I’ve heard three separate people complaining about the economy lately and saying that if things don’t improve they’ll have to get a job, ewwww, and while I only caught a snippet of their conversation and thus had no context (one was via Twitter, and it wouldn’t be the first time I completely misunderstood what someone was saying there) and really shouldn’t jump to any conclusions, can I just say it makes me sort of crazy to hear that, probably because I can’t view that sort of statement objectively at ALL, because oh what a tragedy to have to work for a living and maybe spend several hours a day doing something that’s not exactly rewarding in every sense of the word let me check oh yeah it seems I am FRESH OUT OF SYMPATHY ON THAT SUBJECT.

On a similar note, I have to tell you how much I dislike the term The Man. When I was first talking about going back to work after Riley was born, I can’t tell you how many people chastised me for even considering leaving my baby just to toil away for The Man, which 1) what does that even mean? and 2) hey, here is my left nut, I would like to cordially invite you to suck it until you choke on the short hairs.

(Yeah, so I don’t actually have a left nut. Creative license, baby.)

The only nice side effect about this scary economy is the fact that I think it’s actually dampened some of the more ridiculous stay-at-home vs working-mom bullshit out there, because I don’t think too many people are in a position to criticize other folks who need or want to work for a living any more. You know, especially if the choice is to Stick It To the Man . . . or raise a family in a house with, you know, electricity.

I have been spending a lot of time lately thinking about how to incorporate more of what I love to do into my career—how to find the motivation and passion, and how to break the cycle of feeling discouraged and trapped. I know it’s not fun to feel as though you’re working just to earn a paycheck, like you’re putting in your time at a place you don’t love instead of pursuing the things that really make you tick. At the same time, for most of us that paycheck isn’t just a nice side effect of our jobs, it’s the thing that helps pay the bills, save money for our children’s college funds, provide medical care for our families, and makes it possible to acquire a few of life’s luxuries such as food.

If financial circumstances are forcing you into a situation you’d rather not be in, hey, I get that. It sucks. But just think how many thousands of people would LOVE to be working for The Man right now. I try and keep this in mind, because it sure makes me think about what I could be doing instead of complaining. Like standing in line at the unemployment office.

In other news, Riley and I are leaving on Saturday for the DC trip I mentioned earlier (sponsored by THE MAN! Well, Hershey’s), and I am crossing every finger and toe that he gets over the last of this virus that’s been affecting him with the sort of behavior that I see Heather recently called “the grumples” which is far more kind than the words I’ve been using lately to describe my beloved boy, unless “that whiny asshole” can be considered a term of endearment? No? Well, anyway, wish us luck, and if you’ve got any last-minute travel tips, I’d love to hear them.


76 Responses to “So hard for it honey”

  1. denese on April 24th, 2009 12:34 am

    i stay at home with our daughter, and must confess that each day i wish a little more for a “the man”-like office job. my husband has a good job that he enjoys enough and our finances are just fine, so i figure my “job” right now is to spend his income the best way i can for our family. plus he works swing shift, so my working would embroil us in a caregiving/scheduling nightmare.


    honestly. our baby has been mysteriously grumpling all effing week. in the past 5 days, i have referred to her as “a psycho hosebeast,” “getting bitchier by the minute,” and “remember the ear-beetle scene in wrath of khan? that has been my morning,” among other totally nasty YET TRUE things. luckily for her, she’s so adorable and delicious and i don’t have anything better to do, such as go to work.

  2. JMH on April 24th, 2009 2:37 am

    Love. This. Post!!!! I hope I raise my kids not to depend on others for everything, even if it means working at a crappy job. (Danielle-loved your comment too!)

  3. Tammy on April 24th, 2009 5:13 am

    I’m all for live and let live myself. And if someone doesn’t want to go out to work I say stay home and then I might stand a chance of getting a dang job.
    I was laid off 3 weeks ago and so far I have applied for over 60 jobs. NADA! Why? Because every job I apply for has probably already had 70 gazillion people already apply. So if anyone knows of any marketing positions in the Baltimore area..
    And yeah you totally have picked the right time to come to DC. All weekend its going to be in the Mid 80’s with beautiful blue skies. You’ll have a blast!

