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Are Stay at Home Moms Just Lazy?

I’m going to be totally real here- I used to judge stay at home moms (SAHMs). Ok, I didn’t actively judge them but I made assumptions.  I assumed that they were women who just didn’t feel like getting up and going to work every day and I wondered how they could put all that pressure on their husbands to be the sole breadwinner. I mean, we fought for women’s rights so we had the option and now we’ve decided, never mind, we’re good?  But, like almost everything in life, my perspective completely changed after having a child of my own.  The problem is, women (much like myself a year ago) don’t know there are more than two options.  You don’t have to choose between being a career women or a SAHM.  World, meet WAHM (work at home mom).

I grew up with Superwomen for a mom- many of us did. She worked full-time, ran the ASB program at  school, carpooled us all over town for sports and activities and attended every game I can remember.  She had an active social life and incredible circle of friends.  When my parents split and she suddenly became a single mother*, rather than wallow in pity or limit her life, she went back to school  for her Masters and became a school administrator. I didn’t realize it then but I do now that my mom’s decision to better herself in order to preserve our lives shaped my perspective on accomplishment forever.  She showed me that when life becomes limited, don’t stay stuck in the maze, look for a way out. 

From this, two things were ingrained in me  1) I was going to work hard to earn the things that I needed and wanted in life 2) I would be successful in life and, in my mind, that meant a corporate career. So when I became pregnant there was never a question that I would go “back to work”.  I knew that my company wasn’t quite convinced but I assured them I was a career woman and I would be back.

And I held true to my word. After three of the longest, shortest months of my life I actually went back to work eagerly. Maternity leave was really hard for me. On top of the struggles most moms deal with like lack of sleep and having no idea what they are doing, I felt alone. I didn’t have any friends with children in Boston and, of course, everybody I did know was off to work every day. I’d never felt so alone, especially the day my mom left after her two week visit when Kennedy was born. Fortunately I found a mothers nursing group that helped give me a sense of community and support. Without that once weekly meeting, I don’t know what I would have done.

So I went back to work eager. I was excited to be able to have some alone time (I know, ironic considering I was so lonely), adult conversation and best of all the ability to eat when I wanted for as long as I wanted. But very quickly, the stress of being a working mom became overwhelming. The daily grind of commuting, day care pick up, cooking dinner, tubby time, bedtime, etc…a rinse-wash-repeat hamster wheel- it was becoming too much for me. I didn’t mind being busy or the perpetual “to-do” list.  What really bothered me was that I was spending the large majority of my day at a place that I didn’t enjoy, and that brought me no purpose or passion. The fact that my stress came from a job that brought me no joy became extremely frustrating to me. But what about the money?  I was making a great salary with a fairly flexible schedule. I was well-liked at work earning regular bonuses and we had come to live a lifestyle dependent on our income.  The mad part about it all though was that we were sending 25% of our income to daycare.

Let’s actually take a moment to talk about day care. In our house we call it school, because Kennedy is learning new skills, and developing at a crazy rate every day at school. The social skills that she learned along side the developmental and language skills are incredible. I am actually a huge proponent of day cares or preschools. However those first few months dropping off a tiny little three-month-old baby is heart wrenching and this country has a long way to go before it’s up to par when it comes to maternity leave.  My point is, I’ve never felt guilty for having Kennedy in daycare.  What I do dislike is working a job I’m not passionate about only to shell out thousands of dollars a month to daycare.

Every day I would come home feeling exhausted and overwhelmed with trying to accomplish my life goals while my “career” took up all of my time. But what really pushed me over the edge was when I realized I was coming home beaten.  The day was beating me, I was losing and pretty soon, Kennedy was going to see it.  I didn’t ever want my daughter to feel that there was no way out or that it was acceptable to spend your time doing something that isn’t benefiting you when there are other options.  I wanted to teach my daughter that although being successful would always take hard work and determination, it didn’t have to fit the standard 9-to-5 mold. And that you could be a successful business woman outside of the corporate world. I certainly wasn’t going to tell her that success was wrapped in the standard package of grinding it out every day just so that you can have the fancy title but lost so much time earning it.  I wanted her to think outside the box and look for options outside the status quo of being successful and happy.  And no, this doesn’t mean she can quit piano lessons because she doesn’t enjoy them. 

