what would you choose to “role model?”

In ALL, RAISING HOPS INTO BEERSby Stephanie Klein51 Comments

NICU Nights

I am not going to start this paragraph with “I believe every woman should have a job outside the home” because I don’t know every person’s circumstances.  I’m not in her shoes. I will say what I can about my own situation, and I find the idea of doing nothing but taking care of my children (and it’s hardly nothing), very indulgent and delicious. I love the idea of being a “housewife.” I hate that word, so I’m putting it in quotes to distance myself from it.  I imagine that life, full-time caregiver, as not only rewarding but lived in.  It would feel extraordinary, the way I always imagined living should be. It’s the life my mother had. Though my mother had a housekeeper clean and do laundry three times a week. Mom played tennis during the week, ran errands, went to sample sales. Was always home when we got home from school. Drove us to our lessons: piano, skating, drama, swimming, soccer, painting/drawing. She was a soccer mom before soccer moms ever were. And it’s what’s familiar to me.

I didn’t respect her choice. As a child, I remember thinking, “how pathetic.” I thought it was lazy to JUST take care of your kids. To not have your own ambitions, independent of your children. And when I look inward, I suppose I still do. I no longer think “pathetic,” and I believe all mothers are working mothers, but I do think it’s important to show my children that I have interests outside the home, apart from them. I’m not saying one must leave home to earn money. Show my children charity.  How what we do can affect the lives of others. How we can make a change in this world. Sole caregivers, I imagine, have a hard time fitting it all in. I certainly do, now.  As much as I’d love to live that life of housewife, to never miss a thing in the lives of my children, I fear that would be doing both them and myself a disservice.

The message I want to send to my children is, “you matter, and so do I.”  I do not live for my children.  I want to show them the world, to teach them, encourage them, to enable them to live their best lives and be proud of who they are.  I hope to teach them to live out loud, to be their most authentic selves.  I want them to know how important it is to love themselves, and to respect themselves.  And the only way to really respect yourself is to honor your commitments to yourself.  If, for example, I tell myself, “I’m going to eat healthfully all week and do something active each day,” and then I eat crap and don’t move, I’m not respecting myself.  It doesn’t feel good.  We all feel good when we honor our own commitments to ourselves; it’s what self-respect is about.  And to teach them this, I have to do it myself.  I need to value myself, my gifts, my reason for being here.  Which means, I need to make myself a priority too.  My career, my health, my passions.  They need to see that the world does not revolve around them, that we’re all responsible, in the end, for taking care of ourselves. 

So while I have a hard time finding that balance between my personal work and health priorities (both mental and physical), and with my desire to be there every step along the way for them, I know all I can do is my best.  I cannot put any of it aside for too long, but doing it every now and then is crucial to all of us.  So sometimes, it does come down to relying on a nanny, or my husband, to enable me to write, or decorate, or yeah, get a fucking a manicure, so I don’t feel I’m neglecting myself.  If there’s one thing I hope to teach those tots, it’s to respect themselves, to know their own worth, and I never want them to feel guilty for finding time to put themselves first. 

Comments

  1. I really can't believe this post. I religiously read your blog and have been a loyal fan. Until today.

    Seriously Stephanie, many look at your life, with its sole focus on yourself, and say "How pathetic".

    Before you start making comments on what it is to live life as a "stay at home mother" and not some over indulged princess, maybe you should let the nanny take the day off and spend some quality time with your children. The 4 hours between when the nanny is off and when the kids go to sleep is not what i would call quality time. How hard could it be to feed your children, and then put them to bed? I suppose you nanny has already kept the house clean for you, done the laundry, etc.? Do you have any idea what it is like to have to run a house BY YOURSELF? It is not easy, and most of the women reading your blog do not have the privileged life that you have.

    Get your priorities in order. You are right, it is very important to remember and take care of yourself, but please don't sacrifice your children and don't be so pompous to think that staying at home is LAZY. I have lived the corporate life, and this job is by far the most difficult one I could have ever taken on.

    FROM STEPHANIE: The nanny doesn't do my laundry or clean the house. The babies go to sleep at 9, not 7. I do not RUN A HOUSE all by myself. I have a partner. My husband. We have chosen to share responsibilities in life, and in our home. When I say, I see my choosing to be a housewife as lazy, I'm being true to what I feel about my own life. I'm not lecturing you how to live your life. I believe if what I chose to do is clean a house, care for my children, and cook, taking my kids out for walks and play dates, I would be lazy. As tiresome as all the tasks are, I'd be neglecting something deeper within me. I'd be neglecting my "work." I'd be neglecting part of what makes me, me.

    Again, I'm speaking about my own personal decisions, decisions I'm making for myself, right now.

