Dear Husband; An Open Letter From a Stay At Home Mom

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The word’s stung the second they rolled off your tongue, “but you are with her all day.” They affirmed my assumptions of your interpretation of my role. That you are unaware of my day to day routine as a stay at home mom. That because I am “home,” I must not be busy. That because I see our daughter all day, I have unlimited time to spend with her. That she doesn’t pull at my leg, begging for a moment of my time. That her whine for my attention doesn’t break my heart because I am not wrapped up in other things, like cleaning, preparing dinner, picking up the groceries, dropping off the dry cleaning, switching over the laundry.

Yes, I get to load my phone with pictures of all her firsts. I can easily drop what I am doing to engage in play. I can push these things off to the side and be with our daughter. A luxury I get to have and you can’t because you work. I understand that. But then all of these things wouldn’t get done.

My decision to be a stay at home mom was my own. It was a decision we both discussed and a choice I untimely made for our daughter. A choice that was mine to make. I understand that your job requires you to leave early and sometimes come home late. I understand that your days are jam packed with conference calls, meetings, emails, upon other things. I understand that you are busy, and even though you love spending time with your daughter, you don’t always get to. I understand that you work because you love your job and it supports our little family.

Yes, sometimes I get mad. Sometimes I complain that you come home late, and at times I selfishly make you feel guilty for being gone through out the day. Realistically I know your job is important, and I appreciate everything you do so that I can be “home” to raise our daughter. I understand that you are busy, but do you know that I am busy too?

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A few weeks ago, while I was cooking dinner and washing the dishes, I looked on as you sat on the floor with our little girl. You tickled her, made funny noises, played with her blocks and talked with her. My heart smiled, watching you two, but it also ached. It ached because I could only think of the time I did not get to spend with her that day. I recalled her face pressed against the bathroom door gate, whining for me as I scrubbed the sink and toilet. How she cried for me to hold her while I was folding the laundry, how I told her no to playing with her train because we had to get ready to go grocery shopping. I was just too busy.

Feeling overwhelmed and frustrated at myself, I decided to skip the cleaning and the errands that day. I would spend time with our daughter. As I laid out my plain to you, I said, “I’m going to play with her all day, for once.”

And then it came. It just slipped out of your mouth, I am sure. I am sure you don’t truly believe that I sit around all day. I like to think that because I am a “Stay at home mom,” that I don’t do nothing all day. I dust the ceiling, I clean the floors, I fold and put away the laundry, I take the dog for a walk, I plan dinner for the week and pick up groceries. I sweep and wipe down, I organize and rearrange. I search for lost toys, I change diapers and wrestle on clothes. I make lunch and administer medication. I clean up poop, vomit, and pee. I run errands. I budget. I wipe teary eyes and calm tantrums. I orchestrate nap time and coordinate lunch time. I am a Stay At Home Mom, but I am busy.

Yes, I am learning to make time to sit with our daughter. My attention to her and play time is important. I know that, but so is cleaning the house and running errands. Sitting with our daughter and teaching her things like shapes and colors is necessary, but so is picking up the groceries and completing the to-list. Encouraging her to roll over, sit up, crawl, walk, and talk is crucial, but so is a safe and hazard free environment for her to grow up in.

Getting to watch every milestone is a blessing, and an opportunity I don’t take for granted. The decision I made to stay home was an important one for our family. It has it’s perks and it has it’s disadvantages. Yes, I am a Stay At Home Mom, but I am also busy, and like you, sometimes I don’t have as much time to spend with our daughter as I would like. Yes, her main caregiver is an important role, and expanding her mind and encouraging her development is an important task for that role. So I make time to be with her and play with her when I can, but like you, I have a full day packed with important tasks that I need to get done as well.

My concerns of wanting to spend more time with our daughter are legitimate. My desires to want more days on the floor with her are realistic. My frustrations of a packed schedule are real frustrations. Wanting to be the one who makes her giggle is a genuine desire. Yes, I am a stay at home mom, but I am busy too.

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*Disclaimer – Statements made in this post are of my own opinions, views and thoughts. I am not a professional and should not be regarded as such.

*This work, along with it’s images, as well as other posts published by Messy Mama, are protected by copyright laws.

Copyright © Messy Mama 2019 https://messymama18.com

 

 

Guest Post Featuring Twinzer Dad

If you are a part of Parent Twitter than I assume you have seen the hilarious Dad Tweets from @TwinzerDad. A dad of twins, he’s got double the relateable content in all that is parenting. He eases our insanity with humor and truth. Don’t forget the Dad Jokes though, because he has plenty of them. What’s even better, he’s a writer! You can find his work on DaddysDigest.com. Today, however, he writes for Messy Mama, in his piece about the infamous “Mom Break” and how fathers of today’s generation don’t truly get the credit, and break, that they deserve. Enjoy the read, and then go and give him a follow. 


