Thursday, March 27, 2014

Hybrid Mom

In a world where everything and everyone must have a label, I don't really feel like I have a term that properly describes my days. When people ask what I "do" for a living, I usually spurt out something like: I am raising my son while working from home.

It's not a common concept, doing both. Most mommas are in a definitive camp--- stay-at-home, or working-outside-the-home. 

Yesterday I came across the term "hybrid mom"--- a combination of a stay-at-home mom, work-at-home mom, and work-outside the home mom. Sometimes I wish I had a definitive label--- either stay-at-home-mom or working-mom. That way, I might feel like my life were more balanced; people on the outside could understand my days a bit better if I were doing one or the other. But then I think, no way! I could not imagine doing just one or the other... at least right now anyway. Who knows how I'll feel if we are able to add more kids to this mix.

I found the hybrid-mom term in another blog I was reading. The author (Jamie Weitl) was able to communicate how I feel about being a hybrid-mom well. I highlighted the most true aspects for me below: 

There are definite positives to my hybrid mom life.  The flexibility is what makes it worth it.  If I don’t get my work done during the day, I can do it in the middle of the night.  If I want to attend my son’s preschool field trip or help with his school’s Thanksgiving dinner, that is always an option – I just pay for it later.  I also don’t have to pay full-time child care for my three children.  Currently, my son goes to preschool 5 mornings a week from 8:30 to 11:30 and my girls spend four of those mornings at a neighbors house which provides my work time.  Any work I don’t manage to accomplish while the kids are out of the house I attempt during nap or when they are sleeping.  This is difficult in many ways, but in my mind it’s still a positive because of the time I’m able to spend with my little ones.
One of the most difficult aspects for me is I never really fit in.  All of my mom friends seem to fit into one distinct category – either they stay home or they work outside the home.  I struggle to relate and empathize because for me the grass is always greener on the other side.  I’d love to be a traditional stay-at-home mom.  I dream about the cleaning and crafting I could accomplish if I didn’t need to work every second my children close their eyes.  I also feel like my stress level would be much lower – I actually do all of the things a stay-at-home mom does (including the crafting and the cooking) but I still work on top of those tasks.  My other friends, the working moms, give me those looks when I drop my son off for preschool in my sweatpants and ancient Crocs – those looks that say, “Wow, must be nice not to have to get dressed.”  But what they don’t realize is that I’m working just as many hours (if not more) than they are – only my job doesn’t fit neatly in a 40 hour work week.  I do paid work every day of the week – and there is no such thing as leaving work at work.  It all blends together into one big, never-ending to-do list.
This post is disjointed; I am not even fully done fleshing out this new term, hybrid mom. What do you think?

Perhaps I actually like it? I feel like I am never in one "camp" or the other (working mom or stay-at-home-mom) since I do both. Maybe I like finally having a label.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Car Shopping with Baby Gabe

Sometimes, having a baby in tow helps. Yes, carrying a baby in the grocery store or to church can often be a bit hairy. But... let me tell you... bringing your baby car shopping is the way to go!

Chris's Jeep finally took a dive, after fourteen solid years. We new we couldn't afford to go buy a brand new car, but we wanted a quality used SUV of sorts.

As Chris takes 99.3 million years to make a decision (even if only deciding on a blender), I knew we were in for some trouble. The fact that the Jeep's driver side car door was refusing to shut increased the need for a new vehicle, and fast.

So... what did we do? We brought Gabe with us car shopping.

I know how car dealers work. The whole back-and-forth about the price and the "let me check with my manager" crap. Come on! Give me the real price already!

When you have a baby in tow, things have no choice but to progress at a speed faster than light. Just the view of a squirming, screaming child scares male car dealers.

So here's how we played it:

Me: "Hi! We have a really small window here to look at cars today. We definitely need a car, and if we can get the right price, we are ready to purchase today."

Dealer: "Wow. Okay. Today?"

Me: "Yes, preferably before Gabe wakes up from his nap." (Dealer looks at innocent, chubby baby sleeping in car seat). 

We tell the dealer our specifics (having already researched online, knowing the dealership's inventory and list prices).

Dealer: "Well.. hmm... let me take a look and see what we can do."

Me: "Okay. But make it speedy! (I dramatically glance at Gabe, making it appear that I am looking at a literal ticking time bomb).

So the dealer comes back with some options, all of which are over our price range. We choose the car that we had researched online (checked the CarFax, compared the price to Kelly Blue Book etc.)

Chris: "Can I test drive that one?"

The dealer grabs the keys and pulls the car up. We brought an extra car seat base so all we had to do was transfer the car seat (with Gabe still sleeping in it) into the "new" car.

We set off for the test drive, asked questions while driving etc. I sat in the back next to Gabe, looking over everything in the back. Chris drove and checked out the front.

Ten minutes later, we were back at the dealership.

Chris: "So, what is your final asking price."

Dealer: "Well, ah, you can see it there on the sticker."

Gabe, as if on cue, miraculously starts waking up.

Chris: "Oh, well, if that is your final price, we thank you for the test drive, but we can't do that price."

Dealer: "Well, what price were you thinking?"

Chris lays out the specifics for him. Meanwhile, Gabe starts softly whimpering from the car seat. The dealer glances at Gabe, fear slowly starting to grab hold of him that this baby just might poop, cry, or spit in his direction.

Dealer: "Let me go talk to my boss."

Me: "Okay, but seriously, we have about a ten minute window here before we have to go. Gabe gets really mean, really fast! 

The dealer comes back with a price, miraculously two thousand below his earlier "final" price. Chris says not low enough. I grab the diaper bag and start to head for the door to leave.

Dealer: "So you don't think there is any way to make this work?" (He stares at the now fully crying Gabe)

Chris: "Well, not tonight. Thanks for the drive. Please give me a call if you can get closer to our price."

We leave. Drive home. I feed Gabe. About 45 minutes later, we get a call with a now even lower price. It's in our ballpark. We accept. Done deal.

Ahh.... that was the fastest, most efficient car shopping experience ever. Thanks, Gabe!

Side note: Knowing Chris's car was on its last legs, we had been researching cars for about six months. We knew what we wanted (type, mileage, price etc) and pounced when the time was right. Plus, Gabe clearly accelerated the process!