“Am I the Only One?”- Mom Edition


Hello, moms of the world.  Does anyone else feel like they just don’t relate well to babies & toddlers?  I love Rachel with every fiber of my being & there are some things I absolutely love about this age (18 months) but I also have to admit that sometimes I really struggle.  The tantrums are starting &- just like she did with her screaming fits as an infant- she reserves the vast majority of them for me.  I know in some ways this is a compliment because it means she is most comfortable with me.  After all, even as adults we typically save our “tantrums” for our spouses or significant others because they’re the people we feel the most comfortable with & we know they won’t just kick us to the curb even if we aren’t our most lovable.  But it’s still hard, especially since I’m a very logical, pragmatic person & babies & toddlers are anything BUT logical & pragmatic.motherhood not for sissies

Sometimes I just can’t help but look at other moms & feel like I’m on the outside looking in at all these women who just naturally know how to relate to babies & toddlers, meanwhile I’m over here like “I have no idea what I’m doing.”  I know that we all struggle some days & no one is actually perfect, but I constantly hear moms say how the first few years are the “best times” & I just can’t help but feel like that isn’t going to be true for me.  Trust me, I LOVE my time with Rachel.  I am in no way rushing things.  I know I will have loads of wonderful memories from these early years (I already do).  Yet I just can’t help but feel like my time to really blossom as a mom is going to be when she’s a bit older.  And is that really so horrible?  I don’t think so.outsidelookingin

Trust me, I love watching Rachel explore the world around her & find so much joy in the simplest things like twigs or leaves or blades of grass.  I LOVE it.  But I also can’t wait to be able to take her hiking in the mountains & to concerts & to really explore the world around us in a more adult way.  I know she’ll lose her “innocence” as she gets older & while that is hard to accept I think it’s worth it because she’ll gain so much more.  And is that really such an awful thing?  I think not.Anxiety mental health symbol isolated on white. Mental disorder icon design

Please tell me I’m not the only one who feels this way.  My anxiety likes to convince me that I’m crazy & that no one else feels like I do, but logically I know there have to be other moms out there like me- even if we are the minority.

Why Rodan & Fields?


Back in January I posted about joining Rodan & Fields as an independent skincare consultant.  My life has been a total whirlwind lately so I haven’t posted on here in ages but I’ve really been wanting to write a post exploring more in depth about why I chose THIS particular company.  Rachel just went down for a nap so I’m going to take advantage of this free time to share my story with y’all.  Because I’ve got other tasks I need to accomplish during her nap time this is going to be in bullet format & probably not as eloquent as I’d like but I’ll do the best I can.rodan and fields

  1. First & foremost, I joined Rodan & Fields because I had already been using the products for almost an entire year & I knew that these products really work.  This company isn’t a gimmick.  It was started by two world-renowned dermatologists (Dr. Katie Rodan & Dr. Kathy Fields) who created these products based on their extensive experience in the skincare field.  They are also extremely astute businesswomen who have built a billion dollar skincare company in a very short amount of time!  R&F products actually used to be sold in department stores like Nordstrom but the doctors realized that that business model was swiftly dying.  They knew e-commerce is where the money lies these days.  So they changed their whole business & decided to share the profits with independent distributors rather than big corporations!  Leading consultants in this business are everything from stay at home moms to nurses, doctors, lawyers, & teachers.  Being a saleswoman does NOT come naturally to me.  Hello, I’m the girl who HATED school fundraisers because I dreaded the thought of asking anyone to buy anything from me!  I never want to “burden” people or to make them think I’m only trying to make money off of them.  But when R&F’s Unblemish regimen cleared up my acne for the first time in almost two decades & gave me the clearest, most beautiful skin of my life, I knew I’d finally found something that was too good to keep to myself.  (Getting an extra discount on my favorite products for being a consultant is pretty nice too!)  Being an independent skincare consultant isn’t easy.  You do actually have to do the work to make a profit.  BUT these products are so effective that they really do sell themselves!rodan and fields products
  2. R&F’s business model is very simple.  A lot of MLM companies have a very complicated system for determining commissions.  And/or they require consultants to stock inventory, ship their own products, or sell a certain amount of products or recruit a certain number of new consultants each month in order to earn commission or continue to be a consultant.  R&F doesn’t do ANY of those things.  I don’t have to stock inventory.  I don’t have to ship orders (other than samples I CHOOSE to send to folks).  I don’t have to host parties.  I don’t have to recruit any other consultants.  I don’t have to sell a certain amount each month.  My life is way too busy to bother with all that stuff.  All I have to do is talk to people about our products, send them samples if they want some, & help them discover the best skin of their life . . . which leads right into my next point.Euromonitor #1 Skincare Brand in US 2017
  3. Great skin = greater confidence.  I have experienced this first hand after using R&F products, so one of my reasons for joining this business is the desire to help others achieve the same.  Furthermore, everyone has skin!  Not everyone wants jewelry, makeup, scented products, cleaning products, or nutritional supplements.  There is nothing wrong with selling any of those items, just to be clear.  I’m actually a customer of several other MLM companies who do sell those items.  But I’m going to be a real nerd here & share with you something I remember from history class back in high school.  (For my Appomattox folks, it was probably Mr. Servis’s tenth grade World History Part II class.)  In any case, I remember one of my history teachers talking about why the British empire was in the end much larger & more successful than the Spanish, Portuguese, French, or Italian empires.  The reason is that the British invested in wood & agriculture.  While these things don’t have the glitz & glamour of gold or silver, they’re essential items that people always need, regardless of the economy, war, or any other societal factor.  So while the British empire started slower, it actually grew to be the largest & most successful because it was so sustainable.  People might get tired of a lot of products they buy but no one is going to get tired of great skin.  And they’re never going to outgrow the need for quality skincare either.Euromonitor #1 Skincare Brand in North America
  4. Lastly, the most important reason I joined this company is to make it easier for me to continue working only part time as a nurse & thus be able to stay home with Rachel most days of the week.  I truly have no idea how full time working moms survive.  I’ve picked up some extra shifts at work lately & I’m definitely dragging because of it!  I’m not ready to give up my nursing career but I also LOVE the balance I have in my life only working part time.  However, I do miss the money I used to make working full time . . . The beautiful thing about R&F is that I can contribute some extra money to our family without being away from Rachel!  I can work this business anywhere!  All I need is a phone/computer with internet access.

