Hey, Jealousy

The boys are 16 months old, and for the first time, I forgot to take a photo on their month-day-turning thingy. I’d try to make up some good reason for that, but the truth is that I thought of it a couple of times during the day, but just never found myself with an opportunity to sit them down and take a photo, and oddly, not really feeling very motivated to create that moment. Oh, well. I don’t think I had any lofty goals of continuing the monthly photos forever, though it would have been fun to be sitting down with my 210-month-olds*, telling them to hug the bear for the picture (*that’s 17 1/2 years for those without calculator-brains).

As summer wound down, and we turned the corner to Fall, I found myself doing a lot of pondering on the state of things in my world. I haven’t actually had full thoughts or conclusions on any of these ponderings, so maybe I should just switch to list form:

1) If you can’t tell by my prior hippy-dippy posts, I’m not the world’s best disciplinarian. I am fond of rules, but mostly so that I know exactly where the boundaries lie and whether I feel comfortable stepping over those boundaries. I look at my boys, and 99% of the time, they’re happy, and well-behaved, and kind. But that other 1%, they are screeching, flailing, biting/shoving banshees, and I don’t know what to do about it. I bought the Happiest Toddler On The Block, but I think I need to watch the video, because my poor, idiotic, toddler-addled brain is incapable of following much of his FFR/Toddler-ese, Clap/Growl, etc., and seeing how it’s all supposed to work together. Time-outs are about to become a fact of life, but I frequently find myself feeling like I don’t really care about their various infractions. H gets wound up about them climbing on the tables, and I just don’t really care. I figure they’ll eventually fall off and either learn how to balance better, or decide not to climb up there anymore. There’s nothing that can hurt them, or that they can hurt– I just don’t care. BUT, I also recognize that dancing on the coffee table isn’t civilized behavior, and should probably be curtailed. I think I’m at a place where I just don’t know what to do.

Those of you who have already surfed this wave (or for those who are starting to get there yourselves), what has worked for you? Any particular methods you like? I’m stupidly jealous of moms that seem to have it together in this area. It’s hard.

2) Oh, money, money. Lately, I find myself getting increasingly incensed that I’ll probably be paying off my student loans for the rest of my life. The interest alone is several hundred dollars monthly, and we are barely scraping by as it is, so it really looks as though the principal will never be touched. I love getting to raise my boys, and I don’t think I could bear to put them in daycare (it’s a personal thing with me, having worked in a daycare– I’ve just been scarred by it, and can’t imagine risking that my child would end up in a situation like what I saw in my workplace). But at the same time, I know that a lot of our financial difficulties would be significantly eased if I were working. Of course, if I were working, we’d really need a second car, and I’d no longer be in unemployment-deferment with my student loans, so I might actually be worse off after paying insurance, car payment, loans, day care, etc. It just feels overwhelming sometimes.

I admit to feeling jealous when I read other people complaining about financial circumstances, because most of the time, I know we are probably worse off, and that it’s my fault that we are.

3) That said, I keep coming up with all new ways to deplete our savings account. Oh, how I want a Kindle Fire (and hey! I got exactly $200 in birthday money from my MIL, but yeah, that had to go to floating our overspending last month. YAY for doctor bills!). And the boys desperately need new car seats, but DAMN, they are expensive when you’re buying two at once. I’d love to put them in preschool once a week, but again, two at once is cost-prohibitive on our budget. It’d be great to be able to join the Y or something similar– I need a way to exercise more often without neglecting the boys, but in order to use the free childcare, the “family” monthly fee is outrageous. I’d love to travel more often, but even filling up the gas tank has become a major budget consideration, much less a plane ticket and/or hotel costs. And, you know, maybe I’d like to have another kid someday. Maybe. But I hear they’re pretty expensive, too. (of course, both sets of grandparents have made it clear that girl grandchildren are the ones that really count, so maybe they’d chip in some more if I managed to produce the coveted female heir… not that they don’t adore the boys, but my MIL at least has made clear that she’d LOVE a granddaughter…)

H has recently begun to acknowledge frequently that my “job” is ridiculously hard (does he finally get it, or is he just finally getting that I need to hear him say that he gets it?). And has acknowledged that I really need a break. And fully supports me in whatever way he can, by watching the boys for an hour when he gets home from work so that I get a break at the end of my long day, and by doing lots of chores around the house that I just don’t get around to while watching them. And he says often how I deserve these things I want (travel, gym membership, Kindle thingy, etc.), but we both know the reality is that those things are outside of our means right now. “Breaks” cost money– a sitter, a pre-school, the cost of a movie ticket or a massage or whatever. We can afford some of those things some of the time, but lately, other things take priority (like specialist co-pays which have doubled in the last year. Yikes.) And even if there were a way to raise the funds to get those more expensive items, we both know that those funds could really be used much more beneficially on other, more practical things.

