by Borderstan.com July 31, 2012 at 4:00 pm 0

From Leslie Jones. She writes about urban motherhood every two weeks in her column TWB Poo (There Will Be Poo). You can email her at leslie[AT]borderstan.com.

"Borderstan Stay at Home Moms"

Baby dinning as moms and dads clean. (Leslie Jones)

I’m having trouble writing this week. I’m tired and Baby is teething. And the cat threw up three times last night and woke Baby up each time. I was supposed to take the cat to the vet today, but I was exhausted and getting Baby’s passport this morning messed up her morning nap — and pretty much just ruined the rest of the day.

I’ve had people tell me that being a stay-at home-mom “is the hardest job in the world.” I wouldn’t go that far. I imagine that digging ditches in sweltering heat all day is hard, being a pediatric oncologist has got to be pretty darn difficult and working overtime to meet unrealistic deadlines for a difficult boss is not fun, either.

I don’t feel the need to compete for the title. Maybe some moms (and dads) find being a stay-at-home parent easy and not like a “job” at all (though I have yet to actually meet one), but I feel like I work my butt off most days, and nights for that matter.

There have been several articles in the news in recent months that have gotten people talking, and taking sides, about motherhood and work. Is being a stay at home mom, or SAHM, a job?  And let’s not forget about those SAHDs out there.

How Do You Define a Job?

So define “job.” According to Dictionary.com a job is:

  1. a piece of work, especially a specific task done as part of the routine of one’s occupation or for an agreed price
  2. anything a person is expected or obliged to do; duty; responsibility.

Raising my daughter is a piece of work, it is a specific task that I do as part of my routine and occupation. It is something I am expected and obliged to do. It is my duty and responsibility. I don’t get a paycheck, but my family saves the cost of having to pay a babysitter or for daycare, which in the District of Columbia can run about $22,000 a year.

I’m glad to have the option to stay home with Baby (some days more than others), but it’s not just the financially well off who decide to have a parent stay at home with the kids. It can cost more for childcare than one parent would make going back to work, especially if you have more than one child. And again, it isn’t always the moms; there are such things as stay at home dads.

I resent the insinuation that I sit at home and relax all day. Do I sometimes what tv during the day? Sure. Do people sometimes make personal phone calls or watch youtube at the office? But most jobs allow employees to pee pretty much whenever they need to, and they don’t have to keep someone from dumpster diving in the bathroom trashcan while they do it.

It doesn’t sound like a big deal, but try doing it EVERY TIME YOU HAVE TO PEE for a year and get back to me. It takes its toll, and sometimes that toll is the Today Show.

According to my very scientific calculations, it takes approximately three times as long to do the dishes while caring for an infant, five times as long to do the laundry, and eight times as long to take a shower. But I don’t have eight times longer, so I often just skip the whole thing. Kidding! I mean, I totally shower every day. Absolutely.

The Laughing Stork blog recently posted a list of the ten things never to say to a stay at home mom. It makes me giggle; here are some highlights:

  • Oh, so you don’t work?
  • Since you have extra time on your hands, could you whip up a few dozen brownies for the bake sale tomorrow?
  • Weird. I assumed your house would be super clean.

I don’t want or need anyone to pat me on the back for staying at home with my daughter. I just don’t want to be held responsible for the current backlash against women and women’s rights, or to be called anti-feminist, as one recent article basically did. I know I’m fortunate to have the choice to stay at home with my daughter. I also respect parents who work outside the home, and I know they have a tough job too. The only thing I ask is that society not stereotype me.

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by Borderstan.com April 20, 2012 at 10:00 am 1,958 1 Comment

"Borderstan""Baby Hand"

Even if the baby is the cutest one you’ve ever seen, please ask before touching. (Luis Gomez Photos)

From Leslie Jones. She writes about urban motherhood every two weeks in her column TWB Poo (There Will Be Poo). You can email her at leslie[AT]borderstan.com.

Earlier this week a barista at the mall insisted on trying to guess my daughter’s age.

