Beating a dead horse

Look at me, posting twice in less than a week. I don't think I have done that since I was all knocked up and what not.

I promised I would go back to some of your comments from the SAHM/working mom discussion, and as it leads nicely into what I want to discuss in my next post anyway - mothering a daughter when you are all kinds of fucked up about the woman you are.

I think about the working mom issue all the time, thanks in part to my MIL who still clearly disapproves of my decision. The other day The Dude, The MIL and myself were talking about P.'s schooling options once she reached that age. The MIL mentioned that standard preschool was a half-day, but "P. can't go to that since Pru wouldn't be able to pick her up." You know, because I'll be working full-time like the bad, evil mother that I am. No mention that her father can't pick her up either due to his working schedule, but that is of course expected given that he is the man, and the man works to support the family. Me woman, me stay at home and make the babies.

Why is there this imbalance? I know there is a recent trend of stay at home dads, but the onus is still largely on the woman when it comes to child-rearing. There is pressure from all sides - pressure to stay at home and be a perfect mom, pressure to go back to work, and pressure to balance the two. It seems regardless of the decision you make, you are still judged.

I was watching an episode of :::cough::: Oprah :::cough::: the other day (don't judge me bitches) which covered this very issue. It was basically faction vs faction, which doesn't do much to help the cause, now does it Oprah? The underlying and rather depressing subtext was the question of whether women can have both a family and job successfully. Some of the SAHMs featured expressed confusion at why a woman would have a child(ren) if they did not intend to take care of them full-time. I must admit this line of thinking upsets me, because my impression of parenthood is not that a complete surrender of self must occur once you are a mother. I would say "father" as well, but when are they ever told that they should spend more time raising their children?

I don't think that a woman who decides to stay home is betraying feminism, but I do think the implication by a SAHM that other mothers should stay home is. As it was pointed out in your comments, feminism is about choice. Being told that I am not fulfilling my duty as a woman if I do not choose to stay at home with my child is offensive, because last time I checked, just because I'm a woman does not mean that "mother" is my sole purpose.

I would like it to be explained to me why women are still viewed as the primary caregivers. I've asked The Dude in the past if he finds it offensive that culturally, his role as a parent is diminished because he is a man. He is very devoted, caring, and responsible, but in the eyes of the culture at large, he is a peripheral figure. It annoys him as well that he is never expected to be the one to stay home with P, to take her to doctor's appointments, or contribute much to the woman she is to become. That is, unless he is not feeling well, in which case I might as well be a single mother.

There were 30 comments on my post, and there were so many different experiences and opinions which brought a whole new dimension to the discussion. I do think it's funny how many of you thought you had a clear idea pre-kids of what you wanted to do, yet changed your minds once it happened, whether it was staying at home, working part-time, working from home, or working full-time. It is wonderful that we do have these choices, but I still maintain that all this responsibility is overwhelming.

I think I've talked about that as much as anyone would possibly want to read. My apologies. On a completely unrelated note, P. has a follow-up appointment to check the status of her heart murmur on Thursday, so wish us luck. I just hope they don't put us in the Dead Babies room again, or else I will start to imagine the very worst just like before. The bastids.


Party of One

I'm prone to casual bouts of blog traffic paranoia in which I wonder what I have or haven't done to piss everyone off. For the most part, people are still commenting which is great because I live for comments. These are dull times you see. When your swinging single friends send group emails to ask what everyone is up to and you can only muster, "Uh, I went on a walk today." or "P. quite likes to eat pureed swede.", you know your life is hardly as thrilling as you would like it to be. At least comments and traffic lead me to think that I'm vastly more popular and entertaining than I really am.

I'm not being melodramatic children, the traffic here suuuuuuuuuuuucks. I have felt that since having P. my brain has slowly been drained through an invisible straw, so crap are my posts. I want to be witty and clever! I want to be brilliant and always hilarious like Alexa. Bitch. No lie, the number of people who bother to stop by anymore is similar to what it was when I first started blogging. That's even with padded stats courtesy of searches such as, "school doctor take off your panties" and "fucky mother". I wish I was kidding when I say that the latter search is one which leads lost and confused souls to my blog rather often. There is also a preoccupation with Elizabeth Hasselbeck, mainly concerning her fertility or the fact that she sucks. That's not a judgment call on my part, it just seems that a lot of Americans think she sucks and need to commisserate with someone else, hoping that by googling the expression they will be united with thousands of like-minded individuals.