So whatever. I guess I’ve just been feeling some jealousy lately that people can afford to do and have things that I can’t. And that’s not me. I try really hard not to be so damn materialistic, so needy, so constantly wanting– I already have so much stuff, more stuff than I could use in a lifetime, more than I ever really need–, but when I’m physically and emotionally exhausted from caring for twin toddlers, and my doctor chirpily suggests getting a massage for my back pain, it makes me want to cry, because that’s just out of the question right now.

4) Which brings us to the chronic back pain I’ve been dealing with that has just gotten worse and worse and worse over the last year. I finally went as far as to get cortisone injections in my hip/butt (BIG progesterone-in-oil shot flashback while up on the table… shiver…), and it provided relief for a week or two, but the pain came back worse afterward. Some mornings, I wake up and I don’t know how I’ll stand up, much less make it through a day of caring for babies. I’m at the highest dose of vic.odin that I can take, and I’ve become almost immune to it’s effects, and there’s not much else I can take while the boys are still nursing (not that they nurse all that often, but the 2-3 times a day that they do, they demand it!). It’s just one more thing that feels overwhelming. I’m jealous that other moms are able to function throughout their day without wincing in pain while chasing their kids. I’m jealous of other moms who can actually just hop out the door and go for a run without thinking twice about it (running used to help immensely with my back pain, but around two months ago, it went from helping to hurting, so I’ve stopped running. Which makes me terribly sad, since it’s one of the few things that keeps me feeling sane.)


So basically, I’m one huge lump of jealousy, and I’m jealous of stupid things. I have so much. I know I have so much. I have these two amazing babies that I waited forever to have, that I went through insane, invasive procedures to have. I am so lucky to be able to stay home with them. But lately, it just gets harder and harder to focus on what I have, to focus inward. I just feel trapped in this cycle of outward focus, worrying about myself in comparison to others, and wanting so badly to have these things, these abilities, that I don’t have, that I may never have.

More than anything, though, I find myself jealous of people who have family close by. I may not have always gotten along with my mother, but there’s no doubt that my parents love my boys. With visits from both my parents and H’s mom this month, it’s driven home to us how different our lives with the boys would be were we not living across the country from all of them. But sadly, it’s just not feasible for H to find a job closer to any of them. I wish he could, but in his line of work, jobs are scarce, and GOOD jobs are all but non-existent. That he has a great job in a department full of great people, AND that it’s a job he loves? All of those things combine to make it a terrible idea for him to even consider taking a job somewhere else, even if he could find another with the same status and stability and pay, etc.

So what about you? What aspects of your life hide that little green envy monster? Or are you gloriously above all that, able to be completely happy with what you have and where you are?

P.S. Do you vaccinate your kids? If not, why not? How do you feel about people who choose not to vaccinate? I pretty much feel that if you choose not to vaccinate, you should take yourself out of society, and go live in isolation with others who choose not to vaccinate. (I guess that tells you where I stand) I found out recently that this woman in my playgroup did not vaccinate her child and was “100% okay” with her decision, because she thought about it “a lot” and “researched things” and then, she … PRAYED… about it, which somehow, I guess, makes risking the health of my family okay. You know, she prayed. And God told her it was right to refuse to prevent disease and potentially spread it among society, and to risk the health of tiny, unvaccinated babies and fetuses, too, because whooping cough or rubella or chicken pox or whatever might not be a big deal to her kid, but could kill/injure others. But God said it was okay, because God didn’t want her to risk her son becoming autistic, because I guess God must’ve reached in and screwed around with the results of scientific study after study debunking the myth that vaccines cause autism, because he WANTED more parents to give their children autism. Huh?

P.P.S. Can’t end on that note, so here are some gratuitous photos of cute babies!

Henry's Dinosaur Jacket
Henny models my dino-embellished hoodie

Jack's Hoodie
Jack wears his hoodie (for three seconds before yanking it off his head)

Swinging on a fall day

Jack Found The Gnome!
Checking out the garden gnome (Jack)

Henry and the Hats
Henry and the hats. Kid LOVES hats.

The fam at Oktoberfest (boys and H in traditional North Sea sailor garb)

And a short video:

How do I know they’re German? They dance to the beat of the vacuum and then applaud when it’s over. They appreciate a clean floor, and the sounds of a vacuum make them very happy. Weirdos!

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20 Responses to Hey, Jealousy

  1. Tracy says:

    There’s so much here that I need to go back and read, but Word World is almost over, so I have to leave it to this: Read “1-2-3 Magic.” It’s a book about disciplining your kids, from ages 2-12 (I think.) I got it on Kindle and read it quickly, and saw results within days. I think until age 2, it’s really just doing what you are already doing…redirecting, and correcting mildly and with love. At age 2, they’re starting to develop more as individuals and WANT/NEED boundaries. In short, they start testing. I found this book to be the absolute BEST. Philosophically, I could find no reason NOT to use it (no spanking,) and honestly, it made ME and the kids feel so much better. I saw results within days. I find myself slipping on the technique here and there, and as soon as I snap back to, so do the kids. READ IT.