  2. Beautifully stated, Stephanie! Full of wisdom and balance. For me, balance is that never-ending goal.

    I just loved this post! (I'll be re-reading this one on occasion, to help remind me of a few of the points you've made that I think I'm weak in)

    I hope you and yours have a wonderful day today, Stephanie!

    :-)3T

  3. Oh goodness, you have stepped right into the Mommy Wars. I'm a mom who works full time and have had more nasty-assed comments from the SAHMs in my most liberal, accepting town (yeah right) Berkeley, CA, than I could ever have imagined. I have nothing against SAHMs. More power to you. I just can't afford to do it.

    My husband was a SAHD for a good long time, until our youngest started preschool, and even that didn't stave off the comments. I guess his committment didn't count.

  4. I wish more parents were like this. It'd make for a better human race. My parents have always said that the best children come from homes where the kids don't rule the roost.
    Having grown up in a family where both my mom and dad had ambitions and dreams of their own, I'd have to agree.
    I turned out pretty fabulous and my mom had a job and nights without me.
    Eventually your kids grow up and leave. If you make your life all about them all the time, what will you have when they're gone?

  5. a question and a comment:

    question: where did find your nanny?

    comment: good parenting book to read is "the blessing of a skinned knee" by wendy mogel – talks about using jewish teachings to raise self reliant children but it is a book for EVERYBODY no matter what your religion etc… talks about many of things SK has in her post today…

  6. I hope to get the chance to meet you someday because not many people get it the way you do. Its the pregorative of everyone to make choices, like staying home, but there is something to be said about sacrificing all for others.
    My husband wants to move to ireland and that's something I want to do with him. But I told him i had to get an mfa in creative writing before moving across the pond. Its my life – my priority and if I don't fight for my desires no one will. I can't make anyone happy if I'm not selfish to some extent. Its a lesson that takes years to learn.

  7. Dear outraged in Ct (certainly not in Greenwich or anywhere in Fairfield for that matter): Get someone in a couple of days of week for the laundry and heavy cleaning. You're starting to get cranky.

    Kisses.

  8. You are brave to take on such an unbelievably divisive issue. While half your readers will applaud your post, the other half will believe you to be the devil incarnate. I don't believe there is a right or wrong, everyone has to do what they BELIEVE to be right. But I will say that I think the choice of whether to stay home or return to work is much tougher for the women who actually have a choice (i.e., can AFFORD to stay home). That sounds backwards, why would the women who can choose to stay home have it tougher? But its not backwards, because those are the women who consciously choose to assign the day-to-day child rearing to someone else, when they don't have to. Next year I will be leaving my career as an attorney to give birth to my first child and I will be staying home – at least until that child starts school. It was a tough choice, since my career has become such an important part of who I am as a person. Nonetheless, that was the decision that seemed right for me. We don't need the income and although i will miss practicing law, I imagine I will deal with that a lot better than missing my kid's first everything.

    FROM STEPHANIE: I think the bravest thing you're doing is making a choice on your career without knowing how you'll feel as a mom. When I was still working in advertising, I was dating a man named Oliver (a surgeon with parents who both worked), and he wanted babies with me. We had long arguments about child-rearing. I insisted when I had children, I would want to stay home with them until they were in school, and then, I'd need to find a job that enabled me to be home with them at 3pm once they were home from school. Though, I admitted to him, "who knows how I'll feel once I'm a mom. I might hate it and miss the intellectual stimulation of the workplace. I might miss getting dressed for work. The truth is, we can argue all we want, but until I'm in it, I won't know."

    A lot of times people just make theories. They believe in philosophies and insist they'll live by them, but until you're there, you simply don't know. If I needed the income, and had to work outside the home, it wouldn't really be a decision. I'd work. End of story. And it is harder for women who have the choice, and choose to let someone else "raise" their kids while they go off to work. I think if you find time to spend with your children, dedicated time where you really pay attention, it can all be okay.

    I do not allow for any television in front of the children. Phil and I only watch once they're asleep. It's never on during meals, never on before 9pm. And it enables us to give them our undivided attention. I make a choice to shut the computer after 3pm (unless I'm looking up a recipe). I make them my focus, work on their fine motor skills, read to them, sing, etc. And any parent, working outside the home or not, if they're giving their kids that much attention, they'll be just fine.

  9. Just for starters, let's get it out of the way that being a stay at home mom to an infant (or infants) is a very different thing that being a stay at home mom to school age children. Infants need to be looked after at all times. (Christ even when they're napping I check in to make sure they're still breathing!) Once children are in school for 6 hours a day, you'd be hard pressed to convince me you have a good reason for not at least having a part time job. Even when they're at home, they're fully capable of occupying themselves for short spans of time and it's important that they learn to do this – occupy themselves without your constant oversight, but always knowing you're there for them if they really need you.

