Tag Archives: stay at home mom

Reflections on a year

Jake’s birthday is imminent.  In just a few days he will be one year old.

It’s so cliche,  but I cannot figure out where the last year went.  It’s been a year of a lot of changes — sold our house, moved back to NY state, quit my job/career thing.  Through all that Jake’s been happily along for the ride.  I spent five months of maternity leave just loving on him as much as I could, and he made it so easy.  He practically came out of the womb smiling.  And once he learned how to laugh, man, it barely stopped.  He is one happy guy.  His smile lights up his whole face and is, in a word, infectious.

After the maternity leave, I went back to work three days a week, and Jake went to day care with his sister.  He seemed to instantly win over the girls who worked in the infant room.  They would light up when we arrived in the morning, and gushed continually about what a wonderful baby he was.  He didn’t sleep much for them – he is and has always been incredibly sensitive to noise when he sleeps – but no matter to them, because his demeanor was always cheery and easy-going.

Then we sold our house, and moved, and I gave my notice at work, and my notice at day care, all in late September/early October.  At that point Lane had just started in a new classroom so her teacher wasn’t much attached to her yet or vice versa, so that wasn’t an issue… but because Jake was still a baby he had remained in the infant room, with the girls who doted on him without remorse.  But regardless, the two center managers knew Lane since she’d started there at six months old, and Lane’s previous teacher was now the teacher in the classroom Jake would graduate to once he mastered walking.  They all cried when I told them.  Cried.  I cried, too.  As much as I was looking forward to my days with my babies, it was emotionally very difficult to remove them from an environment where they were so well cared-for and loved, and where I knew they were safe.  I had about 15 minutes of sentimentality about leaving my job… leaving that day care center was so much more difficult for me.  I still miss them, and Lane still talks about a couple of her friends and asks to see them.

Of course, being home with them isn’t all gumdrops and lollipops.  There are times, like right now, where Frank just caught Lane smacking Jake and put her in time out and now she’s wailing from on our bed for me, like I’m going to go easier on her for being mean to her brother.  Or when Jake fights having his nails cut so hard I’m tempted to duct-tape him to a chair to get it done.  Or at the mall today when Lane decided listening was optional so she lost the privilege of visiting the Princess Store (a.k.a. the Disney Store) and she became a wet noodle and I had to carry her to the car wailing and wet-noodle-like.  And the times, which really occur nightly, where Jake refuses to sleep more than two or three hours at a stretch.

But mostly, really, it’s fun and amazing and awesome and fulfilling. I love watching Jake and Lane interact and love on each other, seeing them learn, seeing them play and playing with them, and more than anything feeling like I can be a better mother because I’m not trying to cram all that motherhood into the too-small window after work, when everyone’s tired and cranky from a long day.  Though I suspect Frank thinks I’m tired and cranky all day anyway, because that’s mostly what he sees when he gets home from work every day.  Two kids are a lot of work, especially when one of them is a three year-old with a body capable of sustaining a constant fusion reaction… because seriously, she barely eats, so cold fusion is the only way I can think of that she has as much energy as she has.

And her constant state of motion provides such a contrast to her brother.  He’s a cool, content dude.  Happy to be in a sling, happy to be in a stroller, happy to be in the playard, just happy.  Crying from Jake means one of three things:  he’s tired, he’s hungry, or his sister has him in a headlock.  Though, that’s becoming less true nowadays, since the boy is walking.  He’s hurt himself as much as Lane has injured him over the last couple weeks.