So what’s the point. The point is I get it now. I understand why women are choosing to stay home and I am grateful to myself for looking outside the box and discovering that there is an entire world of success and prosperity outside our cubicles and offices.  That I can be the accomplished woman I want my daughter to see while also being present in her life.  And more importantly, showing her that there are ways to do all of this with passion and determination.  Being a stay at home mom or, like so many of us are today, work at home moms is totally not what people think it is. It’s understanding that while you may have to make financial sacrifices, it’s better than making time sacrifices. You can provide to your family in a much more meaningful, significant way when you have the ability to focus your intelligence and strength in the direction you choose.

I came across a picture from two years ago my mom took of me scraping paint from our windows.  I was about to pop with Kennedy and we were in the middle of renovating our new home. That moment came rushing back to me and I realized how different I envisioned my life would be today.  I’ve had this feeling before and it is usually filled with regret- I wish I was more successful, I wish I owned a home, I would have done XYZ different.  But this time it was different.  I was hopeful.  And proud.  Hopeful and proud that I had decided to make a change rather then “deal with it”.  I didn’t let life get in the way of my life.  I wasn’t going to let excuses or fear keep me from what I knew my family deserved.  I’m too busy, I don’t have the money, what will people think, what if it doesn’t work- these were things that would no longer keep me from living my life the way I chose.  I’m also looking forward to my new commute…to the other side of the house.

Cheers to all the women out there to live their life the way they choose…regardless of what that looks like!

Are you a SAHM or WAHM?  What are your reasons for “staying home”? What’s your biggest challenge?

If you want to know about what’s giving me the freedom to live a life visit www.whitneycardosi.arbonne.com. 

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Inspired

Although I spent limited time with Levi, it only took that brief period in time to recognize what an incredible individual he was and how happy he made my dear friend of nearly 30 years.  And joy is a ripple effect.  Her happiness brings joy to her family which brings joy to all of us who care for them.  Levi left us yesterday and my heart breaks for Brooke and both their families.  I hope his passing brings as much inspiration to the people he touched as his life did.

I often hear the phrase “live life inspired” and I don’t think I ever quite understood what it meant.  Although I’ve always had visions for my life, I’ve never considered myself a dreamer.  An optimist, yes. But not a dreamer.  I don’t always follow the rules but I never had the inspiration to move so far from the rules that you don’t even remember what they are.  I recall the first time I met Levi about 5 years ago.  I chalked him up to a quirky granola type and didn’t think much more about it.  I was in my late twenties and very much absorbed in my own life.

Fortunately, I had the pleasure of spending time with him again a year later when he and Brooke were just beginning the visions of their Digital Detox project.  This time I was a little more intrigued.  He was like part business man, part hippy..it was very confusing to me.  At the time, I was grinding it out for “the man” 50-60 hours a week and had no direction in my life, let alone dreams or inspiration.  To be honest, his drive intimidated me and I envied that he and Brooke had dreams for their life beyond the 9-5 world.

Unfortunately, life took us all in different directions (quite literally) and I didn’t see Levi again after that vacation.  Thanks to vehicles like social media, I kept up with their journey and admired his and Brooke’s life from afar.  They were making their dreams happen and on their own terms.

Last year Levi was diagnosed with brain cancer.  It was honestly so big I never really wrapped my mind around it.  And while his life was winding down, mine just went on- ticking away.  The past few months have been an incredible whirl wind for me and I have started to learn how to dream.  Dream about what is possible when you choose to just believe in yourself and your heart and forget about the rules.  When you truly dig deep inside and say “I am better than this” or “my family deserves more”.

The day before Levi passed, I sat down and made a “reasons why” list.  I was slow to start but then I couldn’t stop and suddenly I understood the phrase “live life inspired”.  To me it means not taking any moment for granted and seeing inspiration in everything around you.  Taking every moment of laughter or tears or even bordem and allowing it to give you inspiration.  Taking something from every encounter, however brief.

It dawned on me this past week how envious I had been of Brooke and Levi and the life they had created.  But it was in this moment when I realized that envy was a choice.  I could choose to be envious or I could choose to be inspired.  It was simply a tweak in perspective.   I found that incredible. And then I realized, I had been inspired by Levi.  Someone whom I only spent a brief moment in time with but who had impressed me for life.  And for that, I am forever grateful.  And for that, I will attempt to appreciate each relationship I have regardless of its depth.  And I promise, at least for me, that Levi’s life is forever an inspiration.

