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I’ve seen videos on this. I’ve read articles on this.  I’ve seen facebook rants on this.

What’s “this”? It’s the concept that America should be kinder to “working moms” and give them more maternity leave.  Paid maternity leave.  That other countries get up to a year off and gosh darn it, America is greater than those countries, so why shouldn’t our women have a year off too? And probably more!

Answer: Because we’re capitalists.  And when someone who is in the workforce, producing things (whether that’s widgets or services or documents) and they stop producing things, they stop earning money for the company that has employed them.

Women who are self-employed understand this.  Say that they own a house cleaning company.  If they take off of work for a year, they know that they won’t get paid.  Houses aren’t being cleaned (by them anyway).  Say that they are a piano teacher.  If they stopped teaching lessons for a year, they know that they won’t get paid.  It’s the cost of taking a year off work.

Why should women who aren’t self-employed get a long paid maternity leave?  Take me for example.  I’m on week 5 of a 6-week maternity leave.  I am being paid – at 66 2/3%.  Why?  Because someone has said “Jayme is disabled because she had a baby”, so I’m really collecting Short Term Disability. But after that?  My job is protected for another 6 weeks, but I won’t be paid.

Who should pay me if America did have a “year off for working moms”?  My company?  Why?  I’m not doing anything for them.  The government?  Why?  I’m not doing anything for them either.  And if it were the government who was paying me, then it’s really me who is paying me.  (Since I pay taxes).  And since you pay taxes, it’d be you paying me for having a baby.  And since I’ve been popping out babies quite a bit lately, should you really pay me to take a year off every 18 months?  I’d be: having a baby, get a year off, work 6 months, have a baby, get a year off, work 6 months, have a baby, get a year off.

Women can’t have it all. We can’t say “Pay me the same as a man!” and say “Give me preferential treatment when hiring someone” and say “Pay me to be off work for a year each time I have a baby!” and say “Let me have flexible scheduling that you don’t give to men” and say “Make me a partner in your law firm at the same time as a man who worked more hours than I did” and say “I want to be absolutely indispensable to this company” and say “Be okay with me taking lots of time off” all at the same time.

I’m incredibly grateful for the paid leave that I do have.  I know that I’m not really disabled right now.  (Heck, I just did a lot of physical work getting a house ready to sell!).  I know that the people who really suffer when I’m on maternity leave are my co-workers (someone has to do the work!).

To be clear:

  • Women absolutely should be paid the same as men, when they’re doing the same work – at the same rate.
  • When I started with my company 5 1/2 years ago, I know that they could have chosen to hire a man who wouldn’t have asked for 6 weeks off every 18 months.  Is it fair?  I dunno.  It’s reality.
  • Luckily, I got skills and my company loves me, despite taking lots of time off.
  • I have made choices in my career (namely to work only part-time) that I know will put me at a disadvantage over someone who hasn’t made those same choices (be they man or woman).  I know I won’t get promoted as quickly.  I know that I won’t have as many opportunities for bigger projects or cool travel assignments.  I get it – my choices matter.
  • No one owes me a paid maternity leave.  It’s a benefit, not a right.  And certainly not a benefit that should be provided by Joe Public.

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Transition from 2 to 3

I haven’t blogged much and normally, I’m okay with that.  But, man, I got thoughts that I want to get onto paper!  (Even if it’s an electronic form of paper).  This is a really cool and unique time in our family’s life and I know I’ll forget things if I don’t record them somewhat.  I like being able to physically soak in memories and store them in my little head, but I also know that 5, 10 or even 20 years down the line, they are likely to escape.  Recording them, even briefly, can help them come back to life.

I’ve heard it said that the transition from 2 to 3 kids is the toughest.  You know, you’re no longer on man-to-man defense.  So to speak.  That has not been the case for us.  So far anyway.

Maybe it has more to do with the ages of your kiddos when you add the 3rd.  Most people don’t have 18 months between each kid, making their oldest older than ours (just turned 3) when they add the 3rd.  In some ways, that would help (older children are more likely to help).  In other ways, that wouldn’t help (they still need attention and might more easily resent a new sibling.)

Maybe it has more to do with the personalities of the children when you add the 3rd.  We’re not quite 3 weeks into this yet, but so far, Sammy is the “easiest” baby that I’ve had.  No jaundice. He eats well and sleeps well.  (Especially in the middle of the night — he’s a fast eater and fast return-to-sleeper!)  He’s content to be held.  He’s content to lay on his mat.

