I am a Mother

A few months ago, I sat at my husband’s white coat ceremony and was struck pretty hard by a lot of emotions. I knew I would feel so so proud of my husband and excited for what’s ahead of us. I knew I would feel so grateful for the opportunity he has for furthering his education and following his dream of becoming a doctor. But I didn’t expect to feel so dang jealous.

Right before they were white-coated, each student walked on stage and announced themselves ” Student doctor Tanner Staples. Salt Lake City, Utah. Brigham Young University.” One by one they got up and I didn’t expect to be surprised by all the women.   Yes, it’s the 21st century. Women can become doctors! Women can become a lot of things. But in my circles, a lot of women become mothers. At a really young age. During or right after their ungrads when they’re in their low 20’s seems to be the cultural norm where I’m from. I know dozens and dozens of them. What I don’t know are a lot of women who are going to be doctors.

So I watched all of these intelligent, confident, ambitious women stand up and announce their intentions to become doctors and I felt. . . small. No, big. I felt really really big and acutely aware of how hugely pregnant I was. I felt really conscious of my needy restless toddler and my giant diaper bag full of things to meet her needs. I felt really unsexy in my loose bright colored blouse and big necklace, while they walked up there in sleek professional black dresses and received a round of applause for what the world recognizes as a fantastic accomplishment, a noble pursuit, an intellectual achievement. I felt simple and lame. Like if I sat down and had a conversation with one of these women-my age and notably with the same level of education as I- that they would think “oh isn’t it cute of her to just want to stay home and have babies?”

There’s a mormon.org video where Jane Clayson Johnson discusses her decision to leave her career in journalism to have and stay home with her children. I like the video, but there is a way her path differs from many women I know in a big important way: she proved herself before motherhood. She got the degrees and the high profile, high salary job before she quit, and that I think brings with it a huge amount of respect from others and a sense of accomplishment for herself. Even if they think she’s crazy for quitting, people saw her talent and skills.

The sense of jealousy I feel isn’t about recognition though. It’s not about pay, status, respect, or what anyone might think about me and my choices. It’s about the loss of something that would bring me great happiness to achieve. Some stay at home mom’s don’t miss work because they feel guilty not to bring home a paycheck, or because they miss the validation that comes with someone recognizing their work–for me, it’s because I miss the work. I love school and always have. I loved college and all the lectures, textbooks, papers, and studying that came with it. And I’m good at it. I’m smart, I test well, and I love to learn about pretty much anything. So every year since I graduated, when the first day of school rolls around I start wishing that I was going to get a stack of new books and syllabi. I know not everyone feels this way about school, but I do know a lot of women that get from work what I got from school–much of my sense of self, accomplishment, and progression was tied to it. Intellectual advancement and achievement gave me a high and a happiness that stay at home motherhood does not give me, even though it unquestionably has its own rewards. I want to go back to school and earn a couple more degrees. I want to have a career–probably in writing, editing, or publishing, possibly in engineering? I want to learn amazing things, expand my knowledge, develop my talents, show them to the world, improve the world, create beautiful things, advance a field.

The sacrifice of motherhood for me is not being able to do that right now. It’s a halting of my potential in certain areas while I devote all of myself to children that demand all of me. I could have been successful at anything I poured myself into, but I feel like I didn’t prove that before becoming a mother and I worry about whether I’ll have the chance in the future. Not to prove it to others, but to prove it to myself and experience the joy of becoming something that I want to become and accomplishing dreams I have. Instead, for now, I have chosen to pour myself into being a mother. All of my talents and intelligence, potential and skills, they’re all going there right now and I don’t want to feel like I need a subtitle to give myself value–a desperate grasp at validating myself– “I stay at home with my kids. . . but I used to be a lawyer!” “I’m a mom. . . but I want to be a writer someday! I’m going to go back to school!”  “I’m a mother. . . but I’m really good at math–i’m smart! I could have been an engineer.” Nope. I am a mother. Just as much as saying “I’m a surgeon” or “I’m in medical school” doesn’t need a subtitle, “I am a mother” does not and should not need a subtitle. It doesn’t mean I didn’t have other dreams or anything else to do–it just means that for now I’ve decided to devote myself full time to motherhood instead.

Where I think I’m trying to get with all of this is to a recognition of the women with talents and skills that no one ever got to see. Ones that they never even developed, or won’t develop for another 20 or 30 years, because they made the choice to be a mother. And that is every single mother, because whether you work or not, or whether or not you ever will, motherhood will infringe upon your professional development to at least a small extent, and for some women, entirely. So, here’s to all the intelligent, confident, ambitious women I know who are mothers (which is most of the mothers I know). The ones who would have excelled in medical school and made incredible doctors. The ones who would have succeeded in any field they pursued. The ones who are talented and driven, well spoken and creative and spend their days nurturing, teaching, and raising children, supervising at the playground, reading to toddlers, and soothing crying babies. Here’s to you and your choice and your way of making the world a better place.

