This blog is the story of my journey from lawyer to stay-at-home mommy. After finding out I was pregnant with baby #2, we decided that we would give it a go for awhile with me staying home with the kids. I worked after having our first child Deacon, so this experience will be a new one for me. I decided to blog mainly so that I would have a memorialization of the process since those first few months with a new baby are a fog anyway. But years from now, whether I never made it back or whether I am spending my days in suits and heels, I want to be able to look back and see what God is teaching me in these days of going from the courtroom to the playroom.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Little Shopping Horrors

Ok, I shouldn't say horrors. Really, it's just a few adjustments. Yesterday I ventured out with Miller for my first post-partum and post-work clothes shopping trip. There were a couple big differences in the before and after of shopping since leaving my day job. Usually, when I go out to buy clothes, I am looking for work clothes - suits, pants, sweater sets, dress shirts, you get the picture. I probably haven't purchased a pair of jeans in about 4 years. Casual Friday was eliminated at work, and I am lucky if I make it out of a pair of gym shorts on Saturdays, so there was really no need to purchase any. Plus, I am one of those people who live in closet denial. I leave clothes that I can no longer fit into in the closet anyway as inspiration for my weight loss. Usually it only serves to provide inspiration for an argument between Matthew and I about the fact that I have too much crap in the closet. Anywho, I'd rather have 4 non-fitting pairs of jeans in my closet and not wear any of them than break down and buy the next size up. We can discuss that freakish issue another time.

So, back to shopping. Normally, I get out there and my eye goes straight to the work clothes. I tend to shop in those types of stores, too. Almost everything in my closet right now came from the Ann Taylor outlet. And I was royally peeved when Ann Taylor Loft's line became more casual - didn't they know that I NEEDED their line to be more work oriented?! Their branding shift was throwing off my whole shopping system. But shopping for me these days has changed, and as far as yesterday was concerned, I knew I needed to find me some casual clothes and fast because people are going to start noticing that I am wearing the same 3 outfits over and over again.

Of course, shopping at this point is complicated by the fact that I have a 10 week old baby. Unless you are a freak of nature or one of those people who strictly stuck to their diet while pregnant, you probably aren't back to pre-preggo weight at 10 weeks. At least I'm clinging to that thought so don't tell me if it is a delusion. I've never enjoyed shopping when I haven't been at the weight I wanted to be. It usually goes like this. I pick out a few things and head on into the dressing room. Then I proceed to try on each item, usually with increasing frustration. I start getting hot because I am getting panicked, so then I start to sweat a little and of course the clothes really don't fit then because they are sticking to me. Then I usually leave in a huff, vowing to not eat for the rest of the day. And then the day usually closes out with me eating some sort of cookies or ice cream or something because I am shopping depressed and haven't eaten since my little dressing room episode. I think I have gotten off this crazy train but some times I find myself buying a ticket for the next ride anyway.

So, at 10 weeks post-partum, I wasn't feeling so hot yesterday. Like Shakira, my hips don't lie, and they are telling me that I had a few too many burgers and fries while I was pregnant. My midsection is still covered in stretch marks and my belly button while probably never see the belly ring I worked so hard for again. And my boobs.....well, let's just say breastfeeding will be a whole other blog post. Plus, I was shopping at Old Navy and their sizes run small. Puhlease agree with me that their sizes run small. I might otherwise have a nervous breakdown.

It was hard to not let my eye be drawn to the more work-oriented clothes in each store. It really kind of hit me at that point that I was going to need to see a shift in my shopping and for once, it was nice to live in the casual clothes area of the stores for awhile. It was nice to pick out a couple of T-shirts instead of stiffly starched work shirts that, honestly, I can't really iron very well anyway. I even made out with a decent amount of clothes for the money.

Which brings me to the biggest before and after difference in shopping -the money, honey. I didn't leave a burger-flippin' salary, so we've had to adjust to a serious difference in income. Seriously. I knew this would be the case going in, but yesterday I was really put to the test. When working, I'd just go out and pretty much pick out what I wanted, for me and for Deacon. I wasn't buying really expensive clothes, but for the most part, we could handle the financial aspects of my little shopping trips. I found out yesterday that I am really going to have to pull in the reigns of my spending. It was a bit of an eye opener for me, but I think it will help me see just how very little I really need and value much more the things that I actually have.

As hard as it was to pass up a bunch of good stuff yesterday (especially for the kids), it is still so worth being at home with the kiddos. I'll take a little budget crunching any day if it means getting to spend more time with them. Now, if I can just say that as confidently as it relates to the loss of my cleaning lady.... 

