Monday, May 5, 2008

Let Them Eat Cake!

I wrote the following post a couple weeks ago and just realize that I never published it here. Oops! Better late than never, right?
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


Have you seen the movie Cheaper by the Dozen? You know the part where the mom takes off on a book tour and the whole house falls apart while Dad is in charge and trying to juggle work and the kids? I’m afraid that’s my life. Only I haven’t even left on a tour yet!

Joe and I got into an fight argument discussion about the kids’ homework. I was mad because Joe hadn’t been checking and signing their assignment notebooks. He hadn’t been making sure Austin completed his assignments. After last quarter when Austin went from “A”s to well, um, a letter in the last half of the alphabet, we took away his freedom and required him to get his assignments signed daily. Joe got defensive and claimed that I was mad at him because he wasn’t doing things “my way”. Ummm hello? It’s not that you aren’t doing it MY way. It’s that you aren’t doing it at all!

In all fairness, I admit that I sometimes, occasionally, rarely get mad when Joe doesn’t do things the right my way. It’s true that I get ticked off when he’s outside messing around with the swingset while I’m trying to help the kids with their homework, get them to clean up their rooms, and get dinner on the table because we have to leave for baseball in fifteen minutes. But that was not what this argument was about. I’m enjoying this new turn in my life. I love writing. I like taking off for New York. I enjoy doing things away from the kids. Don’t get me wrong. My kids are still my number one priority and if none of this writing success had ever come about, I truly believe I’d still be happy. I wouldn’t feel unfulfilled and bitter that I was "only" known as Dawn, the Mom. That said, I have to admit that I’m very much enjoying being Dawn, the mom, the writer, the traveler, and the actor right now. But with this, comes a shift in work. I have more writing to do and have less time to do everything that needs to get done around the house.

I’ve never experienced this before. I’ve always been a stay at home mom. I’ve always taken care of the laundry, shopping, appointment making, cooking, bill paying, homework duty, and kid care. That’s what I know. I’m used to being on my own with the kids all day, every day. I’m used to taking the kids with me everywhere. Joe is used to working 60-80 hours a week. He’s used to going to work, coming home to eat and sleep, and then going back to work again. Our roles have changed now and we’re having a hard time adjusting. Actually, that’s not quite right. I wouldn’t say that we’re really having a hard time, but we are definitely going through some changes.

I don't remember having a difficult time adjusting when I quit work to stay home and raise my kids. Of course, there wasn't much work when I just had one newborn. I mean, he wasn't fighting with anyone, didn't have homework or baseball games, and he didn't trash the house. I guess that's why it was an easy adjustment for me when I quit working outside the home to stay home and be a mom. How about you? Are you going through a hard time finding a balance between you and your spouse or between home and work? For those SAHMs, was it a difficult transition when you quit work to stay home? How do you and your spouse handle jobs now that you're a SAHM?

I suppose it’s natural. I’m sure it’s normal for me to have a hard time giving up control in the childcare area and letting my husband take over and do things his way. I imagine the guilt I feel when I leave is also normal and okay. I think it’s normal for Joe to have a difficult time adjusting to being home and juggling all the things I do without a second thought. I have a new respect for moms who work outside the house, not that I’m out of the house all day, Monday through Friday. But still, I’m getting a taste of the juggling act working moms go through. I’m positive there’s a way to have my cake and eat it too, however. I mean, why even have cake if you can’t eat it, right? That would just be silly! I’ve been given an amazing opportunity and I know I can make it work for us. I think it’ll just take some time, patience, and probably a whole lotta mistakes to get into a new routine.

Pass the frosting!



And speaking of frosting...


CHOCOLATE! It's a shame the chef went to all that trouble making it look so appetizing. Believe me, it didn't last long.


The most awesome coconut cake. Evah! (My Long Island friend's accent is rubbing off on me.)


I tried tofu for the first time. It tasted great good like nothing. It really wasn't bad tasting at all, but I had a hard time getting over the lovely gelatinous texture. Mmmm, tasty unflavored fried Jello.


lunch with the folks at Guideposts


This is the sink in my hotel room. Notice where the faucet is. I poked my eye out every time I washed my face.


Yes, I had the whole bed to myself and it looks like a pack of wild dogs slept in it. I got up and made my bed because well, it's habit. What can I say. Then I thought to myself, "I'm in a hotel! I don't have to make my bed! What's wrong with you?!" So I messed it up again.

Yes, I'm disturbed. But I had to mess it up again because Janet, my agent, laughed at me when I told her I'd made it.

67 comments:

Shellie said...

I know this struggle with the balancing act all too well. I think it's true no matter what your situation, and especially when you try to add working to raising kids or any kind of change. The only thing I'm certain of is the goal is to make sure you find ways to meet the family's needs first, because the rest doesn't matter anywhere near as much as our family relationships and doing our best to help each other. Everything else ends, but family is forever.

LL said...

Dawn, you forgot to change the publish date on this when you put it up. It's in April Archives. I tried to email you, but apparently your email isn't on the site anywhere. Doh!

Anyway, I was a student and basically a stay at home mom. Then I graduated and got a job. In my last year of college, I repeatedly told my ex-husband that once I started working, things would HAVE to shift to a more 50/50 level with house stuff. It is very hard to give up the reins on stuff and to also not expect everything to meet your own standards. All I can say is that you and your husband have to talk, talk, talk this out. Not FIGHT it out, talk it out. If nothing else, make a list. Your duties, his duties, shared duties. And what's on his list, you are NOT allowed to come along and criticize how he did it. You ARE allowed to bitch if he didn't bother to get it done at all. haha When you're in that talk-talk-talk mode, you should also prioritize. If the bathroom doesn't get scrubbed a couple of times a week like you used to do it or whatever, are you willing to live with it being done once a week? Stuff like that. It really does help.

Seriously, it'll work out. ;)

SuburbanCorrespondent said...

