Category Archives: motherhood

Why I Turned Down a Job to be a Stay at Home Mom

Why I Turned Down a Job Today

The original plan was never for me to be a stay at home mom.  When I quit my job in November, I intended to enjoy the holidays at home with my family and immediately begin looking for new employment after New Years.

Within days of resigning, I had an interview lined up already.  It seemed a very promising opportunity.  After a month-long interview process in which I was all but guaranteed the spot, there was a “miscommunication” and I was told they were going to “pass.”  Definitely a bummer, but perhaps a blessing in disguise– I might have ended up working for another shady company.

“Why don’t you just stay home with the kids?  You don’t need to go back to work– we’re doing fine.  It’s been so good for the girls.”  I couldn’t believe my husband was suggesting such an idea.  Work was all I knew.  It was part of my identity.  I’d been a part of the workforce since I was old enough to legally do so.  (Actually, I started much earlier as a groom at the stable where I took lessons in trade for attending horse shows.)

To be honest, it was such a relief to think my world would no longer revolve around someone else’s schedule (except two little girls!)  I had been so happy for the past month– apparently I had been more miserable than I realized at my last job.  It was as if a fog had been lifted and I was truly enjoying life.  I was reluctant to do anything which might jeopardize this newfound happiness.

So I stayed home and resolved to do all the things that had fell by the wayside while I was working full time.  I caught up with the laundry (for a day…then of course it was piled everywhere again, but hey I did it!)  I thoroughly cleaned and reorganized our exercise studio/game room.  I made sure the kitchen was spotless every night before I went to bed– waking up to an empty sink and sparkling counters is an amazing feeling– even I can hardly believe I just said that, but it’s true!  The girls and I took leisurely walks whenever the weather allowed.  Matt and I ran errands on his days off– just enjoying being together as a family.  I re-dedicated myself to my writing.  Work had sucked my energy to where I was literally just surviving every day.  Now I was actually living.

This went on for a few months and our family settled into a comfortable routine.  Then I got a call from a former work colleague.  She too had left the company I worked for last due to the negative environment.  Now she was asking if I would like to come meet the owner of the new spot she had gone to– they were looking for someone with my experience and she thought I would be a great fit.

Panic set in.  Things were going so well at home, was it worth it to rock the boat?  Annabelle still had a couple months before we could start weaning– I couldn’t bear the thought of dusting off the dreaded pump.  Would I still have time for my writing?  That was my “me” time– I looked forward to it every day.  Did I even want to go to work outside the home?  Was I lazy or selfish for even having these feelings?

“So don’t do it.”  Hubby said matter-of-factly.  “You don’t have to.”  He sees the world very black and white.  It’s easy for him to make decisions without getting emotional.  If only it were that easy for me! I decided to at least go in for a meeting and see exactly what the position entailed.  I was flattered that my friend had suggested me and felt I owed her that much.  I figured that it would be at least 40 hours plus some nights (as most event jobs are) and that I would simply be unable to meet those demands.  But at least I would have “tried” and given the opportunity a fair listen before politely declining.

Fast forward a few days and I’m sitting in front of one of Houston’s culinary greats.  He is an imposing physical presence, but at the same time very warm and easy to talk to.  “So what schedule would work for you?  Do you need to leave by 2?  Can you be here at 9?  Family is important to me, so I understand your situation.”  Well this was not what I expected.  Here he was asking me what would be my ideal schedule.  He was so willing to work with me that I wanted to take the job for that reason alone.

I had anticipated an easy out– a schedule to which I would be unable to commit.  Instead I had an offer on the table for a part time job with hours that were tailored to me.  The pay wasn’t great, but what part time job would be able to compete financially with the salary and commission I pulled before?  Plus I could probably learn a lot from someone so knowledgable in the industry.

Hubby was less than excited.  “It’s not that much money.  It’s not really worth it.”  At first I was frustrated– he wasn’t even listening to the positive aspects!  “If you really want to do it, we’ll make it work,” he assured me. “But I love having you home.  And what about your writing?  You won’t have as much time.”

He was trying to be supportive, but I could see that he did not want me to accept.  Could I blame him?  Sure, the part-time schedule worked great for me, but what about him?  As a night manager he often doesn’t even get home until 4am.  If I was leaving at 8am every morning, it meant he would get an absurdly little amount of sleep.  No one could function on 3-4 hours of rest every single day.  It really would be asking him to make a huge sacrifice– for what amounted to only a couple hundred extra bucks a week.