    Gotta run. Show over. Will try to come back and read the rest later. 🙂

  2. Star says:

    Ok, lots to cover here … toddler discipline first. I think they are probably a little young for time outs. I’m not in love with them but I do use them from time to time. I agree re climbing on the tables. Ya gotta pick your battles, and like I told someone last week, if I tried to enforce a rule against, say, running in the house, that’s all I would be doing from wake up to bedtime. So I try to limit it to safety issues as much as possible. I can imagine how hard it must be with two boys the same age though.

    I totally get the grandmothers preferring granddaughters. Both my mom and MIL would have preferred that I had girls. Oh, well.

    Jealousy and financial woes: I hear ya. It’s tough. We too are only paying interest on our student loans at the moment. And I’m sure there are plenty of people who think our decision to have me SAH is financially irresponsible, but they can bite me. Kids are only young once and you can never get this time back. Plus, I can never let go of the “what if I died tomorrow/next month/next year” argument — my student loans would die with me, but my kids would have had that time with their mom. So, you know I’m on your page with this one.

    Vaccinations: I am ambivalent about them. I understand why parents are scared and want to blame things on vaccines. People don’t trust big pharma and for good reason. That said, the best evidence I have come across suggests that vaccines are safe for most people most of the time, and certainly there are some diseases we would not want to see return (e.g. polio). So, we vaccinate, sometimes not exactly on the CDC schedule and there are a couple that we skip (like rotavirus). I don’t love it and I have a knee-jerk ick response in my gut but honestly the people who are anti-vax seem like complete quacks. I thought I was a more natural living person than I have turned out to be — I just can’t get into the woo factor. I don’t have negative feelings toward parents who don’t because I feel like it is their kids who are more at risk than mine.

    Glad to see a post from you. I haven’t written anything in months, I’m so busy with my boys. One day …

  3. Melissa says:

    Um, I think I started time outs around 2 and once Elizabeth figured out she was being prevented from things she got upset about being “punished”. Other than that she pretty much got the run of the house and as long as she wasn’t hurting herself she was fine 🙂 She’s pretty shy so I wasn’t too worried about climbing on tables at our IL’s place.

    Dude, I’m jealous of people who work and get to escape home life. I love being a SAHM and I don’t trust daycares but there are days that I want to run and hide 🙂 I love my girls but it’d be nice to work outside of the house sometimes. Days that don’t begin with cleaning up pee and being puked on (like today) wear me the F*ck out. Most days are fabulous but ya know…those other days.

    Yeah, I’m with you. Not vaccinating is fine but I don’t want my kids around kids that AREN’T vaccinated. Sigh.

    yes, money. i try to blur out all of my worries with that 🙂

  4. Tracy says:

    Ok, back again. Cute, cute, cute pics!!!

    I get the green-eyed monster every once in awhile, too, but I try to remind myself that there’s always another side to the story, and while I may be jealous of those other people, I don’t know what demons they are battling, or how happy THEY are in spite of them having what I think I want. Make sense? Probably doesn’t help, but that’s how I try to shake myself out of it. I’ve also started keeping a gratitude journal, and every time I have a down day, or start to feel that, “why not me?” feeling, I force myself to think of five things that I’m grateful for. It seems to help.

    Ah, money. We have that challenge, too. We seem to have enough, but both of us always want more. We are currently living paycheck to paycheck for the most part, but still managing to pay for preschool and the gym, which I know are two things you would love. My gym rocks, I admit it. When I got to the part of your post where you were talking about your back pain and how you can’t run, I was going to ask, “can you take a Spinning class???” but then I remembered the previous paragraph about your gym. Boo. I will tell you, if you can ever swing it, nothing has made my back stronger than biking. If you have a good bike, you could always get a thingie for your house…a bracket or something or other that you can mount your bike onto. Spinning, especially, is good because of some of the positions you have to take, but in lieu of that, biking may be good.

    Vaccinations. Don’t even get me started. I get pissed. Do you know that the doctors think that the reason that Evan and Rowan are PARTIALLY DEAF is because somebody exposed me to Rubella while I was pregnant? So, those of you that choose not to vaccinate, it’s not just YOU AND YOURS that your choice is effecting. Enough said.