My husband would do anything to keep me from getting a job outside the house, just so he doesn't have to start dealing with all the stuff I usually keep track of. We find we do better by working on separate responsibilities rather than trying to share jobs. In other words, we don't work well together at all!

And if he is doing something I usually take care of, I keep my mouth shut - because he wants to do it his way...and none of it will matter much 20 years from now, anyway...

Anonymous said...

It's a very hard adjustment you are making. For a number of years I was doing one of the multi-level marketing businesses and ended up being a top sales person. I was in the same boat you are now. We had to adjust and it is true that some of it is letting go of having things done "my way" which certainly do seem like the "right way." I had to learn to let Dad be Dad. But I also learned to train my children to start taking some of the responsibilities. They are part of this team too! There is no reason why they can't be taught and realistically expected to do dishes, sweep floors, clean bathrooms and even do cooking. My children (of both genders)start doing laundry around the age of ten. I first have them do things like towels, sheets and jeans for a couple of years. They *never* do my clothes. By the time they are 16 they can wash everything. My 10 year old is doing basic food preparation. By the time they are 16 they can prepare all of our dinners if necessary. It takes effort to train them but it's well worth it. They are benefiting from your success. You know the saying (that I can't exactly remember!) that with privileges come responsibilities!
Enjoy the ride!

Jessica said...

I totally know what you mean about juggling responsibilities. I just started a Mary Kay business and am learning to balance everything. The hardest part for me is that the kids aren't used to sharing my attention. I can't play as much as I used to, and that's hard for them to understand. I'm trying to find ways for them to be involved in what I'm doing, but it's not the same.

I think when we get used to the changes, we'll all be better for it. My kids will see that Moms can be great Moms and still have a life. And their getting a lot more quality time with Dad and Grandma!

A Whole Lot of Nothing said...

I totally get the change of roles. Since my website has really taken off and been busy, I've had less time to do my wifely duties like dishes, laundry, and wiping butts. We've had to divide up the household chores, but they're still not getting done on both sides.

I need someone to volunteer to be my housewife.

KathyM said...

I'm a working mom and it is definitely tough to balance it all without feeling like you are not doing everything 100%. When everyone is healthy and everything is running smoothly it feels great - but when someone gets sick or the bus is late or you forget something it has a domino effect and it's a bit hard to get back on track! But that said I can't imagine staying home all the time with the kids, I think that would be harder!

Betsey said...

Dawn,

I think that *the* most difficult adjustment I made when I went from SAH to working outside the home was letting go of having everything done my way. I leave before the kids are up most morning, so I have to trust DH to get them fed and off to school. We've also had to "renegotiate" the division of labor to account for the fact that I don't have time to do all of the things I did before. And *the* best part was hiring a cleaning person! They only come every other week, but at least I don't have to worry about scrubbing floors and toilets. I just have to keep up with the crumbs and the clutter, which isn't so bad.

Don't sell yourself short - you have gotten a job (besides mom/chauffer/chef/cleaner).

Hang in there...

Becky said...

That does sound like a huge adjustment, Dawn, but keep working at it...you'll eventually find a good, workable solution for you and your family. Things will level off.

If they aren't already, it might be a good time to get the older kids involved in some typically 'parental' chores around your home...things like doing the laundry, washing and putting away all the dishes, even scrubbing bathrooms. It might not get done with your same expertise, but at least it gets done, and they'll know how to do it well when they are on their own.

Growing up, the family laundry was my chore (gathering, sorting, washing, folding...everyone put their own away) from 7th grade on...not coincidentally the same time my mom went back to work full time. My sister had kitchen cleanup and dish duty, and younger siblings did dusting and vacuumning. It worked for us.

Amy said...

By the looks of the sink in your hotel room, you stayed at the Paramount? Are those rooms tiny, or what?

Dawn said...

Nope, I didn't stay at the Paramount. I stayed at Morgans.

AlaneM said...

I did not have much of a struggle when I began my stay at home career. In fact, I could not imagine how I could work & leave my baby! I will work again, but not until all my kids are in school full time & only during school hours.

I do understand your struggle of letting go. Isn't it funny how we are married to this person & supposedly trust them but if they do those dishes wrong? Look out buster, momma's coming at'cha!

It's just plain hard to give the reins over to your spouse. You are used to one way of doing things, and that's the way you like it...period! But it is ok if they don't do it exactly like you did - it is ok if the result is not exactly what yours was (as long as it's done reasonably well) - it's time to relax sister!!

I agree with you on the homework though, you gatta show consistancy with that or you're gonna have trouble.

Good luck girl, we're all pulling for you out here in bloggy land!

Anonymous said...

Congrats on the new direction life is hauling you! I was a SAHM for 8 years, but my husband has always been the better cook/housekeeper (how sad is that!). However, I am of course, the better parent (;o), who knows how to supervise the kids better and make sure they are contributing. He likes things done "right" so he'd rather just do it himself, which means the next time I ask the kids to do something it's a bigger battle again - Dad around means a day off. He now works afternoons while I work days, so he does a lot of the laundry and some housework, while I do kids supervision and cooking. I'm trying to teach the kids to cook, but I have trouble dealing with the battle involved. I wish like the anonymous commenter above, I had started 7 years ago, when my oldest was 10 and now they could be major cooking partners with me, as cooking is one of less favourite things - it doesn't help that I wait until 5 pm to stare in the fridge and wonder what's for dinner!!!
Pray for me, I will pray for you.
Annette in BC -who NEVER makes the bed in a hotel! It is one of the things I love about going somewhere- that and no cooking/no dishes.

Manic Mom said...

What I want to know is who took the picture of you at the sink!?!?!
LOL!

Colleen said...

I struggle with these issues every day of my life! I am blessed to have a great hubby who doesn't hesitate to pick up his fair share of the household chores, and the arrangement we have now (both working full time, opposite shifts) works well for us. Its constantly an adjustment, but I think we both realized that need to be flexible a few years ago and are now used to it. Its not my ideal situation, but its what we do now.