 

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Gimmie A Break

One thing that you realize early on with raising twins is that the schedule is everything. You live and die by the schedule. It is important to build that routine early and find what works for you.

My guys didn’t take to nursing. Despite my wife’s best efforts, they just had little interest in the idea of it. After our little guy continued to lose weight, we decided that making sure that feeding our child was more important than appeasing the “Breast is Best” advocates and switched to formula pretty early on.

While this did take an emotional toll on my wife, there were some advantages to going the formula route. The biggest perk being that since my infants were not dependent on a trip to the dairy every three hours, I would be able to take a greater hand in the feeding process.

We developed a pretty solid schedule. My wife and I would do the 9 pm feeding together, after which she would go up to bed. I would keep the boys downstairs and do the one o’clock feeding solo. This meant that she could have quiet, infant-free sleep until I brought the boys up after the 1 am feeding and she wouldn’t have to get up and feed them until 4am. At 7, I would get up and feed the boys with her before getting ready to head off to work. It wasn’t a perfect system, but it did guarantee that we would both get as much sleep as could be expected given our circumstances.

Despite all of this, every time I would talk to someone toward the end of my work day, I would get the same question. “Are you going to go home and give your wife a break?”

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Fast forward three years. We still do our best to evenly distribute the workload (I mean 60/40, but I’m doing my best over here.)

My wife is a teacher, and my work schedule varies, but on an ideal week, it means that we have one day together with the four of us as a family and one day where we each have to shift into zone coverage and do a solo day with the boys.

Because she leaves earlier for work, every morning I get the boys dressed, fed and out the door to school or Grandma’s house. When I am off with them, we generally do the grocery shopping for the week. Almost every night that I’m home, I make dinner for the four of us.

Yet despite all this, I still constantly get asked “When are you going to give Mom a break?” or “Are you going to let Mom sleep in this weekend?”

I’m not attempting to pat myself on the back. I’m not asking for a parade including floats and a musical appearance by The Rock belting out “You’re Welcome” while being showered with praise. What I am asking for is just a little bit of respect.

Throughout the years, the bar has been set pretty low for dadding, yet this generation of dads seek to be more involved in the upbringing of their children than any generation before them. Many dads today strive to set aside traditional gender roles and take an equal share of the parenting responsibilities.

Yet there is an assumption out there that dads are standing by watching our wives do all the work. That while Moms are elbow deep in diapers and tantrums, Dads are kicking back with a beer and watching the game. There is little as demeaning for a Dad than to be congratulated for completing the most basic of parenting tasks without their wife there to give them explicit directions. It’s the same type of assumptions that inspire people to ask dads if they’re “babysitting” their children every time Mom isn’t present.

That’s not to say that Mom doesn’t deserve a break. It’s not to say that Mom doesn’t deserve an opportunity to sleep in on a Sunday morning or take a child free trip to Target, she does. It just means that it is time to assume that Dad may be equally as tired and that the good Dads out there are working just as hard to make their children a priority in their lives and are worthy of the same level of respect and consideration.

 


 

Guest Writer Information

Dale was born in Pittsburgh, PA but currently lives outside of Reading, PA. He graduated with a BA in photojournalism from Point Park University in Pittsburgh, PA in 2007. He has worked as a Marketing Brand Representative in the optical industry for five years. Dale lives in a quiet suburb with his beautiful wife and twin three-year-old boys. He enjoys Pittsburgh sports, comic books and bad action movies from the 80’s and 90’s. Dale also runs a comedic twitter account under the handle @TwinzerDad.

 


 

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To the Fathers of our Daughters

The mid-term elections are over, the I voted sticker profile pictures have all been changed to Thanksgiving portraits and the heated political debates have returned to their regular level of divided opinions. Yet, the conversations around humanitarian rights are far from over. It is 2018 and we are still battling the injustices of sexual orientation, gender, race, religion, ethnical backgrounds, and so on.

If you are raising little girls, now is not the time to recuse yourself from the conversation. As fathers to our future women, denouncing politics is unacceptable. Now, more than ever, our girls need your voice.

If you have been paying attention to the news, then you are aware that Education Secretary Betsy DeVos is currently working on a proposal that will make it even harder for University rape victims to come forward. Why does this matter to you?

