Wednesday, March 25, 2015

I KNOW Daycare is Expensive

I do not wish to perpetuate the Mommy Wars that are said to passively-aggressively exist between work-outside-the-home moms and stay-at-home moms.  In my experience, moms usually respect each other's choices and unique situations.  I believe in women encouraging each other-- not tearing each other down.

BUT... I want to air out a bit of dirty laundry instead of letting it fester and multiply in my brain.

I have noticed a frustrating trend, that is [hopefully unwittingly] insulting towards stay-at-home mothers like me.  Several times, women who work outside the home have felt the need to inform me how expensive daycare is.  They might even add the cringe-worthy "you are SO lucky not to have pay for it."

I have made imprints in my tongue, biting it so hard, so as not to ruffle feathers or appear ungrateful (ingratitude being the worst offense a SAHM can make) and reply with a snarky, "Guess what?  Staying at home and giving up an entire salary is SO expensive too!"




Our family just "pays for it" in a completely different way.  How is this crucial fact so often ignored?  Sure, there is probably 2% of the population where a family lives in a life of luxury regardless of the job situation, but for the majority of us, having kids affects our lifestyle in extreme ways.

So here it is, a clarification I would like to offer:  Having children is expensive either way.  If you are fortunate enough to be a two-parent household, then you can either go down to one income and tighten your belts across the board, OR you can both work, pay daycare to watch your kids, and again, tighten your belts across the freaking board.

What also nags at me is what might be the underlying belief here:  Do the mothers who inform me that daycare is expensive think I'm stupid?  Truly, is that part of it?  The whole "she must not be very smart if she is willing to stay home and change diapers all day."  They feel it is their duty to patiently explain to me the costs of raising children in the modern world?  Me no understand.

Most mothers do their research.  With actual brains.  Like thousands of other SAHM's, when I was pregnant, I contemplated staying in my career versus staying home with children.  We ran the numbers.  We discussed it often.  We chose the option that made the most sense for our family.  See, we have brains, and we even use them!

Have you been the lecturer informing a simple homemaker all about the cost of daycare?  Then I would like to remind you of this:  your friend who stays home with the kids?  She's not dumb.  She knows childcare is expensive.  Priceless even.  She does it every single day.  

~Julia @ Frantic Mama

P.S.  My blog address has changed from www.FranticMama.blogspot.com to www.FranticMama.com!

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Coming April 2015:  The new anthology I'm in, Only Trollops Shave Above the Knee


Wednesday, March 18, 2015

The Sacrifices We Make

I recently wrote a post about working towards our dreams.  I really believe doing so goes hand-in-hand with what all of us are hoping to achieve in life-- happiness.  Isn't happiness what we humans are always clamoring for?

The most content people I know seem to be those who are working to make something happen for themselves (certainly not the ones complaining that they didn't, or can't, do this or that).

I think it is also important to note that working on our dreams and ambitions doesn't just happen.  As I've mentioned before in reference to motherhood, nothing awesome is easy.  It usually isn't easy to go after something you want.

Whether we choose to acknowledge it or not, we all have challenges and setbacks, though certainly some circumstances are harder than others.  I try to remember that everyone's lives are more complicated than they appear.

In a spirit of encouragement that you can do it too, I am sharing parts of my life that I have sacrificed in order to work on two of my current [outside-of-motherhood] pursuits:  writing and horseback riding.






1.  Social life.  I lean introverted, so not filling my social calendar to the brim isn't my biggest sacrifice, but still...  Mothers with young children have so little free time that we have to make smart choices about how we spend it.  I could join a book club or a yoga class; I could meet up with friends for coffee or dinner on a Tuesday night.  Those are great choices, but 90% of the time, I use my precious free time to work on my writing career, go to my weekly horseback riding lesson, or volunteer at a therapeutic riding center (I just started!).  I actively prioritize my life around my main goals.


2.  Risking Rejection.  If you have been reading my work for a while, you know I fully admit to that not-so-spectacular trait of wanting everyone to like me.  Getting rejected as a writer is hard.  I risk receiving a punch in the gut every single time I submit something to be published.  The rejection hurts every time no matter how many publications I have under my belt.