Looks like you're having a blast on your trip - making the hotel bed and all!

Beth said...

I WOH full time and it is a huge juggling balance act. I still have to do the laundry and cleaning and making appts and organizing, etc. I guess I dream of having my cake and eating it, too, so I just continue to chase the cake in hopes to someday get a nibble!

Mandi said...

After the birth of my second daughter, when my 1st daughter was 5 1/2, it took forever to adjust. My husband and I both work full time jobs outside of the home. With one kid I would usually be the one who took care of everything, making appts, doing the sports, her laundry, hair, bath etc. But when baby # 2 came it was like a tornado came trough my house, now I needed the help from Husband, so he had to adjust to getting into our schedule and lending a hand, I am saying it took a good 6 months to a year to get to where were at now, after many fights, arguments, disagreements, but you live & you learn, especially learn from your mistakes, but aside from wanting to be a stay at home mom (at least part time) i wouldn't have it any other way!
PS we don't make beds in our house, unless were cleaning !

Domestic Spaz said...

Yeah... who DID take the picture of you at the sink? :)

And I can't believe you posted pictures of those delicious CHOCOLATE desserts on the first day of my diet. I'm dying over here.

J... said...

Going from being a SAHM to a full time working mom is the change that has affected our family the most. Trying to fit in doctors appointments, school functions, sports and shuttling them to and from daycare while still being able to keep the house clean and everyone fed at a decent hour has been the biggest challenge of my life. I now understand why they say that it takes a villiage to raise a child. My mom helps us out a lot and we couldn't do it without her!!!

Duck's Mom said...

I'm a WOHM and I struggle to find that balance of work and home life every single day. I pulled an all-nighter last night trying finish a project for work and continue unpacking from our move this weekend. I also packed our son's bag for the sitter's got his sippy cups ready for the morning, set up the coffee pot (I don't drink it, I just fix it) and was out of the shower by 6:15 and he's still in bed.

It's a hard balance for everyone. It'll take time, but eventually either they take up some of the slack or you find more shortcuts on how to do things. My big shortcut brainstorm came last week.

As I mentioned, we were getting ready to move. I didn't want to worry about my son's breakfast stuff getting lost in the shuffle, so I packed 5 packages of Cheerios, 5 fruit cups, 2 large packages of graham crackers and a bottle of juice in a large lunch bag. When my husband dropped Duck off at the sitter's, he told her it was for the week. She thought it was genius. I thought it was a lifesaver. I had 4 mornings last week that I didn't have to worry about packing breakfast.

Good luck!!

TheHMC said...

I was a work outside of the home mom for several years. Once our 4th baby was born, I couldn't do it anymore. I wasn't good at doing all of it. It was either stay home and take care of the kids, or sell off all of the kids and keep working. Ultimately, we decided to keep all of our little crumb snatchers...you tend to get attached ;). So when baby #4 came along, i was officially a SAHM. And it's been an adjustment. The biggest adjustment for me has been the lack of help. I have 5 kids, a husband, a house and a dog to take care of. And as fast as I get something cleaned or put away, the tornados come out and wreck everything that I've done. Sometimes i get the feeling that they all make messes just to keep me busy. I don't kill myself to try and get it all done anymore though. If I did I wouldn't get to spend any time with the kids or to sit down and write(I'm feeling you there.. I love to write too).

And, recently, I've started trying to get out and about with my friends again. Just so I can be ME again for awhile. I've spent so many years doting on my kids and not doing much else, that I've neglected myself quite a bit. I never thought that I was at the time, but now I can see it.

Parenting is hard no matter how you go about it. Work outside of the home parents, stay at home parents...there are always juggling acts of some sort that we all have to do.

And I am LMAO at you and that sink faucet.

Michelle said...

I am a full-time working mom of 3. My husband has a pretty leniant work schedule, so he usually handles any daytime dr. appts and such, but the nighttime events are very hectic. Luckily, my kids aren't to the age where they participate in every sport and the like, but just getting home, making dinner, doing a little cleaning, laundry, letting them play outside, getting them to bed, etc. and I'm beat! Throw into the mix that we're in the process of buying a new house and moving! Oh, did I mention my youngest is 6 months?

I always tell people I go to work and relax; they laugh, but it's true!

Domestic_Diva said...

Dawn, I just love reading your take on things! I too am a SAHM, my transition wasn't as smoothe, as I had gotten laid off when my son was about 7, it wasn't a concious choice until later for me to stay at home. But I love it and wouldn't trade it now for anything. Well most days...haha There are those days that I fantasize about running screaming out the door...but so far I haven't made that spectacle a reality. :D Keep doing what you do, you are AWESOME and such an inspiration to me!

Julie said...

I've went from being a SAHM for 7 years to working for almost 2 years and now I just got laid off. Right now I'm just feeling relief that some of the stress is lifted!

Sheila said...

Dawn,

I'm staying in a hotel room by myself as I write this on a speaking tour. I have a king size bed and no one to share it with. And who is the third pillow for, anyway?

I always find it hard to leave everyone behind to do the speaking and writing thing. I've been calling home all day. I do trust my husband, although I know he's going to take them to Pizza Hut a bunch of times this week, and never actually cook a meal.

Oh, well. I can live with that. I just still miss them!

Visit To Love, Honor and Vacuum today!

Anonymous said...

