED. God, we go through a lot of jam.

Summer 2012: when it hit me: “this not working thing is working for us”.

I did not set out on this journey to be Martha.  I decided to stay at home for the same scatter plot of reasons anyone would…meaning, there is no single set of reasons.  There are a million.  The same million reasons one chooses to work. I’ve never understood why Working Moms feel so secure in telling me that my craftiness makes them feel bad.  That I should be less good so they’ll feel less guilty.  Should I in return, request that they tank their careers and get fired, so I’ll feel more secure in their presence?  Be less good at work please. It’s messing with my insecurities.

Is my job similar to a Working Mom’s?  Absolutely not. Unless a company is willing to pay me to come up with snacks & crafts that reinforce the Girl Scout badge of, “Courteous and Kind” while simultaneously organizing a school-wide Spirit Week, mop my floors, make sure Greg never has to miss a day of work when the kids get sick, accompany my Grandfather to his doctor’s visit, talk any variety of Stay At Home Mom friends off the daily ledge of “Why in hell did we agree to do this?”, come up with menus for all-family events (that’s right…Stay At Home Moms host most of the holidays), and convince an entire school to get behind the annual fundraising agenda….UNLESS I’m going to get PAID to do these things, then I’ll just go ahead and say I’m happy with my choices.

More importantly, I’m happy with yours too.  I honor your choices.  I listen to your complaints, and feel they are valid.  Your feelings are truth to you, and to me. If you get a big promotion, I’ll be the first to clap and bring you a Chicken Pot Pie.  If you decide to quit and Stay At Home, I’ll be the first to bring you a Chicken Pot Pie (and a bottle of really, really strong rum). I’m a woman who supports other women.  Women are the Universal Constant of Love, and that love starts here.

Who would like to join me?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Tags: The Girls

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9 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Lydia // Aug 19, 2012 at 10:27 pm

    I will join you. I would like to participate in this conversation very much.

    I am your alter-ego. I have no kids. I do not stay home. I do not make jam. I have a budding reputation as an elite researcher and scholar at a Research 1 university. I cannot cook cauliflower at all. Actually, I can’t cook any vegetables, if the truth be known. I am never covered in baby puke, cat puke, or any other kind of puke. I move every 3 years, spend my money on frivolous things, and wear red high heels.

    And I am your Number 1 admirer. I spend a lot of time wishing I could be you. Could I be an awesome cook and throw TV-quality birthday parties and be a good mom? Yes. Just like you could be an elite researcher and Vice President at a leading Fortune 500 pharmaceutical company. If one more woman says to me, “Oh, dear, you don’t have kids? Oh, that’s too bad. Well, you know, there’s still time. There was that one actress in Hollywood who had a child when she was 53” I will kill them and then myself.

    Let me tell you why I admire you. Not for your yummy food and stunning parties (although that too.) You made the decision you had to make for your family, and every single day, you do it to the best of your abilities. You were the best nurse you could be, the best researcher you could be, and now you are the best wife, mom, and party thrower/writer/cook/cat doctor/PTA president-elect that you can be. I know you miss your other life sometimes, but you said, “Ok, then. If I’m doing this stay at home mom thing, I’m going to do it LORI STYLE!” And you do. It’s loud, it’s way over the top, it’s histrionic, and it’s hilarious. You meet your challenges with grace and determination, bringing quality and excellence to whatever it is you may be doing.

    This, my friend, is why I admire you. Because you have figured out that it is not about what you do, it’s about how you are doing it. And you are doing it just beautifully. Love you and miss you. xoxo

  • 2 Chris Moon // Aug 20, 2012 at 10:07 am

    Count me in. I KNOW from the bottom of my heart that we each choose to do what we do and be what we are. My choices are very personal, as are yours. And that’s cool.

    I will say that sometimes people write or say things thoughtlessly. Nope, strike that. MOST of the time people will write things not realizing what it is that they are really saying.

    I guess that’s even a better reason to bring it to the surface and have a discussion.

    Love your blog – as always.

  • 3 The Momma // Aug 20, 2012 at 10:32 am

    Lydia,

    1) You are awesome. 28 years of awesome coated awesome friendship. I love you.
    2) My child has indeed thrown up on you. I know you’ve cuddled another boy wonder through a pediatric appendectomy. You’ve earned a badge or two, my friend.
    3) You called me histrionic, which made me laugh out loud at midnight, gripping a heating pad to my stupid thrown out neck. At that moment, I was the illustration of histrionic.
    4) What I lack in grace, I make up for with determination and balloons.
    5) You get me. You always, always, always know where my heart lies. Girlfriends make life so grand (but I’m not sewing that on a pillow because it would be totally gay. When we’re 80 and retired in Florida together, I’ll put it on a tshirt for us.)

  • 4 The Momma // Aug 20, 2012 at 10:34 am

    Chris,

    Your support means a lot, as you are an artist who puts her work out there. Every single time you blog, I see bravery in those textiles. You are a free spirit quilter, and it always makes me think about finding the guts to try new things. Thank you!!!

  • 5 Sara (Schermerhorn) Cupp // Aug 20, 2012 at 7:36 pm

    You are so right on! I’m an out sourcing. I figured out a long time ago I can’t do it all. Power to all of us to get through this parenting gig! It’s not easy no matter the circumstances. My darling 5 and 7 year olds put our 12 year old arthritic pug down the swingset slide…twice this weekend. I’m still reeling from that!!!! Ahhhhhh!!!

  • 6 The Momma // Aug 20, 2012 at 7:56 pm

    Sara, It’s POSSIBLE the ages of 5 and 7 are far more destructive than I had imagined. I’ve been in this age group with the girls for 5 days. It’s been quite a trip already!

  • 7 Sara (Schermerhorn) Cupp // Aug 20, 2012 at 8:13 pm

    And furthermore, “parenting math” (as you would say) is so frustrating. Lately I feel like the harder I try and the more I try to do with these kids the worse they are. They have been crazy lately. I’m hoping they are going through a bad phase. I’m praying that they are going through a bad phase. Fun mom is going to turn into evil witch mom soon…..can you tell we had a bad weekend????

  • 8 The Momma // Aug 20, 2012 at 8:20 pm

    I threw out my neck and I’ve been witch Mom for almost 72 hours. Greg is begging me to get a massage, and I think if I don’t, he might put me down in my sleep. I’m like a lame horse. Yes…the harder we try, the harder they get. That linear relationship is entirely true at my house too! Godspeed to both of us!

  • 9 Aunt Jenny // Aug 22, 2012 at 9:29 am

    Well said sister!

    Choosing to work outside of the home or choosing to stay at home, or having no choice at all – it’s all about doing your best with what you’ve got. Women need to walk their respective paths with pride – not guilt, jealousy or insecurity.

    Lets encourage one another to walk with pride. When our kids take their first step out into the big bad world as new adults, all that they want to know in their hearts is that mom and dad love them. Love isn’t mom stayed home and hand made everything or mom worked outside of the home and bought me the best. Love is whether mom was at home or at work – she will always believe in me.