    When I was growing up, my mom worked and my best friend's mom did not. I remember being annoyed that my mom couldn't swing by and drop lunch money off at the school if I had forgotten it on the kitchen counter or something, but I also remember being really proud when it came time for kids parents to come into elementary school for "career day". By the time we were in junior high, my friend's mom pretty much slept past 10 am every day and I don't remember her house being spectacularly clean or their dinners being especially well prepared. I do remember asking myself what the hell she did all day besides wait at her child and husband's beck and call.

    I think it's so extremely important as a parent to want your children to respect you (not just like or love), and I think it's so fantastic that you see that. After a certain point in their lives, the mere fact that you're older than them, or just happened to give birth to them doesn't mean that they will respect you. (and why should it?) Spending all kinds of time with your children when they're infants is great. But what happens when they're 14? They don't see you as a loving nurturing caregiver. They see you as their housekeeper, and if they don't respect you, you lose all ability to teach and discipline them during these formative years. I think the best parents are those that realize their children are people, too.

  10. No offense OutragedinCT, but….. you do make an excellent exhibit 1 as to why women should have a life outside of their children.

    Grow an identity. Your children will love you for it.

  11. Stephanie – thank you for your post. These words, particulary, spoke to me:

    "We all feel good when we honor our own commitments to ourselves; it's what self-respect is about. And to teach them this, I have to do it myself. I need to value myself, my gifts, my reason for being here. Which means, I need to make myself a priority too. My career, my health, my passions. They need to see that the world does not revolve around them, that we're all responsible, in the end, for taking care of ourselves."

    I have four kids – 9, 8, 3 and 18 months. I work from home as a writer and have a nanny about 30 hours a week. I love the fact that I can see the kids during the workday, but do try and respect the schedules, etc. the nanny has set up. Our neighborhood, in a wealthy DC suburb, is nanny-heavy. Our nannies and au pairs have a network all unto themselves.

    This mothering thing is HARD. Particularly difficut right now is juggling the parenting of two grade schoolers with two preschoolers. When I'm sitting on the bathroom floor with my daughter waiting for her "poopy" at the same time my 4th grader needs help with his math… it's all very daunting. Add to that work deadlines. I've flirted with the idea of quitting work, but I truly believe that time away from my kids, working, makes me a better mom. I need to refresh and escape the monotony. Should I feel bad I feel that way? I don't know…

    My conflict now gets back to what I quoted from Stephanie in the beginning of my post – After kids and work, there is simply no time left for me. With the strong support of my husband I am working on that, but it's hard. Stephanie – thank you for the reminder that self-respect is vital.

  12. wow. this can be a heated discussion and i'm not going to touch it. i agree that one can only discuss what they know, its very hard to have an opinon on something we havent done ourselves or experienced ourselves.
    stephanie, it sounds like you have a good balance, for you, for now. you'll change it as you need to change it. for each person its bound to be differnt.

    i'm curious, how is lucas? I'm still praying for him! And they're both adorable!

    FROM STEPHANIE: Lucas is doing so great! And I do believe, truly, that all the blessings, thoughts, and prayers have helped him. We still need to monitor him with another MRI in a few weeks, but he's really doing outstandingly well. Such a little lovebug! And his giggle and scoot are just too cute. I now call him SCOOTER, because he scoots across the room. Abigail is now taking one step, then falling forward. In a week or so, she'll be taking two steps. Oh my! They're now 8 1/2 months old, gestationally.

  13. As precious as those little babies are to you right now, just wait until they develop their own little personalities and character traits and all you will want to do is spend all the time you can with them! I have a home-based business and try to get all my work completed (okay, and the occasional manicure) while my children are at school so that I can spend all afternoon and evening with them once they get home (my daughter is 11 and my son is 6). Many, many days, the best part of my day is when I pick them up from school and get to hear about their day. I am a stay-at-home mom after 3:00 pm and fix supper every night and get homework completed and go to dance and go to soccer and I wouldn't change one thing about it! (Well, except maybe have someone else do laundry!) But I also know myself well enough to know that I have to be motivated and challenged and have goals of my own – that's why I work.

  14. I am not always charmed by your posts but I wholeheartedly agree with this post. In order to be a great mom, it is essential that you don't lose the core of you while attending to others, whatever that core is. I think outraged person in CT misread your post. Before "lazy", you write: "As a child, I remember thinking…" I was really lucky–my mom worked out our house and was usually there when I came home. If not, someone else was. She and my father had a great partnership where each was there equally for us. It really is true that you don't know what you will do until faced with the decision.

