Within Me Without Me

Friday, July 06, 2007

so fellow blogger and friend Kate is considering embarking on the journey we call parenthood. and she, very wisely i might add, is soliciting advice from all mamas and papas before diving in. here are my answers, and if you want to help her out, you can copy and paste the questions from her blog here, and give her your perspective, too.

General parenting:

1. Did you always want to be a parent?
I did. wasn't always sure when i wanted to start, but i knew eventually i would.

2. If you didn't, when and why did you change your mind?
What made me sure i was ready to start was getting pregnant! (ha! only sort of..)

3. Do you ever regret becoming a parent?
no. to be honest, i wondered what the hell i was thinking while i was pregnant (both times), but once the babies arrived, i truly couldn't picture life without them.

4. Would you recommend being a parent to someone else? Why or why not?
Sure. I'd recommend it only to people who are able to delay gratification for a few years. and to people who are able to say "no popsicles for dinner" and stick to their guns, no matter how damn cute the kid is.

5. Who raised you? Do you think that your parents/primary caregivers were a good or bad example of parenting? How has this helped or hindered you in being the kind of parent you are/want to be?
My parents raised me. My father died when i was 10, so i also experienced some of growing up in a single parent home. my mom has some issues, and while i wish we could have gotten along a little better, i have to admit she did a fine job of holding it all together first with a husband that traveled all the time, then without a husband at all. all five of her kids are college graduates, all are healthy, all are good people, all are happy. four are married to nice people, four are parents of good kids. that says "parental success" to me. her example, and that of my dad, have definitely helped shape me into the parent that i am. sometimes i shudder when i hear my mom's words come out of my mouth (nothing good ever happens after midnight!!) but for the most part, it turns out she was right.

6. What do you wish someone had told you before you became a parent?
How bad your boobs hurt when your milk come in. that store brand diapers work just as well as the name brand. to put the cute clothes on the kid anyway, don't just wait for a special occasion, because by the time it rolls around, the cute clothes won't fit anymore.


Work/home life:


1. Do you consider parenting your vocation? Do you have another/other vocation(s)?
Hhmmm. yes, it's a vocation, in the same way marriage is a vocation. It's something one is called to do, but for me, it's not the only calling. i consider my vocation to be helping others, and parenting falls nicely into that niche.

2. Is staying home with your children something that you do currently/did/want to do/not want to do? Why or why not?
I don't now, but i would like to. I don't consider being a sahm to be essential for raising good kids or the only way to show your kids you love them, and i know it's very likely a harder job to do than the one i have now. but to me, i think working a part time job at something i really enjoy and spending the bulk of my time with my kids would be awesome.

3. How do you fulfill your needs, hopes, dreams, ambitions, etc. while caring for those of your children?
good question. honestly, i will say that i don't. my first gut response to this question was - "what needs? what ambitions?" my needs these days tend to revolve around support of my family - we need a steam carpet cleaner, i hope someday to re-doing the kitchen counters with granite, i dream about going away for a weekend with my husband, my ambition would be to get a promotion at my job, so we're a little less hard up for cash around here. like i said before, you have to be able to delay gratification a little in order to be okay with parenting.

4. Are your friends/family/community supportive of your choices in terms of work and family? How does this affect you?
sure. i have friends who work, friends who don't, and siblings who do and don't. my mom really is the only one who tends to "pity" me because i have to work every day and can't be at home with the kiddos. and there are a lot of organizations that really make it hard on working parents (baseball practice for my step son starts at 5:30, and i don't get home until 6 pm!) but other parents are usually helpful, and it really helps if you have some family around to pitch in.

5. Is your workplace supportive of the demands that parenting places on your life?
yes. all three of my bosses are women and mothers, so they are very understanding of the things that come up. and my prior boss was a man, but a father of four, and he was really cool too. even told me to close my door and take a nap when i was pregnant. and all have been flexible and worked with me on my schedule. i know this is not normal, and in fact, not all bosses in our department are this way, but i've gotten lucky. the only complaint i have is that working for the county, we don't get maternity leave. we have fmla, which guarantees your job for 12 weeks. which means that you use your own vacation and sick time during those 12 weeks, but if you don't have 12 full weeks saved up, and you use it all, you can still stay home, but you won't be paid. i had 5 weeks of vacation and sick time saved, so when that was all spent, i had to go back to work. i could have stayed home another 7, but we couldn't afford not to have my paycheck.

6. What do you wish you had from others to support your parenting of your children?
i wish parents would allow other parents to discipline their kids, like when we were young. what i mean is, when i was a kid, my parents were fine with other parents telling me if i was out of line. and likewise, if i had a friend over, and she was being impolite or what have you, my parents would redirect her and tell her how to behave in our house. and no one got freaked out and said "you can't tell my kid what to do!!" in a sense, the village raised the children. nowadays, other parents are often too sensitive when it comes to other parents saying anything to their kids, even (and especially) when the kids are out of control.


Marriage/partnership:

1. Do you have a spouse/partner? Did you when you began parenting? Same partner the entire time?
Yes, yes, and yes. My husband had 2 sons from a prior marriage, so we were an instant family when we got married. then i got pregnant 3 months later.

2. Did your spouse/partner want to have children? As much/more/less than you?
yes. jerry said when we got married that he'd love to have 10 kids. he has since decided that 4 is plenty. i think i'd be ok with one more. but we'll see. it will take some negotiating....