  5. Esperanza says:

    It’s funny you asked what makes us jealous because the funny thing is, SAHMs make me jealous, more jealous that I would like to admit. So, so, so fucking jealous. Because my daughter just gets cuter and more interactive by the day and she knows when I’m saying goodbye to her and she stands at the window of the door and slams on it and it makes me cry EVERY FUCKING DAY. And there is nothing I can do to stay home. Even with me working we’re putting not ONE CENT away every month. Not one. And the only reason any of it’s working is because I’m making an extra $600 a month driving a kid to school/home some days and tutoring (most of which is going to therapy, which we’re getting for a steal because we’re so tight right now and we’re seeing someone at a sliding scale clinic so basically we’re getting counseling at 75% the going rate, probably more). My grad school loans aren’t even being touched right now either and I’ll be paying them off forever. Together, B and my loans cost us over $600 a month! It’s nuts. We live in an apartment the size of a shoe box with mold growing EVERYWHERE. There is no way it’s not messing with our health. We want desperately to move but if we did we’d be living in some horrible neighborhood, cut off from the rest of the city and still paying $1000 more a month than we make. It’s just insane how much it all costs. And I want to have another baby very much but we can’t afford for me to take off and evidently I make the same (after taxes) as an uneducated, probably illegal immigrant nanny makes under the table when she’s caring for two kids so I have to put my daughter in a preschool where, you just said, probably horrible things will happen all around her or to her and there is nothing I can do about it because I just can’t afford anything else. And it makes me really frustrated when people say that they just “can’t leave their kid in day care” because of how shitty day care is, because it makes me feel like a lesser mother that I can, in fact, do just that very thing. And I always feel like everyone thinks if I REALLY TRIED I could make it work but I fucking can’t and it’s so, so frustrating.

    I’m not trying to say you don’t have it hard. YOU ABSOLUTELY DO HAVE IT SO FUCKING HARD. I can’t imagine the back pain and not having any family around to support you and not having any time for yourself. I really, really cannot. The back pain alone would do me in, it would. I’d be a goner for sure. But I can’t help but thinking that we have very similar financial situations (thought ours might not be quite as tight, but it’s really close) only I’m working. So I don’t get to be with my daughter and we’re still in a financial pit we can’t find our way out of.

    Of course we’re making choices, choices like staying where we are to be by family and staying in the city because leaving would mess with my husband’s head so bad I might never get him back. So we stay. But it’s not really my choice and yet I’m stuck with the consequences of it. It’s very much like you not being able to move back to your family, because your husband has an amazing job he loves where you are. It’s not your choice, it’s your family’s. We make sacrifices so other things work. Sometimes I just wonder if the sacrifices are too much.

    I just had a thought about child care. Have you thought about creating a babysitting coop? My mom was a part of one and she became very close with both women – she stills see them today. Basically you trade off for child care. I watch your kids today if you watch my kids next Saturday. It might be hard because you have two and most families might have one – it’d be great if you could find a family with 2 but then you’d have four kids at once so that might be a bit much. But if it were a time when H were around and you both could tag team the little ones then later you could get your own time. I don’t know. Maybe the logistics are too hard with two but I know it was the way my mom stayed sane when we were kids – she also had no family around to support her.

    And as far as vaccines – I agree with you wholeheartedly. It’s insane that people can be so selfish. I truly don’t understand it.

    I hope you get some respite from all of this soon. If I were there I’d watch your beautiful boys for you so you could get some R&R. I definitely would.

  6. vablondie says:

    I m so sorry you are having a rough time. I hope it passes soon.
    Babysitting co-ops could work well. Also, try to find a mother’s group. I found just getting out with other mothers was great for my sanity. There are a lot of stay at home mom groups around, and many of them have baby sitting co-ops. Keep trying until you find one which works for you. They are all different.

    We also are getting a lot of pushing and tantrums. When my child misbehaves or starts screaming because of frustration at something, I put the object in time out. I also tell him very simply why I am taking the object away. (No hitting, no screaming, etc.) When he is calm, I give the object back.

    “The Way of Boys” has an excellent explanation about why time outs do not work for boys. It is a fantastic book outlining how boys develop socially, and how we can help raise boys. I am currently working my way through it, but it covers tantrums, frustration, anger, competitiveness. It is a great book, and an interesting read.

    I hope this funk passes soon.

  7. KK says:

    We live 45 minutes from my in-laws and my MIL, god bless her, comes up to our house one day a week and spends time with L and I get to leave the house BY MYSELF and it is awesome. And it makes me reflect, frequently, on how freaking hard it must have been for my parents when we lived in CO and all of our extended family was in MI growing up. I don’t know how I would do it without someone I trust implicitly to watch L on an as-needed basis. It must be so.so.so hard and my hat is off to you. FWIW, my parents traded off baby sitting with our neighbors to get some time off — every other weekend, so each couple got one date afternoon or night a month.

    Also, you will probably appreciate this story…
    So we are taking a music class and it’s held in a nursery room at a local church and they have a few of those foam chairs for kids and L loves to climb up on them, stand on the seat and look/point at the Noah’s Ark mural on the wall behind them. And I think — eh? what’s the harm? Meanwhile there is a girl in the class who tries to do the same thing and every.single.time her mom tells her she must sit with her butt (only she calls it her “boonda”? WTF?) or she will get hurt. And the first few times I thought “am I bad mom for letting L stand up there and risk ‘getting hurt’?” And then I thought “worse case scenario he falls 6″ off the seat and bonks his head”, but he knows to go down feet first and he’s having fun. And if he falls? Well, then he will know a little more about gravity. Kids (maybe especially boys) need to be able to be physical. So, basically, if we came over I’d be glad your the type of mom who doesn’t freak out when her kids climb on the table.