  4. Lori on April 24th, 2009 5:14 am

    I’m lucky because I’ve never met a stay-at-home Mom yet who thinks working is “beneath” her. I’m sure they’re out there, it’s just not the crowd I run with. All of the ones I know (including myself) feel very lucky to be able to manage it, especially in this economy. I really liked Jonniker’s comment, for the most part. I do hope the sahm/work debate could be finished. I try my best not to judge other moms and their life decisions. After all, my life is not perfect. I do think judging is just a knee-jerk reaction. You judged those stay-at-home moms’ comments. And when I read this post, I have to confess, I judged you a little, too. After all, I know you belong to a gym with a personal trainer. I do exercise tapes at home because we can’t afford some of the extras since I don’t work. But, I realize that’s ridiculous since I don’t walk in your shoes and I certainly am not privy to your bank account. It was just a brief blip of judgement. I think the best we can all hope to do is be happy with our own decisions and do our best to try to keep any knee-jerk judgement at bay.

    As for “the Man,” I don’t know who he is, but I love him for his ability to provide us with food and health insurance.

  5. Liz on April 24th, 2009 5:57 am

    First comment ever. On any blog. But you are coming to my town and I couldn’t contain myself. Just wanted to let you know that DC this weekend should be wonderful. So wonderful that strangers on this morning’s elevator felt the need to tell me just how great it would be. A few things to keep in mind …
    1. If you have allergies, bring extra of whatever you take and tissues. DC spring seems especially hard on allergy sufferers.
    2. If you are looking for a place to sit and catch your breath (but know Riley will be entertained), go to the atrium of the Portrait Gallery or the Building Museum. The Portrait gallery has these great semi-fountains (running water less than half a centimeter thick) that kids run through and love but dry immediately. The Building Museum offers a massive room that kids can and do take over.
    3. Someone else mentioned it … but its worth repeating. If you go to the Zoo, take the Metro (Red Line) to Cleveland Park. The walk is so much easier (and there are far fewer people/baby carriages on the sidewalks). And pick up whatever food/snacks you might need as you walk. While the Zoo itself is free, its food is expensive.

    Good Luck! Hope everything goes well!

  6. Anne on April 24th, 2009 6:00 am

    I agree, I’ve never felt so lucky to have a job in my life. I even feel guilty complaining about a bad day or a stressful project – because at least I had that day at work, and I have that stressful project to work on.

  7. Joanne on April 24th, 2009 6:26 am

    In my experience, it seems like people who bitch about The Man maybe want to BE The Man (i.e. be in charge) but don’t have the balls that The Man has to BECOME The Man.

    OMG I have to reserve the right to bitch about my job as a SAHM. Don’t we all make choices to do things and get to bitch about them? Does Brenna NEVER complain about her job? Her husband? Her commute? Her car? A book that she CHOSE to read but it came out kind of stupid and was a waste of her time? GOOD GOD.

    I consider being a SAHM sort of way beneath me, but I do it anyway. I mean, I think Motherhood in general is kind of crappy, what with the excrement and vomit and getting smacked in the face and hair pulled and told “NO!” 1,000 times a day – ooops, I’m complaining and I DID decide to have these kids but sometimes they can SUCK and that is just a fact.

    Are you allowed to bitch if you CHOSE to go to work but daycare is expensive? When are you allowed to complain, I wonder?

    My travel advice consists of this – try and be as prepared as possible, and take a lot of small, light, but fun things with you to mix it up. My kids rarely get juice so I always buy something like that once I get through security because sometimes they’re so confused at the glory of it all that they forget what they were mad about. Also, I would play up the GROWN UP aspect of it, just Mommy and Riley and isn’t this awesome? I bet it will be. Have fun.

  8. Kristi on April 24th, 2009 6:44 am

    I just have to say how tired I am of everyone judging people’s decisions. I stay at home with my one year old, but that is because I a) made this choice, and b) am lucky enough to be able to make this decision.

    I have no hate on any other parent regarding whatever their child care/working life is like. I just always hope others get to do what they want to do.

  9. Sarah0 on April 24th, 2009 7:37 am

    I just flew to/from Florida alone with my three year old a couple of weeks ago. I’m happy to say that I did NOT throw her out of the plane, nor did any of the other passengers! YAY!