    IMG_20180413_074526_089

    Here’s my baby!

I’ll end this post with a link to my website where you can check out all of R&F’s amazing products.  If you have any questions about this business or our products, please comment on this post or, better yet, email me at rlcarterrn@gmail.com.  I look forward to helping you achieve the best skin (& longest lashes!) of your life- & the confidence that comes with that!

Bad Mom Days


This is going to be word vomit because I’m having a rough day & I’m trying to bang this out before Rachel wakes up again.

Any other moms have bad mom days?  I know y’all must because it can’t just be me.  The last week or so has been a bit rough because Rachel is going through a nap transition in which she is slowly working down to one nap a day.  The problem is she gets up so early that sometimes she really does need a morning nap AND an afternoon nap- yet some days that afternoon nap just does NOT happen.  And that makes for one REALLY fussy toddler- & one really frustrated mama!

People are always telling me how happy & easy Rachel is which of course means at times like this when I’m struggling I constantly find myself thinking “Oh gosh, if this is what an easy toddler is like, how would I survive with a difficult one?”  Basically this is the exact same scenario I ran into when she was a newborn.  I felt like I was barely keeping my head above the water sometimes, yet people were always clamoring on about how easy she was.  So inside I was thinking “I’ll never make it if I have a difficult baby!”

thomas paine quote

He must have spent a lot of time arguing with toddlers. Ha!

I’m trying to remind myself that all moms struggle & that it’s ok if the baby/toddler phase isn’t my favorite.  Trust me, most of the time I really do enjoy Rachel’s current stage.  But it’s also really hard for me because babies & toddlers (especially young toddlers like her) do not have the capacity to understand logic & reason.  And if you know me at all, you know I am a very logical person . . .

So, as you can imagine, dealing with a person who is not capable of understanding logic & whose behavior is sometimes anything but logical can be quite a challenge.  On days like today I find myself feeling so inadequate because I feel like maybe I just wasn’t cut out to be a baby/toddler mom.  I feel like I’ll be an awesome mom when Rachel is older but right now I feel like other moms who really love babies & toddlers must be so much better than me.  I know that’s ridiculous & I must actually be doing a pretty damn good job or Rachel wouldn’t be so “easy & happy” like everyone tells me.  But it’s the way I feel right now.behind every kid

Then of course I start thinking about all the women I know who’ve struggled (or are still struggling) with infertility or who have had miscarriages.  And I feel so guilty for getting frustrated with Rachel when I know I should just be thankful I have her.  And trust me, I am very thankful for her!  However, that doesn’t mean that some days aren’t hard.  But the guilt is real, y’all.  mom guilt

Oh yeah, I also cut my finger while trying to cut a spaghetti squash this afternoon.  Thank goodness for a sweet neighbor who was able to come over & watch Rachel for a bit while I cleaned up my finger & got the bleeding to stop.  Clumsy-lina strikes again!