Maybe it has more to do with the “life” stuff going on when you add the 3rd.  With our 1st, we were fairly newly married (not quite 2 years) and still adjusting to that, in little ways.  With our 2nd, we had just moved into a house 2 weeks before he was born and was definitely adjusting to that and getting settled in.  With this one, we haven’t just moved.  We’ve been married for almost 5 years now.  We’ve generally figured out our roles in life.

I’m not sure there’s a definitive list of reasons why this has been so easy (so far).  But…

I thought I’d have to play more defense.  For us, I thought Stephen (18 months) would be indifferent to the new baby like Finn mostly was when Stephen was born.  Not the case.  Stephen is enamored with him!  If he hears the baby cry in the monitor, he perks up, says “Baby!” and starts heading for his room.  He runs to “hold” Sammy after we get him up, before I feed him.  Finn (3 years) is interested, but not too much or for too long.  He’s got other things to do.  The other day, Stephen got a hold of one of Sammy’s sleepers from the laundry and carried it around for 30 minutes just saying “Baby, Baby”.  We’ve set up a “safe place” for Sammy on the main stairs and (mostly) the boys respect that and don’t bother him.

Stephen meeting Sammy for the first time in the hospital.  (With my sister Tiffany)

Stephen meeting Sammy for the first time in the hospital. (With my sister Tiffany)

Finn & Sammy meeting in the hospital.

Finn & Sammy meeting in the hospital.

I’m comfortable with this role.  When the role of Mom is new to you, you question everything!  At least, I did.  And when your first is born at under 6 pounds, fights jaundice, you’re trying really unsuccessfully to breastfeed and you’re adjusting to lack of sleep, everything looks worse than it is.  And its easy to dwell on that and think that things will never change.  But now?  I know it that any hard times are just really short phases.

We’re home-centered already.  It might be weird to say that because I do work outside of the home part-time, but in general, we aren’t out and about kind of people.  Partly because that’s our personalities.  Partly because we’re used to structuring our lives around nap times anyway.  The last few months, our babysitter (my sister) has been coming to our house to watch the boys anyway, so we aren’t even used to packing them up to take them to a sitter’s house.  We just stay home.  Adding another baby usually means that people stay home more.  For us, we’re already used to that.  No major lifestyle changes there.

Our oldest 2 “play” really well together.  When I had Stephen, Finn was an only child and used to mom’s attention 100% of the time.  He didn’t really play independently and always wanted to be near (or on top of) me.  Now?  Finn and Stephen actually “play” together!  Play together = being in the same room, playing with similar objects.  If I go to get Sammy up from a nap, Finn doesn’t rush to join me and he certainly doesn’t want to sit on my lap at the same time.  He’s content to know where I’m at because he doesn’t feel alone – Stephen is there with him.  They’re both content to be playing in the toy room as I sit on the toy room couch feeding Sammy.  I didn’t think they’d be playmates this young in life.

I have more thoughts I’m sure, but I wanted to get these out of my head!

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We rarely take the boys out to eat.  Now, one of us might run out and grab fast food and bring it home, but the boys rarely go into restaurants.  It isn’t a money thing; it’s just stressful for me.  You don’t enjoy the food.  It’s hard to enjoy the company you’re with.  (Some might ask how we plan on training the boys to be in restaurants if we never take them there.  But I believe that they will be just fine should they never dine out until they’re 8.  Somehow, they’ll still learn to be still. We have time for them to learn this life lesson.  Later.)

But a couple of weeks ago, my mom invited us out and it was great timing — it was getting late and I didn’t have dinner plans.  The boys had taken long afternoon naps.  It was to a place that I love (Olive Garden.) There would be more adults there than children.  And with a 3rd on the way, I knew it was almost a “now or never” kind of moment. So I gave an enthusiastic yes!

Dinner was great.  The service was slow as the restaurant was really busy, but the boys did really well.  (Of course, my expectations were low.)  As we were getting ready to leave and pay our bill, Finn said “Mama, I got sickies in my tummy.”

So I scooted him over to me and we cuddled while Jeff dealt with the check.  Well, we cuddled as much as you can squeezed into a booth.

Then I stood him up to put his coat on him.  He leaned over into me and puked.  A few times.  He hadn’t eaten too much, but whatever was in there, all came out.  Mostly on me, but some on the bench seat.  Some on the floor.  Some on the table.  Some even flew and hit Jeff’s shoe.

He instantly felt better of course.  At nearly the same time, Stephen started crying cause he was D.O.N.E.  He had had enough and was ready to go.

My mother laughed (kindly, in a “I remember those days” kind of way) and took a picture.  Me, 30-some weeks pregnant in a restaurant booth with a crying 1-year-old and a puking 2-year-old.  It was one of those “I’m just gonna laugh about this because there isn’t much else I can do anyway” kind of moments.