    Some things that helped: suckers or gum for take off and landing, a DVD player with all of her favorite movies/shows, a sticker book for when it’s not okay to use electronics (i.e. that hour we were stuck on the runway), snacks, snacks, snacks. I ate most of them, but whatever.

  10. Shawna on April 24th, 2009 8:24 am

    Oh dear, I use “the Man” to describe the fact that I work for the federal government. Hope that left nut is tasty.

    Also, related: 1) I’ve been surprised at how many people ask me “What man?” as if they’d never heard the term before, and 2) since I’ve only used it for government (and maybe things like banks), I hadn’t thought that it applied to all Big Companies – is, say, Starbucks “The Man”? What about Walmart? Wall street?

  11. Sundry on April 24th, 2009 8:28 am

    I’m not sure why it sounds like I’m judging anyone’s personal choices here. Just venting how it bothers me to hear when someone basically says that my OWN choice/situation — ie, Workin’ For THE MAN — is so abhorrent to them. It’s like me saying that staying home full time would be so awful, omg, I would be selling my soul and lowering my standards. What a crappy thing to hear, right? (PS: I do not believe that.)

    Lori: not tracking why the trainer I pay for with the money I earn makes you judge me. But I am pro-complaining in general, so bitch away! I just reserve the right to complain back, that’s all.

  12. Stacy on April 24th, 2009 8:36 am

    I have nothing insightful to say today…just that this blog makes me laugh every single day. Thank you. You are “the woman”!

  13. jonniker on April 24th, 2009 8:48 am

    I don’t get the idea that anyone thinks *you’re* judging anyone, but that you brought up the discussion, which makes people get all het up about the Judgy McJudgersons IN GENERAL.

  14. MRW on April 24th, 2009 9:00 am

    This is veering a little, but what really irks me is that I’m about to have a child and go on maternity leave. Many people have asked me either directly or in a round about way if I’m coming back to work. If I wasn’t coming back, I’d have told them and quit long ago because there are times when this job just sucks. Also, everyone who has asked me is well aware that in our family I am the primary bread winner and my husband works in commercial banking so we need my salary and job security. Do they think I’m working just for the sheer joy of work?? Right.

    OK rant over, on a separate note: I work for the federal government, so I figure I’m working for “The Man” but since it’s not 1968 and “The Man” pays my bills I don’t really care.

  15. the goddess anna on April 24th, 2009 9:00 am

    I don’t know if this has been mentioned, but it’s supposed to be near 90 this weekend (and cloudless) in the mid-Atlantic. So, pack light clothing! DC can be known for nasty humidity, but I’m not sure of that forecast (I live in Va Beach, but my husband lives between B’more and DC – that’s the only reason I know about this weekend’s temps). Also, there is green pollen everywhere – I’ve been buying Alavert in bulk this season. No travel tips here, though, as the only time I took a kidlet on a plane, she was 22 months and stared out the window the entire time (B’more to San Diego and back).

    And I would kill to be back working for The Man (to me, that means gov’t work). I had to quit to stay home with the kids in Feb 08 – with 3 kids, it’s cheaper – but it’s thrown me back into a pretty awful depressive state. Staying at home works for some, working is better for others – it’s just nice to be able to have that choice.

  16. Alyson on April 24th, 2009 9:11 am

    Hearing people complain in the Seattle area really ticks me off. Compared to the rest of the country, we are STILL living the high life. So I can understand your frustration – so someone can’t buy their daughter the $400 Coach purse she wants for her birthday – so what! I don’t carry a $400 purse….why should some bratty, ungrateful 16 year old!

    Good Luck with Riley…..you are a far braver woman than I. Be mindful of his ears – the changing cabin pressure can be a bear. (it always is on mine, and I’m not 3!)

  17. Jan on April 24th, 2009 9:35 am

    I was 14 when my dad told me to get off my arse and find a job. I hadn’t been without a job until I had my 1st baby 3 years ago. Baby #2 followed last year and lo and behold baby #3 (whom we can call ‘oops’) will be making it’s debut this summer. Unfortunately for me, my working days for ‘the man’ are over. Daycare in my city is $50/day/child. So at a nice price tag of $3000/month it is just not worth it. Maybe when the kids are all in school I can return to the workplace but for now, it is literally not an option. I really enjoy getting out of the house if only for a few hours a day and if I can make an extra buck or two – bonus.
    Here in Canada the government gives us $100/child/month under 6 years of age to help with childcare expenses. We also get a ‘Child Tax Credit’ based on # of kids and family income and my monthly amount is about $150. This money, instead of going straight to daycare, is helping put food on the table.
    I sort of rambled on here and not sure what my point is. I guess to say that every situation is different and every situation is viewed differently by others.