Ok, that’s it.  Just trying to decompress a bit so I can feel a bit more sane & face the rest of the day with a more peaceful brain.

 

The Reality of Mom Life


This blog post has been two days in the making.  Actually longer than that because I came down with the stomach bug from HELL this weekend & am just today feeling more or less like a normal human being again.  I would seriously take pneumonia or the real flu (you know, the respiratory one) over the stomach bug ANY day of the week.  I know some people say “But the flu lasts a week; the stomach bug is just 24-48 hrs.”  HA!  Maybe for some folks but for me it’s always taken 3-4 days minimum to truly recover from a stomach bug, & it was MUCH harder this time because I was breastfeeding & caring for a 12 week old baby the entire time.  Thank goodness for my husband for helping to care for me & Rachel & for my parents for coming down on Monday to help me when my husband had to go back to work.  It’s been my nightmare ever since Rachel was born that I would come down with a stomach bug.  Well, it happened.  And it sucked.  Royally.  But I lived to tell the story.  Which brings me to the point of this post.Lavendar hanging from an old vintage door, room for copy space

Motherhood is a lot of things.  At moments it is the most glorious, wonderful thing I’ve ever experienced.  At other times it’s so incredibly hard that I wonder what I was thinking getting into this.  The good news is, as the weeks have passed, the former moments far outweigh the latter moments.  And I’ve learned that I am SO MUCH STRONGER than I ever thought possible.  So in honor of that I thought I’d post some of the realities of being a mom, at least for me, many of which are really quite humorous.  If you’re a mom I think you’ll find yourself smiling & nodding along.  If you’re not, hopefully this post will make you want to join the club.  Or not; that’s a totally acceptable choice as well!motherhood-quote

(FYI, I used feminine pronouns throughout this post simply because my baby is a girl so it was just easier for me that way . . . Also, this post is most applicable to moms with infants.  As I only have one child myself, who is just 12 weeks old, I obviously can’t yet speak to motherhood beyond this point.)

Being a mom means . . .

  • Learning to do almost anything & everything one-handed.  This includes cooking, cleaning, using the bathroom, signing for pizza delivery, texting, typing, etc, etc.  The list could go on forever!
  • As soon as you finish laundry for the day the baby will have a poop-splosion (i.e. an explosion of poop) that soils her entire outfit & possibly yours as well.  So then you have to decide if you want to hand-wash everything or run the washing machine for just a handful of items.  Usually I go with the former & figure I’m getting a taste of what motherhood must have been like for my great-grandmothers in the days before washing machines.
  • As soon as you take the burp rag away thinking for sure the baby won’t spit up on you, that is the exact moment the baby will spit up on you.motherhood not for sissies
  • As soon as you change the baby’s diaper, get her outfit on her, & put her down for a nap or to play in her bouncy seat, that is exactly when she will have yet another poop.  Babies are not economical or efficient.  But they are born with a sarcastic streak, I swear!  I know mine has one . . . But then again, how could she not with parents like me & my husband?
  • Googling everything under the sun at all hours of night & day, scouring the interwebs for any sign that whatever “strange” or annoying thing your baby is doing is normal . . . or for how in the world to make her STOP CRYING?!
  • And eventually figuring out that, despite all of your doubts, you really are the expert on your own child.  After a while you recognize patterns & pick up on cues that in the early days were all just a mysterious blur.  And when you realize how far you’ve come you feel like a TOTAL ROCK STAR.  And you are!!motherhood grocery store
  • Never eating a full meal in one sitting (or at least very rarely) because the baby always needs something as soon as you sit down to eat.  You soon get used to either eating cold food or reheating things a bunch of times.
  • Taking the fastest showers of your life because you’re scared to death the baby will explode while she’s out of your sight . . . until you realize she actually won’t & you WILL hear her crying over the sound of the water . . . So then you start taking longer & longer showers just to have some time to yourself.
  • Making up excuses to drive places just because the baby loves her carseat & takes some of her best naps while you’re in the car.
  • Loving & appreciating your own mom more than ever because you realize just how amazing she truly is.daughter quote
  • Feeling a sudden, however slight, connection to every mom you meet just because you know you share so many of the same daily struggles & delights.
  • Being willing to make career changes you never considered before becoming a mom.  For some this means becoming a stay at home mom.  For others it means changing careers completely or going part time.  For me it has meant leaving hospital nursing to pursue part time clinic work. (I was originally planning to go back to the hospital part time but decided the schedule as well as the hectic, often stressful shifts there just didn’t fit with my priorities anymore.  That’s a whole other blog post that I’ll get around to writing eventually.)
  • Experiencing a love like you’ve never experienced before.  It really is indescribable.birth-of-mother
  • Loving (& often missing) sleep more than ever.  I’ve almost always been wise enough to choose sleep over housework or any other task when I know I really need sleep . . . And I know I’m saner for it.  Trust me, if you have any doubt, the best choice is always sleep.  Husbands, moms, dads, & friends can all help with housework or caring for the baby.  But none of them can sleep for you.
  • Learning to love your body for what it can DO as well as how it looks.  It means learning to embrace your “flaws” & knowing that even if your stomach is never quite as flat again (Who am I kidding?  Mine was never super flat anyway.) & even if the stretch marks never fully fade away, you’d still choose your precious child over your old body a thousand times over.
  • Learning to give yourself a lot of grace.  I learned very fast that there were certain things I just wasn’t going to be able to do as a mom, at least as a new mom.  For example, using cloth diapers is just not going to happen any time soon.  I need my sanity, & there is no way I could handle all the work that comes with cloth diapering & stay sane right now.  It also means learning to forgive yourself when you find yourself getting frustrated & angry with your own child sometimes.  We have to learn that none of us is perfect & we all have our less than stellar moments, but it’s all just part of the journey.children-work-quote
  • You can’t watch/read the news without feeling like your heart is going to break.  Every tragedy in the world is suddenly magnified a thousand times because you realize that was someone’s BABY who was hurt/killed.  So, if you’re like me, you decide to filter most news through your husband & friends & otherwise be the proverbial ostrich with its head in the sand.
  • Every time you start to think about having another baby in the future, something happens & you’re convinced there is no way you could ever handle more than one child.  At least not for another 3 or 4 years.  But then you worry that if you separate your kids that much they won’t be “close.”  But then you remember that having them close together in no way guarantees that they will be close to each other, just as having them further apart in no way guarantees they WON’T be.  Basically when it comes to having kids there are no guarantees.  Ever.  Which brings me to my final point . . .
  • Being a mom means learning to laugh at the chaos, to “roll with the punches,” to take whatever life throws at you & find a way to not only survive but thrive.  As I said at the beginning, being a mom means learning that no matter how hard things get, you somehow find the strength to keep on trucking because you are SO MUCH STRONGER than you ever thought possible.