  15. As a retired nanny/PA for a SAHM with tons of chartiable obligations and 4 children, let me say this: there is no wrong and there is no right.

    I too feel a slight "ugh" towards SAHM's, but only because I feel like the only thing they have to discuss with others is nothing about themselves…socially it is a bit awkward. They miss out on who they are/were. This is not ALWAYS the case though. Many SAHM's are working in different fields where they don't always receive a paycheck and find tons of other things to discuss.

    Stephanie…maintain your independence, care for your beans, toss out some thank you's to your nanny, and have some fun with your hubby.

    maintain. the. balance. (as much as possible/as long as you can)

    Happy Wednesday!

  16. A couple of generations ago, women had to fight for the right to a carrer, for equality on the job – hell, we're still fighting the battle for equal pay for equal work. Seems to me like women should support one another, whether we decide to work, stay at home with the kids, or both. This bickering is complete nonsense, really…

  17. Stephanie, this post was great. You truly were courageous to put yourself out there like that, like you always do. The ongoing battles between the SAHM and those that work continues to amaze me. It seems so heated and unnecessary, with jealousy on both sides. I never realized what a hot issue it really is, that is, until I had children of my own. Fortunately, I was able to create a balance, working part-time in my field with 4 day weekends on both ends, and a husband who works for home to help out. It works for our family and my children, that is what is important. Yes, it gets harried and I took a hiatus for about a year, but missed the "working world" also. It seems like you are creating the balance that you need to, for now, for you, Phil and the beans. I think that is what people have to realize, do what is best for you and your family and respect what others doing without such harsh criticism!

  18. I really loved this post. My favorite part, "You matter, and so do I. I do not live for my children." That's a brave statement, and one that they will appreciate and love you for in the future. The world is full of so many egoists already – why exactly do we need to raise another generation who believes that everything they do or say is considered "the best," therefore by default better than everyone else around them, whether that someone be their siblings, their parents, or their friends on the playground? It's a very weird dichotomy.
    Also, I grew up in a family where my parents also did not live for their children. We knew we were important, but we also knew our place. Our parents went on dates and they took vacations on their own (as well as family vacations). They've been married for over 40 years and are the role models for both mine and my siblings marriages.

  19. I think having a Nanny while you work from home is really the best of both worlds. You're there, but not.

    I was a nanny once for two parents that worked from home. They could interact with their children whenever they wanted during the day. It seemed great for both.

    Great, but not realistic for most people.

  20. 8.5 months, and Abigail is already taking a step? Look out world, Stephanie Klein's little girl is going to be just like her!! :)

  21. Like many of your readers, I've had a love/hate relationship with your blog. Because you're this sort of public creature, with a bajillion pictures of herself and because there's a computer screen to protect me from you (but not you from me), it's easy to criticize, to judge, to hold you in my palm like a glass figurine and wag my finger at you for not being how I think you should be. We can spout off at you if we've had a bad day, and you can't touch us. And we forget that you're just like us, still figuring things out.

    It's hard to maintain that delicate balance between selfishness and selflessness. My mother stayed at home with me, and it was great to have a mother so involved in my life, preparing after-school snacks and sewing me Halloween costumes and volunteering in my classroom. I don't recall ever having a babysitter, or ever needing my mother and her not being around.

    But then, suddenly I'm 25 and out of the house, and my mother is still reeling. My passions were hers; she lived her social live vicariously through me; her life was consumed by me; her marriage has shattered, held together only by the threads of Christian faith. We talk every day, and it's taken me seven years to realize that I'm capable of doing things on my own. That confidence comes from within; it's not derived from a mother who tells you how great you are, and then does your school project for you.

    As a nanny now, I've seen both sides: the parent who cares too much, and the parent who cares too little. One eventually destroys the parent, the other destroys the child, both chip away at the family.

    This post of yours is great. You seem to have found that balance, so that you work because you love it and you are with your kids because you love it, and there is no guilt and no excuses. You said, "They need to see that the world does not revolve around them, that we're all responsible, in the end, for taking care of ourselves." Yes. That is it exactly,

  22. Can you hear that? It's me applauding you. Excellent post. I'm a firm believer in "if mama aint happy, then nobody's happy". Take time and nurture yourself. Follow your dreams. Your children will know a happy fulfilled mother, and that my dear is a wonderful role model. By the way, I am thrilled that Lucas is thriving! The way you have handled and continue to handle his medical care with such grace and determination is inspiring.

  23. I do feel that your post came off like you looked down on SAHM's.
    I am a stay at home mom. I believe that if you can afford to you should stay home with your children. I wish I could afford to have a housekeeper. Although,for me even if I could afford it I would never use a nanny. I think being with my children through most of the hours of each day is a way to ensure our family values are with them. It is not a job I trust anyone else to do as well as me. There is not another soul in this world besides their father who loves them like I do, who will care for them like I do. You wrote about showing your children how you honor all your commitments, what about the commitment you made to them when you gave them life. Oh wait I forgot that is secondary to your wants and needs and the nanny will handle theirs.