7 (long) quick takes

So maybe sometimes I write 7 quick takes and I probably should have just written 7 different blog posts instead.  Whatever.

1. Preparing for this baby kind of feels like I’m preparing for hibernation. That’s kind of the way I’m approaching it. I have every intention of holing up just as long as I did with Camryn and spending the winter in sweats, living in survival mode, and never leaving the house.  I think winter is the perfect time to have a baby because I think it would depress me staying in so much when the weather’s nice, but isn’t that what you want to do (or have to do) all winter anyway?  So right now, I’m overcompensating, and getting out in every single way I possibly can. We are hitting up every free or cheap family attraction within a 30 minute radius and playing tourist big time while I have the chance and while it’s relatively easy–Camryn’s a trooper and I know it’s going to be a lot harder with 2.  It’s very possible that I’ll have seen more of Kansas City in my first 4 months living here than I will in the next 4 years altogether. It’s a little bit exhausting, but mostly fun. I’m starting to get a little worried though that it will be a major life shock to Camryn to all of a sudden not be carted around everyday to every park, festival, and storytime in the city.

Here’s a little bit of what we’ve been up to as of late

Fireman day at the library.  She wasn’t too impressed.

CAM01629 CAM01631 CAM01632 Dodgetown & Antioch Park playgroup.  This is right before these two started stripping–so ready to swim in that fountain.CAM01504 Kauffman Memorial Gardens (followed by a couple hours at the Nelson Atkins Museum)CAM01490 CAM01482Plaza Arts Festival with the lovely Becca.
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and a couple of dates with my love.  Our friends gave us last minute tickets to this Royals game (are we there for the baseball or the dip n dots?)IMG_0765and a late celebration of our anniversary (4! hurrah!) a lovely outdoor dinner.  I love this guy. Forever and ever and always.  CAM01511

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2. Go Royals! In case you live under a rock (or don’t live in KC, or don’t care about baseball), the Kansas City Royals are in the playoffs and have won their first 6 games.  Pretty exciting stuff. Fountains all over the city are dyed bright blue, everyone is sporting Royals gear, and we are spending way too much time watching baseball (anybody else totally over all the beer, truck, and viagra commercials??) Bandwagon fans right here!

3. That one time I cooked an entire package of bacon for BLT’s and when I was cleaning and putting away the griddle, I forgot that the little catch drawer was totally full of grease and spilled it all over myself and the floor. One of the worst things I’ve ever had to clean up. Three washes later and the stain is out of my sweater, but it still smells like bacon.

4. I’ve been initiated into the Trader Joe’s club.  My friend Becca took the NCLEX this week (she passed! congrats nurse becca!) and wanted to take a drive out to her test site the day before to make sure she knew where she was going. It was kind of a ways and there was a Trader Joe’s nearby, so she decided to turn it into a field trip and bring me along.  She’d never been either and was like “I don’t know, people just love Trader Joe’s, it’s like a thing.”  So, I posted on Facebook asking for suggestions of what people like to buy there, and it quickly became my most active status of all time, because apparently–people just love Trader Joes.  It’s like a thing. I’m way behind on the times I guess, and people are really passionate about this place and it’s organic, novelty, chocolate covered items. It did not disappoint, and my favorite item so far has been the hummus. Oh, hummus, where have you been all my life (really though, I didn’t know what hummus was until about a year ago)

so many cheeses that we’ve never heard of, so little money. . .

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5.  I splurged on tickets to the Kansas City Ballet and I’m sooooo stoked about it! They are supposed to be one of the top performing ballet companies in the country and a Kansas City must-see. Tanner and I are pretty over the Nutcracker though, and when I saw an advertisement for them performing Alice in Wonderland, I was sold. It’s on Saturday, and if my baby decides to come 2 weeks early and makes us miss it I may just never forgive him.

6. Camryn is fighting her nap and I am fighting back HARD. My policy is that my children must nap until they enter full day Kindergarten. And there is no wiggle room there, and I absolutely will not survive if she stops sleeping for 2 hours of the day. At this point that’s happening from 4-6 and. . . if you were a mom that wasn’t me you’d probably just start skipping that nap and putting her to bed early but no. No thank you. And if you politely suggest that I do “quiet time” instead, I will politely tell you that my children nap until they are 5 and that is the rule.

7.  I got pretty used to telling people I was feeling great all throughout my pregnancy when they’d ask how I was. And now it’s more like hip pain! pelvic pain! sciatic pain! oh my! I’m just a big ball of body parts that hurt. But I can’t complain–I’ve had it so much easier than most– and call me crazy but I really do love being pregnant. I’m not quite so eager to get this baby out as last time and not quite as over it. Being pregnant is beautiful and amazing. I’m growing a life and I recognize the privilege that is.  Also–way more excited to give birth this time around. Giving birth is so cool! Maybe more on that later, but for now, I am due in 19 days (!) and I’ve got a Target list a mile long. And only one freezer meal frozen so far, so I really should get on that.