Hi Dawn,

I worked until my 3rd son turned one and then couldn't do it anymore. After #2 was born (and sick) we couldn't use child care so my husband and I worked around each other so one of us was always home. He begged for three years for me to quit but I didn't feel we could afford it. Finally, we went for it and now he begs for me to work again because he can't adjust to all the extra hours. Now I love being a SAHM and we can't afford the child care, gas, clothes, & etc. for me to go back. However, his dream is that I do and mine is that I stay here for my kids. We struggle with our roles constantly and neither of us feels appreciated. He has a sense of entitlement to "do nothing" at home because he's "working" so much but in my opinion I work 24/7 and never get a vacation; I just don't have a paycheck to show for it. So it's beyond frustrating. I think no matter what you do - work full time, part time, or be a SAHM (I worked p/t at home w/ my kids & that was the hardest of all) it's all a balancing act and a struggle to figure out who should do what and feel it's fair. At the end of the day though you have kids relying on you and we're realizing we really need to get it together; they need stability and parents who are a team not opponents. They watch what we do and right now we're not the best example of team work. We’re trying really hard to work it out but it’s hard. I think we both have to give a little and accept some things that just may never change in order to make peace. We chose to have kids so we have to do right by them one way or the other.

You guys will figure it out. It just takes time. This really is an exciting time in your life; change is hard but not impossible. Congratulations on everything.

T. Hall

Christy said...

Dawn,
I am SO glad that you mentioned the Cheaper By the Dozen movie - I have been thinking about it since you mentioned your book tour, but you are bringing your kids along.

I have 5 kids and have always worked outside the home except for 3 months when I was between jobs. It was a lot easier when the kids were younger and they didn't have many evening activities but now we have gymnastics and ball (soccer in fall, basketball in winter, soft/baseball in spring). We are going somewhere almost every night. My husband does a lot of the housework and cooking but not always my way. I have had to adjust my expectations and let go of having to do everything my way.

Hang in there, Dawn. It will get better.

SaratogaFive said...

Author Anna Quindlen said: “The biggest mistake I made [as a parent] is the one that most of us make. . . . I did not live in the moment enough. This is particularly clear now that the moment is gone, captured only in photographs. There is one picture of [my three children] sitting in the grass on a quilt in the shadow of the swing set on a summer day, ages six, four, and one. And I wish I could remember what we ate, and what we talked about, and how they sounded, and how they looked when they slept that night. I wish I had not been in such a hurry to get on to the next thing: dinner, bath, book, bed. I wish I had treasured the doing a little more and the getting it done a little less”(Loud and Clear [2004], 10–11).
I think one of the harder aspects of motherhood is the marathon effect. After so many years of the daily routine, it is so nice to go back to being with adults, being appreciated more and getting out and seeing the world. But then, I am always a better, refreshed mother when I return. I do love my kids, but I try to find a balance and let them have time with their Dad so I can replenish myself. For me, this doesn't mean going back to work, just a few evenings to myself. Also, I try to remember that my husband loves me and my kids and while I get frustrated sometimes at how he does things, I am so glad he wants to be a part of their lives and he does make an effort to maintain our home and the kids routine.

my3boys said...

ummm...did I miss something? Did Joe quit his job or is he just busier because you are busier?

SAHM: Surviving Assorted Home Mayhem said...

I can't even remember back to a time when I wasn't a SAHM! But being one is hard- working without the structure of a boss, deadlines, goals, etc, of a traditional job makes it tougher to accomplish everything we want to/have to. And even though most of us are not eating bons bons and watching the soaps it's tough to plan our day so that we feel we've spent time with the kids, gave attention to the house, got the main chores done and found some amount of "me" time, i.e., reading blogs, or heck, just showering and eating!

Anonymous said...

What is your husband's profession outside the house? I think its so wonderful that his schedule is so flexible that you can do all of these things. I'm really glad God has open all these wonderful doors for you. Congrats Dawn!

SandyHills Momma said...

Dawn,

Keep blogging ... I need to hear these stories, preparing me for the next step in my life. I've been a stay at home mom of nine dah'lings for the last 16 years - I will graduate in December with my degree in Safety Management, and I already have a job in my field. I start NEXT MONTH - traveling, training, etc. My little dah'lings have never stepped foot inside of school building - we homeschool. So, EVERYONE is going to be going through changes!! Hubby swears he is going to help out and pick up his half of the chores ... we'll see!!!

Katrina said...

Sounds normal to me. My fun as been that I am picking up bits and pieces of full days work and sometimes even finishing a lot later than everyone else and when I get home they are all sitting down watching tv and ask where and when tea will be ready. I usually disappear into bathroom for shower hoping that the magic fairy will come along and make tea while I am in there but that never happens

Geev said...

Lets just call a spade a spade . . men - god love them - need direction. I work FT with two little ones in FT preschool. I'm finishing my Accounting degree at night, I'm in parent-n-me gymnastics with my daughter and am the Tee-ball team mom for my son. And I don't have a cleaning lady!!!! My hubby is in la-la-land with all that I do and need from him to help with.

So my advice . . don't fight, don't fret and most definitely don't "expect" him to know (even though you told him a thousand times!) what needs to get done.

Just like the kids he needs constant gentle reminders of his "chores".

When I finally accepted that this is just the way things are our marriage took a turn for the best. Hubby is willing and able, just needs to get pointed in the right direction . . every minute of the day (okay, not every minute :0)

Jennifer said...

Dawn--
I agree with the poster about the cleaning lady. When we all start buying your book, you should hire one! Even if you are still mostly a SAHM. Just someone to do your bathrooms and kitchen occaisionally. It has made the adjustment from SAHM to WOHM so much easier for to have someone clean every other week.

Deni said...

Yeah, I'm a sahm and I find it unnerving to watch my husband sit at the computer ALLLL evening while I am chasing my 2yrold all over the house to keep him from drinking listerine AGAIN or staying off the kitchen counter so he doesn't eat sample everything in it. Watching my husband happily gaming away with his headphones on completely oblivious to the fact that I'm trying my best to get the house cleaned up, keep the kids out of trouble, and bathe them and put them to bed. Just really ticks me off. And you know.. people talk about a "woman's job" and a "man's job". Well, if that's the way we're going to go then wouldn't it be my husband's job to, oh I dunno, maybe take out the trash when the can is full(or even when I've already pulled the bag out, tied it and left it sitting there in the doorway for him) or do do the yardwork??? One would think so. But ya know what? Doesn't happen. I do it all. Just call me supermom.