“Three months, right?”

I forced a smile, “She’ll be seven months next week.”

“Oh, wow, she’s a small one, isn’t she?”

“Um, no actually. She’s in the 90% percentile for height.”

“Oh.”

Did this person think that was some sort of compliment?  Or that I enjoy having strangers tell me that my daughter looks somehow stunted for her age?  Probably not. He was just being nice, showing interest in my baby, but he didn’t stop to think about the implications. I doubt he would have thought it was such a good idea to guess my age. And what if she was small for her age?  Does he think that would be something a parent would want pointed out?

And while I’m on the subject . . .

Baby screams when I put a hat on her. This winter I, of course, made her wear one on cold days. But when the weather is passably warm, well I choose my battles. On a recent cool day, I gave in to the disapproving stares and forced one on her, but after a few minutes of screaming I took it off. Her hair was slick with sweat. So no, she doesn’t need a hat.

No, you may not touch my baby. I know she’s crazy cute, but quite frankly I don’t know where your hands have been, stranger on the street. And I do mean even just a quick little squeeze of her hand. Most people are pretty good about resisting the urge. Few people are as clueless as the woman in the Encinitas Starbucks who stuck her fingers IN MY DAUGHTER’S MOUTH on a recent family vacation.

Squeezing a socked foot is, for me, acceptable, but you should always ask first. I know, I know, I’m hogging all the baby snuggles, but humor me. I don’t consider myself to be a germophobe*. I don’t always wash the binky that fell on the floor and I think that exposure to a reasonable amount of germs is good for the immune system. But let me make that choice.

“That baby needs more hair.” Yeah, I’ll get right on that.

This brings me to a truth I have discovered, dating back to when I became noticeably pregnant. The only thing you should ever say to a pregnant woman or parent is “You/your child are/is beautiful.” That’s it, ever, trust me. You might be surprised to discover how many women I know who were asked if they were having twins when they weren’t or if they were due “any day now” when their estimated due dates were months away.

It’s sounds like such a cliché; no one could possibly be that insensitive, but oh, they are. Most people wouldn’t make such an obvious faux pas, but think before you speak. You just don’t know what someone is going through or where he or she is coming from. The expectant mom you just told she “hardly even looks pregnant” might have just found out that her baby is measuring a few weeks behind and she’s freaking out. I could go on, but you get the picture.

And if you just feel like you can’t in all honesty say “that’s a beautiful baby” and you still feel the overwhelming urge to make some sort of comment (which, I promise, you don’t really need to do), take the advice of my family friend. Say, “My goodness, what a baby!”

Most people say and do the appropriate things, but not all. Fight the urge to give parenting advice or critique appearance. Don’t tell a pregnant woman ordering a latte that she shouldn’t have caffeine. (BTW, according to the March of Dimes, 200 mg a day is fine and that single shot latte has 75 mg, that can of diet coke 38 mg.)

Like my favorite blogger, Queen of the Couch, has said, if you see a pregnant woman doing lines of coke off the bar, please intervene. Otherwise stick with “You look beautiful.” Everyone’s happy, and no one gets punched in the face.

* I know this isn’t the technical term, but it sounds better than mysophobe.

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by Borderstan.com April 4, 2012 at 3:00 pm 1,004 0

"Borderstan" "JCC Community Center", urban, kids

The DC Jewish Community Center is at 16th and Q Streets NW. (Leslie Jones)

Borderstan welcomes Leslie Jones to our team of contributors. A resident of the Dupont-Logan area, she and her husband decided to stay in the neighborhood, in a 2-bedroom apartment, after the arrival of their daughter. No outer neighborhoods or suburbs, yet, for Leslie. She will be writing about urban motherhood every two weeks for Borderstan in her column TWB Poo (There Will Be Poo). You can email her at leslie[AT]borderstan.com

The DC Jewish Community Center (DCJCC) Parenting Center has been a wonderful resource for me as a new parent. I’ve taken a CPR/First Aid workshop, a nine week Tuesday afternoon baby music class, and an eight week Wednesday afternoon baby swim class. There were also weekend options for both classes.