I agonized (probably more than I should have) over the decision for two days.  However, when I thought about what was best for our family as a whole, it is for me to be exactly where I am at the moment.  It still didn’t make it any easier for me to write a letter of regret turning down the job.  To accept that for the time being I am not the prime breadwinner.  To let go (at least temporarily) the part of me that sees myself as a working woman and embrace this new identity as a stay at home mom.

That is what I am right now, but that is not ALL that I am.  I am a writer.  I am a counselor to family and friends who come to me for career advice (I was there for over 15 years!)  I am a motivator to those that need a little extra encouragement to make a positive change in their lives or pursue a dream (leaving a fairly lucrative career to stay home and commit to my writing was a risk, but it is my dream).  I am the backbone of our family– keeping home and finances in order.  I am molding two little girls into strong and intelligent little ladies.

Typing it out and owning it is such an empowering feeling.  If writing is not your thing, I encourage you to say it out loud mamas!  Often when we make the choice to stay home, we often lose a little bit of ourselves and our identity as an independent woman.  But it is still there inside– your assets and gifts that you offer the world, whether it be from an office or your house.  Remember your strengths and your passions and know that you are still as important, if not more so now, than you were before!

I do feel truly blessed that I am able to have this time with my family and my girls, though it was not without sacrifice–read about the one lifestyle change that we made which allowed me to be a stay at home mom.

Music is sunshine

How Music Made Our Mornings FUN!

Lilu and I have always bonded over music.  Ever since she could talk, we have made time during every day to sing and dance to our “jams” (generally super-cheesy 80’s music.)

How to have cheerful children in the morning

Like any kid, she’s not always very enthusiastic about waking up for school..  One day last week as I was tucking her in to bed, I told her I was going to come in the next morning with music blaring to wake her up.  That way, I explained, she would have to be in a good mood.

7am rolls around and I forget.  Lilu didn’t.  She sat right up in bed: “where’s the music?”  I quickly retreated to my room to grab my phone.  When I came back to help her get dressed (she still lets me choose her outfits–I’ll enjoy it as long as possible) I was playing “Higher Love” (our official family song.)

Well wouldn’t you know, Lilu hopped right out of bed with a smile on her face, already suggesting which song to play next.  The rest of the morning was entirely pleasant as we ate breakfast together, heads bobbing to the tunes playing from my portable speaker.  Lilu was even ready for school ten minutes early.

Lilu is very big on traditions, so I believe we will be jamming out each morning from now on.  Adding music definitely improved everyone’s mood– myself included.  I’m not sure why I didn’t think of it sooner, but I’m sure glad I found a way to make mornings a little bit easier!

Moms do chores on Friday night

I should have just said “thank you!”

A couple days ago my mother-in-law offered to call her cleaning lady to come to our house.  I thought I had been doing a GREAT job: cleaning the kitchen top to bottom every single night, sweeping daily, mopping weekly, cleaning bathrooms (and the tubs) weekly, keeping up with endless (literally) laundry, picking up all kid toys before bed, heck I even scrubbed the kitchen cabinets this week!  So I was a little surprised by her suggestion.  I mean, it made sense when I worked full time, but now that I am home isn’t cleaning in my new “job description?”

Confused, I pointed out how many chores I did every day.  “I feel like the house is cleaner than ever…”

“Well, it’s so much work taking care of two kids.  I raised twins so I know.  I just thought it would be nice to help you.”

“I appreciate it,” I replied, debating whether or not to take her up on the offer.  “But it just seems silly with me home every day.  I can handle it– is there something I missed?”

“Well…” Pause. “There’s a little dust on the bookshelves…”  Dust?!  “I just know how busy you are and everyone has allergies and…”

I know she meant well, but now I really couldn’t accept– I definitely couldn’t justify anyone (even if it was a gift) paying a cleaning crew to come in because there was a little dust on some shelves.  I assured her that I had everything under control and not to worry.

So here I am, exhausted, finally sitting down at 11pm because I spent my Friday night DUSTING.  Part of me wonders if my mother-in-law will even notice.  Oh well, the house does smell fabulous (gotta love Pledge)  And I guess it’s my own fault.  I have told Mateo so many times that he needs to learn how to graciously just say “thank you” on occasion. Maybe I should have heeded my own advice.