    'Hey, half my chromosomes are YOURS, you know.'

    Considering my husband is a geneticist by trade, our daughter may very well say this to us someday.  Ha!

Reflections of a New Mother


Six weeks ago today baby Rachel entered this world!  So much has happened in those six weeks, so in a way it seems like a long time, yet in another way it seems like no time at all.  I know all new parents say this but it really is hard to imagine my life without Rachel now that she is here.

The last two days have been pretty rough (although the past two nights have been great), so I thought it would be therapeutic to share some of my reflections on motherhood thus far.me-and-rachel-penguin

  1. Being a mom is incredibly hard.  I always knew it would be; I was never naive enough to think this would be a walk in the park or all fun & joy.  Of course not.  But you just can’t understand how truly difficult it is until you do it.
  2. Motherhood is full of extreme emotions.  On any given day I cycle between extreme love, joy, devotion, fear, anxiety, frustration, & a whole gamut of other emotions.  This is all totally normal of course but it is exhausting at times to feel like an emotional yo-yo.
  3. That being said, the extreme joy & love truly do make up for all the more “negative” emotions.  I always worried that moms said that just because they felt they had to but it really is true.  Trust me, I’ve had moments when I’ve wondered if I made a mistake in becoming a mom.  And I’m sure I’ll have more of those moments for the rest of my life.  But the point is those are just moments.  They don’t last forever.  me-and-rachel-fire
  4. Taking care of yourself is absolutely imperative to surviving motherhood.  This is just one of many reasons that being a single mom (or dad) is clearly not how parenthood was designed.  I’ve quickly learned that it’s essential that I eat a reasonably healthy diet, drink plenty of water, spend some time outside, listen to music, take a shower, read a little here & there, & generally do all the things that help keep me sane.  My mantra these days is “You cannot pour from an empty cup.”  In other words, Rachel needs a healthy, sane mommy & that means I need to take care of myself every bit as much as I’m taking care of her.  Which feeds right into my next point.
  5. Being able to take care of myself is largely dependent on my husband’s support.  I know every mom says this but once again it is so true: I’ve never loved my husband more than when I see him with our daughter.  When he changes her diapers, pushes her stroller, wears her in the baby carrier on his chest, & cuddles & kisses her my heart truly melts.  Furthermore, when he does the dishes or the laundry or cooks me dinner I want to kiss his feet.  Parenthood is definitely meant to be a two person job.  I never doubted that but now that I’m living it I can attest that it is 100% true.daughter quote
  6. Moms are the most giving people in the world.  I can’t say thank you enough to all the wonderful ladies who have reached out to me for encouragement & support over the past six weeks.  Y’all know who you are & you’re all amazing.  I hope someday I can encourage other new moms the way so many of you have done for me.  Seriously, THANK YOU!
  7. Breastfeeding is hard.  Like woahhhh.  To be honest, it’s actually not been physically painful the way I feared it would be.  However, it is still very demanding, both mentally & physically.  While I was pregnant I set two breastfeeding goals.  My ultimate goal was/is to make it a full year, but I will be perfectly satisfied if I make it to six months.  My minimum goal was to make it to six weeks, & I’m happy to say that as of today I’ve fulfilled that goal.  Woohoo!  I haven’t made it this far without a TON of support & encouragement though.  It’s truly been a team effort in so many ways!  There have been so many days when I’ve wanted to throw in the towel & I’m sure there will be more of them, but knowing I’ve already made it this far will hopefully continue to encourage me on the difficult days.breastfeeding-cartoon
  8. Being a mom with anxiety & OCD tendencies is hard.  Thank goodness for a fantastic husband, a great mom, some dear friends, a wonderful therapist, & Zoloft.  And music.  (I switched from Prozac to Zoloft about 3 weeks ago at the suggestion of Rachel’s pediatrician because Zoloft is considered better for breastfeeding.)  Even if you don’t have a history of anxiety or depression or any other mental health issue, don’t be afraid to seek help as a new mom.  I think EVERYONE could benefit from a few sessions with a good therapist & no one more so than us frazzled, sleep-deprived new mommies.