    I don’t mean to minimize all the other issues that you are struggling with at.all, but I do wonder if what you really just need at the core of it is a break. I know when I have been going extra hard with L and stuff at home that everything just starts to pile up in my head and when I can get some space it all eases up and doesn’t feel so HEAVY. And I know and totally heard that you’re not really in a position to get that break for a variety of very valid reasons, but maybe just knowing that might be part of the problem would make it easier? And make you feel less out of touch with the person you want to be (who isn’t focused on material stuff as much) I’d liken it to the fact that it’s pretty much always a mistake to take on heavy, weighty emotional issues right before bed when you are tired and anything that you discuss just seems MORE, even though when you get some rest and wake up in the morning it all seems so much easier to handle? Also we pay nearly $1000 a month in student loan debt, so I HEAR you on that one.

    PS – We vaccinate and I don’t have a lot of patience for people who don’t. Sorry people, but you probably think I’m killing my kid, so I figure we are even.

  8. miamegamoo says:

    Motherhood is a hard gig, as I’ve found out recently.

    Oh I have the little green monster – for women who haven’t had the postpartum from hell like I have (I’m back on meds for another infection and having to get the wound cauterized so that it will heal finally). I envy those mothers who had a normal vaginal birth and can wear their children easily. Or mothers who didn’t get hit by cars when they were pregnant and thus don’t have messed up knees that make it agony to carry her very heavy crying baby around. I envy women who have families who they can rely on and who they even talk to, to have that feeling of generational continuity that having a child is supposed to bring to you.

    On the flip side, though I know I’m lucky. J is wonderful – by far the best possible father for my child of any man I’ve ever been involved with. He has been supportive and wonderful even when I’ve been raging at the unfairness of what I’ve had to go through (and I do mean raging, since it turns out it might be an injury to my pelvis from the car hitting me that caused Mia to get stuck, thus precipitating this whole C-section to infection route). Mia is super healthy and totally beautiful and her smiles make all of this crap health problems worthwhile so that she may exist and look at wonder at the world around her.

    You do deserve a break. Very much. Every good mother alive does. I’m sorry that you aren’t getting it and wish I could do something. But, as a consolation, trust me, I understand completely – I don’t have two and no toddlers here yet, but sometimes at the end of the day when Mia’s having a meltdown, I’m texting J frantically to get his ass home and cursing how slow the bus system is.

    And on the p.s.: I think people who don’t vaccinate their kids shouldn’t be allowed to send their kids to public schools. End of story. They are socially irresponsible and don’t deserve the benefits of society. (And the whole ‘we pay taxes for the schools, so we can use them too’ argument doesn’t hold water. Everyone pays taxes on the roads, but that doesn’t make it legal to run stop signs and red lights and endanger others).

  9. Ellen K. says:

    The boys are gorgeous, and you know my stance: Happy, healthy kids = proof that mama’s doing a good job. You are working very, very hard without breaks and help from nearby family. I think you’re awesome.

    Eh, I’m pretty lax on discipline. I do timeouts in their room, but I didn’t start that until they were 2.5 or so. 1 minute for each year of age. Timeouts are for tantrums/extended whining, biting and hitting, and (ahem) hitting the TV. I tried the “Happiest Toddler” thing and wasn’t able to get into the growling/clapping, but it was useful as a reminder that toddlers aren’t exactly highly functioning humans. I like “Between Parent and Child,” which isn’t exactly about discipline but is a good reminder that I shouldn’t be so snappish.

    I have my own envies. I’m envious of people who have family so available that they can go out on regular dates in the evenings without hiring babysitters at $10/hour. Yes, we went to Paris, but weekly “dates” are never going to happen, or even monthly dates. I’m envious of people who have newer cars. I’m envious of people who can afford to live in great school districts and won’t have to fight the magnet school lottery or pay private school tuition just for preschool. I’m envious of people who live in progressive states and aren’t embarrassed to read the daily news from the state capital. I’m envious of my SILs’ beauty and great bodies. I’m envious of my parents’ excellent access to affordable healthcare and their more secure standard of living. I’m envious of women whose husbands like to celebrate Christmas in a big way. I’m envious of SAHMs who have one child or at least two children who aren’t bolters like N. And I’ve even been envious that you buy organic milk for the boys. : )

    My college roommate and I were just talking about how FB has a way of exacerbating these small differences. You notice that someone is always at the gym, or is going on their fifth vacation of the year, or has two luxury cars, or is at the World Series game with their newborn daughter, or all of the above as with one of my acquaintances. But no one’s life is that charmed. Envy and even jealousy is normal as long as you can see the bigger picture. I ran into trouble when the girls were about a year old — I became very jealous of people who had easy labor and delivery (even with twins — this includes my own mom), and I started lashing out at friends who seemed to have so much free time. I picked a fight with a very dear friend and cut her off — when in fact I was oblivious to the fact that she was really struggling with her dad’s terminal illness. Thankfully we’ve long since made up.

