Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Judging the Outsides

In the ever growing world of "We-don't-have-to-spell-anymore", another acronym has emerged: WAHM. It means, Work at home Mom.  I say that the acronym has emerged, because let's face it, not only did the acronym not exist, but even the idea existed in rarity in my parents generation. I am a WAHM and I also work part time out of the house. Sometimes I feel like I have the best of both worlds: Time with my boys and bringing in some money for the family, and sometimes I feel that I have the worst of both worlds: never enough time to actually focus on work (I am a night owl. Read: 8pm-midnight is the only time anything gets done around here.) and I am also unfocused when I am trying to spend time with the kids.  I always end up feeling that I have sacrificed one area to "phone it in", in the other area.  It is very frustrating.  Today, I suggested a rousing game of Candy Land with my 4 year old. We pulled out the game board, chose our gingerbread people (He- Green, Me- Red) and stacked our cards.  I generously suggested he go first. First he tried to cheat to find a card that had a double color on it.  Then he lied about it. ("It was on top.") Then, when I caved and said, "Okay, move your guy 2 purple spaces", he said, "No. I want to put it here instead." (4 purple spaces up.)  I just got irritated.  I didn't yell, I just got up and went back to my computer.  I couldn't help but think, I have too much to do right now, and you don't even want to play WITH me anyway, so why am I bothering? Sigh. The reality is that it's not that big of a deal that he wants to cheat. and lie. ...Right?!  I mean, he's not yet four years old.  I "should" be able to sit there with him, stare blankly into the game board and be supportive, yet firm about the cheating and lying.  Instead, he cried that I wasn't going to play with him watch him play anymore and needed to hug me over and over again, while crying giant crocodile tears.  And the guilt goes on...I'm just finding it hard to balance.  I've had a surge of work inquiries and there is always a ton to do when I'm trying to contract a new client.  Even though I love my party planning business, there are days where I wish I could just dump it all because it's not worth it if I can't sit through one full game of Candy Land, with a preschooler who is trying to cheat his way to the end anyway...I know I can't be the only Mom who feels this way, and yet it's always tempting to believe that someone else has figured out the secret to doing it all...perhaps the one with the hand made St. Patrick's Day outfit and the blog post that talks about how the "Leprechaun" messed up their house and only left them green things to drink? (Are. you. F-ing. kidding. me???!!! Who has the time for that nonsense??? I can't even finish one lousy game of Candy Land, let alone sew an outfit out of hand dyed green shamrocks and gold threaded tulle.) No matter how hard I try, it seems like someone else is doing it better.  BUT....then I remind myself not to judge someone else's "outside" by my "inside".  I don't really know what's going on in their household.  Maybe they're compensating. Maybe they are actually that fabulous.  Either way, I'm doing all I can.  I just sometimes wish it felt better. Don't get me wrong...there are days where I feel like I've won the jackpot in my situation, but then there are the days like today where it just feels like I'm failing across the board...

We went without power on Sunday for about 10 hours.  It was raining and storming in LA, like we haven't seen for quite awhile.  It was cozy and nice for the first part of the day, but once the power was out it was all brains on deck: What to do with the kids when you can't go outside and you can't turn anything on?  Luckily, Elijah took a nice long nap and Christian can easily entertain himself with a pile of pillows and a few stuffed animals, so I got a chance to make up a big pot of vegetable soup.  I filled everyone up with soup and then said, "Well, I'm off!" (I had made plans about 2 months ago to meet up with some new friends from out of town.)  Before Elijah was born, I could not imagine a situation where I would "ditch" my hubby and kids in the middle of a rain storm to have dinner with people I had actually never met in person before.  But Elijah opened up a whole new world for me.  He opened up a world of people that have been in my shoes before.  The Mommas that also have a child with Down syndrome.  A world of people who have been on this journey longer than me, the same amount of time as me, and even less than me.  And it turns out there are some pretty cool people that are part of this world.  I had dinner with 5 of them.


It was cool. The greatest thing is that I felt that even without our child's special needs, we would have gotten along, and we would have been friends. I will admit that it was nice to be able to shorthand the situation.  They all know exactly what it's like, they know what questions to ask and there is little, to no, explaining to do about it.  I loved it.  Yeah...technically we met on the internet, but these ladies "get" me. They are my people.
My people won't replace the friends and family who know me so well, but they make a nice addition.  They add an element of knowing that is nice to have around.  Most of the time, I'll probably want to go to an old, trusted friend to say I had a rough day, but sometimes...if that rough day involves a little one with an extra chromosome... I might need to go to someone to say, I had a rough day, simply so they can say, I know. And they do.