  24. I agree with Fe. Why can't women be supportive of eachother and accept that different things work for different people, we all have our own priorities and ways we were brought up and ways of doing things? We is "outragedinct" so convinced that her way is the only right way, so much so that she would say nasty things to a perfect stranger just for disagreeing? Why does she feel the need to criticize Stephanie for being a "princess" — does she think you need to suffer a little (or a lot) to be a better person?
    Forgive me, but I think all of these are incredibly backward views.

    And I think Beth made a really important point in her last paragraph: respect is completely independant from love and familial relationships, and it is really necessary to have a functional relationship with anyone, but especcially a child.

  25. When my babies were wee, I stayed home with them – and I had a nanny come in and help. I had 3 babies under 3 – a very demanding husband and a big home to keep up. The nanny saved my life more than once…and the babies' lives more than that. She was with us for 3-4 years – and has now gone on to graduate from college, marry and start her own life – and she's still a dear, dear friend.

    I've lived many lives – SAHM with nanny, SAHM sans nanny, working full time mom with husband, working full time mom without husband…

    The point is, my babies are fine. They're resilient. They appreciate all the lives they have had – and have lots of choices of what to emulate when they leave home.

    You're doing great.

    Oh – and those pumpkin patch pictures are toooooo fabulous!

  26. my God, I can't get over the fact that Americans are SO judgemental.

    I refer to all the "you do wrong"/"you do right" comments about motherhood.

    What to "live and let live"? Jeeeez.

    In Europe people are not so easy on giving hateful/strong judgements on others' life. Sure, it happens, but I'm truly amazed by how amplified this is in the USA.

    For example, wine in small doses during pregnancy. Some doctors say it's fine after a certain point, some doctors think you should avoid it. So, different medical opinions. (TO MAKE AN EXAMPLE, DON'T QUOTE ME ON THIS, IT'S NOT THE POINT)

    And still, I see a lot of women BASHED for drinking what could or could not be wine. On the line of "you should be ashamed of yourself"/"you are a bad mother". My god.

    In Europe there sure are people who give not requested advices… But not with such hate or strong opinions.

    (no need to say, I'm only generalizing, that's not true for all, etc…)

  27. I am cracking up at Olivia's post. Clearly Olivia has some deep seated resentments about being a SAHM. I am not sure why she read your post and decided to take it on as if it was a direct attack on her choices. She says that she was a loyal fan, but clearly she has never read any previous blogs that you have written or else she would have never made a comment that your life is all about you.

    Olivia-I am a therapist and I will give you some free advice…..chill the f***k out.

    Love, I single mother of 4 month old twins.

  28. One of the most powerful lessons that we can teach our children (especially girls) is the importance of getting up each day and going to work doing something you love. Thank you for sharing your experience with this.

  29. I, like others, am tired of women bashing other women for making their own choices about how to raise their children and run their own lives. My mom was a SAHM until I was nine and my brother was in kindergarten, then she worked part-time for awhile, and now she works full time (I'm now twenty-six). I'm glad she was home with us when we were young, and I hope to do the same when I have children, but it should be a choice and not something guilted upon me by someone else's standard of good parenting. There are plenty of working moms who raise great kids, and plenty of SAHMs who raise brats—and the converse is true as well. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to parenting.

  30. I don't really care whether a person stays home with their kids or not; people make the right decisions for themselves and their lives (as you obviously have). I do deplore the statement by SAHMs that they have a "full time" job raising their kids.

    So, by implication, women who work outside the home have two full time jobs? Because even if you have a husband who helps, and a nanny, you are still a PARENT and you still work hard. I mean, that kind of language is just self-serving. I, too, think that _I_ would feel _I_ was lazy if I didn't work after having children, but that's just me. On the other hand, I wouldn't sit there and bitch about how I have SOOOO many jobs, either.

  31. Oh Cecilia, I'm sorry but… there are rude and ignorant people all over the world, not just in America. I'm sure there are Europeans just as opinionated and unafraid to voice their beliefs…with the same hate/strong demeanor.

    And some doctors frown upon drinking during pregnancy not only because empirical evidence proves that it is not good for a fetus but because what you may consider a "small dose" and what I may consider a "small dose" may be completely different. Why not avoid a problem all together if it's easily avoidable?

    And you silently judging the judgers? Not all that different from those who judge openly.

  32. The solution to child-rearing is different for every family. Every single family is unique– I just wish the assumption that mothers take the bulk of the responsibility wasn't so, and that there was more partnership with the fathers.