    D. has seemed stressed in recent months, and yesterday he wrote down all the causes and then identified why he has tendencies to feel inferior, how much of this was in his head, plus a gratitude list. I saw it and was impressed and also very gratified that so much of his happiness is centered on his home life. I know a lot of women whose husbands don’t seem to like being at home with wife and kids.

    We have a relatively low mortgage and no car payments, but D took a 5% pay cut 3 years ago and we haven’t seen a cent of a raise. I’m glad he is still employed and that we haven’t had any big healthcare bills because our policy is very high deductible (not by choice, that’s all that’s available at his small company). Some people think we’re pretty chintzy with old cars, a “small” house in a not-stellar zip code in the city, etc. Until this fall, nearly all of the girls’ clothes were hand-me-downs. Most of our tax refunds from the past two years went to our trip to Paris, and I have 12-20 hours/week of freelance work per week.

    BTW, I refuse to use the word “choice” in relation to work/life balance and SAHM or working outside the home. “Choice” implies more autonomy than most of us have — and also more informed opinions than any of us have before becoming parents.

    The girls won’t go to preschool until a year before they start kindergarten. It’s just way too expensive for two kids. And at this age, the only “school” options are tuition based.

    Re: vaccinations — there is NO WAY IN HELL that I & N would ever be sent to the local Waldorf preschool/elementary school, which encourages vaccination “reversal.” When I interviewed our pediatrician before the girls were born, she said bluntly that she will not see any patients whose parents refuse to vaccinate them. She doesn’t want to deal with the parents’ bullshit or the consequences thereof. I believe in adhering to the recommended schedule. A two-month delay means two months of possible exposure, and exposure risks are higher in our neighborhood with its large immigrant population (Bosnian, east African, Vietnamese).

  10. strongblonde says:

    oh kate, i could have written this post! 1) i want to be sure to remember to tell you that you shouldn’t use the word “fault” in regards to your current situation. let’s say that you worked–you would have to pay for daycare and other expenses…it would just be different. your current financial situation isn’t any one person’s “fault”. it is just the result of your current circumstances (or at least this is how i rationalize MY situation!!). 2) i am now going to peseverate over what happened at your daycare 😦

    b and i just recently had a major “come to jesus” talk about finances and spending. we’ve always been pretty frugal, but have recently decided that things had to change. we mad some bad choices in spending this summer and ended up spending more on some projects/trips than we thought we would. when i look back at how much our august vacation cost us i wonder if i thought i was a celebrity or something! that was double what we had budgeted for spending. second, b’s class load was decreased by 2/3 this semester, and also his pay. we decided to leave the kids in daycare 2 days per week in order to give him time to do art and just see how things went. we have been closely monitoring over the last two months and have decided that we can’t afford to keep going this way. so…we are cutting down to one day a week starting december 1. we also have been paying someone to clean our house every other week for the last 5 years or so. we decided that had to stop also. there’s no reason we can’t clean it. we were just being totally lazy about it. we have been members of a wine club where we got (expensive) wine shipped to us every 3-4 months. we’ve quit that. we quit netflix. we changed our diet majorly and have been cooking at home more. i NEVER park anywhere i have to pay now and i never go out to lunch or to buy coffee. we stay home mostly and don’t “do” a whole lot. we decided we would like to try to keep our gym membership for now because it helps to keep us sane, but we are realistic that we may need to eliminate that at some point as well. and we’re okay with that.

    having said that, i see from fb and emails from friends that people are doing the opposite of this and it makes me so sad and jealous. i told a friend that we got rid of our cleaning person and she said, “i’d go back to eating red beans and rice for every meal before i got rid of my cleaning lady!” but she works 60 hours a week and really only gets to see her daughter on weekends. …so maybe if i never got to see the kids i would want to spend every second with them? not sure. b and i are pretty lucky: i’m only away from home for 2.5 days a week and he is only away on two evenings. that means we both get to spend lots of time with the kids…BUT it also means that we don’t have extra money to spend on stuff/trips/fun things. i’ve really been trying to be more creative with the kids: scavenger hunt around the house, dress up, “cleaning time”, “making dinner” time. i try to involve them in lots of stuff. they’re at the age where it is still a treat and super fun to help and watch me empty the dishwasher. but then the next day my heart gets broken b/c i start to wonder if i will ever have enough money to help with college or a wedding.

    and then i stress out that i brought these two kids into the world for ME and it was totally selfish.

    and don’t get me started on mortgage payment!! we can’t refinance b/c our house appraises for 100k less than we spent on it. so we’re stuck with this huge payment that shouldn’t be so high.

    and then i go to work at the homeless shelter and i’m again reminded of all that i DO have.