3.  Looking Foolish.  I knew I could look like a flaky "bored housewife" getting on a horse again in my 30's.  At my worst, I pictured the trainers laughing at my 30-something self.  Again, I had to put that insecurity aside to take the plunge back into riding as an adult.  Risking looking foolish trumped the regret I pictured feeling years down the line if I didn't pursue it.


4.  Evening downtime.  Does the best part of your day ever come after you get the kids in bed?  For those of us who care for the needs of our little ones day after day, there is nothing like alone time at the end of the day.  However, similar to #1, if I am going to get some work in every day, after the kids go to bed is a time for me to do so, even if I'm feeling lazy or tired or my house is a mess and I should clean it (I have the messiest house of all my friends).  Disclaimer: I love spending time with my husband, and fortunately, like most men, he is perfectly happy to sit in companionable silence, perhaps with the Big Bang Theory on, while we sip on beer and type away on our laptops.


5.  Financial choices.  Most dreams require funds.  Writing, fortunately, is basically free for me.  Once I have a good laptop and an internet connection, I can write.  From a broader perspective, however, we are a one-income household.  While it is a "luxury" for me to be able to type away if my daughter is napping and my son is at preschool, one income also leaves us with fewer choices on how to spend our money.  So, have I given up a full-time career to stay home?  Yes.  But I use what little time I have left (see 1 and 4) to work quickly and efficiently on what I love (without a guaranteed lunch break).  Horseback riding isn't the cheapest hobby, but I don't belong to a gym.  I don't go to Yoga or any other fitness classes.   We don't have a housekeeper. Again, so much of it is about choices.  We save money for the things we want to commit to.

Bottom Line:  We have made choices that work for our goals, and you can too.

There are no magic shortcuts.  Sure, there are some lucky breaks, but the familiar catchphrases featured on any generic inspiration poster ring true to me when talking about goals and dreams-- they take dedication, courage, work, and time.

What sacrifices have you made to pursue your ambitions outside of motherhood?

P.S.  Are you a writer?  How do you make time to write?  Feel free to write a post about the sacrifices you have made to write, and Comment on this post with your website to share it with my readers and me.  We can make it into a link-up of sorts!


~Julia @ Frantic Mama

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Need more laughs?  Check out the humor anthology I contributed to, Clash of the Couples!



Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Day in the Life of a 4 Year Old


Okay, it's my turn to take over the blog.  I'm J, Frantic Mama's 4 year old.  Actually, I'm 4 and a half.  Actually, wait, now I'm 4 and 3 quarters.  My birthday is in May.  I'll be 5, and we are going to go to Dairy Queen.



This is me in the picture.  I'm an expert at basketball.



I'm the one that starts things up every morning.  I open my eyes, look at my clock, and sit up as fast as I can, and get my tank top and shorts on as fast as I can [no matter how cold it is] (and I do almost everything as fast as I can).  Then I slam my door and run into my parents room and tell them I'm up!  Sometimes I startle them and we all laugh.



After that, they usually hand me their phones so they can take showers and get dressed while I watch YouTube videos of people opening up toys.  Or I go downstairs and help get all the art stuff out that I want.

Like this:







Then my dad and I pick out what I'll eat for breakfast.  It's usually a donut, fruit, and some water.  I tell everyone "I'm obsessed with fruit!"  I have to have it all every single meal or I won't eat.  I also love water.  I do NOT like pizza.  Or mac n' cheese.  Or peanut butter and jelly.  My mom stays upstairs a little while, whispering something about "making herself presentable to the world" and getting my little sister, E, from her bed.



By the time my mommy makes it downstairs with E, I have my dad either playing with cars or dribbling basketballs in the kitchen with me.  He loves playing with me so I always make get him playing.  I have to know what time it is at all times, so I know it's usually about 7:00 at this point.  My dad tries to watch the news while we play.  I also have to know what the temperature is going to be, so I ask him every 3 or 4 minutes.


This is an extra long car ramp I made by attaching lots of Hot Wheels tracks.



Oh, and look at my owee!  My fingernail came off.  It isn't there at all anymore.  I got my finger squeezed in a door.  One of my grandpas is missing the tips of some of his fingers.  They got cut off in a farm accident when he was a boy.