    FROM STEPHANIE: Of course every family is unique, but there are norms. There are generalizations and misunderstandings. Preconceived notions. Take, for example, a wife who's the breadwinner. The husband is often perceived as a loaf, when they're together at dinner parties. "Have your husband do it. He doesn't work." There are also those of us who want to be the breadwinner, and others of us, who wouldn't like it at all. If our husbands decided they wanted to be the sole caregiver and asked us to work to support the entire family, many of us would become anxious, uneasy with the responsibility, and uncomfortable with a new expected role. Others of us would rejoice and welcome it. It's about what we know, what's comfortable to us, and what works for both people.

    I wouldn't like being married to someone who was against my having a career. I also wouldn't like being married to someone who'd be fine with my being the breadwinner. That's me though. We all feel differently about it, no? And despite how we each feel, it doesn't change all of society. We do what works and argue about the rest.

  33. Carolina Baker,

    Well besides the small task of rearing my children I play volleyball twice a week with friends, volunteer at the Sienna Francis House (homeless shelter/addiction center) one saturday a month. Also my husband and I have our night twice a month, and we have friends over at least once a week and somehow I manage to do all that without the help of a nanny, housekeeper, mani/pedi and blowout.

  34. i'm not a mom. i'm not the product of a homemaking mom. i am, however, convinced that being one of those special creatures that packs the lunches and hangs up the coats when they get home doesn't *have* to be hard. many homemakers impose strong opinions saying they have the hardest job of them all, being a full-time parent. i think that a parent who stays home should be 200% the parent who works then comes home. not because staying home means one's life is easier, which makes it easier to provide a more stable and loving household. but because any parent is a full-time parent. whether they're in the home doing it full-time or not. any parent has to do laundry, make beds, cook dinner, etc. etc. some just have more time in the day to do it. i don't see how doing that well deserves any more praise than someone who comes home from a job at five. a job is a job. and if you do it right and raise good kids, that's what matters.

  35. My two year old returned from school saying "Mama, stay away!" Not all the time, (only when she is hiding from a diaper change) but it gave me a taste of how fleeting their neediness really is. The diapers, the middle of the night cries, breastfeeding, painfully thick fatigue, the self sacrifice, disruption…it is really such a short time when you have to "live for your kids". I am not ashamed to admit that I do…right now…

  36. Oooh, lots of unfortunate comments here.

    I'll start off with saying that Stephanie is doing exactly what I hope to be doing with my future kids — spending as much quality time as possible with them while still A) bringing in some income — have you SEEN what a four-year private university will cost in 18 years?, that and I really like the idea of a Viking-ed out kitchen, and B) stimulating the portion of my brain dedicated to adult thinking.

    1. Come on folks. Stop with the brown-nosing and whatever the opposite is. Stephanie, like Dooce before her, knows there's a very real issue here among moms, which is why I'm glad she broached it, though to be honest, why must it be broached and not just, um, written about like anything else?

    Maybe I don't get it, because I'm DINK. And by DI, I mean, wish it were way-more-than-DI-normally-is (husband is a Ph.D. student; I'm in marketing). BUT STOP USING AD HOMINEM ATTACKS against Stephanie AND the dissenting commenters. Be polite, but know that it's perfectly all right to criticize during an acknowledged debate,

    2. Barbara E., damn, I love you. But that "kisses" business is better left to the less literate, more hateful crowd. You're way smarter and more awesome (awesomer?) than that, and I mean it, because I frickin' adore your comments.

    3. Carolina, they have MFA programs in Ireland, and the professors will sound a lot better, and if you're like me, you'll get better grades with Irish professors. :) Just kidding, mostly.

    4. Susan, women like you are what Fe means about supporting each other. "Outraged" said she was a fan, just for some context. Being mean to her doesn't help anyone understand that Stephanie herself wasn't trying to be rude about SAHMs — because Steph IS a SAHM with a job!

    5. Cecilia, get over it. Americans are not stupid, not are we ignorant nor classless nor valueless nor clueless nor tasteless. Unlike you (and I mean you personally), we (and I mean the Americans *I* know) don't spend all our free time reading foreign blogs and cursing the foreigners. Because in this country, we call that zenophobic. Get over your preconceived notions about American inferiority and European superiority; it's as wrong as racism, sexism or any other -ism. We're all allowed to live as we please, and *your* way isn't any better than any one else's way. Honestly, that tripe is as bad as George W.

    Kisses?

  37. @christina:

    Wow, I see you really got my point. Bravo.

    I just say "live and let live". And as a person who has experience of two different cultures (oh, yes, there are rude people all over the world, thanks for stating the obvious), I'm just saying that in the USA I really see more of this "bashing other people lives"/"telling a people what's right and what's not".