  11. Ellen K. says:

    One more thing — the book “The Two-Income Trap” by Harvard law chair Elizabeth Warren is very validating for SAHMs. It’s not one of those conservative moral diatribe books, but instead presents economic data (and completely predicted the housing bubble and current recession, with some kick-ass tirades here and there). It made me feel a lot better about the risks of our situation.

  12. Jen says:

    I totally get all of this. Discipline. Yeah, Time outs are a joke in our house and do ZIP to deter the activity. One boy has a hitting thing we have had some recent success with in re-directing, whenever he tries to hit, we hug instead, now he comes up and asks for hugs rather than just slapping me. It’s been MONTHS tho.
    You might want to see your doc about depression. I didn’t think I had PPD but turns out I did. It felt overwhelmed and jealous and all these other not-depressed-sounding emotions which made me a mess. I am glad my doctor was more aware than I was and proscribed a SSRI and now I am totally functional and less blah.
    I just quit to stay home in July and money is tight, I too want a lot of things we just can’t afford, and it’s frustrating, but the alternative is make about $200 a month more than my childcare costs and be completely stressed about being away from home all those hours working and commuting to only make about $200 more than my childcare costs…
    We are far away from family too which is tough. But there is not much we can do. Even if my hubby could get another job somewhere else, we have a house in an area where the economy has killed housing values and since we ONLY put down 30% CASH we are stuck here until forever since we are underwater. Which sucks.
    And yeah, we totally vaccinate. I have traveled all over the world to all sorts of nasty places where people have the diseases we vaccinate for and not for my kiddos, thankyouverymuchly. Dude. Polio. Get a freaking shot and don’t get polio. The end.
    Hang in there, this mommy business is hard, but it’s so awesome. Yeah the hours are lousy and the pay sucks, but this morning my boys interrupted getting dressed SEVEN times for hugs. And that is the best thing ever.

  13. Angela says:

    Happy to see a post from you!
    The discipline thing must be getting hard. I can barely utter the word “no” to my boys without major mama guilt, I don’t know what I’m gonna do when I actually HAVE to discipline. Which is crazy, because I am a behavior analyst, and it’s pretty much what I do with my life. Somethings different when it’s your own though.

    The back pain must suck. I can’t imagine life with twin toddlers and back pain. Is there any hope that a tens unit could help you? My mom is in chronic pain because of a torn Achilles tendon. She’s taken so many pain meds that they don’t really work for her anymore, but the tens unit she recently got has actually helped her pain level. I really hope that your back gets better soon.

    Jealousy. Yes. I’m jealous of people that get to stay home with their babies. I’m jealous of people who have one baby (not because I’d want one, but because I sometimes wish I could be there for each boy individually the amount I would be able to if they were singletons) I’m jealous of people who have healthy pregnancies and get to take their babies home from the hospital on the day they leave. I’m jealous of people who can afford to go to the grocery store, and buy enough food for an entire week without worrying that the power will be shut off because they won’t have enough money left to pay the electric bill. But mostly I’m jealous of the time I spend being jealous and unhappy, because it is time I could be better spending with my boys.

    Vaccinations. Looks like I might be the unpopular one here. I do plan to get my boys all of their shots, but not on the recommended schedule. We haven’t had dtap because of a family history of adverse reactions (my sister’s leg swole to two times it’s normal size, seizures etc). I don’t plan to get them MMR until they are 3 or 4. They won’t get Polio or Hep B until school age. And I don’t plan to get them vaccinated for the flu or chicken pox, ever. We’re home bodies and I plan to home school them, so I don’t really feel I am putting the public at risk. I work with children with autsim, and while I do not believe that vaccinations cause autism, I do believe that more research should be done on the safety of vaccines and the current schedule. I know someone who receives 15,000$ per month from the US government because of injury caused by vaccination. It’s enough to make me cautious and want to wait until their bodies are older and bigger before getting them vaccinated for something they will likely never come in contact with in the first place. I think that parents have a right to make their own children their first priority, whether that means not vaccinating, or not socializing with those who do not vaccinate- you have to do what you feel is right for your own child.

  14. Brandy says:

    Good to see a post from you!

    No ideas on discipline since I only have to discipline my dog.

    I’m jealous of all those fertiles out there who don’t have to pay any money to get knocked up. I remember last year feeling insanely jealous of one of Eric’s co-workers. Their tax refund was TWICE what ours was. They make about the same as us. Only difference – they have kids. Yeah, I know that kids cost money, hence the tax refund, but we’ve spent $25,000 for the CHANCE to have children and have nothing. And a shitty tax return.

    I can so relate to the grandparents wanting a granddaughter. Eric has one brother. They have one son and another son on the way. My MIL is not subtle about the fact that she wants a granddaughter. I think she’s holding out hope that we’ll eventually have a girl, but I just don’t see that happening at this point.