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Women have continually been the victims of sexual assault and gender inequality. Women have been disrespected, dehumanized, and undervalued. Your daughter will grow up in a world where she is challenged, casted out, and ignored just because she is a girl. She will be called a liar, she will be sexualized, and she will have to maneuver through a world that will undermine her worth. All because she is a girl. As her father, and most important male influence, what will your role be?

Yes, women are finding their voices and we are louder than ever. We are marching, we are speaking up and we are breaking down the barriers that continue to hold us back. We are shattering glass ceilings, we are challenging the masses and we are paving the way for our future female leaders.

The wheels of equality and respect for women have been slowly moving forward over time. In the last few years we have given them a determined shove towards the finish line, but unfortunately there is still no end in sight. We are still fighting battles that we will have to pass down to our daughters; your daughters. Will you fight with us?

“I don’t follow politics,” should not be a response from the fathers of our daughters. Your little girls’ future rights will evolve around your involvement in politics. Your defense against bigotry, inequality, and arrogance will be the response that she will depend on as she grows. Your intolerance to disrespect towards women will be the validation she will need to steer past the racket of unnecessary noise.

As your daughters’ greatest example of a man’s relationship with women, she will look to you for guidance. What kind of father will you be when she’s ready to take on the world?

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Will you encourage her to be a part of the movement, or will you remain silent?

Will you push her to succeed in a world that will tell her she can’t, or will you ignore her challenges?

Will you stand up to a society that will try to break her down, or will you stay in the shadows?

Will you inspire her to speak her truth when she is called a liar, or will you fade in to the background?

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Will you motivate her when the world tries to put out her flame, or will you allow her fire to dwindle?

Will you invite her to share her own opinions, or will you silence her?

Will you validate her fears and her concerns, or will you push them off to the side?

Will you give her the courage to tell her story, or will you shut her out?

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It’s difficult to understand a perspective that you can not relate to, but I ask you to put yourself in the shoes of your little girl. Listen to the obstacles that women face and imagine your daughter taking on those obstacles. Believing that the world will fight against your child is a tough pill to swallow, but that’s the reality our daughters will face.

What if your child was told no, she could not have that job because of her gender? What if she was denied the same pay just because she was not the same sex. Could you face your child after she was denied the right to play sports because she is female?

Imagine a world where your daughter must walk to her car, looking over her shoulder while she clutches her car keys. How would you feel knowing that the man who raped your little girl is standing in front of her in a court room, trying to break her for a second time because he was given the right to cross examine her? Can you picture your baby girl being blamed for her own nightmares because society has sexualized her body well before she was even born?

Can you see the pain in her face? Can you feel her fear? Do you understand the discouragement? Will you stand up to a world that will try to devalue your little girl?

Will you help us change the course of her future?

To the Fathers of our Daughters, will you be a part of the movement?

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*This work, along with it’s images, as well as other posts published by Messy Mama, are protected by copyright laws.

*Disclaimer – Statements made in this post are of my own opinions, views and thoughts. I am not a professional and should not be regarded as such.

Thank God For Dad’s Series: Reaching For a Life Line

I knew I was going to marry my husband when he pulled into the drug store so I could get a Tide Pen for my cloth wedges. During one of our dates, I had made the terrible choice to wear white shoes on a day we would spend walking outside. What was worse, it had rained just hours before that. Throughout the day I managed to avoid most of the puddles, but as careful as I was, I still managed to get a few spots of mud on my shoes.

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Photo Credit: Niki Rossi Photography http://www.nikirossi.com Copyright 2018 Messy Mama https://messymama18.com

When you suffer from anxiety, it isn’t the dirty shoes that bother you, it’s the thought process of how such a simple mistake could have been avoided and it plays over and over in your head until it drives you crazy. Something as simple as mud on a white shoe can turn a small tragedy into a gigantic ordeal. We sat in silence as I gripped onto the door trying to center myself. I went to work on the war inside my brain to talk myself down from a potential panic attack. Suddenly, my date pulled into a pharmacy parking lot. He put the car in park, looked over at me, pointed to my shoe and said, “Do you think a Tide Pen would get that out?”

Small little details like this in our relationship told me that he was listening, and he took my concerns seriously. No matter how small they might have seemed to other people. For me, this was a big deal, a game changer, he was the one. He didn’t tell me I was over reacting, he didn’t laugh at me, and he didn’t ignore my concerns. He listened, and he acted and for someone with anxiety, that is huge.

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Copyright 2018 Messy Mama https://messymama18.com

About a year into our relationship my husband was aware of my tendencies to “over react.” To him, however, it was just a cute tick. He was not aware that a small characteristic of my anxiety had seeped out. It wasn’t until we moved in together that he began to understand my obsessive reactions to small details was much more than an innocent trait. As my husband and I were building a foundation around our relationship, I was also learning a lot about my anxiety triggers and how to manage them. When I felt a panic attack coming on I would run away to the bathroom and lock the door.