3. How has parenting changed your relationship? Has it strengthened? Weakened? Was this change permanent?
i will honestly say that pregnancy and childbirth breaks down any barriers you may have had between you and your husband. at least it did with me. no more dignity or hiding your bodily functions or fluids. on a serious note, his being a good father already was one of the things that made me fall in love with him. so his being cute and sweet with the babies makes me love him more. i think when you become parents, you find you need each other more, on all levels. you need the support to get all the jobs done. you need the emotional support and understanding when it gets difficult. you need each other's input to make the hard decisions of how/when to discipline, start solid foods, let them go to the movies by themselves, etc. i think that realization that you need each other is what makes your relationship stronger. you know you have to nurture each other, because you can't do it on your own!

4. How do you divide parenting responsibilities?
we're mostly in the camp of whatever needs to get done gets done by whomever is there at the time. and in most cases, the older boys are his responsibility, because their crazy-ass mother throws a fit if i'm too involved in their lives. but as for the babies, it pretty much falls 80%-20%, the bulk is mine. i'm mostly ok with that, because that means 80% of the time it gets done my way.

5. How do you divide financial responsibilities? (If you don't mind sharing--I know this is really personal) Do you plan to keep the current arrangement long-term? Why or why not?
this i'm not all that crazy about. we both make money, and it goes into our joint checking account. that part is cool with me - frankly, i don't see why it should be any other way. the part that i don't like is that i'm the one who pays the bills, and has to keep track of where the money is going. i'm not great at it, and i don't like being the only one responsible when we run out of money. we've been talking about transferring this responsibility over to him for a while now, and it hasn't happened. honestly, i think i'm more organized and would do it better than him, but i just don't enjoy it. so in all likelihood, it will stay my job.

Education/faith (I know that this is another intensely personal topic/set of topics and I hope that I am being respectful in the way that I am asking these questions):

1. How do you/plan to educate your children?
they'll go to the public school. someday if we had enough money, we would consider our catholic school, but it's not an option now. i'm not homeschooling.

2. Are/will both partners be as involved in decisions of education?
absolutely.

3. Did/will you raise your children in a certain faith? How did/will you decide if one partner feels more strongly than the other?
we are catholic, and are raising our kids so. it's one of our strengths as a couple and a family.

4. How does your family of origin impact these decisions?
My parents were hard-core about education. i knew since i was in kindergarten that graduating from college is an expectation. i pretty much feel the same way, and i want my kids to value and enjoy their education just as much as i d/did. jerry's family was basically the opposite. no one in his immediate family graduated from college. he was the only one to even go at all, even though he didn't finish. but he feels basically the same way i do, luckily.

5. Are you supported by your spouse/family/community/etc. in the decisions that you are making in terms of educating your children?
yes, for the most part. we agree on our goals for our kids, but my expectations are higher. he seems to be ok with Bs and Cs, whereas i can tell how smart the boys are, and i know there is no reason they shouldn't be making straight As. Laziness angers me. and there is no other reason for the grades they make. you better believe that the babies will know what is expected of them when they start school.

6. What additional support would you love to have from others to help educate your children?
i want everyone to have the same high expectations of my kids that i do. don't let them sell themselves short.

Growing your family (literally):

1. How did your children come to join your family?
i entered their family when i married their dad, and then the babies joined us later.

2. How many children do you have/plan to have/want to have?
we have 4, with the option of a fifth. i think that's our limit, but it really is in god's hands.

3. How many children were in your family of origin? How did this impact your answer to the previous question?
we had 5 kids in my family, jerry's had 3. i love big families!

4. Are you supported by your spouse/family/community/etc. in the decisions that you are making in terms of growing your family?
Somewhat. a lot of people like to tell me "well you have your boy and your girl, so you're done now!" but it's not the case. we also use natural family planning, (you know, no birth control!!) and it works. but it's hard to convince people of that. they tend to think we're crazy, and figure we'll end up with 20 kids. but i'm a huge advocate.


5. What additional support would you love to have from others in terms of growing your family?
i would like our mothers to be more involved with their grandchildren. visit a little more often, so the kids get to know them better.

hope that helps you, kate!

3 Comments:

  • At 10:04 AM, Blogger Kelli in the Mirror said…

    I love that you did this. SO TRUE about the village and people now not letting you direct their children. I get in trouble with that sometimes because it's what I do all day and I'm totally comfortable telling random children to stop running or doing something, even in a store. I get funny looks.

     
  • At 1:58 PM, Blogger Kate said…

    Thanks so much for answering this! Someday I also have tons of questions about NFP. :)

    I agree about the village. If I ever have children up to no good, I hope other people correct them. I've done it to teenagers before and other people seemed relieved someone said something, although the parents weren't nearby so I don't know if they would have been thankful or peeved.

     
  • At 6:48 AM, Blogger Carrie said…

    and you know, i kind of hesitated to put it exactly that way, only because i'm sick of the phrase being misused and twisted into the parents DEPENDING on the village (i.e., government) to raise their child, instead of just helping out every once in a while. what's crazy is that those people spend tons of time complaining about how the government agencies help them. (correcting the village, but not correcting their kids!) but i think y'all understood what i really meant.

     

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