    As far as vaccinations, I have mixed feelings. I have a lot of friends who don’t vaccinate, but they also homeschool their children. I think it’s their right now to. That being said, if we have kids, we’ll probably vaccinate, but on a delayed schedule and some we might not do at all. I know that vaccines don’t cause autism, but I’m still wary. I need to do more research. I know that I probably wouldn’t give my child the chicken pox vaccine unless they got to be a teenager and still hadn’t had it naturally. I would rather them get natural immunity for that one.

  15. Sue says:

    Sorry things are so tough, but there are lots of advantages to being a SAHM. I know it’s not easy – definitely much harder than having a job! Try looking at some different gyms. Maybe there’s one that’s less expensive with free child care. It could save your sanity.

  16. kh99 says:

    I’m so sorry that you are having a rough time lately. Are there less expensive gyms? I volunteered at the Y in high school and was amazed at how expensive the family plans were then. Are there facilities tied to H’s place of work that could be an option? I’m jealous about second children right now. I know that we are so very fortunate financially in many ways, but we’re not at the point where we can even talk about a sibling for at least a year, and it’s hard to think of all the $$$ we’re going to have to spend for a surro, lawyer fees, etc.

    I think my mother wishes my son were a girl too, and it breaks my heart and infuriates me when I think about it. Of course maybe she’d be just as lousy a grandparent to a girl as well :-/

    We’re pro-vax here, and I also second Ellen K’s recommendation on The Two-Income Trap if you haven’t read it.

  17. SassyMama says:

    Gah. Sorry you are having a rough go of it:(.
    First of all, I also used “1-2-3 Magic” around the time my kids turned 2. I think it made a big difference. I stuck religiously to the time-out routine, and now we rarely need time-outs (my kids just turned 3). There were times that it was really rough to get them to stay (read: I had to put them back over and over and over and over ad nauseum….), but it finally worked like a charm.

    With triplets, as with twins, there are just some things you have to let slide. Anything that isn’t dangerous, doesn’t hurt someone else, doesn’t make an atrocious mess or that I don’t find excruciatingly annoying is allowed to continue in the house. I just simply don’t have the capacity to micromanage the three of them… so I finally learned not to try:). I chose a few things that I enforce (no climbing on tables– ours are over stone floors, no jumping on the couches–they go flying off onto the stone floors, no hitting or pushing, etc) and just concentrate on those. It has improved my sanity:). You will find a way that eventually works for you. In the mean time, it can be frustrating.

    I respect your decision to be home with the kids even though it may mean you have less money to pay down the student loans or do fun things. But I can also imagine how hard it must be to have the kids day after day without a real break. Especially when you are in pain (it has been very hard for me to be patient with the kids when I have been in pain–my shoulder– the last few months). So although I don’t have a good solution for you, I just hope you that you find a way to give yourself a break because you most definitely deserve it.

    I agree with the family thing. We live only 10 minutes from my in-laws, but they are too busy with their “lives” to see the kids much or help me. We are lucky if they come to see the kids more than every 3-4 months. My parents live several hundred miles away. But if we lived near them (not financially a good choice), they would be involved with the kids constantly. Frustrating!!!

    Anyway, after reading your blog for so long, I know that you are a great mother. Sending you support from a fellow mother of multiples:)

  18. SassyMama says:

    As for a little unsolicited advice for the future:)….

    Your boys will start really fighting over toys. It will get bad. For us, the best thing has been to set a timer for turns. That way the kids know that they will get a turn and are able to wait more patiently. Also, if the kids really start fighting over a toy and won’t settle down, I put the toy in “time-out” for a while and it has worked like a charm:).

  19. pj says:


    Do you love it when people respond to your post like… a month later?

    Our big discipline problem is that Lauren is hitting. She will LOOK directly at us, and the whack her sister on the head. Or she will whack me in the face when I take her to the changing table (which seems to be a huge place of battle for her at the moment, she detests being changed!).

    I have used the 123 Magic before, and it is good. But what I can tell you about discipline is that you do what WORKS for you and for your children. Which PROBABLY will be a combination of ideas that you’ve picked up over time from various sources. One program might not work all the time for you, and what works for some might not work for others. At school, with my 7 year olds, the key is just to be really consistent with what you do, and to do whatever you can to AVOID the problems in the first place.

    So what we’ve been doing with the hitting is consistantly saying no, and then removing her from the proximity of her sister when possible. And yes, discipline IS hard! I am pretty laid back, so discipline is not something that came/comes easily for me.

    Money. I my hell. Even with us both working full time, $1100 a month for daycare + diapers + college loans + mortgage + car payments + (oh my hell) groceries…. = stress

    My back aches just from carrying the girls. And it’s so hard to avoid twisting or carrying them on your hip – which you aren’t supposed to do.

    I like your view on vaccinations. Very few people at my school decide not to have their kids vaccinated. I don’t think it’s very common.

    Hope ya’ll had a good Turkey Day and H is enjoying his break. 🙂

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