It wasn’t until a few years ago that I had opened up about my anxiety to my husband. I still don’t go into much detail with him on how my brain works. I still escape to the bathroom when I feel my chest start to tighten but he’s aware that my brain doesn’t process events and situations like most people. Every once in awhile he’ll ask me how I’m feeling or do his best to calm me when I start to feel overly anxious. I know he tip toes around certain topics and he’s careful how he delivers some of his conversations and I appreciate him for that. What I love most, however, is his ability to read the room when it comes to our daughter.


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Copyright 2018 Messy Mama https://messymama18.com

For the most part, my daughter helps me conquer my anxiety and manage my emotions. Maybe it’s my mom instincts kicking in and allowing my brain to properly process information. Maybe it’s the determination of wanting to be a good mother. It amazes me how calm I can be during certain situations that involve my daughter. Normal things that would send someone with an anxiety disorder over the edge, like a high temperature, fussiness, or a persistent cough. I don’t obsess over some of these things as much except when my anxiety spikes. For the most part, I have been able to handle these situations calmly and effectively.

Having a baby, however, has introduced me to new triggers, like when she is crying in the car while I’m driving and I cant sooth her. When she fights with me for 3 hours in the middle of the night. If she has a melt down in public and I didn’t pack all the essentials to calm her down. Amazingly enough, my husband has picked up on cues that suggest I am starting to feel stressed out and he swoops in. Without passing judgment or criticizing, he takes over and allows me the opportunity to re-center myself. Moments like this, I am extremely thankful for a support system like him. He truly is my life line and I am not sure how I would be able to get through some days without him. He is a great husband, but above all, he is an amazing father. As our daughter grows, she’ll watch us work together as a family, she’ll see a mommy who tries her best and a daddy who loves both of his girls very much. I want to be a good mom to her and have it all together all the time, but the realization is sometimes I need a moment. No one understands that better than her dad.

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Copyright 2018 Messy Mama https://messymama18.com

When I walk away feeling like a disappointment, he reassures me with a kiss on the forehead and tells me I am a good mom. In the moment, it’s hard to find truth in the statement when I feel like I failed my daughter. When I feel like my anxiety is consuming me and I’m exhausted from lack of sleep, my husband fly’s in like Superdad. He whisks our baby away for a fun filled day of daddy – daughter time and I get a moment to recharge. After this, I can come back calmer, the mom guilt is gone, and my daughter reassures me that I am doing just fine when I am greeted with a large gummy smile and her two hands reaching up for me. My self-care moments are important. It allows me to build the strength I need to properly car for my daughter and I have a wonderful partner who agrees.

Support systems are so important when you are a parent struggling with a mental illness. Whether it’s a partner, a friend, or family, my advice is to connect with someone you trust. Ask them to be your life line if they are familiar with your struggles. If you try to do it all yourself, your mental illness could consume you. A mental illness is draining, and it takes a lot of work to manage it, so don’t feel guilty about needing a break to recharge and rest. No, not everyone is going to understand what it is that your going through and why you are having a hard time, but if they love you they will want to support you. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. It is important for your health and for you as a parent. You’re not always going to nail this parenting thing, no parent does. We all have our moments of feeling helpless and overwhelmed. Self-care is very important for all parents, even you.

A Fathers Role

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As a stay at home mom, I have memorized the happenings that take place outside. My large windows overlook a big section of the neighborhood, which makes people watching unavoidable. To one side there is a blue house with three dogs that run freely behind a metal fence. Their barking prevents me from opening the baby’s windows when she is napping. There’s a yellow duplex house with a cute older couple and possibly a second-generation family living next door. They have weekly barbecues together and there always seems to be something going on every weekend. On the other side, there’s a family with a cluttered back yard that includes chickens and a large white rabbit. One house that sticks out to me in particular is the house right next door. I am unsure who lives in this house because the company comes and goes, but I can be sure that there is a woman, a man and a few kids.

Throughout the day, I notice the mom or woman caregiver playing with the small children outside. Sometimes she is alone, other times she is accompanied by other women and more small children. The man spends a ridiculous amount of time fixing a car that appears to break down routinely. This family sticks out to me because I never see the man interact with the children. I don’t want to assume this man is the children’s father. He could be a relative or friend who rooms with the woman, or has extended his home, unselfishly, to the woman who needs a place to stay. Perhaps there is an agreement that he cares for the child during a certain time and his car mending time is off limits.