In the music class there were about a dozen moms and babies. Baby loved watching the other babies, and the song “Baby Beluga” has become a household favorite. The class is geared towards parents, the babies are still a little young to really interact, but scarves and rattles were provided for a little entertainment. Don’t stress if it’s been awhile since you’ve dusted off the old vocal cords.

The swim class was a little bigger. There were about two dozen moms, and this time we even had a dad!  The first few weeks Baby was a bit concerned about what was happening, but by the end she was kicking around and I have high hopes for the 2028 Olympics.

The CPR class was geared towards babies and children. It’s disturbing to contemplate ever needing to use these skills, and it may scare the living daylights out of you to think about, but it’s better to know this kind of stuff than not.

Sunday Story Time is a free program running from 10 to 11 am through May 20. Children ages 0 to 4 can play in the preschool space from 10 to 10:30 am, and then enjoy story time from 10:30 to 11 am.

The DCJCC Parenting Center offers classes year-round for infants, toddlers, and preschoolers in everything from gymnastics and yoga to art and Spanish. They have classes Sunday-Friday and the average cost is $162 to $182 for eight weeks for non-members and $106 to $119 for members. Check out their schedule of classes and workshops online.

You should contact Miriam Szubin, Parenting Center coordinator, at [email protected] with any questions.

As the JCC says about its programs for families and children:

“Our Parenting Center provides families with support and guidance as they raise their young children, from newborns through age 4. We offers networking opportunities, resources, and programming with a wide variety of classes to meet the developmental and social needs of both young children and parents.

“You don’t have to be Jewish to get Centered in the City!… While the Center is designed primarily to fulfill the needs of the Jewish community and to preserve and enhance the culture, traditions, ethics, and philosophy of Judaism, membership and participation in activities of the Center are open to all residents of the metropolitan area.” (JCC)

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by Borderstan.com March 15, 2012 at 12:00 pm 0

Borderstan welcomes Leslie Jones to our team of contributors. A resident of the Dupont-Logan area, she and her husband decided to stay in the neighborhood, in a 2-bedroom apartment, after the arrival of their daughter. No outer neighborhoods or suburbs, yet, for Leslie. She will be writing every two weeks for Borderstan. Look for her columns: TWB Poo (There Will Be Poo) about urban motherhood.

From Leslie Jones. You can email her at leslie[AT]borderstan.com

Allow Me to Introduce Myself

Borderstan is, in my experience, a great place to be a new mom. At some point during my pregnancy I freaked out and decided that we had to have a house with a big yard before the baby arrived, which would have meant moving out of our neighborhood. I spent hours looking at houses online and even dragged my belly to several open houses. For a number of reasons, buying a house at that time wasn’t a realistic option.

"Borderstan" "Leslie Jones"

Leslie Jones: “This was me in Peru, before becoming a mom.” (Leslie Jones)

I came to accept that fact and now I’m so glad that we stayed where we are. We’ve lived in Borderstan for five years and I love everything about this community.

I have grocery stores, dry-cleaners, wine shops, restaurants, bars, clothing stores, gyms, bookstores, art galleries, and music venues, all within a few blocks of my home. My friends who live in other areas of DC have a difficult time getting me out of my neighborhood. Why would I leave when I have everything I need here?

Now that I have a six-month old daughter, having all of those things so close by has become even more important to me. I take Baby on long walks, and I feel like I’m still a part of this city and that I’m not so far removed from my old life. I am, for now, staying home with my daughter.

It is an amazing and wonderful experience, but it can be isolating. The fact that I can meet friends for lunch or take my daughter to an art gallery without having to load up the car, drive somewhere, and find parking is pretty awesome.

I’m still exploring Borderstan and learning about all of the opportunities offered here for parents and their children. I’m looking forward to sharing my experiences with you.

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