Anonymous said...

I've been on both sides of the SAHM vs working mum fence, and have also straddled the fence when working part-time. My husband never really helped me during any of those stages. You've read all the other comments and I have nothing further to add to them.

What I do want to say/write is this .... YOU HAVE A HUSBAND WHO HELPS WITH THE CHILDREN AND AROUND THE HOUSE !!!!!!!

I just fainted.

Seriously, tell me where you found him - or which 'husband school' did you send him too?

Cath.

Tom said...

If it were me in Joe's shoes, I might be a touch envious that my wife was suddenly a celebrity, and might be a touch miffed that suddenly everything is falling upon my shoulders.

I might be way off on that... but it's worth discussing.

Anyway... hope you find your way to Portland.

Jennifer Foster said...

I stopped making the hotel bed just a few years ago. Now I just make it neater for the maid.
~funjenny

lbugsh2 said...

Dawn,
I personally had a read hard time becoming a SAHM after my second child was 9 months old. I missed the time to myself. I know this sounds sad I missed eating my lunch warm, and going to the restroom alone. Being a SAHM is very hard and sometimes not very rewarding. Having done the work juggle and the SAHM juggle I prefer the work. I just choose to for my kids be home.

Anonymous said...

Hey Dawn, I just have to post a comment after you tried tofu!!
My french bf also had the same comment on tofu, he doesnt like it, not because it tastes bad, but he said it's tasteless! I am from Hong Kong and we eat it so much. I went to the US, and tried it there too, it's really tasteless! So dont give up on tofu, because you just have to find the right place to eat it! My bf came to HK, and he started liking it too!
FYI, tofu helps to reduce the rate of having breast cancer!! :)

Corrina

Kimberly said...

I had the hardest time adjusting when we moved from Florida to Michigan and I went from being a SAHM with two kids to having hubby home all day as we served as community teaching supervisors for emotionally and mentally impaired teens (glorified houseparents). I had been used to doing everything myself and being the one in charge. Having him underfoot all day drove.me.nuts. It took a good year to really adjust. I don't even like to shop but sometimes I'd have.to.get.out.of.there! and I'd drive an hour away to a mall and just walk around for a few hours. We did eventually get the hang of working together and grew to totally love all the time we had as a family. And I could quit going to the mall. Whew! I was glad for that.

Shirley Ann said...

Dawn~
Even though I only have 3 daughters and 1 stepdaughter, I can somewhat relate to what you're feeling. I've been on both sides of the working fence. Believe me when I say this: Pray, and the Lord will give you peace about what you're doing, or He won't. Renounce all the demons from giving you doubts about your motherhood/wife abilities (because believe me, they will and can do it as much as you will let them), and trust in what God wants for you and your precious family. If you're doing the right thing as a Believer, God will honor that. BELIEVE IT!! Your heart is in the right place, and He will bless you for being concerned about your actions.

As humans, we will never be perfect, but are ever growing and changing, and discovering what we are on this earth for. You're going through a growth process that is rather painful, I know. But if you truly believe you're here on Earth to Honor the One who created you, and lead others to Him, then your path is always a little clearer than most.

You're in my prayers.

~Shirley Ann~

Michelle said...

I've been there, Dawn, and I'm there now.

I quit work two years ago to stay at home with the wee ones, but that lasted 6 months before I went back part time. As one poster mentioned, I wanted a warm lunch sometimes and to go to the bathroom when I wanted.

Now I work PT and only one day in the office. It's a better balance for me, and my husband does help with some things.

HOWEVER.

I have a choice of assuming he knows what he needs to do, saying nothing and having something not done or not done right (which we both notice) or telling him explicitly what needs to be done and having him irritated that I treat him like a kid.

And some things he just doesn't get. There are some things where it's ok to not do it "my" way, but sitting at mealtime at the table with the kids and reading the paper instead of interacting with them is not ok. Turning on a baseball game and falling asleep while they're playing in the basement and he's the only adult in the house is not ok. But he thinks both are fine....

I actually blogged about the division of labor recently -- what happens when I let things go that are "his jobs" and yuck!

Michelle
www.honestandtruly.blogspot.com

Sue R said...

It's a really hard adjustment from stay-at-home mom to working, whatever type of work you do. My husband worked extra jobs so I could stay at home with my 3 kids, and I even homeschooled for 8 years. When I went back to school, and then grad school, we had a really hard adjustment, and to top it off I was going through the stage with hot flashes, mood swings, weight gain, insomnia, etc. He still looks back at that time as horrible. I tried really hard to take care of everyone, but didn't take care of myself very well.

I'd been taking care of the home front for so long. We didn't do very well in dividing up anything, and I've been doing work away from home and then a long second shift at home since I've gone back to work full time. He still worked a lot too, and we have a rental property that took a lot of energy from both of us. It still didn't seem fair that he spent so many nights in front of the TV. I've tried to talk things out, but he ended up getting tired of my "negative attitude". He moved out a year ago, after the last child went to college. We still may work things through, but we may not.

I think we should have made the sacrifices needed to hire some help instead of trying to do everything ourselves and ending up frustrated and stressed out. We also didn't take time for the two of us to have fun. There was always too much to do with the kids, and not enough money. I'd get away, and he'd get away, but not much together, and that would have helped.

Hang in there, keep communicating with each other. Kids grow up, and the best thing is if you've built your lives together and enjoyed each other enough that you still want to stay together when they're gone. It can be a challenge sometimes, but it's worth it.

Lisa said...

