Tracy McCardle: Ladies, before you all get out the knives and arrows, read on. I must comment on the needless, upsetting infighting that occurred the last time I wrote about being a SAHM. Newsflash: Some pieces are meant to be HUMOROUS. That means I try to make people laugh ... at me, or at themselves.
The piece I wrote (about what I "do" all day as a SAHM) generated so much meanspirited debate I was stunned. I personally feel that if you can't see the humor in your life and laugh at yourself -- especially at the ups and downs of parenting -- you're in big trouble. We moms need to stop judging each other. Please! Staying at home with small children all day is hard -- that's a fact. If you don't think it's hard, well ... my hat is off to you. Seriously. I respect and honor that. Working all day and coming home to care for the house and children is also very hard. I respect that immensely, too. I've done both. You know what's the hardest thing of all? Feeling like you can't be honest and reach out to other moms for support for fear that they will either hatefully judge the choices you've made or resent you because you haven't had to make the hard choices they did. (Take your pick.)
We need to be supportive of each other. Everyone's situation is different. No one wins when we are all competing. Do what's best for you and your family, and respect that others will do the same for theirs. I am thankful to be able to spend time with my kids, so at the risk of igniting a whole new war, I'd like to share what I've learned about my kids by staying at home.
I know them better now. I had no idea that I could know them better, but I do. And they know me better, too. I understand what my 2-year-old is saying when no one else can. I know exactly when my 3-year-old has to go to the bathroom, and how he prefers certain orange cheeses. I know seconds before my 2-year-old is going to bite, and I know when my request for a kiss will be denied and when it will not. I know what days are going to be long naps and what days are going to be endless screaming fits. I know every shirt the 3-year-old doesn't like (but I still don't know why). I know when to sneak in fruit or nuts for a snack and when not to push the grapes another minute. I know whether the kids are good playing together for another six minutes or thirty seconds. I have a sixth sense about the moment an argument is going to escalate into a kick or hit. I know they will eat broccoli if I am patient. I know it is possible to have them in bed by 8 if I am firm and really patient. I know the 2-year-old is fiercely independent but loving, and aggressive toward spiders and bugs of all kinds. I know that six minutes alone with the cat can result in disaster. I know my 3-year-old likes P.D. Eastman books the best, and that he has a closet thing for princesses even though he is a boy. I know both my kids love the Roxy Music song "Love Is the Drug."
We have our secret language of words and looks and meaningful silences, like any intense, long-term relationship. And even though they are only 2 and 3, my kids can recognize and interpret my moods as well -- if not better -- than many adults. We get mad at each other, but we laugh at each other, too. We forgive each other -- all day long.
I know there are working moms out there who knew all these things about their kids without having been laid off. I'm just saying that I guess I was in such a hurry before, I didn't notice everything, and now I'm glad I got the chance to. Because as everyone keeps telling me, soon they'll be 15 and 16, not 2 and 3, and none of this stuff will be here anymore.