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Location: Northern California

Read all about the adventures of the Tsao Family during the summer of 2012

Sunday, June 18, 2006


The Curse of the Lucky Stay-at-Home Mom

What a weekend! On Saturday we celebrated Emily's third birthday with a party at the San Francisco Buca di Beppo. I totally copied Jamie from Blonde Mom Blog and decided to take the celebration off-site. Unfortunately, Emily fell asleep on the way there and woke up in a funk. When I dropped off her, Mike, and our presents and took Thomas to park the car, she saw me drive away and started crying and calling out, "Mama!...Mama!..."

That pretty much set the tone for her enjoyment of the party. Which is to say, she hated it. She kept her head on my lap almost the entire time, wouldn't eat anything, refused to smile for pictures, and was so distraught by the end that Mike had to take her for a walk. The waitress was very surprised when she showed up with a big piece of brownie cake and a "3" candle and realized that Emily was MIA. Oh well. Instead we sang Happy Birthday to Thomas, who looked a little stunned but at least he wasn't crying or hysterical. As Tutu Jewel pointed out, this will be one of our "stories" of Emily. That basically means she will never get to forget about this as long as she lives.

Ha ha! I just realized that I can laugh about it now!

Of course Emily and her spirits perked up IMMEDIATELY upon our leaving the restaurant. She fairly skipped to the car, then we went home and opened the presents and she and Thomas fought over his new un-birthday present of a microphone, and life was suddenly back to normal. Welcome to the threes, I guess.

Today I did yard work and set up our new patio furniture and bought flowers that some lucky stiff at Home Depot planted for me. Here's our new table and chairs seen previously in the photo of my butt. We had breakfast on the patio! It was very California lifestyle-esque. Mike played online poker and enjoyed some alone time. Happy Father's Day, honey!

Saturday night was the Berkeley MotherTalk with Judith Stadtman Tucker. If the fact that we chatted until midnight was any indication, we obviously didn't want the evening to end. Yes, it was an interesting and informative night. The other MotherTalks I've attended tended to center around our personal experiences as mothers and also our experiences as mother-writers. Saturday night's salon was slightly different because Judith's personal focus with her organization The Mothers Movement Online is more about global issues surrounding caregiving, work, family life, and public policy. She was a wonderfully articulate speaker and conversationalist and brought to the conversation facts, figures, theories, feminist opinion, must-read books, writers to explore, and much more. I have two full pages of notes and I hope that my own reading and writing in the upcoming months will incorporate some of what she suggested.

In the meantime, if you haven't been over to The Mothers Movement Online, go check it out. There's a fair number of essays, opinion pieces, book reviews, and more about issues that affect mothers. One of the essays on MMO that we talked about last night is titled "Lucky." In it, Shannon Hyland-Tassava explains how even though working moms tend to call her "lucky" that she's able to stay home with her daughter, it actually isn't luck, but "effort and sacrifice." She writes:

"What I really want to say, in a necessarily non-politically-correct kind of way, is this: It's not luck that is allowing me to be a stay-at-home mom, okay? This is what it is. It is living on 1-1/2 incomes instead of two, and banking the other half, for over two years before conceiving our first child. It is consciously and deliberately living a minimalist lifestyle now, one that is not easy or always particularly comfortable, because it is important to us to raise our own child, not put her in daycare for ten hours a day.


It is a conscious choice involving material sacrifice in the name of our family's personal values. It is hard work. It is not luck -- at least, not the kind of luck most people seem to think."

What do you think about Shannon's essay? On the one hand, I agree with her and think she has a right to resent being called "lucky." On the other hand, I think she's being overly-sensitive about some casual comments that probably weren't meant to judge her lifestyle in the way that she thinks they did. If you're a SAHM and you're not living the lifestyle exemplified by the reality TV show "Real Housewifes of Orange County" (which Morphing into Mama recently spoofed), do you find yourself wishing more people understood the extent to which your family is making sacrifices in order for you (or your husband) to be home with your kids?

Or do you just wish that your three-year old understood the sacrifices you made in order to have her birthday party at a posh family-style dining establishment long enough to sit up and smile for at least one picture?

Just wondering.

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