The lack of traffic may also be due to me not commenting on others' blogs. To that I say, I want to comment desperately but Typepad have it in for me and still will not allow me to comment. I never realised that many of the blogs I read are hosted by Typepad, and they seem to have no interest whatsoever in helping me remedy this situation. Do they not care that it is affecting my popularity? For fuck's sake. I need love Typepad, I need love. Don't deprive me of it please.

Anyway, enough navel-gazing and whining. I'll update you on The Dude's Man Flu status. I'm pleased to read that many of you do not have partners afflicted with this, because it has been the bane of my existence in the past few days. You don't know how lucky you are. The chicken soup was only temporary relief for him, as he soon submitted to his illness again. He took Friday off work, and naturally he slept in due to being so very, very unwell. I was expected to get up with P. at 6.45am and carry on with my wifely and motherly duties as normal. Of course I was still sick with my cold, but mystery man illness trumps severe cold any day, right?

Despite the apex of his sickness being nausea, he still was hesitant to eat much of anything. He started to feel a bit better at one stage and said, "I think I might try to eat a bowl of porridge.", as if he'd been throwing up the contents of his stomach for days on end. How does someone not throw up at all and still moan that they don't know if their body can handle certain foods? Jesus.

I realised I made an error in my last post regarding the male pain threshold. I said that men are "pussies", when in fact that's going against everything I'm saying. I'm sure that designation was created by men, and as we know it alludes to men possessing the supposed physical weaknesses of women. I hate to subscribe to this cliche, but I do really doubt that many men could withstand childbirth (for instance) without much histrionics and carrying on. The Dude would require a month's bedrest, resistence of all food in case his poor, fragile body couldn't handle the sustinence, and constant assurance that he wasn't going to die. Oh, the drama.

The Dude has since recovered fully, even though it was clearly touch and go for awhile. Me, I'm still congested and blowing my nose all the time, but here I am, composing a blog post. I'm such a champ.

In an effort to getting my traffic back up to reasonable proportions I'm going to try something innovative - posting more than once every three weeks! Yep, I'm going to go for at least once or twice a week, maybe even three? Who am I kidding, I don't have that much to say. I already know what my next blog post will be about, and I plan on addressing some of your fabulous comments from the SAHM/working mom post. How exciting for us all.



I'm not prone to the usage of many pop culture expressions or slang. Say, like "preggers", "bff", "gaydar", etc. Yes, I do like a little urban lingo, at least my blog self does because I would just get laughed at in real life if I said the word "badunkadunk", as I have in my blog. That said, I can get away with saying, "Oh girl, please" with a slight head wave here because they just think, "She's American. That's how they are." Phew.

Where am I going with this? Though I hate to give in to overrused expressions created by a desperate media, I have to confess to a full and ardent belief in "man flu". I'm sure many of you have experienced this draining and frankly fucking annoying trait in your own partners. DD has recently suffered from it, as her husband had been summoned by the Grim Reaper and granted a reprieve at the final minute. Or so he thought.

My own husband embodies the concept of man flu. He feels as if he is coming down with a cold or the flu, and instantly he is rendered immobile. He must recline, take many fluids, and speak in dramatic tones. Oddly, The Dude has a painful, degenerative hip problem which will probably lead to both hips being replaced by the time he's 45, but that he just gets on with. A slight headache and sore throat? He's dragging himself around the flat like a reanimated corpse, telling me how horrible he feels in three minute increments.

On most occasions, I brush off this annoyance and chalk it up to the fact that men are simply pussies. However, I am on my fourth day of a nasty cold that P. so kindly gave to me, and guess who is seeing the light and hearing the hushed voices of dead relatives ushering to him from beyond? Between my phone call with him at 2.30pm and when he got home at 3.15pm, The Dude magically developed a particularly nasty strain of man flu.