  9. As much as I love Rachel now & am enjoying many things about the newborn/baby stage, I still very much look forward to her being a little older.  I know most moms say they miss the baby stage & often yearn for those days, but I seriously doubt that will ever be me (at least not often).  I’ve always said I prefer older kids & teens, & I still think that is true for me.  Trust me, I am not rushing anything.  I am enjoying (most) of where we are right now.  But there is a part of me that still can’t wait for the day when I can have real conversations with her, even about the hard stuff like death, sex, war, etc.  Yes, I’m crazy, I know, but I really do look forward to that day.  I also can’t wait to take her on hikes & to concerts & share the joy of all of those things with her.  It might make me weird, but I don’t think it makes me a bad mom to say that I will probably love being a mom even more as she gets older.motherhood-quote
  10. There is absolutely no room for comparison in motherhood.  I’ve said it before & I’ll say it again: motherhood is not a competition.  Some moms breastfeed, some use formula, some do both.  Some moms make beautiful baby books, some don’t.  Some moms decorate a perfect nursery, some don’t.  Some moms co-sleep, some don’t.  Some moms wear their babies, some don’t.  And some babies will sleep through the night or learn to walk/talk faster than others.  The point is none of these things makes one mom better than another.  We are not competing against anyone.  Some moms seem like they have it all together while others of us are just happy we took a shower & did a load of laundry today.  As for me, I’m never going to be the mom who pretends she has it all figured out.  I think the world could benefit from more candidness.  The truth is my house is frequently a little messy (& it was like that long before I became a mom; I just have a better excuse now), I’ve shaved my legs a grand total of twice since I gave birth, & sometimes I hate breastfeeding.  I’m not “perfect” but I’m doing the best I can, & that’s all any of us can do.  At the end of the day if mom & baby are healthy & happy that’s all that matters.  Everything else is just details.
  11. Being a mom really is the best thing I’ve ever done.  End of story.  🙂

I’m not sure this song totally fits with the post but I discovered it last week & I’m in love with everything about it so I’m going to share it anyway.  (Yes, I’m still listening to “heavy” music.  Thankfully Rachel seems to like it!)  Check out the lyrics below:

I’ve always been a fan of the night life
‘Cause it’s the only life I had
Expressing my mind with paper & a pen playing my guitar
‘Till my fingers bled on the carpet
Maybe I wasn’t like all the normal kids
I was born just a little bit different
I tried to fit in, I got sick of it
I tried to fit in, I got sick of it
You say I’m just a loser in the background
I can never seem to get it right
But I’m learning my worth is more than your word
You told me I would back out, I would break down
I’m not even putting up a fight
But I’m learning my worth is more than your word
It wasn’t easy being rejected by the thing I wanted so bad
To be accepted, to be wanted
To wake up & say this is gonna be a good day
Maybe I wasn’t like all the normal kids
I was born just a little bit different
I tried to fit in, I got sick of it
I tried to fit in, I got sick of it
You say I’m just a loser in the background
I can never seem to get it right
But I’m learning my worth is more than your word
You told me I would back out, I would break down
I’m not even putting up a fight
But I’m learning my worth is more than your word
More than your word
I was born a little bit different
I was born a little bit different
I was born just a little bit different
I was born a little bit different
I was born a little bit different
You say I’m just a loser in the background
I can never seem to get it right
But I’m learning my worth is more than your word
You say I’m just a loser in the background
I can never seem to get it right
But I’m learning my worth is more than your word
You told me I would back out, I would break down
I’m not even putting up a fight
But I’m learning my worth is more than your word
I got sick of it
I got sick of it
I tried to fit in, I got sick of it
I tried to fit in, I got sick of it