    It is only a contribution to the discussion.

    Reading the blog of an american woman, with a prevalence of american comments I suppose, I only see this cultural tract again, and I wanted to tell.

    I've only seen the type of bashing Stephanie endures on these issues from American people in my life. Sure, there are Europeans who do that. I've never seen that, but there sure are. Never seen that on a blog. I have a blog with hundreds of readers, I put myself out there like Stephanie on a smaller scale. My blog is in Italian. And I've never seen that attitude from my readers. Nor from the readers of other "european" blogs I read (I read blogs from all over Europe, not only in english and italian).

    So, to me, this "telling people what to do with hate and the absolute belief of being right" is more of an American cultural tract.

    That's. All.

  38. Oh, and I also wanna state what to me it's obvious.

    Giving (unsolicited) advice with grace is one thing. It can be annoying, but it's one thing, and you can be polite doing that.

    Telling someone that is a bad mother / is doing all wrong because of her (thoughtful) choices, it's just horrible. What gives these people the assumption that they are right? I hate people like that, who make their lives a duty of telling others how to live theirs.

  39. This is a great post. It's not an indictment of either side of the Mommy War. It's written from your perspective about your life.

    I'm so very glad Lucas is thriving.

  40. I can't remember where I read it, but it was a terrific quote: "I was a great parent, until I had kids". No one can imagine how hard it might be for some people to raise children or what works best for them. But that's the key – figuring out what works best and doing it instead of wasting your time judging what everyone else is doing. And, you can set good examples whether you're a SAHM or working full time. It's amazing how nasty people can be to one another about choices they've made regarding how they raise their children. What works for some parents doesn't work for others. So what? That's what makes the world go around. If everyone is constantly criticizing everyone else, what are you really teaching your kids? Like mother like daughter…Apple…tree…

  41. I'm not going to lie, i've enjoy reading your blog. ive rooted for you and wished well for your son. but you're very anal person.
    don't critizies stay at home moms for being that, they're not lazy its their choice. just like you chose to make a living about sharing your life with the world.
    face it you're a spoiled brat. you wouldn't be able to function as a single mother or without a nanny. you're not strong enough.
    no i am not jealous of your life. i have a great life, great job and husband. my mother was a great single mother, who didnt it all on her own. she had her own life but never neglected me.

  42. I could not agree with Sammi more. My mother worked from the time I was 2 weeks old. I am in graduate school now, and will have ane exciting career. I could not imagine just staying home and taking an allowance from my husband. What kind of example does that set for a daughter?

  43. A stay at home parent to an infant most certainly IS a full time job – without the paycheck. And until you're the one doing it, you really have no idea. Before the birth of my son six months ago, I worked at an ad agency. And it was tough. Long hours, ridiculous deadlines, brain-taxing stuff. But I enjoyed it, was paid well for it and at the end of the (long) day, I could shut down from it for a while. Now, as a stay at home momma (and freelancer), I can say, unequivocably, that the ad world had nothin' on this. I NEVER get off – I'm ALWAYS on. It's a 24-hour job, with benefits in the form of toothless grins and the first roll over.

    So to the gal who "deplores" the statement about stay at home parents calling it a full-time job – believe it. The parent who gets or has to hand their child off to put in a full day's work also gets to hand off the down-and-dirty part of being a parent for that time, because priorities are just that – priorities. Luckily, in my house, for these fleeting months when my baby is still a baby, he wins. He's my priority.

  44. In response to outragedinct, why is it so wrong to have a nanny in your own home to take care of your children? The nanny is there so work can be done, not simply because Stephanie feels like spending 40 hours a week shopping and playing tennis. If she had a job outside of the home, would it be ok, then? Every person has a right to care for their children how they see fit. Just like you don't agree with everyone else's way of doing it, maybe everyone else doesn't agree with yours? Everyone should be so lucky as to have another person who loves their children, what could be wrong with that?

    1. Author

      I don’t write about our nanny to protect her privacy. I could, of course, write about her, describing her features and demeanor, her laugh, and the way she always says thank you, even when she has no cause. Describe it all without using her name, or even changing certain physical descriptions to protect her. But that’s not really protecting her. I’d still be writing about her. And if I were the nanny, working for me, Stephanie Klein, I’d be nervous, and wouldn’t want to be written about. People are judgmental enough when it comes to care-taking. Everyone has opinions on how everything should be done. So all we can do is read up, research, ask, and follow our gut. And as a nanny, that is what I would do, after consulting with the parents. I wouldn’t impose my ways or beliefs, I don’t think, unless I felt strongly about them. Mostly, I’d be there to service the family, to nurture the children. Ideally, my philosophies would match those of the parents, but life isn’t always that neat. I suspect more often than not, a lot of parents don’t care one way or another. They simply want the nanny to take care of it. After all, they might say, you are the professional care taker.