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Top 5 Reasons I Love My Mom

Being a mom is not for sissys. It takes a lot of work. And it means giving up a chunk of your identity. I have to say that I was a little taken aback when I was first referred to as "Deacon's Mom." I mean, I'm Jamie, right? I wasn't used to being identified by who I am in relation to my child. Becoming a mom helped me realize that my mom wasn't just that either - Jamie's Mom. She's a wife, daughter, colleague, and friend. And once I could fully appreciate that, I could understand better how very awesome she was in her role as Jamie's Mom. In honor of Mother's Day, I have created a top five list of reasons that I love my dear mother. Read on.

5. She tells me the truth.....sort of. One awesome thing about my mom is that she will tell me like it is. This quality has saved me from much trouble and countless opportunities for reputation ruin. Never one to mince words, her two cents may have caused me some heartburn, but ultimately, they saved my rear end in many ways. Unfortunately, I didn't always heed her advice. That warning that I shouldn't perm ONLY my bangs in 5th grade? Not so much. I looked like a poodle with braces and enough baby fat for a family of five. So where does the "sort of" in this reason #5 come from you ask? Well, fortunately for me, mom tells me the straight up dirty truth......but only as much as I can take. Really, can any of us, as Jack Nicholson said, handle the truth? The hard truth, all the time? Don't think so. But my mom knows right where my line is. I think sometimes she thinks I think she is telling me the truth, but really I know there's a bit of sugar-coating. Or maybe not really sugar-coating, but Splenda-coating. Yeah, it's like Diet Truth.  

4. She is Superwoman. No, I am not Linda Carter's daughter. I am, however, the daughter of one amazing lady who could totally still pull off that Superwoman outfit. Now that I am a mom myself and know how difficult it can be to balance everything in life, I can more fully appreciate just how sacrificial my mom was with her time, energy and love. She worked outside our home all day and still came home and made a real, homemade dinner. And I don't mean Hamburger Helper, people. I'm talking the real deal. She had the laundry done every day. Our house was spotless. She came to every game, concert, recital, bake sale and car wash we were ever a part of. She took us to church. When I look back now and think of all she did for us, it exhausts me. In fact, I better go prop my feet up for a bit. Be back later. 

3. She is a wonderful grandmother. I am fortunate enough to live in the same town as my mom and that means that my kids get to see her often. When I was young, I couldn't wait to get away from this place, but now that life is the way it is, I would hate to ever leave. I love that my kids feel like her home is their home. I love that they have their own private jokes, sayings, things, etc. that are just between them. I am eternally grateful that my children are experiencing a life filled with the love of my mother. I am fortunate enough to have many wonderful memories of my grandparents and it brings tears to my eyes to know that my children will have the same. My kids are not only blessed by a relationship like this with my mom, but with Matthew's mom, too. 

2. She told us about Jesus and taught us right from wrong.  Many of my childhood memories involve being at church. Maybe singing in the choir, making a macaroni noodle angel ornament or trips to camp at Blue Lake. My mom (and dad) made sure that we knew who Jesus was and what he had done for us. The Truth was written on our hearts and minds from an early age. I know that a foundation was being built at that time to shape my faith today. My mom also had a saying - do the right thing for the right reason. It is a piece of advice that has stuck with me my entire life. Whenever I face a difficult choice, I always go back to it. She taught us that it is not just enough to do the right thing, but that our hearts and motives should be in the right place, too.   

1. She IS my mom. I love my mom simply by virtue of who she is in relationship to me. I am her child. From the moment we were born, she loved my sister and I unconditionally. Because we were hers. There was nothing that we could have done or not done at that point to have made her love us more or less. She has demonstrated her unconditional love for me throughout my life, and that is my relationship to her. I love her because of who she is. Because she is my mother. In the good times and the bad times. 

I hope that all 5 of you people reading this blog will take at least one minute today to let your mom know how much you love and appreciate her, even if she wasn't and isn't a perfect person. And here's the straight up, not diet, truth: You aren't either!

Friday, May 6, 2011

The Long Road to Miss Martha

Yes, that would be the one and only Miss Martha Stewart, my friends. I've always secretly wanted to be like her. Um, not the unlawful activity and jail part. I have about decided that staying home will provide me with the opportunity to hone my skills (or at lease scrape together one cognizable skill) related to domestic divahood, but recent events at the Avery household lead me to believe I've got one long road to walk.