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This is not about judging a man in a situation I know nothing about, but a reminder that there are families out there whose fathers do not participate in the daily functions of raising a child or children. Some fathers do not even bother to show up, or they make a presence but are not involved. It’s a devastating reality that continues to happen, even today. Fortunately, my family is not included in this statistic. I have a husband who is fully involved, and I am extremely grateful for that.

I don’t always give my husband the credit he deserves. I joke along with other mothers about my husband leaving his dirty laundry in random places, how his frustrations humor me when he is handling our fussy infant, and the fact that I know he’s lying when he say’s “They didn’t have it,” after returning from the grocery store. The truth is, I am blessed to have a partner that is an exceptionally amazing father. Not every mother has this luxury, so I understand how lucky I am.

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Yes, half the time the house work doesn’t get done if I don’t do it and I am apparently the one who must keep inventory of the household supplies and groceries, but my husband doesn’t lack in his share of the responsibilities when it comes to caring for our daughter. If I am feeling overwhelmed I can count on him to take his part. He gladly steps in at 4 in the morning when I have spent almost 2 hours trying to get our baby back to sleep. He bathes her while I make dinner, and takes over when I schedule time aside for my book or blog. He occupies baby so that I can eat or shower. He takes over when my anxiety starts to kick in and he feeds her so that I can have a moment to myself. He does all of this without prodding and he does it without hesitation.

The love that my husband shows to our daughter is beautiful and it is incredible. As mothers today, we talk a lot about how fathers should not be receiving praise for being fathers. Realistically, however, it is relatively a new thing that fathers are more involved with their children. We are coming off the idea that genders play certain roles in the family household and fathers today are setting a new standard compared to how dads raised us when I was growing up. It is a tremendous difference and it’s setting great examples for future generations.

No, my husband being an active parent doesn’t make him a good father; it makes him a great father. His involvement in raising our daughter sets the bar for the type of relationships she accepts from the future men in her life. Being an active male role model sets an example for how she allows herself to be treated by members of the opposite sex. It also teaches her the importance of active participation in a child’s life. Whether she falls in love with a man or a woman, she is being raised in an environment where both members play an important, active role in the family. She should not accept anything less.

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Who is Messy Mama

Contact Messy Mama

*Disclaimer – Statements made in this post are of my own opinions, views and thoughts. I am not a professional and should not be regarded as such.

*This work, along with it’s images, as well as other posts published by Messy Mama, are protected by copyright laws.

Copyright © Messy Mama 2019 https://messymama18.com

Dads Are Not The Photographer Types

Today, while I was having a beautiful moment with my daughter, I looked up to see my husband standing with his phone in a perfect position to take a memorable shot. Instead, he was scrolling, not focusing on the moment in front of him. This made me upset and I was immediately reminded of all the opportunities that had been missed because my husband did not think to take a picture.

Too many of my pictures with my baby are either selfies or requests to my husband. There have been multiple times in our relationship when my husband was overtaken by the urge to catch a random shot without being asked or prodded. Pictures that captured a moment in time that wasn’t thought out or planned; some of these turned into my favorite pictures.

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My husband is not completely at fault here. Too many times I have declared that I look terrible or the picture was not great. I do believe that dads have been psychologically instructed to not take the picture. They are told that the shot is awful, or perhaps criticized for capturing a double chin or a baby pouch. Maybe the angle wasn’t right, or the lighting was terrible. I understand that this is enough to cause any dad to overlook a perfect candid moment. But as a woman who has gagged at a few of her own husbands attempts at in home photography, I say take the picture anyway. Why? Because one day you will capture a moment that means so much more than just what it appears to be on the outside.

For me, that moment was me rocking my precious baby to sleep. So many emotions and words can not describe the love that I have for my child and my heart over flows when I hold my sleeping sweetheart. You can’t capture a feeling, but you can capture a moment that reminds you of that feeling. Moments pass into memories and that is all you have left of a family outing, a growing baby, a loving pet, or an aging family member. You can’t get those moments back, you can’t revisit people after they are gone, and you can’t rewind time. A photograph is the closest we will ever get to a time machine. At least in our life time.

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So, Dad, please take the picture. No matter how many times your wife complains. Even if she tells you to delete it because when that moment passes by, we’re going to wish we captured it, regardless of how “awful” we may have looked in it.

 

Since posting this, it has come to my attention that a great article by Cyndy Gatewood was published last year with the same title. Not wanting to infringe on this writer, I have changed my title.  Check out her piece on the same idea of Dad’s not taking pictures, Dear Dads: Take the Picture.