We’ve been SAHM and Working Moms for almost a decade now. Many of our readers are surprised to find out we’ve pubbed GTWoman Magazine from home since Day 1. Who would have guessed we could run a business AND climb the sand dunes in a single day? Well, here’s a look at how we balance the isolation of working from home with the need for human interaction, thanks to technology…
Facebook, of course. We have a GTWoman Facebook page which is a great place to hang out and browse pictures from our events that include things like fancy high heels, people halfway through a bite of food and the latest “bunny rabbit” ears given to a buddy holding a glass of wine.
But Kandy tried the unthinkable on her personal FB page — keeping her friends list to a tight, close few. Still the friend requests came in and the temptation stared at her for weeks, then months. Finally, last week, she went crazy and friended 74 people in a single day. Seventy-four! But, she promised herself, she wouldn’t read up on them and she’d still stick to her closest friends on the newsfeed.
Wrong. Turns out 74 new people are waaay exciting and interesting to read about and get to know online. It’s like a big old shot in the Facebook arm. There’s new families to “meet” and new funny sayings to read and new biking groups to virtually race. FB has proved itself yet again as the ultimate Water Cooler for the SAHM.
Email. It used to be that email was the solve-all for SAHM. We could work day or night, between feedings and brawls, when our hair was standing on end, when the house was as well.
But it seems there’s a stirring underfoot. Our phone is ringing more and more. It appears (studies are still out on this) that women like to talk. Email, while all good and dandy for the usual rigmarole, still doesn’t cut it for real-world connection.
All over the region, there’s a new movement underfoot: The “working” lunch. Kerry's been known to schedule three working lunches. All on the same day.
Texting. This is a godsend to those working at home who need an instant pick me up. It’s easy to catch a friend, any friend, as bored or as unmotivated as you are at any time of the day.
One day whilst simultaneously working on their websites, Kandy sent her friend a text that said something along the lines of “I'm stuck, what’s the next step?”
She got a reply moments later that she will save, probably forever:
What kind of friend puts a random paper shopping bag over her head in the heat of working? Someone who is good, very good, at this SAHM thing. Could you ask for more than that from one working mom to another?
So enjoy our "Motherhood" issue and rejoice in the power of technology to keep us together, no matter how much work keeps us apart!
Monday, May 14, 2012
Teeth. Due to thunderstorms and turbulence, the Tooth Fairy didn’t make it into Nelson’s room on a recent April night. A day later, she left a dollar. Another day later, Nelson lost it. Where? What mysterious force resides over the room of my child? I believe it goes by the name of “disarray.”
Coupons. Grandma had the 9-year-old go through the checkout line at Bed, Bath & Beyond to use a 10% off coupon* on a spatula she wanted. *(Limited to one per customer.) Money saved! Grandma let them keep the change from the $20 bill. She was out $4 to each child. Money lost!
Nelson gave me his $4 to “hold onto,” which was reabsorbed into my cash until a week later when he came looking for it. I wasn’t sure if it was in my purse, on my dresser or in a cash register at Lake Ann Grocery. I gave him the only thing I could find, a $5 bill. Money lost!
Wallets. Each of my boys has a wallet. Neither knows where it is. What’s the point of keeping track of an empty plasticy-thing that folds in thirds? None apparently. Not even the one with a Luke Duke driver’s license in it. Instead the children prefer Ziploc bags, usually handed over by an adult who has just cleaned the spare change from his pocket.
The bags become all important, jangling to and fro. Until there’s a scuffle. The bags are dropped and, when retrieved, look identical to each other. Who had $2? Who had $3? Here, let me top that off for you and everyone has $3 now, just like you both seem to remember. Money lost (me)! Money earned (them, as usual)!
Chores. Kendall wanted to save money for a DS player: $100. An impossible sum, or so I thought. But he had a hefty start of $40 from his birthday. Money saved!
The next chunk he earned by way of chores. Empty the dishwasher? 50 cents. Fold the laundry? Nothing. Fold and put away the laundry? Nothing. Fold and put away his brother’s underwear? $1. Get momma her book from across the room? Late evening is a seller’s market. Money earned!
Chores, Grandma Style. I got plenty of help around the house until Grandma’s accounting came into practice again. Kendall had earned his way up to $85 in a few months’ time. I was impressed. Also I was thinking I’d get another month of complaint-free labor out of him.
Until he went to Gram’s for the afternoon and earned $15 for weeding the garden. Some of the garden, some of the weeds.
When I picked him up, he was ecstatic. Work finally made sense to him. He was wealthy beyond his wildest dreams. $100 total in a wilted baggie. Money earned!
Nelson looked on incredulously until Gram offered him $1 in hush money, which he took without negotiation. Money lost!
Chores, thanks to Grandma. Now my little laborers are on the verge of forming a union. Their prices are getting higher, their woes growing larger. Nelson wanted $1 tonight for helping Tim fertilize the lawn. His contribution? Asking Tim how the fertilizer spreader worked. Now he’s charging us for speaking, it appears.