I'll set the stage - P. came down with her cold at the end of last week. Usually a rather delightful baby, she morphed into a snotting, screaming beast. Fine. She's a baby and was in pain. By Sunday, the worst was over for her, but the germs had moved onto me. I woke up Sunday morning with every muscle aching and a very sore throat. The Dude, kind soul that he is, allowed me to sleep in until 10.30am, and then nap for two hours in the afternoon. When he went back to work on Monday morning, I had acquired congestion as well as the existing sore throat and achiness. Despite feeling as if I'd sprinting 30 miles then had my head smacked with an anvil, I looked after Piper all day with no complaint. I woke up with her at 7am that day, and went to bed at 11pm.

I had a rough night on Monday, waking up every half hour or so to blow my nose, chug water, cough, or wipe my very watery eyes. Tuesday morning, knowing the rough day I would have ahead of me, I spent 45 minutes crouched under the duvet, crying and snotting everywhere like the classy lady you know me to be. The Dude attempted to calm me, reminding me that if I could get through the day, I had Wednesday (his half-day) to look forward to. On Wednesday, he would take P. out for a few hours so I could get some much needed rest and silence.

So here we are. Wednesday. I knew my grand plan of blessed sleep was in a shambles as soon as he walked in the door. He shuffled around, and it took about 30 seconds for him to tell me how miserable he felt. I offered to make him food - declined. I said I would get him some meds - shot down. Water? No. He was too far gone and nothing could help him now. Only certain death awaited him.

I spent the rest of the afternoon looking after P., defrosting the freezer, making him some food (eventually consented to), and doing the dishes. In the meantime, he attempted to take a nap (too ill to sleep), eat ("I think I'll just throw it up" - he wasn't), and tell me the many ways in which his malady was rapidly taking over his body. I was even subjected to the very melodramatic, "I think I'm getting the chills. Oh great. And so it begins.", said whilst he was limply sitting on the sofa. Can you imagine? Chills people. Chills. How I'm not spending this very moment picking out a coffin I don't know. I have had a four day headache, a sore throat which makes it difficult to swallow, a 4 pack of tissues a day habit, and I may or may not have pillow earmuffs based on how little I can hear, BUT I still take care of a baby every day and get.on.with.it. Ain't no drama going on here, I just want a fucking nap!

A very humorous moment occurred about an hour ago when The Dude asked me to not use the words "man flu" while he was ill, because it diminishes the seriousness of his ailment. Yes, he was serious. Little did he know that I was blogging about this very subject at the time.

You will be pleased to know that the near-fatal disease has now passed. After resisting food since he arrived home, The Dude treated himself to a little gourmet chicken soup. Not only did he enjoy it, but it cured him instantly. A moment after finishing it he said, "Yeah. That did it. I feel much better now." A missed afternoon of sleep, glorious sleep, and all it would have taken was some chicken soup. Let this be a lesson to you.

P.S. On a different matter entirely, I still am being fucked by Typepad and can't comment on their blogs. I've been on a commenting binge lately, but it has to be everywhere but Typepad. I'm trying to show some love, really. I promise.


I gotta get out of this place

Is this thing on? I haven't checked by stats as religiously as I used to, and good god am I glad I don't. I stopped by the other day and I think I actually saw tumbleweeds slowly making their way across my screen. Initially I thought perhaps people have abandoned me because I am dull beyond words (true), but I have now convinced myself (irrationally) that it may be that I only post every few weeks. It's not that I'm too busy, I'm not. I'm just lazy, and frankly, very dull indeed.

I'm going to broach a topic that ventures into the idea of feminism, a subject that in the past has been about as successful and enjoyable for the reader as a cooter wanding sans gel. I'll go ahead and talk about it anyway, because I need to vent and this place is about due for a post, regardless of how yawns it inspires.

In the past few weeks I have slowly been driven mad by my new-ish role as stay at home mom. As I have mentioned before, the UK allows a new mother a full year of maternity leave if she so chooses. I elected to take a full year, believing that during this year I would do fun things with my new baby - go to baby yoga and massage, singalongs, story time at the library, walks along the seafront, and numerous other things that perfect moms do. Halfway into this gig it's not quite working out like that. I go to coffee mornings every Tuesday held by my Mums and Babies group with whom I took antenatal classes, and last Monday I went to my first baby singalong. That's all. Oh, I occasionally take P. for walks along the seafront, but that's only because it's about 30 seconds from my flat.