I Am Not Superwoman


I’m not sure how to begin this post, but it’s something I’ve been wanting to write for months now, so I guess I’ll just dive right into it.  Ever since I shared my pregnancy news, people have (naturally) been asking me if I plan to return to work full time once the baby is born.  It surprises me how many people, both men & women, seem truly shocked when I tell them I’m only coming back to work part time, hopefully one night a week.  (For those who don’t know, I’m a night shift nurse.)superwoman

There are a multitude of reasons why I’ve chosen not to return to work full time, but they all basically boil down to this one simple fact: I am not superwoman.  I realize it is the norm nowadays for women to work full time while raising young children, but I have never thought this made a lot of sense, either biologically or psychologically.  It just doesn’t seem logical to me that I would spend nine months growing & nurturing a baby only to wind up allowing a daycare (or anyone other than me & my husband) to essentially raise her.

stay at home mom daycare

Hey, there is a lot of truth in this . . .

To be fair, I am fully cognizant of the fact that I am extremely lucky to have a career & finances that allow me to work part time, but I also think our society has forgotten that so many things we think of as necessities nowadays are really options.  Part of the reason my husband & I will be financially able to live off of only one full time salary once the baby is born is because we have always been so frugal & responsible with our money.  Maybe that makes us boring, but I couldn’t possibly care less at this point in our lives.

frugality

Amen.  Being frugal has allowed us to have options which means freedom!

Trust me, over the years we have learned that some things are worth spending a little extra money to get a true quality product, especially if it’s something that could affect your health (like good shoes for the gym/hiking or work).  But at the same time we’ve found ways to cut monthly expenses by skipping out on cable TV & expensive restaurants/bars, etc.  I’m also not the type of woman who gets monthly pedicures, haircuts, or other such things.  The most I’ve ever spent on a purse is $40, & aside from gym/work shoes, I’ve never spent more than about $30 on a pair of shoes.  Nor have I ever spent more than $30 on a pair of jeans.  I buy used books & the Kroger brand of almost everything at the grocery store.  I suppose I can thank my mom for teaching me to be so frugal.  I’ve been called cheap before, but it doesn’t bother me one bit because the people who say that almost certainly have a lot less money to their name than I do.  So who’s really the cheap one?piggy bank

Anyway, I’ve wandered from the point, so let me return to explaining what I mean when I say I am not superwoman.  I work with & know plenty of women who do work full time while also raising young children, & I am continually amazed at how they manage to “do it all.”  At the same time I’m fully aware that most, if not all of them, are constantly under a great deal of stress & suffer from a fair amount of guilt over the time they are missing with their children due to work.  If nothing else, I know they suffer from a massive sleep debt & lack of any “me time,” neither of which is physically or psychologically healthy.  I’m not saying being a stay at home mom is a walk in the park.  But I’ve certainly never met a stay at home mom who regretted her choice to spend those first few years of her children’s lives at home with them.  On the other hand I meet working moms all the time who say they wish they could/had been able to be stay at home moms or to work part time while their children are/were young.  The point is maybe other women are ok living with that level of stress but I’m not.  Life is way too short to be stretched that thin.

When I was in nursing school I was confident I would be the first (or one of the first) among my class to go back to school.  I was certain I wouldn’t work more than five years as a bedside nurse before I’d be in NP school because being an NP was always my ultimate goal.  As it turns out I’ve now been a bedside nurse for just over five years, & I’m now far less certain that being an NP is my long term goal, or in any case, I’m in no hurry to reach that goal.  I used to think I’d be so jealous if I saw friends or classmates of mine returning to school before I did, but the truth is I’m not jealous at all.  I’m sure there will come a time in my life when I do wish to become an NP or to further my education in some way, but I can tell you with 100% certainty that time is not now.  If for no other reason, there is no biological timeline for higher education, but there most certainly is a biological timeline for having children, no matter how much we modern women do not like to admit it.biological clock