Being a stay at home mom IS hard work!  There’s really no way of knowing until you’re in it– making sure big sis is dressed, fed, and off to school on time in the morning; changing every poopy diaper (for some reason Annabelle saves them for me); trying to think of ways to entertain two kiddos all afternoon; squeezing in a workout wherever possible; completing all of the aforementioned chores; getting both kids bathed, fed, in pajamas, and in bed at a reasonable time and praying that no one has a meltdown.

Moms (and dads): there’s nothing wrong with accepting an offer of help or a gift every once and a while.  It doesn’t mean that you are a bad mom or you’re not doing a good job.  It means that there is someone out there who CARES– let them!  I’ve learned my lesson!  Next time I’ll be relaxing and watching an entire movie on a Friday instead of looking for all the dust I’ve missed.

Hope everyone is enjoying their weekend so far!

Sunday Funday — How Weekends Have Changed Since Becoming a Mom

Today was family day in the Rodriguez house.  The four of us spent the day together, all day, just us.

We started the day with breakfast, well, brunch if you consider it was around noon.  Grandma stayed with us last night, so Matt and I were extremely lucky to be able to sleep in for once!  (Good thing because Annabelle decided to get up and play for an hour around 6am–a nap was much needed!)  I made chocolate chip pancakes– yes you read that right, I COOKED– and we all started our day together around the table with a treat.

By this time, Annabelle was ready for her nap.  Mateo sent Lilu and I off to the salon for pedicures, something I haven’t spoiled myself with since I quit my job.  What a relaxing hour!  Lilu had brought an American Girl book (yes, our six year old wanted to READ at the salon) and she was so cute sitting next to me quietly immersed in her new chapter book, occasionally giggling when her feet were tickled.  I even let her pick my nail color– metallic lime green– because, why not?

When we returned home, Annabelle was up and ready to go, so we headed off to the mall to get Lilu’s bangs trimmed and a new dress for school picture day this week.  Nothing too exciting, but so much fun for the four of us to be together.  I gave Lilu a few options from Gap Kids– great sales going on– and she asked if she could try them on.  Grandma usually buys most of the girls’ clothes– it is just something she loves to do– so Lilu never gets to choose.  This was probably the first time she’s been in a changing room for herself, and she WORKED it!  She transformed into a little diva, twirling and posing.  In the end she didn’t really care which dress I picked, it was modeling them that was the fun part.

Before we headed back to the car, Lilu pleaded to stop in Barnes and Noble.  How do you say no to a kid that begs to go to the bookstore??  Even Annabelle has developed a love of books (I never believed babies would sit still for a story, but she is fascinated and knows which ones are hers.)  We let Lilu pick out a new adventure in the Frozen saga (of course they are still milking this thing) and got Annabelle a new peek-a-boo book since she can actually lift the flaps herself, and delights in doing so.

There are so many things that can make it difficult for us to spend an entire day together as a family: school, work, naps, Lilu’s weekends with her mom.  It is so easy to get caught up in life that you forget to slow down and just enjoy it and the people that are most important.  Today was such a simple day, but it was one of the best I’ve had in a while.  Kids want nothing more that to just BE with their family, and honestly, there is nowhere else I would rather be either.

Baby See, Baby Do

We have officially entered the “copycat phase.”  I never knew that babies were capable of deliberate imitation so young, but then again, before I had Annabelle I just kind of assumed that babies were little “blobs” that laid around wherever you put them (adorable little blobs of course!)  So everyday is a learning experience for me!

Annabelle has decided that Lilu is her inspiration in life right now.  She might say “da-da da-da da-da” all day long, but it’s Lilu that she wants to be like.  If Lilu is chewing her food a little too loudly, Annabelle will chime in smacking her lips with gusto.  Wherever Lilu is or whatever she is doing, that is where Annabelle wants to be.

They’ve also developed a secret language which only involves shrieking.  At decibels not meant for adult ears.  On multiple occasions throughout the day, an ear-splitting call and repeat ensues that sounds like a school of whales.  It’s both incredibly cute and mind-numbing at the same time.

Lilu has a very specific “dance” she’s done since birth– especially while riding in the car.  She tosses her head back and forth, hair flying, for the duration of every trip.  Before Annabelle was born, I joked that we would soon have two kids in the backseat going nuts.  And of course…

Nothing makes me happier than seeing the girls bonding in a way that only sisters can.  I worried about the five year difference between them, but it has become apparent that love transcends age.  And that there will never be a dull (or quiet) moment in the Rodriguez household!