IMG_0540

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Toddler Days

I once read an author who described parenthood as a “necessary shock to one’s selfishness.”  Now, I’m not convinced that she’s 100% right about the necessary part, but lately, I’m convinced about the shock to my selfishness.

It’s the toddler days that are hard for me to bear.  Pregnancy isn’t a big deal to me (so far).  Sure, you have aches and pains and heartburn (oh the heartburn right now!), but the thought of being pregnant again is no big deal.

Labor & delivery isn’t a big deal to me.  (Again, so far).  Births #1 and #2 weren’t traumatic or anything and I walked away with a baby.  How cool is that?

The early days of a newborn don’t scare me.  Been there.  Done that.  Learned a lot.  Will learn some more in a few months.  It’s a really intense and tiring time, but it isn’t so bad.

It’s the “Terrible Twos” or whatever you want to call them.  It’s not so much the “Oh wow — look what I can do.  Bet you never thought of me playing with my poop on the wall” experiences.  I can laugh at those.  It’s the “Mom & Dad, are your boundaries for real?” testing that goes on.  It’s the “I just realized that I really don’t have to do what you say.  Your words do not automatically command my body to action.” moments.  It’s the “I just woke up from my nap and I am ANGRY at everything and everyone for no reason.”

“They” aren’t kidding when they say that some days are hard.  But some days are wonderful too.  And, really, more realistically – the same day is both hard and wonderful.

When my kids are all out of toddler, I can definitely see where I’ll miss some moments that this unique age brings.

  • The wonder when they discover something new.
  • The “talking” that they (well, at least Finn so far) do when they’re falling asleep.
  • The random hugs that they want.
  • The insistence that they give you a “hug and a kiss” even if you’re just running to the grocery store without them.
  • The way they love taking baths and just dumping water from 1 bowl to the other.
  • The way they jump out of the tub after that bad and can’t wait to go see Dada and show him that they’re “nakey”.
  • The way that they don’t care if it is the 4th time today that they’ve heard “The Daddy Mountain”, they want it one more time.

But I know that I am being made a better person because of my kids.  Because they frustrate me.  Because I get so confused about how to train them.  Because I get so caught up in MY way and MY wants and MY needs that I get angry when I don’t have things the way that I want them.  It’s all a part of growing up, I guess – they’re growing up and mine!

 

 

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In this latest edition of “Things I want to Remember”…

Stephen had his 15-month check up at the pediatrician’s office last week.  Went great.  They didn’t write down his numbers for me (I thought they would, so I didn’t bother writing them down), but if memory serves, he’s:

  • 90th percentile for height
  • 20th percentile for weight (which surprised me a little bit cause that boy can eat!  And he’s got a little baby belly on him.  But I guess that’s why it’s called a baby belly — babies have them!)
  • 70th percentile for head size

None of those are radically off from where he’s been in the past, so he’s growing!  He isn’t saying as many words as they’d like.  He pretty much only says Dada and Daddy.  (Yes, no mama yet).  But he does ‘talk’ all the time.  We’ll just keep watching it.

Finn recently took the “child lock” off his bedroom door.  For about a year since Finn’s been tall enough to open bedroom doors himself, we’ve “locked him” in his room at night with one of those child safety locks.  I just had visions of him escaping at night, running down to the kitchen and practicing a knife throwing routine for the circus.  Last night, I was working in my room and he came in twice and handed me the lock. He hadn’t figured out how to open the door with the lock, but rather to take the lock off!  Oh well…we had been thinking that it was time to do so anyway since we’ll eventually want to night potty train him and we’ll want him to be able to leave his room to go to the bathroom. This is as good a time as any before he and Stephen share a room soon.

We’re eating through our freezer!  I don’t think I’ve mentioned it on here, but I blog occasionally for Mom Saves Money and I’ve been posting how my deep freeze has gotten out of control.  So, we’ve been intentionally eating from the freezer this month instead of adding to it.  Lessons learned: we don’t really eat frozen pizza, but we do eat cheese!  This week’s goal is to organize, organize, organize!  Week One, Week Two, Week Three, Week Four.

Home improvements – but not the fun kind.  Our house has a toy room.  I mean, I’m sure it was intended to be a family room, but for us, it’s a toy room.  But man, it gets cold!  We suspect the fireplace is leaking and maybe the door to the back deck, so we had a home inspector come in who has an infrared camera.  Diagnosis: the fireplace is leaking, the door is fine, but your attic doesn’t have adequate insulation and your furnace is old.  Really old.  Like 28 years old.  Like “How are you all not dead yet?” kind of old.  And same with the water heater.  So, last week, we got a new water heater.  And a new furnace.  Next week is more attic insulation.  I need to price out getting the fireplace converted to gas.  It’s wood burning, but it’s been stuffed full of styrofoam from the previous owners and I’m afraid to look in it!