  18. Deb on April 24th, 2009 9:48 am

    Seconding Jonniker and Joanne.

    I am a SAHM who had a career before I decided to stay at home and have babies. I feel fortunate every day that I even had the choice, when so many women I know do not. My best friend is the primary bread winner in her home, and I have been listening to her talk for years about the struggles and sacrifices and worries she has as a working mom. Being a stay at home mom is full of worries, struggles and sacrifices too. If my husband lost his job, of course I would do whatever it took to take care of my family, even though my skills are pretty much outdated and I probably would not be able to find a job in my field. Sometimes I feel there is extra stress being a one-income family, since if something happened to my husbands job our income would be cut entirely, not just cut in half. So I do worry. And complain. Just like everyone else. Being a parent is HARD, dudes – and a stay at home mom never gets to leave her job and go home. I love my babies, but the sheer DRUDGERY of full time momming can be mind numbing. And yeah, I complain about it.

    So suck it Brenna.

    Love you Linda!

  19. H on April 24th, 2009 10:10 am

    I work for The Man and am thankful every day for my job since The Man has been laying off people left and right. I decided long ago that my job is a job and I don’t expect it to fulfill me in many ways. I enjoy it most of the time and I’m good at it. The End. I agree 100% with Jonniker about the “live and let live” theory. Nothing is completely fun, easy and fulfilling and everyone has a right to complain.

    One thing that really gets under my skin, sort of related to this concept, is when people criticize SAHMs for paying to have their houses cleaned. I can’t afford that anymore (kid in college, husband’s tenuous job situation) but who am I to criticize a woman who has her house cleaned by others if she wants to do so and can afford it? Sure, I’m jealous, but WTF?! I simply do not understand why there are so many judgmental people out there.

  20. Anonymous on April 24th, 2009 12:15 pm

    And I thought I was the only one with a not quite two year old whiney little asshole! :)

  21. Mike T on April 24th, 2009 2:12 pm

    Two things: I’m glad I’m not the only one who’s willing to refer to my son as an asshole.

    And, I just realized that I’m the opposite of you: I thought I wanted a rewarding, fulfilling career doing something I love. After a couple shaky employment situations and two stints on unemployment, I realized I just want paychecks.

  22. Jeanette on April 24th, 2009 6:56 pm

    My job is particularly stressful at this moment with one person gone never to be replaced and one person on medical leave, leaves me with three, three, three jobs in one! But I really try not to complain (out loud anyway)because to be gainfully employed in this economy is truly a blessing!

  23. Brenna on April 25th, 2009 3:06 pm

    WOW. I hardly thought my comment warranted someone telling me to “suck it”. As Jonniker stated herself (and I couldn’t agree more), we all have a right to bitch. Guess this was my way of doing just that. Really did not intend to hurt anyone’s feelings here.

  24. Jillian on April 25th, 2009 11:15 pm

    Have an awesome trip!!

  25. justmouse on April 26th, 2009 9:22 am

    i LOVE you. you always are able to state so clearly what i am thinking. i have 3 jobs, none of which i particularly WANT. having said that, i rather enjoy living in a HOUSE, with electricity, and i really enjoy being able to feed my family. the only good thing i can see out of this economy crunch, is that maybe people will stop taking everything for granted. i doubt it, but one can hope.

    ignore the judgy mcjudgersons. they can suck it. i’m totally done being charitable towards people who presume to judge me when they don’t even know me.

  26. Danielle on May 8th, 2009 8:29 pm

    I am so damn sick and tired of the ‘grumbles’ and the ‘whiny asshole’. OMG, those words don’t even BEGIN TO DESCRIBE the whininess coming out of my kid. What the hell is the issue? She’s got EVERYTHING, and I am her bitch, and omg, she still whines. I am so glad she has such sweet redeeming qualities, because if not, I would totally be putting her on Etsy with some craft paint on her ass right now.

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