I've never claimed to be crafty. DIY is one dirty acronym in my book. Occasionally, I try my hand at something remotely crafty, but the craftiest of the crafty people I know would probably laugh at my projects being called crafty. And with that, I will make every effort to not use the word "crafty" again in this post.

So, as I began to prepare for Mother's Day recently, I decided that I needed to get something cool for my kids to give their grandmothers, Gran and Granny. I decided that we would make stepping stones with their footprints and write Happy Mother's Day 2011 on them. Nevermind that I have ZERO experience with concrete. Probably never even seen it poured. So I bought the little kit at Walmart for $10 (that should tell you something right there) and yesterday afternoon, I broke that puppy out and set out to make some lasting memories.

Things began to unravel rather quickly. Matthew graciously held Miller, the squirming and fussy 9 week old, while Deacon asked me about 400 times in a row if he could pour the water in the concrete mix. No. No. No. No. You get the picture. So I mixed and smoothed and mixed and smoothed. Apparently I mixed and smoothed so much that stuff got too hard to even make a dent in it with a jackhammer, much less a toddler's foot (who knew?!) I am not sure if I have ever felt so defeated in my life. I had nothing for the grandmas for Mother's Day. My $10 concrete memory maker was destroyed by my incompetence. It was too late to go get something else or try to start over before we would present them with Mother's Day gifts.

Unfortunately, this whole little episode caused me to question to my very core whether I was ever going to be able to get closer to "Marthahood." Just as I was thinking this very thought, Deacon wanted to wash off his foot that got "concrety" in my failed mission. As I took him over to the hose, I sat down and began to cry. Of course, as sweet hearted as my first born is, I got no sympathy, only a "momma, get it off NOW!" I guess there is no sense crying over hardened-too-soon concrete. I am sure that is not what Miss Martha would do. 

The Forbidden Question

In our marriage, we've decided that there are several words and topics that are off the table for discussion. For example, no one is allowed to talk divorce or bring up negative things from the past before we even knew each other. So, as I am now entering into my third month as a stay-at-home mom, I have added a question to that no-no list, and that question is....So, what all did you do today? (Gasp!) This question is generally asked while shaking one's head as one looks confusedly around a messy house with messy kids yelling wildly and demanding things like gummy bears, or "yummies" as my son says. Never in my wildest imagination could I have anticipated such a seemingly benign question would ignite some serious fireworks for yours truly.

Used to be that when I got home from work, I could answer that question with precision and tangible evidence of all the things I had done that day. Took a depostion. Settled a case. Prepared for a mediation. Drafted a motion. Now...well, I am lucky if there is something other than dinner on the table to show that I have, in fact, made a contribution to our household rather than eating bonbons and watching Days of Our Lives.

The other day, Matthew sauntered into the house just as I was performing some mundane household chore while holding a crying baby. He innocently posed that dreaded question, and as we say in the South, bless his heart. He didn't even know what hit him. If you have ever stayed at home to raise children, you understand why this question is so very loaded. Laundry magically appears when you have just finished washing, drying and putting away every single piece in the laundry basket. You find toys you didn't know you had and they have to be put away again. And again. I mean, forget contemplating whether a tree really falls in the forest if no one is there to hear it. Try figuring out whether you actually did, in fact, clean a trail of pee from your son's expensive Pottery Barn rug (aghh!!) to the bathroom if the carpet ultimately ends up looking the same as it did when your spouse left for work that morning.

Perhaps my frustration really stems from what I perceive as my inadequate answer. Most days I can point to some half complete laundry and maybe a somewhat decent dinner as evidence of what I have done. Oh, and does it count that I know all the words to the theme song for Jake and the Neverland Pirates? Seriously, can I get an "amen" from all you careerwomen-turned-mommies out there? Don't leave me hanging on this one. Learning to leave behind the pats on the back from a satisfying work life only to feel discouraged when your two year old tells you that you smell bad can be daunting. In my defense, I had just been for a long run.

So, as my husband wiped the verbal beating off his face that recent evening, I began to really think about coming to terms with what my days will look like over the next few months. And if I can teach my son something new, or give my infant daughter the quality time with me that she wouldn't otherwise get if I were working, then I have accomplished something magnificent with my day. If I can teach them about Jesus and demonstrate His love, then I am providing mightly for their future. If I can look back and say that I have savored every moment with these wildly fabulous kids before they grow up and consider me no longer cool, then I maybe I can be more secure in answering the forbidden question. Maybe then it can come off the no-no list.