And man, my kids are cute!

January2015

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With a new baby coming, I started to think about Finn & Stephen sharing a bedroom.  At first, I was just going to set up Stephen’s bed in Finn’s room and move him in there when the time was right.  But I realized that the best room for 2 kids was actually Stephen’s room.  Simply because of where the closet was in the room, it gave more walls for more beds & dresser.  So that meant:

  • Making the nursery into a “big boy” room.
  • Moving Finn into that “big boy” room now.
  • Making the current “big boy” room into a “nursery”.
  • Moving Stephen into that “nursery”.
  • Move Stephen into the “big boy” room when Baby #3 comes.
  • Baby #3 sleeps in the “nursery.”

Since I was never really thrilled about the color of the nursery, I wanted to repaint.  I didn’t have to – it was a perfectly fine color; just not one that I wanted anymore.  And it’s easier to repaint it when you’re moving furniture around anyway AND before 2 boys sleep there instead of 1.  So I repainted it white.  Stark white.  Never had a white room before.

BUT…I also did a big stripe near the bottom (but not at the bottom) of the wall.  AND I painted the trim!  I didn’t do the door trim yet — not brave enough for that, but I did the trim next to the floor!  I LOVE the way it looks, so that’s further confirmation that it’s the path that I want to go.

I don’t have any BEFORE pictures, but here’s the AFTER pictures.  (BTW…one of my goals for 2015 is to photograph my house – as it is, in all it’s imperfections.  It’ll be fun for memory lane sakes.)

It isn’t done, of course.

  • I ordered curtains in navy for the room.  Didn’t like them.  Will keep looking.
  • We’ll set up a Toddler bed in there for Stephen in a couple of months.  It’ll go across from Finn’s next to the window.
  • The boys have coordinating bedspreads (which they didn’t get for Christmas).  Eventually, they’ll get those.  Finn already has a comforter, but with potty training, it’s easier to use blankets because when accidents happen, I can wash everything in 1 load.
  • I want to add more 8×11 pictures to the wall, which I’ll do over time.  When Baby #3 is born, we’ll take family pictures again, so that might provide a nice opportunity for more photos.

NewBoysRoom

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I’ve come across so many articles lately about “How to Live on 1 Income!” or even “Why doesn’t America have mandatory maternity leave like other countries do?”.  I get it — it’s even something that I blogged about before — years ago.  But since then, I’ve kind of realized some things.  Such that now whenever I hear the question “How Can We Live On One Income?”, I mentally reply “As long as your income is Bill Gates’, then you’re fine.”  For a while, I thought of it as an income problem.  Or I mentally think “Just have the expenses of Mother Teresa, then you’re fine.”  I would think of it as an expense problem.

Okay, not really.  It doesn’t take Bill Gates income to support a family.  And you don’t have to have expenses of a single nun.  And while, at the end of the day, it does come down to expenses and income, I’m guessing (just guessing) that in my circle of friends, there are 1-income homes making $40K/year and they make it work. And there are probably also couples making $150K/year who struggle to pay all their bills.  So, it isn’t the amount that’s critical — it’s the decisions made that make all the difference.

But even that statement is kind of misleading.  Because, I’ve realized that:

  • It’s the decisions your parents made when you were growing up that affect you today.
  • It’s the decisions your spouse’s parents made when you were growing up that affect you today.
  • It’s the decisions that you made after high school that affect you today. (Student loans, rents, mortgages, car loans, etc)
  • It’s the decisions that your spouse made after high school that affect you today.
  • It’s the professions that you’re in that affect you today. (Income potential as well as other expectations like dress code, cars, houses)
  • It’s the professions that your spouse is in that affect you today.
  • It’s the part of the country that you live in that affect you today. (Particularly housing has a huge effect on cost of living)

It’s all kinds of things.  I’ve just come to realize that being/having a stay-at-home spouse is a complex issue.  It’s not SOLELY a function of the decisions that you make today, but it’s influenced by decisions made for the last couple of decades and decisions not even made by you.

Over the years, my mind has gone from “You just have to make a budget that only spends what you make.” to “You just have to have 1 income that makes enough money to support your needs.” to “I think people need to really be wise about their decisions and the decisions that they lead their children too because financial decisions can have a really long-term effect.”  Aka: It’s complicated. 

 

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