I am finding it difficult to find the initiative to do much of anything that requires leaving the house. I don't even change out of my pyjamas on most days. A few weeks ago one of the other mums in my group said she would stop by some Friday and drag me out for a walk. I told her that I most likely would not be dressed, and she said, "Oh, I wouldn't come until at least 1pm!", as if to imply I only stay undressed until the late morning. I set her straight right away and I was met with a look of pity mixed with shock that anyone would dare not be fully dressed and made up by 11am, let alone 6pm. Why bother changing out of your pyjamas when you only have 2 pairs of pants that fit you anyway? Sadly, they are 2 pairs of pants I bought when I first found out I was pregnant, two sizes bigger than I normally wore so as to accommodate my growing self. I wore both of them up until I was about 20-22 weeks pregnant, so yeah...I'm doing well well postpartum, aren't I?

The paragraph above reads like a pamphlet with a little anecdote about a woman who has postnatal depression, but I assure you, I don't. I've teetered on the end of that precipice so I know this is just me being my usual moody self. It has just solidified my desire to go back to work, which is what I was always going to do regardless anyway. Much as P. is such a good baby now, I confess I don't totally love staying home with her all the time. There, I said it.

I know we all need time away from our children, but even as much as I love spending time with P. and seeing her grow and develop, I need to go back to work. The stay at home mom thing is so not me, just as I knew it wouldn't be. When I was pregnant and asked what my plans were as far as going back to work, I would always be met with, "You don't know how you're going to feel until the baby is here!" I would reply that yes, in fact I did know that I would want to go back to work, and inevitably the other person in the conversation would tell me again that I didn't know that for sure.

Why is it assumed that once a woman has a baby, she will feel the powerful biological urge to stay home with her child? Why are men never expected to make that sacrifice? I know we live in a patriarchal society which insinuates that the mother's role far exceeds the father's, but I despise the fact that it is assumed that I should be the one to give up my professional life.

I think this is particularly an issue here in the UK. I'll probably upset some UK readers (all 2 of you), but I think the pressure for a woman to give up work - either completely or by working part time - is enhanced here far more than it is in the US. Growing up, only one of my friends had a mom who stayed home. My Mom went straight back to work after having both my brother and myself, and strangely we have suffered no ill effects. Well, my brother is a bit odd, but as I'm sure you'll all agree, I am bordering on deification.

Here in the UK, it seems most women I know don't go back to work at all after having a baby, or work part-time. I work at a university, and even within that sector it is the same. My Mums and Babies group is composed of university-educated professional women, but I am the only one of eight going back to work full-time. One of my SILs hasn't worked since she had her first child seven years ago, and the other has two kids in school but only works 10 hours a week. My MIL once said about a family member, "Well, it's no wonder the little girl is such a problem. Her mom works full time." Goodness no! Full-time? Whatever is this world coming to? That five year old will be huffing paint solvent any day now.

I admit that prior to having a baby, I thought being a SAHM was a cop-out. I wondered why a woman would want to give up the level of independence that a job provides, allowing the husband to have all of the financial control. Now that I've done the SAHM thing, I have the very highest respect for women that choose to do it. It's not at all for me, but I understand the amount of effort that is required to do it. I want to go back to my job to do less work than I do at home!

Someone commented on an internet forum recently that working moms only wish they could be stay at home moms. I suppose their assumption was that a woman would only go back to work after having a baby if she had to for financial reasons. There would be no possible way a sane woman would do so otherwise, right? I must be a complete freak, because I like working. I like interacting with adults occasionally. I enjoy earning money and contributing financially to the household.

I would love to hear different viewpoints on this matter. I know it's hardly a breaking and newly controversial issue, but as I find myself defending my decision all the time lately, I'm curious to hear what people on either side of the issue have to say. I have a specific question for the current or future SAHMs as well: By electing to be a SAHM, aren't you surrendering any hope for a future career? For example, a woman who is a SAHM until her kids are in primary school is still 5 years out of the loop professionally. Wouldn't it be hard to get a job if you haven't worked in that amount of time? That is particularly relevant for women who are SAHMs until their kids are off to college. By electing to stay home from when your children are young, aren't you sacrificing your entire professional future?


P.S. I cannot seem to comment on any Typepad blogs, nor Jenn's at ClubMom. What gives? Any ideas?