He’s not just walking either… he has a veritable inventory of skills.  He claps.  Oh, does he clap!  He claps after he walks, he claps when he hears anyone else clapping, even if they are on TV.  He claps when you laugh.  He’s quite a pointer, too.  He has one word, Dog, though it sounds like Duh.  I think in the last day or two Lane has been designated “A”.  He points at her and says “A”.   One of his most recent additions is tickling.  We’re big on tickling, and when I tickle Lane he tries to, too.  If you say “I’m gonna tickle you!” he wiggles his fingers at you.  He’s also waving with meaning, which is just awesome.  And, he knows the sign for milk, which we use for nursing.  He doesn’t use it to ask to nurse yet, but when he knows that breastfeeding is imminent he starts signing “milk”.  I think, though, his most impressive skill is climbing.  Given he’s spent most of his mobile life in this 2 bedroom apartment which completely lacks stairs, he can sure get up a flight of stairs awfully quickly.  Or get on a step stool.  Or on the padded ottoman in our living room.  He can nearly get himself into the bathtub by himself.

He’s just such a little person now.  I love it.

No room at the inn

We’re currently living as transients.  In October, we sold our nice, roomy, on-over-an-acre house, I quit my promising career to become a stay-at-home mom, and we moved to a very small apartment in another state.

We moved to another state because we were bribed, quite frankly.  It all started before Jake was born.  I was still all into my career, not pregnant with Jake yet but I think we were trying, and a couple different really good positions came up in my company, that both offered great learning opportunities for me and the possibility of permanent part-time work, but they were both at another location, a state away.  Frank and I had some serious talks about moving so I could pursue them.  And, I mentioned it in passing to my in-laws.  My mother in-law lamented that we already lived so far away (over an hour by car) and this would make us even farther.  Couldn’t we consider moving closer to them?  And, in a rare display of subtle manipulation on my part, I answered, “Honestly, we would truly love to live near you guys.  But real estate there is even more expensive than it is here, and if we move again, it will be so that I can work part-time, or maybe even not at all after we have another baby or two.”

And the next day, something happened, exactly as I thought it might when I opened the door to the possibility.  My in-laws offered to help us buy a house in their town.  We wholeheartedly accepted.  Their town has one of the better, sought-after school districts in the state.  Plus my in-laws, 95% of the time, are really nice, thoughtful, helpful, funny people.  I can live near them without losing my sanity.  And once we entered parenthood, we were honestly sad that we didn’t live near any family.

As we’d planned this major event, my mother in-law kept wishing aloud that the house next door to them would go on the market.  This house currently belongs to a family that my husband is friendly with; their son was a year younger than him, and Frank and he spent countless hours of their youth together.  Frank broke his leg playing football in their backyard; the son was a groomsman at our wedding, though he and Frank are not exactly stellar at staying in touch.  So the MIL kept hoping they would sell their house, because wouldn’t it be just PERFECT if we could live RIGHT NEXT DOOR?!?!

And I smiled and nodded, and agreed, sure, it would be great.  The house wasn’t on the market, so I entertained her with some feigned enthusiasm.

So, October 1, we move into town, into our tiny interim apartment while we get used to living in the area and start househunting (and also just making sure we aren’t making a huge mistake).  And not two weeks later… oh you guessed it, that house next door went on the market.

I had some serious soul-searching to do.  Would it really be great – even tolerable – to live next door to my in-laws?  Sure, they really are great people 95% of the time, but we’ve certainly had our moments.  Once they took Lane in a car without a car seat (though I can guarantee you it will never happen again).  They are opinionated to a fault, especially my mother in-law.  MIL also, I swear, goes out of her way to disagree with me on things.  Though through this, one redeeming quality has surfaced – my father in-law is often quite quick to come to my defense and side with me (which makes me giddy beyond belief when it happens).   But again, they have their good qualities — kind and caring, generous, helpful, fun-loving and adventurous.  They are really good with their grandkids, especially as Lane has gotten bigger and Jake is just the mellowest baby in the world (and it doesn’t hurt that he loves his grandpa more than almost anything in the world).