Okay, anyway, after daddy leaves for work, Mama rushes to turn on a t.v. show for my sister and me so that she can "take care of things around the house."  We usually put on a Paw Patrol episode or a Little Einsteins while she is in the kitchen hunched over her phone swilling coffee and eating our leftover donuts.




If it's a preschool day and she's making me go, she makes me eat a Nutrigrain bar so I "don't get fussy at school," and then she's throwing coats at us, giving my sister a lollipop [in the morning!] so that she will get in the car without throwing a fit.  That means I get one too.




Later that day, when my sister naps because babies nap and I don't, my mommy and I do all kinds of things just the two of us, like read stories, watch videos, send cars, and color.  Sometimes I will snuggle up next to her but I tell her not to talk about it.  She is not allowed to say anything if I cuddle but I know she likes it.


After my sister gets up from her nap, we all play and wait for my dad to get home from work.  My mom starts to look at the clock a lot after 5 o'clock.  As soon as he walks in, I rush over to my special chair and yell "a nice hamburger!" and we all laugh.  They have NO IDEA why I say it, and now I forget too.


We all go upstairs while my dad changes into "fresh clothes."  Well, wait, that's when my mom usually hides.  Like hide-and-seek maybe?  But we don't find her for at least 20 minutes.  She's a really good hider.


By the time I'm supposed to get ready for bed, I'm the one who gets everything going.  I have to run upstairs, get the special toothpaste and no one can come in the bathroom while I'm in there.  They make me pee before bed too.  It's ridikooliss.  Then my mom and dad want to read a bunch of stories to me.  They look tired, kind of slow and sleepy, but I keep asking for more books because I know they like it so much.  If I'm still thirsty, they also get up to get me water a few times.

And then it all starts again the next day!

What's your favorite thing to do?  Mine is play with cars or play basketball.  

P.S.  Here's my sister's day in case you want to read that too.

~J @ Frantic Mama

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Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Cover Reveal for New Anthology


I'm thrilled to be a part of this anthology from Blue Lobster Book Company, due out in April or May 2015, just in time for Mother's Day.  Which is apt because the theme is what we learned from our mothers.  

Some great writers contributed to this, and I am proud to be included in the pages with them.  



I hope you will check it out as soon as it's available on Amazon, Apple, & more.  Updates here and on Facebook soon.

Thank you for all of your support, Frantic Mama readers!

~Julia @ Frantic Mama


P.S.  I found the below image on Pinterest and love it.  I had to share it with you.  Whatever it is that makes you you, "own it!"


Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Daily Fails and Triumphs

It's days like these where I feel like I have lost the game.  There is no actual winner, of course, but as far as metaphors go, motherhood can surely be compared to a match, a game, a contest.

The days where I am losing the race are those when the television is on too much, too many foods from cardboard boxes with artificial ingredients are served, too little outdoor physical play occurs.  They are the days when we see few if any other people or even manage to leave the lazy comfort of our home.  I haven't have a moment to write or create anything.  And when I haven't had 2 minutes without a small child at my heels.  The days where one or both of my children seem to be switched to constant whine mode.

The days where I'm winning the race-- the one I fight constantly with only myself-- are great.  Really.  They are the ones where we laugh, we dance, we eat wholesome meals.  They are the ones where I happily greet my husband with a smile and kiss when he walks in the door in the evening.  The ones where we have had an adventure or even simply successfully tackled another day of preschool drop offs and pick ups and connected with friends.  When I have had a chance to tap away on my computer in peace.  The ones where, after the kids are tucked in bed, I feel a sense of satisfaction and pride.


(I love the days where I can appreciate something like this.)


I suppose it's the second category of days that gets me through the first, much heavier, more emotionally taxing first.  The days where I am losing, sinking in a huge pile of plastic toy quicksand, can come out of nowhere.  They strip me of my joy and creativity, my usual enthusiasm for all the little things.  At their worst, they are the days I wonder if I am even cut out for all of this at all.  Not that there is any going back.

No one is keeping score.  Not that I know of, at least.  There will be no grade at the end of the term, though there is no real conclusion.  But it is nearly impossible for me not to compete against my own picture of how a day should look, how I should be able to care for my children and for myself, and what I should accomplish.  It is impossible for me to obliterate my belief that to give my family the very best I can every single day is the only way to succeed at this lifelong marathon.


~Julia @ Frantic Mama




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