I just made one of the most important decisions of my life. I have decided to become a "stay at home mom." It's strange to see those words and associate them with myself. I'm definitely still integrating this new job title into my view of myself.
I've been working in some way since I was 15, when I got my first summer job in the cafeteria of the hospital where I was born. Then, I had various jobs each and every summer, including working at a miniature golf course, cleaning motel rooms, and as a cashier at a department store. In college, I worked in the cafeteria and the library as a way to help pay for school, and during long breaks I did some filing at an insurance agency and then sought out my own internship writing for the local newspaper. After graduation, I was without a job for about a month -- it felt like the longest month of my life as I hunted for my first "real" job -- before landing a job as a newspaper reporter. I was 21 then and have been in the workforce ever since, moving from one job to the next without more than a week or two off in between. On top of all that, my mom always worked. Even my grandmother always worked. I don't come from a long line of stay at home moms. Quite the opposite, in fact. Now, 20 years after my very first summer job, I am, on paper at least, "unemployed."
But, of course, I am employed with all the things that go into taking care of and raising Jonah. It is by far the hardest job I've ever done, but it is also, by far, the best job I've ever had. It's 24/7 with no time off -- unless you count my extra long hot shower tonight that I took right after putting Jonah to sleep with Matthew on baby duty -- but it's the most fun job in the world. No two days are the same and my rewards include Jonah's bright, big, blue-eyed grin when I tell him I love him. That is priceless.
But, it was nerve-wracking getting here. It took weeks of "talks" between Matthew and me, days and days of number crunching and an honest, hard look at our budget and our values and our commitment to making it work on one income for a while. Once we decided that we wanted to do this and could handle it financially (though, believe me, it's going to be tight for a while), I had to fortify myself for the big phone call to work. I started by actually saying out loud to people I know and love, "I've decided to quit my job." Then, I needed a deadline, so I made one, and then agonized and stressed and worried more and more as that day approached. Finally, I sucked it up and made the call. Along the way, my family and friends were super supportive, which I have to admit, I was kind of surprised by. I'm not sure why, but I thought I might encounter more people who disagreed with my decision, but every single person I told was 100% supportive, and not only that, they were happy for me. I thought of this when I made the big call to my boss, hoping that my friends' support would help me when my boss started screaming at me for leaving them high and dry and making a stupid decision. But, even my boss was not only understanding, but also totally supportive of my decision, even though sad to see me go. Since then, I've heard from others, coworkers, and even Jonah's pediatrician, who are so happy for me that I have made the choice to stay home with Jonah while he is little. They are proud of me. And, I am proud of me. And, I am also proud of Matthew for supporting and embracing my new role. I feel like I am doing what I've always meant to be doing right now, even though I didn't know it before.
I have a lot to learn and feel lucky to know a few awesome moms, both those who work outside the home and stay at home moms (they even have an acronym, SAHMs), who have already taught me a lot. This is an exciting new adventure for me and I couldn't be happier. Once, at a very important time in my life some years ago, I promised myself that no matter what, I would have no regrets. Then, life got back to normal and I maybe lost sight of that commitment to myself a little. Now, I can be true to that again because no matter what I know I will never regret my decision to take care of Jonah. (I hope that doesn't sound preachy. I'm certainly not knocking any mom's decision, whether to work or not. Everyone's gotta do what works for them.)
I'm stealing this Theodore Roosevelt quote from my good friend Abbie, who used it in an email she sent around when she decided to stop working after her second child was born, but I think it's worth repeating: "The good mother, the wise mother . . . is more important to the community than even the ablest man; her career is more worthy of honor and is more useful to the community than the career of any man, no matter how successful." ~ Nicole
p.s. Jonah's latest stats: 13.3 pounds, 23 1/4 inches long. Happy and healthy, he had a good checkup today.