In honor of new friends and old friends, having time with my boys and feeling like I never have enough time with my boys... I am supporting a friend's new business.  Because we could all use a little extra time to spend with our families, instead of pouring over the volumes of un-filed and un-scrapbooked photos (Come on...we all have 'em...) Photo Books by Laura will take the stress out of it for you. Laura masterfully arranges and creates beautiful photobooks filled with all of your memories-saving you the time and stress of doing it (or never getting around to it) yourself! Check out her website at  And now....drum roll please...I am thrilled to present an exciting giveaway on my blog!!! Laura has agreed to give away one free 4x6 photo book to one random commenter on my blog!  So, leave a comment (if you do so Anonymously, please say who you are) and I will choose a comment at random (using, so I can't be biased) to win the free photobook!  (No need to be local- Laura can work with anyone, anywhere in the country!)

...And if you did happen to make an outfit out of hand dyed green shamrocks and gold threaded tulle...well, then I've got a lying and cheating preschooler who could use some of your patience in a rousing game of Candy Land...


The DuBois said...

Jen--Another beautiful blog post. I read them all, and look forward to them, but I don't always have time to comment because I am busy making hand made costumes for Isabel for every holiday! HAHAHAHA! Nothing could be further from the truth! As an archivist, I am fascinated by your friend's new business. I have wanted to explore something like that myself. Love and hugs to you and your boys, Susan

mama baer said...

I like your style and have found over the years that my friends with kids with ASD are now my best friends. Unfortunately, others who do not live what we live seem to fall away. Many, unlike you, can't talk about the hard stuff.

Katherine! said...

Well.... I find myself measuring my life to yours all the time:
"Jennifer had time to put on Makeup today!" Damn!
"Jen has her own buisness, teaches ballet AND works out daily?" DAMN.
"Jen went out with her friends!!!???????????" Triple Damn!

Also.... Sounds like Christian and Wendy have been playing Candyland together. We had a similar scene at our house last week.
LOVE YA!- Katherine

Jen Currier said...

You guys are funny! Katherine- glad to know that you had a similar Candy Land scene at your least it's not just me!! :) Susan- I really thought you would like Laura's website- check it out, and fingers crossed for you! :)
Mama Baer- I hear you- many others have said the same thing. I hope it's not true for me, but if it is at least I'm adding to my community now...

Laura said...

Thankfully I comment on your blog alot so it won't look like I am only in it for the photobook, but....(,,,,,)

But I have had similar frustrations wondering why my kid is the only one without socks, why I am making a big deal out of the fact she always wants/makes the spinner land on 4 when clearly it was is in the 1 space (Cat in the Hat game, highly recommend for pre-readers) and what I want to model for when she is 'teaching' Sean how to play. Shouldn't the game be measured by how much fun vs how closely rules are followed..... but till what point? 4 1/2? 5??

Questions, guesses and doing the best I can is all I can do probably being a model for them till my dying day.



thea said...

Candy Land is a ridiculous game that makes me want to find the nearest bridge and toss myself over. Trying to explain the rules to the kids is hard enough, and just when we seem to have it together (2 turns max), someone decides to start cheating again. AGH! I've taught them the joys of playing solo, and now they can play happily with their own morphing/cheater rules while I sit back and watch. Feels much less stressful for me. Should probably seek help for that :)

Great post! Funny how virtual strangers can sometimes really "get" you. So glad you've found a group of ladies who do :)

Bethany said...

Aww, I loved our dinner! And you have my digits, so feel free to give a ring when you are in the dumps over something I get ... cuz sister I get it. :)

carrie said...

I can't even get Caitlyn to focus long enough on Candyland, in fact she only wants to be on the purple squares. So I had her and I make our own rules and now we play "How many purple squares can Caitlyn find, while Mommy watches?" I think the idea of following the rules of a game is very hard for this age, mostly because the games they play with friends, the "rules" are always changing, "Your it, no I'm it, your the pirate, now I am" they change every time they play the same game, and there isn't a clear "winner".

Linda said...

I absolutely loved meeting you! It feels so nice to hang out with people that get it. And I agree, your new "people" don't ever replace your family and old friends. It's just a sisterhood that if you aren't a part of, you really don't understand. An extended part of the family, if you will. And a fabulous family we are. : )

Thanks for braving the rain to meet up!

Mel~ @ said...

Jen, I found myself laughing full belly laughs at the first part of this post. I can SOsososo relate! I think I even saw a blurb from the blogger who who made the messy house and green milk and had to roll my eyes in exasperation then too. :0

I love the community of special needs parents I have found through my blog too! What a wonderful joy it is to live with technology today! I would be so isolated otherwise.

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