Life is more precious than we will ever know.  For some it is long and for others it is short.  But for us all, it is finite.  It may be impossible to seize every moment but make it your goal to try.  It is often said not to take for granted the ones you love but I believe it is equally important not to take for granted those you don’t.  The people who are in your life for only a brief moment but make a lasting impression.  Every moment is worth savoring.  Good or bad.

We love you Brooke.

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8 Things I Will Never do as a Parent (including buy her cake pops from Starbucks). 

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….said the women without children.

Motherhood is awesome. Motherhood is messy.  Motherhood is saying “fuck it” to your morals, pride, and standards.  Motherhood is humbling.  Motherhood is awesome.

As a footloose and fancy free “unparent”, I had visions of what I would be like as a mother. Or should I say, what my kid would be like as a child.  Obviously I would have a well-behaved, fun-loving, smart, creative child that turned out that way just because she was my spawn.  She would be trilingual (English, Spanish, sign language), say “please” and “thank you” by 15 months and sleep whenever I willed her to.  She would calmly and quietly entertain herself while her father and I enjoyed dinner and a drink (and maybe even dessert) at the trendy cafe down the street and she would be immune to the drug that is the smartphone.

And then I had a baby.  And then I had a toddler.  And then I said “fuck it”.  Here are the top eight rules I broke in just 16 short months.

  1. I would sleep when my baby slept. Hahahahahahahaha. Hahahahahaha.  Shit’s gotta get done people! How about hire me a maid, a cook, and a chauffeur and I will get right on that!
  2. I  wouldn’t be a raging bitch to my husband.  Sorry honey but I know you’r not sleeping and I know you can hear her crying too you a-hole. You ask why I’m so irritable all the time?  Well, first of all, I’M STARVING! I’m sweating over this stove in our non air conditioned house, I have a screaming smurf tugging at my legs yelling “Mama” and you want to know what we should bring for food on our camping trip in two weeks? I guarantee I have not thought about what I will be doing in 20 minutes (besides perhaps cleaning up a murder scene) let alone eating at a campsite in 15 days.  I suggest you just turn around and walk away before someone gets hurt.
  3. I would nurse for at least one full year.  Actually, my original goal was 6 months.  Turns our it wasn’t as hard as I thought and I decided early on I would go for a year.  Then shit got real and I went back to work which meant sitting in a room three  times a  day with  no windows, hooking up my lady parts to an angry machine and just sitting.  Just sitting, and sucking, and sitting, and sucking.  I think I lasted 5 weeks with regular pumping before I said “fuck it”.  We nursed when together until about 8 months when I took a long work trip and decided I was done.  I missed my freedom and discovered the gift that was the bottle (no not vodka although that is a gift too).  Power to the mamas that do it longer (or who attempt it at all)…it is quite an experience!
  4. My child would eat what we ate and I would never make her separate meals (or feed her sugar).  That lasted about one month when she was willing to chomp her toothless gums on anything that wasn’t liquid.  Then, slowly but surely, she sucked the culinary life out of me by refusing the meals I slaved over and insisted on only PB&Js (or almond butter and jelly because, well, just because someone said so once).  Then, instead of eating the perfect sandwich with the perfect ratio of butter to jelly and cut in to two perfect sailboats, she just pokes her finger in it over and over and over again.  And with every poke, you feel a little twitch in your eye and think to yourself “am I really about to cry over a sandwich? What has my  life come to?  Why is she doing this to me?  Why won’t she just eat the fuuuccckkking sandwich!?”.  Fine, just eat this bowl of goldfish.  Can mommy have some?
  5. I wouldn’t use the TV as a babysitter.  Ok, so we are pretty good about this one.  But, a woman’s gotta attempt some level of visual normalcy at work (or at least not look like the nightmare she sees in the mirror first thing in the morning).  And if the alternative is saying “no” to her eight thousand times and chasing her around the house after every little thing she decides to grab or pull out or touch, Dora is just gonna have take one for the team on this one.
  6. I  would never be on my phone in front of my child.  But that stupid little devil device is DJ Tanner and I am Kimmy Gibbler and I just can’t keep my nose out of her business! Or is the phone Uncle Jesse? Anyway. I don’t know.  Hang on. I just have to like this post real quick.
  7. I would NEVER let her touch my I-phone.  And then I experienced my first tantrum and I caved like Tom Cruise yelling “show me the money” in Jerry Maguire.  Like a little bitch!  Why, Apple!?!?!?! Why did you have to invent these tiny little devil treasures??
  8. And finally, I would never be one of those moms that slaps up annoying pictures of her child with annoying quotes and annoying hashtags all over social media and the internet.   And then I said “fuck it”, this kid is too cute!