      If I were a nanny, it would be hard enough fitting into someone else’s home, with their rituals, navigating the terrain of marriage, and figuring out where I should step in and voice an opinion, and where I should simply be respectful and follow the wishes of the parents. It might not be easy to find the right match, and I’m sure I’d develop an attachment to the children. I’d need to figure out the balance.

      I know what a difficult job it is. It’s why I would never write about our nanny. Because I respect her. I know it’s hard. I wouldn’t want to be judged. I appreciate all she does, thank her often, and am thankful she’s in our lives. She works from 7am to 3pm, Monday through Thursday. Friday, she comes in at night, instead of during the day, so Phil and I can have a night out without the children. And it works for us, all of us. Phil and I are able to get work done during the day, and at 3pm, they can be all mine, for six hours, when I dress them for bed at 9pm. So I am fortunate enough that I don’t work my advertising hours anymore of about 11am to 7 or 8pm, depending on the project. Because I won’t allow myself to rely on everyone else to take care of my children… unless. There is an unless. Unless my book is due. It’s the one time where I really do need to stop everything and pay attention, uninterrupted attention to my work.

  45. Oh geez. Throughout history women have worked hard to be accorded the same respect as men. The 'right' to work, vote etc. What is the point of having achieved that if we can't even respect and support each other? We are continually such bitches to one another–in every way. I say this never-ending debate is pointless because, as many have expressed here, everyone is different. What works for one won't for another. Trying to foist your beliefs and practices upon another is like trying to force an individual to use/take/wear another's facial cleanser, medications, shoe size. Superficial examples, I know, but things that, in combination, are unique to us all. It's as crazy as a person trying to change another person's religion (lets not go there, PLEASE). So can't we just agree to disagree, and trust that each of us is the only one who knows what is best for herself and her family.
    On a personal note, this discussion is something that my husband and I are already grappling with, even though we are childless and not even pregnant! My husband's parents DOTED on he and his brother, pouring every ounce of their lives into their children's. Admitedly, I would probably have enjoyed this, having come from parents who always made it quite clear that my brother and I didn't ever come first. But, I know–as much as I can think I know in advance–that I will need something more than being a full-time caregiver. Whether that something more is work or volunteer work or shopping for fucking coasters, I am not yet sure. The only thing I am sure of is that I will not be the same kind of mother my husband's mother was, and the sooner he understands that, the better!

  46. Samantha says: "I believe that if you can afford to you should stay home with your children." Really, Samantha? You believe that's what I should do? Because you know me and my situation, hopes, dreams, life stories so well that you feel comfortable making that kind of blanket statement?
    Ugh. Samantha, please change the above sentence to "I believe that if I can afford to I should stay home with my children." Because your life is the only one you can speak to, n'est-ce pas?

    By the way, no one has put this in an historical or anthropological perspective. Commenters on this blog, and in response to articles commenting on the "mommy wars," etc. seem to think that one woman, staying home alone to raise her kids is some sort of "norm" that we've gotten away from. Actually, it's an invention of the latter half of the 20th century. In America and Western Europe. Among the middle and upper-middle classes. So… don't be throwing your decrees at me as though you understand how I should be living my life and raising my children. I'm glad your situation works for you, but it's not such an age-old, tried-and-true tradition that I should feel so guilty for not adopting it.

    Thus endeth my barely coherent rant.

  47. Argh, I can't comment on the Vegas post. Had two questions–when you're out on vaca, like in Vegas for instance, does anyone come up to you and ask if you're who you are?

    ANd also, that is a big-ass plate 'o fries! Did ya eat 'em all? I would have!

    FROM STEPHANIE: Yes, when I'm traveling I always run into a reader (which is so cool). It's so random that it happens, but it does. At least in the states. And as for the fries… we did not finish those. I was "fried out" by that point in the trip. The best fries were NOT at bouchon but were at… Joe's Stone Crab of all places.

  48. I have always believed that the reason women do not rule the world is that we are to busy being unkind to one another….This is a pure example. Ok, so you got what you wanted…you were provocative and upped the counter on your site…well done. The truth is, you knew exactly what you were doing when you wrote this post, and how ugly is that? There is nothing as painful as reflecting on your life choices and wondering if somewhere you made a mistake…nothing emptier than believing that you may have wasted your life and that it is too late to switch gears…the very way you carefully crafted your words so that later you could claim no responsibility for your actions is truly despicable….there were so many ways that you could have written what was in your heart, but you chose the surest way to hurt a multitude of people.

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