Saturday, February 16, 2008
We just wanted to thank all of you out there that voted for Jonah in the Cutest Tax Deduction contest. Despite having hundreds and hundreds of people and their friends and families - literally around the world - voting for Jonah and despite being so much cuter than the other babies, he came in 2nd! We can't help but suspect there were a lot of cookie-deleters out there voting for the competition. The response to our last minute plea was so overwhelming it's just hard to believe that all those votes couldn't put him over the top. Oh well, we suppose everything happens for a reason, so C'est la Vie. Despite the loss, it was really really fun and worth it because of all the great emails we got. Trying to answer all of them would be impossible. The most common response we got was "I would have voted for him anyway - he really is the cutest!" Thanks again everybody.
Tuesday, February 12, 2008
Thursday, February 7, 2008
Scene: My living room. Jonah is fast asleep in his swing, kind of slumped forward. He looks a little awkward but I resist the urge to move him. I say to myself, "He's asleep. He's not crying. So he must be fine." Me, in my pajamas, eating the breakfast I managed to make myself. Just oatmeal and tea, but just a few weeks ago boiling water would have seemed impossible. The dishwasher is running -- probably soothing Jonah. On the stereo: a lullaby version of Radiohead, Jonah's favorite. He's heard it since he was born. Earlier, at the first few notes of "No Surprises," Jonah eyes widen just a bit and he listened. He knows it. And likes it. Now, Jonah stirs. His feet twitch and he makes little grunts and whinnies, but as I watch him his eyes remain closed and he seems to fall back to sleep. Again, I feel a pang of guilt for plopping him in a swing. I should be wearing him in a sling or holding him. But, with a few minutes of free hands and quiet, I also think of the long list of other things I'd like to get done. Like, return some phone calls or finish the dishes from last night's dinner. Or, simply get dressed rather than sit around all morning in my bathrobe, and other things that suddenly escape my mind as I peak at my baby again. He's wearing one of my favorite outfits, an orange long-sleeved onesie that says "Single" on the front. Every time I dress him in this he spits up on it or pees on it within minutes. I wonder how long this outfit will make it today. Jonah had a kind of rough night, grunting and fussing his way through an early morning feeding for reasons I can only guess (gas, poop, a spitup brewing?). Nursing him took twice as long as usual and neither of us went right back to sleep like we often do. He's tired. I'm tired. So maybe I'll stay in my bathrobe a bit longer, delay getting dressed until a little later. I glance at the clock and do a quick calculation, trying to remember about how long ago Jonah last ate. He could wake with hunger very soon. I best not get involved in another project now. (I say this a lot, as you can imagine, since he eats about every 2 hours, give or take.) Another pang of guilt: Jonah should be sleeping in his bed, his co-sleeper, for his morning nap. Not a baby swing. Does he sleep as well in a swing? I don't know. Maybe he does. I think he sleeps best snuggled right up with us in our bed at night. Having him so close and being able to nurse him lying down makes the nights so much easier. He doesn't even have to resort to crying to wake me up when he's hungry. He just touches me and I wake up and know what he needs. The nights, once the dreaded time that Matthew and I felt we barely survived in the early days and weeks with a new baby, have become one of my favorite times with Jonah. He nurses and we lie facing each other, his warm little belly against my body. I can feel his breath rising and falling, he holds onto my clothing with one hand and pushes his little feet now and then against my thigh. He is warm and soft, and sighs now and then between sucks. We both eventually drift off to sleep like that. This morning, the laundry will wait, the bed will stay unmade, I'll make my phone calls later. Now, in a peaceful stretch in my cozy cocoon, I sip my tea and think about my life right now and watch my baby boy, taking the advice of friends who are parents to "savor every moment." ~ Nicole
Tuesday, February 5, 2008
I'm sure everyone is dying to know whether Jonah won the America's Cutest Last Minute Tax Deduction contest. Well . . . so are we! It seems they still have not yet announced the winner. The contest website (http://www.cutesttaxdeduction.com/) says that the winner could be announced as late as February 4, but that day has come and gone and still no announcement. We can only hope that they are diligently and painstakingly counting every last vote, because if that's the case surely Jonah will come out on top! We here in Baby Cavanaugh land know that he is by far the cutest baby in the bunch. And, we were floored by the outpouring of support for that adorable little baby boy! We'll keep you posted as soon as we hear the results. Then, maybe we can finally get back to blogging about other baby Jonah-related topics. Meanwhile, thanks for voting and keep your (tiny baby) fingers crossed!