Tuesday, July 22, 2008

The Trade-Off of Being a Stay-At-Home Mom

By Kelly

So I heard another Batman movie just hit the theaters.

Anyone know anything about it?

I’m kidding, of course. “Dark Knight” set a new record its opening weekend, raking in an astounding $158.3 million. To compare: The number two movie for last weekend, the chick-flick “Mama Mia,” only managed to pull in $27.6 million. And according to one poll, more than 60% of the people who saw “Dark Knight” last weekend plan to see it at again in the theaters.

This astounds me for several reasons.

First, I can’t remember the last movie I saw in the theater. Truly. Can’t remember. Maybe "Ratatouille"?

Second, if my sources are correct, it costs approximately half my monthly mortgage payment to see a movie in the theaters these days. And that doesn’t include popcorn, which is more than half the fun. Yet people are spending that kind of money to see a movie, not once, but twice? Wow.

Third ... "Dark Knight" is out already?!? How did I miss this? I consider myself to be a bit of a sci-fi geek. But my first clue that the next Batman had hit the big screen came when I read this fascinating blog critique on Monday.

I am officially out of touch.

A few years ago, before kids, I worked in the news business. I knew something about everything – and I thrived on it. I knew the basic facts of every regional and national news story to hit the wires. (In fact, I discontinued my "Newsweek" subscription because it felt like old news.) I knew gossip about the Presidential candidates. I knew the latest foibles of the movie stars. (Living close to Los Angeles made that easy.) I knew what foods you should avoid if you have breast cancer, which police union charity call was a scam, how to keep your child safe in the bathtub with six easy steps and which salmonella-tainted food had been recalled that week.

But now? I’m a stay-at-home Mom. And while I’m still a bit of a news junkie, I no longer follow every story the way I used to. I’ve fallen off the radar.

My pre-child self would be aghast. "Have you no brain cells, woman?" she would berate. "How do you expect to participate in intelligent and witty repartee if you don't know something about everything? How will you impress the crowd with your keen insight into What's Happening In The World? Have you become the very thing you despise? Have you no self-respect? Have you no pride?"

Well, no. I have self-respect and pride. I just have no time.

Besides, my crowd -- all three of them, ages 6, 4 and 6 months -- probably wouldn't care if I espoused my opinion on "Dark Knight" being a symbol of the emptiness of our culture. (Or a shining example of the depravity of man. Take your pick. I haven't seen it, so I have no basis to enter the fray.)

But really -- and here's where it gets even more freaky -- I don't even care anymore that I'm not in the know about everything.

These days, my life is filled with everyday holiness. I do a puzzle with Connor. I play restaurant with Natalie. I change the baby’s diaper and kiss her belly and make her smile. I make dinner and savor the smell of garlic and onion in olive oil. I bake cookies and eat them fresh out of the oven with a huge glass of milk.

I feel like my eyes are opening to wonder, to simplicity, to the beauty in the small.

And if I do my job right, I have little time or energy left over to keep up with the 24/7 pace of the rest of the world.

It's a trade-off. But it's one I'm willing to make.

So, world, you can have your “Dark Knight.” I have my bright morning -- and it's usually spent eating Cheerios with an crowd of three who cares more about whether I'm actually listening to their silly knock-knock jokes than whether I think Heath Ledger will win a posthumous Oscar.

And I'm more content with that than I ever thought I'd be.

Kelly also blogs at Love Well, which means she probably stayed up too late last night writing. But oh well.


  1. I think all too often, our priorities change when we have children. The important stuff just doesn't seem as important anymore.

  2. It's just a different, more personal, ultimately more impactful collections of headlines and deadline you manage now. Ones you won't have forgotten next week as hotter stories come along. Now pass me the milk and cookies, please.

  3. What a beautiful post! I know these same feelings oh so well.

  4. Beautiful.

    I never quite reached that ability to simply delight in my role as a mom. I still want to know it all.

    I did realize long ago that being on top of every new release at the movie theaters did not jell with being a mom who doesn't get out much, and I am okay with that. That's why we have DVDs, right?

  5. I'm new to this mom thing - my baby is only 10 months old and I'm adapting to my new status in life - work at home mom - it's great, but sometimes I struggle with being out of touch with the rest of the world. Thanks for the reassurance that it's ok because what I'm doing by staying home with my daughter really is the best thing ever!

  6. Becoming a mother changes your life for ever.

    And not to start any 'mommy wars' going on in the comments here but this trade off is not limited to the stay-at-home variety of mother. I work outside the home. In an office filled with engineers. Engineers are notorious sci-fi fantasy, Batman freaks.

