Catching Flak | The Big Shot | Back-Up Love


Catching Flak

Dear Micah

I know a lot of moms get a bunch of flack for choosing to stay home with the kids and a lot get it over choosing to work, but what about moms like me who stay home but also have help?  I have two children under the age of 5 and I am a stay at home mom.  I hired a woman to help me around the house and with the kids and I get so much flack for that.  My friends make remarks about how I do nothing all day and let someone else raise my kids.  They say it like a joke but I know they mean it.  Tell me a way I can respond to these “jokes” that lets them know that I am just as hands-on a mom as they are even if I have hired help?

Geri

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Dear Geri,

You do not have to justify yourself to anyone, but if you feel like you need to defend yourself you could say something like, “You may think I’m shirking my motherhood, but actually I have so much more time to have fun with the kids now that I have help with the house.”  It really doesn’t matter what you say in response to their criticisms because at the end of the day, you will never dispel anyone’s opinions of you no matter how hard you try.  If your friends are judging you about this, then they will continue to whether it’s in secret or to your face.  Even if you fired the woman, they’d just find something else to judge you about because people like to judge other people.

I do understand your feelings on this particular issue, though.  I, too, have help in the home.  I am a stay-at-home dad who works from home and tends to the house and my 1 1/2 year old son.  I also have a nanny/housekeeper to help out.  There are some people who think I have it easy and don’t ever have to do anything, which is far from the reality of the situation.  It could bother me, and it times it has, but mostly I just realize that they don’t have any insight into what a typical day in my household is like, much like I have no idea what theirs is like.

I try to not take their uninformed opinions personally.  I think people tend to make judgment calls on people who hire help because everyone assumes that if you have a nanny, then she is the one taking care of your child.  The reality of the situation is actually quite different.  Anyone with a child will understand that kids always want Mommy (Or in my case, Daddy) to handle everything!  Mommy is the first person they run to when sick or scared, hungry or bored.  And “Hold me, hold me,” is all you hear all day long.  When it comes to the children, I would guess that you spend 95% of the time handling them while your nanny picks up toys, makes beds, and washes clothes.  Nannies typically just step into the caregiver role when Mom or Dad has to leave.  It’s like having a paid babysitter on stand-by just in case, at least that’s how it is around my house.  If I have a meeting, or an errand to run that I cannot take my son to, his nanny is there to stay with him.  However, when I am at home, or going someplace where he can tag along, he is usually at my side or in my arms all day.

If it weren’t for naps and my getting up hours before he does each morning, I would never get any work done.  Our nanny is invaluable in keeping our house and lives in order so that I can spend the majority of my time raising my child.  So I get it, Geri, and many other families with nannies or housekeepers will get it, too.  We understand that you are parenting your children and you are a good mom.  But you must also admit that you are lucky enough to be able to have help.  Even though you are still just as busy as your friends who don’t have help, you are probably less stressed and frenzied because there is an extra set of hands to pitch in.

So, you have to understand somewhat why your friends are jealous and therefore take pot shots at you.  Their remarks are coming from a place of stress and exhaustion and they are just taking it out on you.  Besides, it shouldn’t really doesn’t matter what your friends think anyway.  I bet if they were fortunate enough to trade places with you and have help of their own, they would not refuse it.  So just tune out the snarky comments and continue enjoying the extra time with your children.

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The Big Shot

Hey Micah,

Every few years my old high school class gets together for a Labor Day cookout.  I have never attended.  I think I want to this year but I’m a little nervous about how to present myself.  I wasn’t popular in school and I was treated kind of badly by some.  I’ve done well for myself and want to rub their noses in it a little but I don’t want to come across like a jerk.  Is there a subtle way to show everyone I am a success without being too obvious?

Gloating

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Dear Gloating,

I’m sure there is a subtle way to show off for your old classmates, but please don’t try to do it.  That almost never ends with anyone being impressed by you.  I understand how you feel, believe me I do.  Most all of us at some time or another have wanted to show others from our insecure past that we did turn out well after all.  I can think back on my own list of arrogant actions that just resulted in me probably looking like a bigger fool than I felt like.

Now that I’m older and wiser, I’ve come to realize that it doesn’t matter whether or not people think I am as successful as they are, or even more successful than they are; what matters is that people think I am nice and enjoyable to be around–which, believe me, is hard enough to accomplish with my mouth.  In recent years, I have reconnected with a few old schoolmates whom I was never very close to in school, but I now find delightful and consider them good friends.

If you try to show off, you may just miss out on forming some wonderful new friendships.  You don’t stand a chance of winning anyone over if your sole purpose for attending is to just stand around talking about how important you are or how much money you make.  You won’t impress anyone or make anyone feel badly about themselves by comparison.  People will just wonder “Who invited the douchebag?”  and they’ll avoid you and just talk to each other.  So stop gloating.  Be a nice guy (or girl, if you’re female) and go to this gathering with the aim to reconnect with old acquaintances to see if you can turn them into new friends.

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Back-Up Love

Dear Ask Micah,

I just started dating a woman that I really like, the problem is I don’t know if she really likes me or not.  A lot of times when I ask her out she’ll say that she’s busy.  After a few times I take the hint and stop calling figuring she’s not interested but then she’ll call me and want to make plans.  I don’t know what to make with all the mixed signals.  Do I need to start seeing other women or wait on her to make up her mind, or what?  Give me the gay guy’s perspective!

Kevin

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Dear Kevin,

You are her stand-by guy.  She’s calling you on the days no one else has called her.  You’re the back-up who keeps her from sitting home on Saturday night.  On the days you’re calling her and she tells you that she is busy, she has a date with the man she really wants to be going out with.  On the days she agrees to go out with you or the days she actually calls you herself, those are the days that the preferred man didn’t ask her out.  You aren’t her first date choice, but you’ll do in a pinch when there’s no one else around and she’s bored or hungry.

This doesn’t make her a bad person–hell, I hope not, because back in the day when I dated I had a stand-by guy, too.  It can be a positive thing to know exactly where you stand with someone.  In fact, you could really work this to your advantage.  Make her your own back-up plan as you pursue other women.  If you find yourself free on a particular night, call her up and see if she’s free as well, but let her always be your second or third choice.  Never call the stand-by date first.

I think that pretty much answers the last part of your question, too: YES you should start dating other women!  You shouldn’t have ever stopped.  You do not take yourself off the market unless a conversation has been had between you and the person you are dating whereby you both vocalize that you want to only see one another.  Don’t ever just stop dating other people unless you know that you are in a committed relationship.  So, start dating around.  Make yourself unavailable for this woman when she calls from time to time.  If all you are to her is a back-up plan, just make sure you file her in the same category.

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