Golden Saddlebred

Mom’s Happy Place

I found myself getting to be in a bad mood today.  For some reason, I seem to get less sleep on Saturdays than any other morning of the week.  Both kids were up and ready to start the day by 8:30.  This after being awake with Annabelle at 1:30am, 4:30am, and 5:30am.  As a bar/restaurant manager, Matt works late on weekends, so I decided to treat him to sleeping as late as he wanted– which happened to be 1:30pm.  Yeah.  I can’t even remember the last time I was able to sleep 7 hours completely uninterrupted. (To his credit, he put Annabelle back to sleep after her 5:30am waking).

So Matt rolls out of bed while the girls and I are finishing lunch, and I caught myself scowling as he rubbed the sleep from his eyes.  I forget what I asked, but his response was not in the tone of undying gratitude that I felt I deserved for being a martyr this morning.  I got madder.  Then he asked if he could run to the store real quick before I left for the barn– he bribed me with Starbucks, so I obliged.  The “quick” trip ended up taking an hour and a half.  I was pissed.  I stomped off with my coffee that wasn’t even hot anymore and started the 40 minute trek to go visit my horse Goldie, who Matt didn’t seem to care that I hadn’t seen in TWO weeks and I felt very guilty about.

When I finally arrived at 4:00pm, what little sun was able to make its way through the clouds was hanging low in the sky.  A brisk breeze was blowing, putting a chill in the 60 degree air.  Amazingly, Goldie wasn’t very dirty, so we didn’t have to spend too much time cooped up in the stall grooming and were able to get right outside.  I instantly felt better.

There’s no turnout on Saturdays, so Goldie was thrilled to get out and stretch her legs– actually, it turned out to be more of a strut.  Cool, crisp days are her favorite, and she had an extra spring in her step which reminded me of our long ago horse show days.  I couldn’t help but smile at her youthful exuberance– she looked far from twenty-four years old.  She looked so beautiful I actually whipped out my phone (which usually never leaves my pocket during barn visits) and took a short video of her prancing.

When she was finished with her workout and we headed back inside to clean up, I realized that every trace of anger and resentment that had built up during the day had faded.  I wasn’t really mad– I was just exhausted.  I needed a couple hours to get away to what I have always called “my happy place,” wherever Goldie is.  I love the smell of barn– the fresh sawdust, dirt that always seems to float in the air, leather.  As a child I played outside most of the time, but as an adult I spend so much of my life indoors.  Obviously I get a little stir-crazy and the only cure is fresh air and equines.

At home later that evening, I tried to be patient with Matt when he still seemed tired.  He works so hard to take care of all his women and deserves a rest too.  We are a team, and sometimes you have to pick up the slack for your teammate.  Maybe I can get a nap on one of his days off– or maybe, just maybe, the girls will sleep past 9am this morning!  One can only hope… 🙂

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She won’t need mommy as much anymore

The past couple weeks have been a struggle with sleep deprivation.  The baby is cutting four teeth and is obviously feeling some discomfort– most noticeably at night (daytime activities must be exciting enough to distract her).  Just last month we were almost sleeping through the night and mom and dad were finally starting to feel normal again.  Now we (well, mostly I) am up every two hours to comfort her back to sleep.  Many times the only thing that will calm her is “mommy time” aka boobs.  I know she can’t help it, but it’s still so tough dragging myself out of my warm bed for the third time each night.  If I let her “cry it out” we risk waking up big sis…not worth it to have two kids up at 3am.

A former work colleague of mine (before we both quit that soul-sucking place) told me about how he used to rock his daughter to sleep in the middle of the night after his wife finished feeding.  He told me how exhausting it was, but that he really cherished that hour each night because he knew that all too soon it would be over.

That really stuck with me– and I find that in this situation now, I feel the same.  As tired as I am, my heart melts every time I see her toothy grin peeking through the crib bars, so happy to see me.

When I first pick her up and catch a wisp of that sweet baby smell.

The way she gets heavier in my arms as her tummy gets full.  Her eyes slowly close.

The way she rests her head on my shoulder while I burp her, utterly content.

In these little moments, when the house is dark and quiet, she needs mommy, only mommy.  One day, all too soon, she won’t need mommy as much anymore.  I’ll have my sleep back, but I know a part of me will mourn this time, this precious short time that only she and I share.