 

 

Fall fun X3

You know all those famous mom bloggers who spend their falls at idyllic apple orchards & berry picking patches, going on hayrides, and photographing their kids sitting on perfect hay barrels next to dried up corn holding their picked-it-myself-from-the-patch pumpkins? And you’re like “where do these women live and where do they find these places?” Well I think they live in the midwest. Because there are sooo many places like that around here. It’s kind of a joke really. I think I could go to one every single day in October and still not hit them all. I came as close to that this week as I think I can handle.  My kid fed goats at three different locations in the last 6 days which I think either means I’m doing something really right here, or I need to get a life.

This one is the Deana Rose Children’s Farm. We went for playgroup with some of the other med wives. It was completely charming in every way (and free! what?) I was really impressed and will definitely be back. CAM01603 CAM01606in a teepee
CAM01610 feeding the goatsCAM01619 1412701158771 this magical little kiddie gardenCAM01622 CAM01626Here we have Carolyn’s Country Cousins Pumpkin Patch. Petting zoos, playgrounds, hayrides–free. Amazing pumpkin donuts–not free, but so delicious.  1412803972255 CAM01638 CAM01641 CAM01640 CAM01644 CAM01646 CAM01658 CAM01669 This one is Faulkner’s Ranch. Our real estate company had a private party there one day and invited us to attend for . . . . what? free? ok.  ok I guess we’ll come. Beggars will beg and med school families will attend any and all free events they can find.

Dad came along this time and we just adore dad CAM01683 It took one whole week of begging, bribing and persuading to get her to put those overalls on. Tanner was the one who finally did the trick by telling her how cool it is to have so many pockets. CAM01686 CAM01687 She spent about 2 hours in this stupid bounce house (while we stood bored outside the bounce house wishing there was seating) and then we squeezed in a couple other activities in about 10 minutesIMG_0833 CAM01695 CAM01698 CAM01701 CAM01704 CAM01712 CAM01707 IMG_0848

 

And last of all, let it be known that the pumpkin donuts at Faulkners Ranch are superior to the (famous) donuts at Carolyn’s Country Cousins. Both were completely delicious and satisfying, but the votes were unanimous and Faulkners just straight up won.

baby showers

I’ve had the good fortune to fall into the hands of 2 really amazing groups of women. One is my ward, and the other are the med school wives (who I’ve heard referred to as the Med Wives Mormon Mom squad, which pretty much sums it up). I was thrown 2 different showers, and really, who throws a baby shower for someone they’ve only known for 3 months? Or even shows up to their shower with a gift? Only the kindest and most giving and thoughtful of people I think. I was blown away by everyone’s generosity. Thank you to everyone who helped plan or come to one of my showers! You really are the best and if I don’t get around to sending you a thank you card, it doesn’t mean I don’t have a thankful heart and the best of intentions.

(I only have photos from the med wives shower since Christie took them and sent them to me. Wish I’d remembered to take a photo at the other one too!)

unnamed unnamed yes this is pin the sperm on the egg, and those are bad photos of Tanner stolen off Facebook. When you’re husbands are never around, and you don’t have family for 1000 miles, you become good friends fast–good enough to know that this would amuse rather than offend meunnamed I just want to point out that in both of these photos, all of the women are stunningly photogenic and their children. . . aren’t.  unnamed That’s Christie on the far right, the mastermind of the whole affair.  THANK YOU~~!!unnamed unnamed

The Other Woman

Lately, my husband comes home every day smelling strongly of formaldehyde–the chemical used to preserve the dead bodies they are dissecting in the cadaver lab. (It’s a huge turn on.) One night I asked him “do you know your cadavers name?” (Because, I don’t know, sometimes I try and show interest in his life and get sick of asking “how was class today?”)

Tanner: Not her real name but we call her Jolene. Jo-jo for short.

Dana: Seriously? Jolene, like that Dolly Parton song?

Tanner: Exactly. I named her that because she’s the other woman. I spend more time with her than I do with you.

Jolene is a 94-yr old deceased female who had breast cancer, a double mastectomy, and double knee replacement surgery and is now half-disected and being preserved with formaldehyde. This is my competition. And I’m losing.

Speaking of the other woman, when I first moved here, I was talking to one of the 2nd year wives and we got on the topic of how many beautiful attractive women there are in medical school that are in our husbands classes and labs, getting more time with them that we do. She said “I hate it. I started baking a ton and always sending my husband to school with awesome treats.”

Me:  Oh, so that all those women see his delicious home-baked goods and are reminded he has a loving awesome wife at home?

Christie:  N0–to keep him fat so that none of them want him!

We wives do what we gotta do.