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Thursday, January 28, 2010


I've been a stay-at-home mom for over six years now. I do love it and know that for myself and my children, it's the best thing. But sometimes I still feel like I have to explain myself - validate what I do - to others, and it can be so frustrating.

My 10-month-old is in the throes of teething right now. The overwhelming exhaustion at 2 a.m. is too much for my husband and I sometimes, and tempers flare. Tylenol doesn't work, and there isn't a drop of Orajel to be found in the house (I never had to use it with my other two). He angrily asked me what I wanted him to do - sit up with the baby? Of course not, but I know you want me to, because, after all, I don't have to get up early tomorrow morning to earn a paycheck. So after letting Mister Baby play, holding him, rocking, nursing, whatever I could do to get him to settle down, I finally get him back to sleep and trudge back to bed around 2 a.m. Of course, everyone else is asleep.

My husband is very supportive and a good dad. But it's moments like these when I just want to scream. Why am I the only one who is awake right now and dealing with this problem? Just because I supposedly don't have anything better to do? Just because "I'm the mom"?

I'll never forget the time my mother in law told me that 'her son needs his rest, and you can take a nap during the day.' What about my rest? Why are my sleep needs less important? And when exactly can I take a nap? Is that before, during or after my other children destroy the house and climb all over me like I'm a jungle gym? Sure, I can take a nap. Define nap, exactly. Because sleeping with one eye and one ear open isn't exactly a nap.

This morning as I got my daughter off to pre-school, I had to shovel the driveway after a heavy snowfall. Where we live, we're lucky to have maintenance personnel who plow for us, so I shouldn't complain. Sometimes my husband will if he has time before leaving for work. However, the plow driver has a schedule - those who work and 'need to be somewhere' come first. He'll get to our driveway whenever he has time. Meaning, you don't work and really need to be anywhere, so your drive might get plowed, it might not. This wasn't any different last winter when I was eight months pregnant, either.

When I first got married eight years ago, I wasn't working. I had relocated to be with my husband, and decided to look for a job afterwards. I wanted to be choosy this time, searching for a journalism job that was related to my career field, instead of taking a job outside the field again that would lead me down yet another path away from my chosen profession. Thankfully I could afford to be choosy, but when a colleague of my husband's found out I wasn't working, he asked, "What are you going to do all day?" I flatly answered, "I don't know .... sit around and eat bon-bons, I guess." He just gave me a blank stare.

Perhaps I'm getting defensive. I know I'm doing the best job at mother- and wife-hood as I can, and I know that most people with a brain know that it's hard work. But just because 'I don't work' doesn't mean I don't have sleep requirements like anyone else, or things to do. I don't want to have to justify myself as a person or define myself by my job outside the home. I don't want to have to hear, when I've decided to leave the house to do something, to be back in two hours for no reason, even though my husband is perfectly allowed to be gone for much longer periods than that. Why am I on such a 'short leash,' just because I'm the mother? I don't really consider myself a feminist, and I understand my importance in this household, but sometimes I question these roles, even though I don't know what the right answer really is.

In the meantime, it's estimated that children have 20 primary teeth, and Mister Baby currently has six. So it looks like there will be a lot more sleepless nights in our (my?) future.


Jen said...

Hi! You just added me on yahoo! Answers this morning, my name is Jen and I couldn't agree with you more.

I'm also a stay at home mom and it is the hardest job I've ever had. I used to work in nursing doing 16 hour shifts and honestly I would rather be working any day. But I know that being a stay at home mom is very important and a personal choice. My main reason for my choice is, I don't trust anyone but me. The second reason is childcare is very expensive and at my job I would be basically working to just pay someone else to have quality time with my baby.

If taking care of a child wasn't work we wouldn't pay babysitters 3/4 of our paycheck!

The Deranged Housewife said...

Hi Jen! Thanks for stopping by! It's nice to "meet" you. I enjoy reading your stuff on YA and it's nice to run into another like-minded mom. :D

soozenw said...

Ugh. I hate when my husband pulls the old "You can nap during the day" card. When? I have a toddler that doesn't nap, so when am I supposed to nap? There are definitely days that I would rather be the one that sleeps all night, gets to leave all day, and come home and not have to do anything except play with the kids for a couple of hours before bed...

The Deranged Housewife said...

I will say this - my husband is a teacher, so he has to deal with annoying students all day long. He has other duties with them, so it gets to be a long day. But I still don't feel sorry for him when I'm so sleep deprived that i've almost poured chicken broth instead of milk on my cereal, or forget how to write out a simple check. I don't know whether I'm coming or going anymore and if I even got there, I don't remember that, either! LOL

Anonymous said...

I got #4 on the way... with my first 3 children I used Motrin to help with teething. A lot of the discomfort of teething comes from swollen gums and inflammation. If you can treat that, the discomfort is reduced to almost none. Motrin is anti-inflammatory, Tylenol is just pain reliever and fever reducer. I usually would give them one dose during the day if I see them being uncomfortable, slobbering or with itchy gums and then another dose just BEFORE bedtime so they would sleep well through the night. I also noticed that the common fever and congestion that babies have are usually associated with the inflamed gums. So I treat the inflammation and use saline solution to cleanse their nostrils to keep the congestion from escalating to a cold, ear infections or any other sicknesses. Please know I am not a doctor, just sharing my personal experiences. :)