Just to be clear, this post is not meant to disparage women who do work full time while raising young children.  Once again, I am fully aware of how blessed I am to be in a position to even have the choice of working part time once our baby is born.  And if there is anything I’ve learned in life it is that there is not one right path for everyone.  We are obviously all different people so it is only logical that what works for one person or family won’t work for another.  anxiety

I just know that for me, especially with my anxiety issues & OCD tendencies, to try to work full time while also raising young children would be a nightmare.  As much as I do enjoy nursing, at the end of my life, whether that be at 35, 55, or 85, I know that my career will not be most important to me.  Is it hard for me to think about possibly losing traction in my career?  Sure. But not nearly as hard as thinking about missing out on those early formative years with my children.  (I say children because I do hope to have one more after this one.)  My mom always said if you got the first few years right, the rest would be easy, & I truly think she was correct about that.  To be honest, it isn’t the teenage years that scare me, it’s the toddler years.  I know most moms are sad as their kids grow up & aren’t “little” anymore, but I don’t anticipate that being a serious problem for me.  I’ve always enjoyed older kids & teenagers more, but even so, I can’t stand the thought of a daycare (or anyone else) spending more time with my children than me in the first few years of their lives.  The way I see it is both nursing & motherhood are far, far too important to do halfway, & at least for me, to try to do both full time would be to allow both to suffer.  And that is not acceptable to me.

We-Can-Do-It

Modern women have certainly proven that we can do it all, but at what cost?

So, in conclusion, yes, I have chosen to only work part time once the baby is born.  I used to think that would be a hard decision to make, but it’s actually been surprisingly easy.  I know modern society teaches women that we can “do & have it all,” & while I have no desire to return to the 1940s or 50s when women were expected to be stay at home moms (hell, even stay at home wives), I am fully aware of my own limitations.  That is why I’ll be the first to admit that I am not superwoman, & I have never been so at peace with the knowledge that I cannot do or have it all.

On Gender Roles in the Modern Era


When it comes to gender roles, whether in relationships or society in general, I often find myself in a bit of quandary.  Despite the many negative connotations that the word tends to bring these days, I do still consider myself a feminist, mainly because there are countries & societies in our world in which women still have very few, if any, rights (e.g. Saudi Arabia).  However, much more importantly I consider myself a humanist because I see value in all people, regardless of gender, race, religion, sexual orientation, or any other such factor, & I truly believe in our ability to better ourselves as individuals & the human species as a whole (although I’ll admit we are woefully bad at this much of the time, but that’s a topic for another day).  I also have no difficulty recognizing & no problem admitting that men face their own unique challenges in this world in which we inhabit, particularly perhaps in modern America (& other similar societies).  I’ve touched on that subject before on this blog & will certainly revisit it again someday, hopefully in the not too distant future.gender scales

Anyway, one of my greatest strengths (& weaknesses, at times) in life is that I’m a great analyzer.  I’m constantly observing the world around me & the people in it.  Even as a kid, I quickly realized that I was considerably more analytical than the average person.  In any case, one of the many things I find fascinating to observe is how other couples handle gender roles in relationshipsgender role

For context, I grew up with parents who on the surface held fairly traditional gender roles in that my mom did most of the traditionally feminine housework like cooking & laundry while my dad did most of the traditionally masculine chores like mowing the yard & taking out the trash.  However, one of the things I’ve always admired about my parents is the flexibility they modeled in their relationship.  For example, my parents almost always did the dishes together every night (bizarrely, they to this day do not have an automatic dishwasher).  Furthermore, in some cases my mom actually took on a more traditionally masculine role; for example, she was more of the disciplinarian between the two of them, while my dad was the softer-spoken one who in some ways could be considered more nurturing, which is of course generally considered a more feminine trait.gender-marriage-couples

The other couple whose gender roles I observed a lot as a child/teen was of course my grandparents.  In their case, they had much more strictly defined gender roles, & even as a child I couldn’t help but notice that this seemed (to me) to create some friction between them at times.  I’m in no way questioning their love for each other; I’m just saying that like almost anything else in life, a lack of flexibility often leads to resentment & a lack of understanding between parties.  Hell, you can even observe this in old TV shows like I Love Lucy (a show I watched religiously growing up) in which the characters have very strict gender roles.I love Lucy

As it turns out, I intentionally married a man who has a very different personality than my dad (& is perhaps more similar to my grandfather, now that I stop & think about it) while still maintaining a strong work ethic & commitment to our relationship, like my dad has towards my mom.  This is not meant as any offense to my dad; I just knew even at a young age that I needed someone with a much “stronger” (for lack of a better word at the moment) personality than my dad.  I was a pretty damn insightful teenager, let me tell you that!