So, with the consensus between Frank and I that we are OK living next door to them, we have started pursuing the house.  Since we know the owners well, and they seem to just adore Frank, right now we’re all exploring the possibility of buying the house outside the realtor process.  The house is just a little out of our price range at its current listing price (even with the help we’re getting from the in-laws), but without a 6% realtor commission in the mix, they can take a lower offer from us without really taking a loss, and for that house we’re willing to take on just a slightly higher mortgage than we would otherwise.  It might mean we can’t make an offer until June, but I think we can live with that.  We might also see about renting the house before buying it, since it will soon be vacant.  (They are selling because the parents are getting a divorce.  What a shocker!  None of us predicted that.  But according to the son, it is an excellent move for them; they apparently were just going through the motions for the last, like, 10 years or so.  Their kids were encouraging them to divorce, even.)

The whole thing is exciting and nerve-wracking and fun and scary and oodles of other emotions all at once.  And importantly too, it’s a great house.  I can definitely picture myself living there… and I want to live there!  Now we just have to make it happen.

2007, you were an interesting year

It seems all the rage on blogs to take a moment to reflect on the past year as it draws to a close.  Well, it’s probably more a human quality, and since humans write blogs, well, there you go.

2007 has led me down an interesting path.  At the end of 2006, I was very pregnant, I’d just finished recovering from a broken foot, I was working full time in a promising career at a Fortune 100 company, we owned a large 4 bedroom house in central NJ.

Now, I have a 10 month-old son…. he is by far the biggest thing that happened to me in 2007.  Jake is simply amazing.  He has a curiosity for the world that is already so apparent, it won’t be long before he’s taking apart our DVD player just to see what’s inside.  And he’s happy.  Nearly anything can elicit a giggle or even a hearty laugh from him and it melts my heart every time.  He already has a first word – dog – although that ‘guh’ sound at the end apparently is just too pedestrian for him to bother with.  It’s a fitting first word; we have a golden retriever and he thinks she’s just awesome.  He’s pretty laid-back too, in general, which is good given his sister’s appetite for wrestling with him.

Speaking of his sister, she’s had quite a year too, and it’s been fun (mostly) to watch.  2007 has brought Lane her 3rd birthday, successful potty-training, and the ability to sleep through the night.  Lest you think that has made our jobs as parents easier, don’t you get ahead of yourself.  😉  Lane is – how shall I say this – a complicated child.  The hip way to describe her is ‘spirited’.  She is as intense a person as I have ever met.  There is not an ambivalent bone in her body, and she feels every emotion and shares every opinion with a strength of passion I hope will serve her well in life.  She also may have a birth defect, that being that her body has mastered cold fusion.  This little girl has more energy than anyone I’ve ever seen.  She can go and go and go and go and go.  Sleep is an afterthought for her.  If there is a point where she can burn off so much energy that she will go to bed earlier, we haven’t found it yet.  Please don’t think for a second I’d change any of that.  Lane is awesome fun to have around.  Her joy and verve and exuberance are contagious, and she’s a constant reminder that life is meant to be lived, and be fun, and what use is it to sit around?!?  This year has also brought Lane an exploding vocabulary and the daily joy of having conversations with her.

Anyway, back on track here!  While I started the year as a working, career-minded (though increasingly ambivalent), homeowning mother, I’m ending it, well, I’m still a mother.  We sold our house to move closer to my husband’s parents in downstate NY.  I quit the promising career at the great company, which was at the same time exhilarating and the scariest thing I’ve ever done.  We moved to another state and are renting an apartment while we househunt for a house that, while it should still be sufficiently roomy and nice enough, will not be the house we left in New Jersey. 

2007 has turned me into a stay-at-home mom to two kids, and though I never knew it, it’s exactly what I always wanted.

2008 promises to be a great one for our family, too.  There will be another move when we buy our new house.  My husband is an actuary, and 2008 should be the year he attains his Associate of the Society of Actuaries, which anyone who is or knows an actuary can tell you, that’s a big deal.  Jake will turn a year old, and will reach a ton of milestones this year – talking, walking, maybe even doing our taxes for us.  We’re going to Aruba in April.  It should be a pretty amazing year for our family. 

And here’s wishing that your 2008 is full of discovery and wonder and joy and love.