Oh Dawn, you hit a nerve with me tonight, a husband nerve that is. I'm 35, have been married for 14 years, have a 12-year-old and an 8-year-old. When my son was born, I turned into a stay at home mom----loved it, not too hard of a transition because I loved every minute of it. With that said, we bought a home and I had to work---so now I'm a medical transcriptionist and I work from home full time, perfect situation (sometimes). I'm sure you know as a writer, there are ups and downs working a job from home. Mothering comes first, so I work from 1pm to 5pm during the day as well as 10pm to 2am in the evening. I have my chunk of time in the evening off so I can do baseball practices and soccer practices, homework, etc---but I work until 5pm so no time to cook before practice. My husband has started his own company, which finally started getting busy these last few months (thank goodness) so he doesn't get home until 8 or 9 and is exhausted---but I'm cooking at 8pm at night because we've been at practice and I don't want to do fast food ALL the time. You should see my kitchen right now. The hubby is sleeping, I'm working, my kitchen is a disaster because I've had no time today to clean it. Where is the happy medium? Shouldn't HE be cleaning the kitchen? Cooking dinner?? We've both been busy and worked all day, I STILL have a nighttime shift to work. I'm at a total loss---roles have changed, yet my husband still thinks I'm a stay at home mom, which I am, but I have many other roles now too! No to vent too much, as your husband, mine is a wonderful father, wonderful husband, hardworker, just a bit clueless in the "helping out" around the house department. I'm a firm believer of "picking my battles wisely." I think we adjust smoothly to the different roles that come into our lives at different times----men don't adapt to change, welcome change, or like change much. Maybe being stay at home moms, they got spoiled a bit with us doing everything........
Lisa

Polli (UK mum of 2 boys) said...

Since Joe has always worked really long hours and you have always been at home with the kids, you have an advantage. You got to start with Austin and learn with him, then you added Savannah into a fairly well established routine, and with each new child there were small changes to that routine to accommodate another child. Joe is jumping in at the deep end - he's having to learn how to go out to work less and be a full time parent to 6 kids - and hes having to learn it all at once. To be fair to Joe, you have had 13 years to learn how to juggle the 'mom' role - he's had maybe 6 months? Sure he will have a few problems with it - wouldn't you if you went from no kids to 6 all at once lol. I know he's had kids for as long as you have, but not in this role - he's had 13 years of going out to work and coming home at the end of a long day when mom has already dealt with homework, baseball, etc.
And let's face it - (in general), men do not multi-task as well as women do. Most men are really good at doing one thing at a time and doing it well.
Just my humble opinion :-)

Anonymous said...

Dawn, you are such a hard worker and great writer. I am sure all this new found success has found a little monetary relief for you and your family. Find someone you trust who needs to earn a little extra money and hire them to do your easy no brainer jobs like vacuuming, cleaning bathrooms, laundry and ironing. I find it MOST helpful and it frees me up to do the Mommy stuff I like the most. Play with my kids, cook, sew for them, take them places, grocery shop . . Just an idea. What do you think?

Sarah D said...

(((hugs)))
I didn't read all the comments. (Although I did read---and agree with---the one that suggested how Joe might be feeling).
This is totally obvious, but sometimes we need to be reminded of it......but really pray for your husband and for you and for your kids as you guys are going through this. I'll be praying for you guys, too!
We have 6 kids, and DH has been gone a LOT. So of course I do all the SAHM stuff. When our photography biz started really taking off, suddenly we had gaps, and it was real rough for awhile. Since then i've slowed down the biz, but every once in awhile I don't mind getting crazy-busy. But it helps knowing it's not *always* going to be that busy.
I'd imagine once your book is out, and you've finished touring, that life is going to get back to 'normal' again (at least until your next book).
Maybe just knowing that this is temporary might help?
Is there any way you can hire someone for stuff like the laundry or meals or child care while you get through this?
Sounds like you and Joe need a weekend away TOGETHER!!
(fwiw---like the poster mentioned earlier....I think my husband gets jealous when I get attention for my photography, or when i talk about *my* camera, *my* work, etc. I really think he feels left out, and he'd like to hear some postive comments about himself, too.)

Michelle said...

Hey Dawn,

You'll know the accent has taken roots when you say "Listen to ya Motha!"Your stories are too FABULOUS. I am a SAHM but only to two boys. Who will both be in High School next year. I awalys seem to try to do things like work or go back to school when my DH leaves. He's leaving for Iraq in the summer and I am planning on working part time while he's gone. When he left for a year, a few years ago, I went back to school and became PTO President of the kids school. YEP I too am disturbed.

oklhdan said...

Maybe it would help to remind yourself every now and then that you got into the mothering job one child at a time....building your confidence and skill level along the way. Your husband kind of took charge with 6 at one time...He's got a lot to learn.

help4newmoms said...

I am feeling your pain, sister! I just wrote a blog called "Hating the Weekends" because suddenly, with my own work in the picture, it is way too much for me to try to "catch up" on the weekends all by myself. Everyone else in the family wants to go on with business as usual with their weekend and I'm stuck fighting laundry, groceries, scheduling, meals, prep, etc. Where's my weekend? Mom working certainly is an adjustment for everyone in the family. It just kills me though, that women are so different from men. A woman would never think to sit on the couch while her husband cooked and cleaned alone in the next room, yet men don't seem to give it a second thought. I thought this was the year 2008! I recently told my husband that I am holding my check hostage if he doesn't start pitching in. Why should I have two jobs while he only has one, right? The fact is, though, he's just not used to it. He'll get used to it is all, as will the kids and the family, I am convinced will be better for it. I know my husband wants me to be happy, too! Hang in there and keep doing what you are doing. You have earned it. The example you are setting for your kids (mom reaching her dreams, contributing) will far outweigh the issues you are struggling with right now. BTW, the storyline of Cheaper By the Dozen always bugged me. What? The kids can't pitch in just this once so Mom and Dad can follow their dreams? Is it just me?

Dalai Mama said...