Now that I’ve tooted my own horn a bit, I can get down to the real point of this post, which is this:

When it comes to gender roles, particularly in romantic relationships, the best advice I can give anyone is just do what comes naturally to you.  If in 90% of relationships this means the woman does more of the cooking & laundry & the man does more of the yard-work & car maintenance, so be it. teamwork marriage

The point is that you work together as a TEAM to get the needed work done & that you have a flexible attitude so that no one ever says “I can’t do that.  That’s YOUR job.”  Yes, I do more dishes & laundry than my husband, while he mows the yard & handles the taxes, but the point is that none of this stuff is set in stone.  If I’m working three nights in a row (those are 12-hr shifts, mind you) & my husband sees that the dishes & laundry are piling up, he’ll start them without even being asked.  And you better believe I love & appreciate him so much for that, just as he appreciates when I take out the trash or pitch in with some of the other chores that he typically handles when he’s busy at work or out of town.dishes cartoon

When it comes to raising kids, I’m probably going to be a lot more traditionally feminine than perhaps I want to admit.  There is a part of me that cringes at the idea of being a stay at home mom, yet there is a larger part of me that cringes at the idea of trying to raise babies & toddlers while also working full time.  (I’m thinking working part time is the best solution to this dilemma.)  I just can’t wrap my brain around trying to stretch myself that thin, especially since our family is in another state.  Plus there is a huge part of me that feels like if I’m going to invest so much of myself into being pregnant & going through labor, then why the hell would I let a daycare raise that child?  To be even more blunt, why would I bring life into this world & then not spend as much time with it as humanly possible?

Hey, there is a lot of truth in this . . .

Hey, there is a lot of truth in this . . .

Believe me, I understand that most families cannot afford to have a stay at home mom (or dad).  And I fully anticipate that I will end up working part time when we do start a family because, if for no other reason, I don’t want to lose my nursing skills by leaving the workforce entirely, even just for a few years.  I also think all adults need a certain amount of adult interaction to maintain their sanity . . . Anyway, what I’m trying to say is that while I’ve only in the past year or two really embraced the idea of motherhood, I’ve quickly found myself anticipating a more traditional mom role than perhaps I’d have predicted in years past.

And the greater point is that while many, if not most, women will agree with me on this subject, some may not, & that’s ok.  On the same token, most men will not want to be stay at home dads, no matter how much they love their kids.  But some may.  And that’s ok too.labels

The final point here is that while we can make generalities about both genders & the roles each tends to fulfill & the personalities each tends to model, at the end of the day we are all human beings & as such our commonalities are much greater than our differences.  Furthermore each person, regardless of gender, should be evaluated on his or her own merits & not forced to fit any particular mold, whatever that may be.  I’m a bit of a rebel myself in some ways so there is a part of me that always loves those who buck trends & say “screw you” to stereotypes, but I’m also smart enough to realize that there is nothing wrong with fulfilling traditional gender roles, as long as you’re doing so out of your own natural desire & inclination.

Lzzy Hale is definitely a role model for me in some ways. She's gorgeous & feminine in some ways but also a total badass.

Lzzy Hale is definitely a role model for me as a modern woman. She’s gorgeous & feminine in some ways but also a total badass.

In conclusion, I’ll never be the girl who wears a lot of pink, frilly dresses, stilettos, or tons of makeup.  Hell, at 26 I still can’t even put on eyeliner competently.  I swear too much & talk too loud to be lady-like, & I listen to lots of heavy music that could definitely be considered masculine.  When it comes to exercise, I hate running, yet I love lifting weights.  But I also play the flute & piano, perhaps the two most quintessentially feminine instruments on Earth, & I chose to become a nurse, one of the most quintessentially feminine careers on the planet.  Even as an adult I collect stuffed animals, & if/when I become a mom someday I sincerely hope I’ll always place my children above my career.  The point is I like to think I embody a fair amount of both traditionally feminine & traditionally masculine ideals, & I also like to think I’m better off because of it. gender bird

And the greater point is that regardless of our gender it shouldn’t define us or enslave us.  If we choose to embrace the more traditional roles of our given gender, that’s fine.  And if we choose to do the opposite, that’s fine too.  Neither choice is right or wrong, only different.  When it comes to gender roles & relationships, each couple just needs to figure out what works for them & make the best of it.  As I’ve stated many times before, there is no one prescription for success in life.  If someone else’s journey looks different than yours, that doesn’t mean theirs is wrong & yours is right or vice versa.  Dalai lama quote

As my final conclusion, if there’s anything I hope to convey in this post today, it’s this:

Be real.  Be human.  Be you. 

And walk away from anyone who can’t handle any or all of the above.