But we do our best and keep telling ourselves if they’re breathing and smiling then we must be doing something right.  And at the end of the day, that is kind of true.  Whatever you do to make it through the day, do you!  Know that you are their only mommy (or daddy) and just for that, you are perfect!

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These. Fingers. Are. Rusty.

Oh Boy! It’s been a forever and a day since I’ve dusted off the ole keyboard. Just under two years in fact.  As you can  imagine, a lot has happened.  If you’re friends with me on social media then be warned- this post may bore you!  To get everyone up to speed, here are the top 18 things we’ve done in the past two years (cause 20 would just be bragging) .

  1. I traveled to San Diego for my bachelorette party with all my favorite ladies.
  2. We Got Married!
  3. We Got Pregnant! (woops)IMG_6498
  4. Flew home to San Diego to attend the Chargers/Patriots game.  Chargers got their bolts handed to them.
  5. We survived another winter in Boston. It literally snowed all of February and the last snow didn’t melt until July!
  6. I got more pregnant.
  7. We bought a house!IMG_7335
  8. We renovated our house. And by “we” I mean Jason and his amazingly handy friends.
  9. We had a baby!
  10. Kennedy’s first flight and trip to Park City!
  11. We survived, er, celebrated our first year of marital bliss.IMG_8510
  12. Took our first camping trip and Kennedy’s first concert!
  13. Nana and cousin Emma came to see us in August followed by Papa in the fall to see the new house and visit Kennedy.
  14. I got to spend 36 hours with my best friend, LeeAnn, in her lovely city of Seattle.IMG_9699
  15. Kennedy enjoyed her first Christmas(es) in Boston and Park City
  16. We survived another winter. That makes three for me now!IMG_0523
  17. Made a trip to San Fran for my friend Kristin’s wedding. Quite possibly one of my favorite cities!IMG_0782
  18. We made it through our first year with a baby!
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358 Days Later…

So, it turns out blogging and working full-time isn’t easy to do.  Throw in planning a wedding and a few more major life events, and you get no blogging.  Which is what I’ve done for nearly the last year.  My last post was November 7, 2013 so I’m one week from going an entire year.  I thought I’d break myself in by doing a year-in-review by season.  We’ll pick up with the rest of fall and winter 2013.

To end October, we watched the Red Sox win the World Series and I enjoyed my first championship parade.  As you can imagine, thousands of people showed up to celebrate.

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The Holidays were quiet around Wakefield.  We spent our first Thanksgiving in Massachusetts and kept it mellow with just Jason’s family.  We flew to Utah to spend Christmas with my family in Park CIty.

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As you recall from my Just my Luck post, a harsh winter was predicted.  And this is what we got.  I enjoyed the first few months of winter, but as March rolled around, I was reaching my cabin fever threshold.

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In February, my dear grandmother, Abbie Whitney, passed unexpectedly.  Fortunately I was able to fly out and attend the funeral.  It turned out a celebratory event with close family and friends.  I even got a round of golf in with my dad in Salt Lake.

We laid Nanny next to her husband, Dick.
We laid Nanny next to her husband, Dick.

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As I have mentioned, my mom and her boyfriend, Bill had embarked on a winter sailing adventure in Baja, Mexico.  It just so happened they were in an area we could not reach them when we heard the news from my mother.  I was able to get the US Coast Guard involved who worked with the Mexican Navy.  My mom and Bill came in to port a bit earlier than planned greeted by the Mexican Navy who informed them we had been looking for them.  They came in just in time for my mom to catch the last flight out of the port and get to Utah in time for her mother’s funeral.

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We’ve started a tradition of renting a home in the winter…generally for Jason’s birthday in January.  This year, we stayed in North Conway, NH and celebrated a few February birthdays and enjoyed some skiing…my first time on the east coast slopes.  I also chose to ski instead of snowboard for the first time in almost 20 years…needless to say, it kicked my ass.

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In March, we celebrated Josie’s 89th birthday.  She immediately began stating she was “almost 90” front that day forward.

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