As a mom of three who has been dancing back and forth across the minefield of working outside the home to working inside the home to being a fulltime law student to graduating, passing the bar, moving to the Chicago area, and becoming a temporary SAHM, I can feel your pain. My husband stepped up when I went to law school and made it possible for me not only to attend, but to excel. That said, I never thought that should give him a pass for doing a not-so-great job of taking care of the kids or the house sometimes. Since moving to the western suburbs, we decided I would stay home this year because he commutes to the Loop everyday and our youngest is in half day kindergarten. I wake up in a cold sweat trying to work out the logistics of practicing law, fulltime, while raising three kids that I will still be primarily responsible for because of my husband's commute. He actually mentioned how much he enjoys our more relaxed lifestyle since we've moved (read: because I deal with everything child- and house-related and he doesn't have to) in the same breath he suggested how we spend my first paycheck. I gently reminded him that's because I am home right now, but I don't think there's enough Prozac in the world to help him out when I do go to work and reality sets back in... So you're not alone. Hang in there, and don't let Joe off the hook just because he's a great guy for helping out--sometimes there really IS a "right" way to do things!

Kari Dawson said...

I quit working full time when our third child was about 8 months old. I was convinced I would suck at it and could hardly stand to be alone with me but surely I'd ruin them forever. My husband worked 12 hours a day, seven days a week. I spent A LOT of time at my mom's house. It took about a year but I did eventually transition.

Seven years and two more kids later, I still love it! I worked part-time from home and gave up the job to spend more time with my kids because it was too tough to juggle.

This lasted about a week! I started a blog in January. My husband bought me a digital SLR and is forcing me to use my talents so I've got a photo blog now as well. I'm not exactly which direction my life with go as I'm certain I'll have to choose between the two. Not to say that I won't maintain a personal blog if a photography business blossoms or that I won't still take really fantastic photos of my family if I feel called to freelance writing or finishing my many works in progress on my computer.

I was only 17 when I had our first child and at 30 I finally feel mature enough to try and balance who I am outside of wife and mother. Traveling that path and putting my finger on it while raising five kids is a trial. I've got one kid in track and baseball both, meets and games are usually on the same day, oh joy! Another kid in softball, and a husband who plays softball and goes to school.

I think the best comment I've ever read on your blog was the hate mail and some lady said "maybe your life isn't as chaotic as you make it sound." As a mom of five, that just makes me giggle from my toes!

Love your blog and really appreciate having a place to turn where mom just tells it like it is and doesn't put on a front like it's all perfect. It makes my imperfections tolerable. And the crayon on the wall and the purple juice on the carpet a bit funny even.

Kathy said...

Change is never easy, it certainly takes getting used to! As a single, working mom I don't get to be a SAHM so I really can't relate to being home all day. I can relate to trying to juggle work with things like supper, homework, and ballgames though. It can certainly be stressful. Just hang in there. I hope it all works out for you soon.

www.kathy-iamwhoiam.blogspot.com

KC Mom said...

Dawn,
First of all, I LOVE "Cheaper By the Dozen," and knew exactly which scene you referred to. I can certainly relate to the transition you must be facing. I have always worked, so DH and I really had to share the responsibilities of caring for our home and our children from the get-go. What I will tell you is that it is "Mission Critical" that DH share at least 50% of the responsibility. Granted, my DH does not work the kind of hours that your DH does, but he cooks dinner, cleans up the dishes, does baths, bedtime, gets our two boys dressed in the morning, gets their breakfast, helps with drop off and pick up from daycare and now that my oldest is in t-ball, has been helping get him to and from practice. We are expecting our third so obviously the balance will shift once again. You both just need to be flexible, and yes, give up control of things you truly can not control. I don't particularly care for the way my DH does dishes, but I would much rather he do them than me have to worry about them, so I let it go. He truly allows me to be the successful professional and the best Mommy I can be. I could NEVER do it without him. Best of luck to you and I'll be in line for your book when it's out!

sarahdragon said...

The decision to switch from a working mom to a SAHM was pretty easy when we realized the babysitter expected to be paid more than I was...

The biggest problems are from finances, when my DH brutally attacks me for buying food and cleaning products, while he's making all these leisure trips that are 60+ miles round trip, eating out all the time, and buying whatever catches his eye.

I can't stand it when he tells me I need to find a job... I'm pregnant with our third & on bedrest for goodness sake!

I don't know how you lived through six pregnancies. If my DH gets me pregnant again I think I'll have to kill him...

Beth said...

Ok, this is gonna seem like a stupid question, but did you dye your hair? Maybe I'm imagining it, but it seems like your hair is more red in the picture of you by the sink. Have you always had the red tint to your hair? (When I first saw the picture of you by the sink, I thought maybe it wasn't you since I thought your hair was a darker brown...perhaps its just the angle of the light in that picture that picked up on your highlights?)

Anyway, just curious if your hair has been that color for awhile or if you were trying out a new color/highlight.

You look great! (And so did the dessert! lol)

Anonymous said...

Hi Dawn Love your blog... So I am the kind of mom that loves to work outside the home. I work in refineries and we usually have a seriously hectic schedule as in 7 days a week 12 hours a day any where from 4 weeks to 16 weeks its crazy I know I have 2 girls 8 and 3 this is crazy but I love working alot I mean a normal day for me is up at 430 get ready pack my lunch as well as my hubbys get the kids ready drop them off at my sisters by 530 work till 500 get the kids come home start some laundry cook dinner (hubby cooks more than me though)playtime, showers, stories, bedtime. And this is usually how it goes. I have no idea how i manage to do most of it trust me but as far as the house cleaning goes both of my girls have been picking up after themselves since they were 2 as far as the rest of the housework goes um well my hubby considers sweeping cleaning the house I guess men see things differently right?? So I kinda gave up on the battle b/c I obviously wasnt gonna win and just take care of it myself however he does do the yard work and if he makes it in b4 me he does cook dinner and no green koolaid fish (no offenseat least he tried). Anywyas I dont know how you could have stayed at home all those years and gone nuts which is what i'm doing now i've been off of work for a whole 4 days and i'm going crazy I dont feel like i'm contributing anything to this house I mean you can only clean so much right so now i'm just sitting here bored outta my mind...I think I like my more hectic schedule a lot more. Anyways just wanted to share that with you have a good one-sasha.garcia1@us.army.mil

Anonymous said...