On the same night, Kendall did a fab job of hauling away all the cuttings from the garden and I bestowed $3 upon him for an hour’s work. (Hey, the union is still just a dream.) He looked at me, raised his eyebrows, stuck out his hand and said, “Five!” I gave him $4, glad he didn’t ask for Grandma’s rate of $15. Money saved!
Wednesday, May 2, 2012
Lainey spent each fall throwing wood through a small basement window at her father’s head. It was a homegrown production.
The cycle was this — her father cut it in the backyard, his daughters stacked it on a trailer, he drove it to the house, the girls unstacked it in the garage and dropped it through the window into the basement, where her father once again stacked it. It seemed to Lainey to involve entirely too many steps.
The day of the wood’s arrival was a dark day at the household. The rumble of the lumber truck was no match for the terror in the tiny sound of her father squeezing the handle of his oilcan as he greased the chainsaw.
The delivery was 30 cords, enough to heat the three-bedroom ranch through the winter, with two to spare for the countless times Lainey and her sisters left the backdoor open.
It began with her father cutting the timber into small, manageable pieces the depth of his woodstove, while his daughters stood by to grab the pieces and load them onto the trailer.
“Get it!” her dad would holler over the chainsaw, nudging loose pieces on the ground toward Lainey, his boots scuffed leather. He had no patience for her tentative nature around dismemberment. This was about production, not the ability of his crew wearing Guess watches, flannel shirts and blue jeans. He had not, Lainey thought, done a very careful screening of his workmen.
However, stacking the wood became an art form. The big chunks, split with an ax, went in a row on the front and back end of the trailer, solid and steady, one tucked into the other. The girls had small competitions to see who could stack the tightest, neatest end rows.
“Mine’s higher than yours!” one would hoot.
“But mine’s stronger,” another would say and kick the structure, solid under the strike of a size 7 Ked.
Eventually, the hell-cry Get back to work! would sound when her father noticed the competition for fine craftsmanship was actually a detriment to the process.
The trailer was big enough for two 1980 Ski-Doo snowmobiles, one facing each way, and small enough that the Honda three-wheeler could pull it filled to capacity with firewood. The bed of the trailer was plywood warped with age and balanced on one axle with a metal fender over each tire.
And this was pivotal to the entire operation: the clearance between the fender and the tire.
The trailer could take the weight of wood until it almost touched but did not touch the tire. Any less, and it was wasted space. Any more, and the trailer was pegged to the ground, and Lainey would be charged with unloading what she’d just loaded until the trailer rose to make clearance.
This was a waste of time, her father would address his crew when this happened, Could you not see it was getting too heavy? Are you blind? Be it good times or good eyes, all were in short supply for the man who continued to saw and curse and yell directions at his crew.
Once the trailer was loaded, it was time for the step that Lainey hated the most — helping him back the trailer into the garage. The trailer fit inside the garage door with an inch to spare on either side. And even as Lainey told him “a little more to the left,” he was going right.
“Am I gonna make it, damn it?” he would bellow.
“Yeah, I said, YEAH!” Lainey would scream back, sometimes without even looking. Let him rap into the trim of the door and go absolutely off the deep-end, she would think.
But if he did rap the trim, she would crap her pants. No way was it a good scene. The taillights on the trailer stuck out the farthest and, with just a hair scratch, would catch the white paint and peel a long, fine stretch of paint free for all the world to see, or similarly, her father.
Never was the trailer backed in without some kind of situation unfolding. But once it was parked, her father became the jumpy one. For his job was to stack the wood in the basement. And their job was to relay the pieces down through the small access window from the garage into the basement. They would drop the pieces, one by one, letting them fall eight feet to the concrete floor below in a thundering whack at the feet of her father.
“Drop them straight down,” her father warned every time. “Don’t throw them! Jesus!”
And, of course, the day came when her mother wailed him in the head with a piece of wood big enough to kill him.
“Ow!” came the howl and Lainey and her sisters crowded around the little window.
“Are you OK?” Lainey’s mother called, reaching for the next chunk of wood.
Her father did not answer, enjoying more the silent suffering that brought them to the window.
“Dad!” his daughters insisted, “Answer us!”
As they peered into the dark hole, their eyes dilated, trying to assemble the scene below: a man slumped over, grabbing his forehead with a leather glove, the other hand on his waist for emphasis, a blue streak coming from his mouth clouding the basement.
“Who threw that?” he finally asked, deadly quiet, checking his head for blood.
All three girls looked up at their mother, who was standing behind them, arms crossed.
“I did not throw it,” she said down the hole at him.
“The piece of wood is six feet across the basement floor!” he countered. Indeed, the chunk had some steam behind it from the looks of things.
“I did not throw it.” Her mother was nothing if not consistent.
The argument went on like that for some time, her mother denying, her father counting out the feet between his head, the window and the wood. This was reassuring. If he could fight and holler and curse, then he would live. Unfortunately, it also meant he'd live to get another load in before nightfall.
The event became family lore, one of their favorites. And, while at the time, Lainey hated the sawdust in her eyes and the scratches on her arms, she remembers now what it felt like, the satisfaction of that last load. She treasures now what her father taught her about hard work. And what her mother taught her about good aim.