Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Q&A

I've been enjoying this new (to me) formspring.me, where anyone (even YOU!) can ask me questions and I will (maybe) answer them. Some of the questions require thought and time and children-not-up-my-butt, though, so it might take me time to get to them.

Here are a few Qs and As I've already answered, for your edification:


Why did you decide to have kids?

I decided I wanted kids after I came to the realization that I could--and would--be a different parent than my own parents. Don't get me wrong--they weren't awful to us, but I couldn't for a while reconcile how I'd parent my kids according to my values. Once I figured out some of that (and much more of that was to be figured out through on-the-job experience), I wanted to have children.

Getting my husband on the plan took a little longer! He had similar concerns about his own childhood experiences.

We wanted to become parents for many different reasons--we both enjoy children, talking to them and playing with them, and it was fun to imagine interacting with children of our own. I love watching children interact with reality and explore the world, and I knew I'd enjoy that aspect of parenting very much. Also, they're really freaking cute. We knew we were ready for kids when we'd see a child melting down in public and our reaction was "Awww...poor thing!" instead of "Someone make that child hush!" :o)

After a couple of years of talking about it (and about 9 years of togetherness, 6 of those 9 years married), we conceived our first child.


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Why three kids . . . ?

See, here's what happens, you have your first child, and he's wonderful and amazing, you figure, "Hey! We can totally do this! Let's have another one!" Except then your first child hits Three and becomes crazy, but you're already pregnant with #2.

Then, after you have the two, you and your partner flip-flop back and forth on the "Should we have a Third" question until one wine-induced calculation error results in the Third.

Or something like that. :o)

Really, it is so much fun, and you really CAN do it again. Some things are easier with subsequent kids because you, the parent, are already experienced. Some things are more difficult, like dealing with the feelings of the older kids. What's most interesting to me is seeing completely different people with different personalities and traits who came from the same place.

Three is a good number for us. Lots of variety (and future orthodontia bills), but I still feel like I have enough of Me to spend one-on-one time with each kid.


* * *

How did you decided to be a full-time homeschooling mom, especially after getting your MBA? Do you ever have second thoughts about giving up an outside-the-home career?

I actually wasn't working when I got pregnant with Ryan, for a variety of factors. There being little point to taking a job knowing I'd just have to stop to go have a baby, we agreed I'd stay home during my pregnancy. I planned to go back to work after Ryan's first year, because I wanted to nurse, and to be the one to whom he became attached in the first year of his life.

As Ryan got closer to his first birthday, I realized I didn't want to go back to work. It would mean much of the money I'd earn would go toward childcare. It would interrupt our nursing. I enjoyed the attachment he had with me, and I didn't want that to alter. In short, I re-evaluated my values, and realized that going back to work would be sacrificing a higher value for a lesser one.

I did not anticipate this at all. I was on the career-future-VP-of-Corporate-America track. But you know what? It wasn't nearly as fun or fulfilling as raising my kids.

I am always wary of the need to keep up some skills that will transfer outside the home. Parenting, done properly, means you work yourself out of a job at some point! Parenting small children is very time-intensive and physical. Once they're older, I'll have more time maybe, but I'm noticing that they still need me, just in different ways as they get older. Also, our decision to homeschool means that I'll likely be "staying" at home with them for longer than if we'd sent them to school.

I do keep up my non-Mommy skills in running our small businesses and I'm thinking more seriously about writing. I plan to become a Certified Positive Discipline Parent Educator and teach parenting classes. I have lots of plans!

I know women who'd planned to stay home and ended up going back to a job. Honestly, until you are in the parenting trenches, you really won't know how you'll feel about it. You may make plans based on what you'd imagine, and those may be the ones you stick to. But my unsolicited advice/experienced information to people who are wondering about this is: You may not know how it works, and what you like (and hate) about it until you try it, so be prepared to re-evaluate! (I suppose that advice works for any career or endeavor, too.)


* * *

If I had kids I'd happily pay, not as a sacrifice, but a trade of value, for everything my kids needed if I could provide it. Did you/do you still stress over making ends meets to get your kids all the things they want/need?


Before we had kids, we had two incomes and were quite comfortable. My not going back to work has kept us at a mostly one income family (I pull in just a little bit with the cabin business, but that mostly goes right back into the cabin).

So we have considerably less disposable income than we used to. The last year has been stressful as Brendan's big project wound up and he had a couple of months without work. He ended up taking a job as an employee again, partly because there are some non-financial reasons to make the switch (health insurance, for example), and partly because it was the only kind of work he could get. We've had to get creative and cut expenses here and there, but we are doing okay.

If there ever came a time when we couldn't afford to send the kids to homeschool co-op classes, or pay for sports or other activities, I would be sad about that. I would probably try to do what I could to make it possible to keep doing those activities. But if we couldn't, then we couldn't. It would not be anyone's first preference, but we'd all survive and find fun, enriching things to do that were cheaper or free.

So far, Brendan and I agree on our priorities--which is for me to stay with the kids and for us to homeschool them. That could change, either because one or both of us wanted to do something different, or because of something outside of our control such as a job lay-off. If/when we need to change our priorities, then we'll take different actions--obviously if Brendan got laid off and I could get a job, then I'd do that, since housing and eating are the highest priorities!

* * *

So, go on . . . ask! It's fun! And don't be afraid to ask something really silly or strange or non-child-related. Because I am all of those things, too. :o)

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