Just remember there is no right way to do something, he will make sure everything is done and really if your childs homework isn't signed every day, that isn't going to harm anyone. I am sure it is difficult for him to work fulltime and take on more responsibility at home. Things will work out, don't they always?

Use not used...but it is your blog, so who is counting, right? :)

Jacie

Danielle said...

I had something interesting to say but it left my brain the second I read you made the hotel bed! My husband's way is alwys theright way so I feel for your hubs! You will all adjust eventually.

Maggie Lang said...

Wow, am I lucky! My husband and I have spent the last year working on this transition, but my kids are only 2 years old and 7 months old!

I hear you. It is REALLY hard sometimes. It was hard when he didn't get what the priorities needed to be for the kids (or when he still doesn't seem to understand the concept of time passing). It's hard to let go of "my way" (i.e. the "right way") and to give him time and space to learn his own way of doing things.

I found a really helpful, if morbid, mantra: "If I were dead, it would all be up to him, and he'd have to get it done one way or another." It helps me to let go of some of the feelings of ultimate responsibility...so I'm not mentally following him around while he does his part of the work, and cursing about how the kids' schedules are getting screwed up. Sure, I'll have to deal with the fallout tomorrow, but soon enough my husband will find a system that works, and GOOD GOD, is it ever nice when that finally happens and you can both start working as a team.

You can do it! GO DAWN!

mmm.chocolate said...

Dawn,

I found it interesting that you didn't feel it was a big adjustment when you became a SAHM. Are you sure you are remembering it right? I went to college, then had an exciting job, then, the time came for my dream come true -- being a SAHM. Boy, life felt like it came to a screaming stand still with just one little infant and I alone all day in the house. It took me about 7-12 months to get into a SAHM groove where I didn't feel completely isolated.

Now that I have three, I sometimes wish I could get that "isolated" feeling back :) No, truly I love it and wouldn't trade it for anything in the world.

Good luck to you and Joe. You're going through some very big changes right now. And, remember to go easy on him. I know you've been cheering from the sidelines for such a long time and now it's your chance to shine. You deserve every bit of it. But, it's hard to be the one who isn't getting all the attention and reaping all the success. I think it is especially hard on the male ego, if you know what I mean. So, go easy on him. God bless!

Kelly said...

I work a full-time job, which requires a bit of travel, so I really had to let go and trust that the kids would be OK with my husband while I wasn't there. Sure, they go to bed a little bit earlier, but he can do almost everything I can (but cut fingernails...he'll never cut the kids' fingernails, although he can give them their baths!) I have a 3-yr old and a 1-yr old, and I like my job...I'm actually doing something with my master's degree, and I certainly don't want to give it up. Both of us take turns doing some things, although I still make the doctor's appointments, do the shopping, and generally keep some sort of organization.

Emmy said...

ARGH!! I just had this nice long explanatory comment and then I pushed some random button and it disappeared.

So basically: cut each other some slack; have boat loads of respect and mercy for each other; and realize that men & women are fundamentally different--in the brain. Is all that easy to remember & act upon? No way! It's super hard, but worth it. A sacrifice isn't a sacrifice if it isn't difficult to give up. Do we always follow this? He does. I have a hard time because I can be pretty self-centered (only child & young). And I get stuck up in my head from not conversing all day long--gets kinda hard to come out & visit reality.

Self-deprecation aside, I hope this major shift makes you a stronger family. And remember, if it's not working, not worth it, or not fun, quit. That doesn't apply to marriage and parenthood aside from various approaches. But to everything else in life, it absolutely applies.

I have no idea what else to add (except thanks for being real, of course. It helps.), so...

kthxbai

Anonymous said...

Go to your HS reunion! I came very close to not attending mine in Sept 08. I had just had a baby 8 weeks before. I am so glad I went. I had the best time! Everyone is so much less catty than at the 10 year reunion. And if yor're not having fun you can always just leave and hang out somewhere else.

Melissa said...

Just my input about being a SAHM. I've been one since December of '03 when I was 5 months pregnant with my first. My dh had just joined the Navy and I was lonely and overwhelmed and didn't know what to do. It was a hard adjustment for me in the beginning simply because at that point, I had worked nearly every day of my life for the previous 13 years. Now what? I started learning to cook, started working on my cleaning skills (sim-speak LOL), and found out that I actually loved reading romance novels and that Birth Day on discovery health is WAY more graphic and realistic than A baby story on TLC :).

Now, later on, things got hectic as we learned that babies are expensive and the navy pay is actually just below poverty level (yes, shocking, I know). I started seeking out employment but the cost of daycare for an infant was outrageous. I then began looking to becoming some kind of consultant for at home parties but dh quickly said no to that as well. He wasn't comfortable with me going to strange people's houses. He, of course, was the one spending all the money, while I was the one trying to pay bills and feed us on what he was nice enough to leave us.

Eventually, I took all the money away from him and told him he could have what was left after bills and groceries. That meant he got no money. LOL. He got used to it. But now we still have the occasional argu--- discussion about why he doesn't get any money to go out and do this or that. He claims to have the "REAL JOB" while I apparently sit on my keester all day and do nothing. And he thinks this because he thinks the military has provided us with a self cleaning home and tidy children....... uh huh. Sure. Anyway. I just basically wanted you to know, it's normal. Everything you are dealing with in these changes is completely normal and to be expected. There will be disagreements. You have been sole caregiver for years and he has been sole provider. Now you both must share and feel your ways around this unchartered territory. You will feel he doesn't do it as "well" as you can and he will most likely (maybe) get mad and tell you he has the real job..... it's a man thing LOL. I am quite proud of how far you've come since the ebay thing. I'm happy for you and you are truly blessed :) Enjoy your successes (and I don't mean your book) and take nothing for granted and no matter what happens, you're life will be full of happiness.

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