    Want to know how I learned about the "Dark Knight" movie? I read about a special event going on at Toys-R-Us this upcoming Friday in their email newsletter.

    Falling out of the loop about things of this nature and not caring about it is a trade-off of being a mother. A loving, caring, completely-wrapped-up-in-everything-about-your-child/children mother.

  7. I read someplace that the reason movies are doing SO well this summer is because no one can afford to travel anywhere.

    I have found that once I was out of the baby days, I did find myself paying more attention to what was going, like a sleepy turtle.

  8. thank you for the great post! Pre-kids I went to the movies all the time. Now, like you, I prefer just hanging with the babies and watching them grow. They are my oscars! :)

  9. I do work outside of the home (single mom) but I still find that I don't know what is going on half the time. Your priorities definately change, and I'm okay with that. (My pre-baby self wouldn't have been.)

  10. I *just* saw The Aviator w/Leonardo DiCaprio on my television. On video. Tape. Apparently keeping up with movies (and technology) is not a priority for me either.

  11. Wait a minute, did I write that post?!? I think the last movie I saw was the rat movie, except I had to leave half way through the movie because my 3 yr old wasn't handling the theater too well and I couldn't chase him down the isle while breastfeeding! We were at the dollar cinema, so it didn't hurt too much, though, and we took the popcorn to go! I used to work in newspapers (only graphic design) and now I can't even stand to watch the nightly news, nor do I want my children to see the stuff they report on! I played puzzles, changed diapers, read books, cooked onions & garlic in olive oil just today. And I fell in love with my children all over again.

  12. Love this post! I too was once savvy in the happenings of the world, but with a 6, 4, 2 year old and one on the way, my "world" has changed. I now know tons about the best diaper creams, the adventures of Bob and Larry and Curious George, which breads are actually and truly made without high fructose corn syrup and how to make my visits to the ladies room in two minutes top! Things like the release of Dark Night... well, I might come across it one evening when I've stayed up way past my bedtime roaming the blogesphere.

  13. [...] ponders the loss of being in the know about what’s at the box office in The Trade-Off of Being a Stay-at-Home Mom at [...]

  14. I'm a working mom, but I'm still MAJORLY out of touch. I never watch the news...in fact, rarely watch tv except for Food Network and Disney. My daughter is almost 10, and I probably have more time than mothers of preschoolers, but I'm too caught up in trying to serve my family & make my home a haven to worry about the latest movies, etc. As another commenter said...that's why we have DVDs, right?

  15. I couldn't agree more. I think it is natural to have these feelings when you stay at home however, those everyday joys are so much better.

  16. Recently, I visited with a friend who is pregnant with her first. I kept thinking she must think it is crazy that I don't know anything other than my little world. The last time we visited, I was pregnant with my first. I felt, well, boring. After reading this, I think I'll consider my lack of knowledge of the outside world to be a signs of mothering done well. Or, at least an attempt at it.

  17. [...] The Trade-Off of Being a Stay-At-Home Mom - I have a feeling that this will be me in about 3 months. I rarely care about anything pop culture as it is, so I’m sure that when Binary Boy joins our family, I’ll be more focused on being a mom than what movies are opening that weekend. [...]

  18. Yea I am one of those people that seen it twice with my husband. We love movies so that is our date nights usually. It was a great movie. I love being a stay at home sorta ( i am finishing a degree)

  19. I know exactly what you mean. In the past 3.5 years I have been to the theatre 3 times, The 1st to see one the Pirate movies for a girlfriend's birthday when my daughter was one and I left it rafter an hou as I was worried my baby missed me. The second was sex and the city which I watched and very, very late show since I had to put 2 kids (aged 1 and 3) in bed. And though I love SATC I was too tired at the end. And finally was WALL - E. It was my 3yr old's first movie in the cinema and I just chose it since it was the oly all ages movie. I wrote of the experience on my blog too.

  20. I totally agree with your post! I feel the same way. My old girlfriends call to talk and I only have poop stories to tell. I'm glad to hear it from another perspective and person because I honestly thought I was the only one out of "the loop."
    Becoming a mother does make you realize the pleasure in simple things. It also opens your eyes to emotions that had become locked up. Like the real feeling of jump up and down shout and scream excitement! Like the kind my daughter gets when she sees Cinderella being turned into a princess :-) So, exciting! lol
    Thank you for letting me know I wasn't the only one.

  21. You really make it seem so easy with your presentation but I find this topic to be really something that I think I would never understand. It seems too complicated and very broad for me. I'm looking forward for your next post, I’ll try to get the hang of it!