Since so many members of our society have pointed out that stay-at-home moms are lazy leeches that suck the very life out of their husbands and do nothing but lie around on the couch all day, I figured I would provide a bit of my own personal experience on this subject. I won’t speak for the other 5.6 million Stay-at-home moms in America, since I can only speak for myself.
Let’s answer a few common questions.
What do you DO all day?
On Mondays, Saturdays and Thursdays, I teach piano lessons in my home. I only have a few students and I wouldn’t consider it to be even a part-time “job”, but it keeps me sane and provides a little bit of grocery money. I do about 5 online radio live music shows a week, which I do get paid a little for, but this is also not a job that would compare to full time wages. I am part of a daytime play group for my daughter that meets once a week and a couple of local moms’ groups that meet for outings a few times each month at various places like public parks and zoos. I get hired to do occasional recording projects throughout the year for small ensembles and people wishing to give songs as gifts to loved ones. I’m working on a book as a ghost-writer for a man with cerebral palsy and meet with him once a week to type. I occasionally perform in Philadelphia venues where I sell CDs and iTunes downloads, but lately I just haven’t had the time or energy.
Ah yes, and I take care of my child.
It must be nice getting to stay home all day.
Yes, actually it is. I mean, it’s nice that I have that option. However, we don’t just stay home all day. Children need time outdoors every day; the more the better. We spend quite a bit of time at the zoo and the local playgrounds, which is enjoyable. We also spend a lot of time going out to do grocery shopping and household errands, which is not so fun with a small child. There is also this feeling that because I don’t go to work, I need to do ALL of the housework and child care myself, which can feel a bit Cinderella-ish at times. There are some days that I’m literally on my feet cleaning and cooking all day from the moment I get up til the moment I climb back in bed. And I’m always the last to get to bed. Because of the way my schedule works, it can often feel like I haven’t had any “alone” time in days. Maybe some children are content to play quietly on their own, but not my kid. If she is awake, she follows me. Even to the bathroom. Sometimes mommy just wants to pee alone. I often don’t notice this infringement upon my freedom until going to the grocery store by myself feels like a luxury vacation. Still, this is my choice. I like getting to raise my daughter and enjoy her childhood.
So, When are you going back to work?
Before my daughter was born, I spent years in college getting a degree to teach Music Education. Many years. I transferred colleges. I changed my degree program a couple of times. I worked while in college and struggled to keep up with both classwork and employment. I understand the value of work. I know that a full time job is hard and requires dedication, commitment, self-discipline and all that other crap. I get it. But still….I would say that my life back then was easier in many ways than my life now. Back then, I only had to take care of ME. When I had to be somewhere, I only had to get MYSELF ready. I could even slack on my own self-care. There is no slacking with a child. They can’t skip meals because you’re too busy or go without a diaper change because you just don’t have time. It has to be done. And even when you fulfill all of those basic needs, they may still cry endlessly. I know, none of this answers the original question. I don’t have an answer. Maybe I’ll go back soon. Maybe later. I don’t know right now, but I’ll know when the time is right.
You would think after so many bad experiences with WalMart, I would stay away, right? But much like a bad romance that keeps magnetically pulling at me to return, WalMart beckons. The low prices. The convenience. All the stuff I don’t need but might like to look at and maybe buy…because the prices are so low. I digress…
I got this wonderful idea to make a photo album for my mom for this Christmas. Mom is hardly ever online, and doesn’t visit my website, so I think I can safely publish this before Christmas without risk of her discovering the surprise. . . if I even complete the surprise album.
I also picked out a really neat photo frame that has little circles for each month of the baby’s first year. Which means I needed small pictures to put in the little circles. And, I chose about 200 of Zoey’s best pictures for the beautiful album I bought. Some of the pictures I ordered from CVS, but I noticed that their printing looked a little smoky and decided to order from my old friend…WalMart.
I ordered 9 wallet size prints, 118 standard 4×6 prints, and one 5×7. When I went to pick up my pictures, I noticed right away that the 5×7 wasn’t there, since it would have to be in a different sized envelope. The photo clerk printed out the 5×7 for me from my order on his screen while I waited. It didn’t occur to me that the envelope I was given only held about 50 prints in it, and I had paid online for over 100. I looked at the prints. The color was bold, but there is a STREAKING across the fronts of all the pictures. In the store, I really just wanted to buy my things and get out. The pictures I looked at weren’t too bad with the streaking, although I mentioned it to the photo clerk and he just replied with, “Yeaahhh…” He was a nice guy, but since I didn’t act angry and crazy, I didn’t get any service. That seems to be the way WalMart works. If you want any service at all, you must go ALL the way with your angry-crazy act. If you are just a little disappointed, they are willing to accept that. If you are CRAZY ANGRY, they start to take notice. A little.
So, here I sit at my computer desk…looking through pictures of newborn baby Zoey with strong streaks across her face because the rollers in the machine need to be cleaned or replaced. Only 3 of the 9 wallets I paid for were included in my envelope, so my “Baby’s First Year” picture frame only has pictures for 4 of the slots. And those pictures, even small, are streaky. I was only given 53 standard 4×6 prints, and I have no idea which ones are missing, but half of them are. How could I stupidly think that WalMart would get my photo order right this time? I paid for 118 prints and got half my order! And they are all horribly streaked!
Here’s the real kicker…because I hate the WalMart near my home so much, I actually drove to the next town to use THEIR WalMart, thinking it would be better. What a huge mistake. Ugh. And these streaky pictures are just awful. This is far below “average” quality printing and dipping into the “unacceptable” area.
How many times must I go through this and keep going back for more? Am I really that daft to return yet again to try to resolve the situation? It’s starting to feel a bit hopeless and not worth the effort. Kodak.com, here I come.
It was October 6th of 2011, and I had decided that the perfect birthday gift for my husband would be pictures of our baby in her Halloween costume. Since my husband always shops for my birthday gift the day OF my birthday, I got to do the same for his, and he doesn’t expect a gift until that evening, sometime before midnight, which is the unofficial “deadline” for spousal birthday gifts to not be technically late.
So, it was the day OF my husband’s birthday, and I was busy during the day dressing up little Zoey as a butterfly and finding well-lit places to take photographs of her for the birthday surprise. I managed to get 60 prints ordered by 5pm, and slipped out of the house around 7 claiming that I was going to get hubby his favorite cheeseburger. Just enough time to get the pictures and come back before baby wakes. Perfect.
The only imperfect part of this equation is that I have once again entrusted WalMart with something important. They seem to be able to detect urgency and importance and stomp on it when it comes up to the photo counter.
When I went to get the pictures, the girl working the machine told me that I must not have completed the ordering process “or something”, because the machine had my name up and said processing, but nothing was printing from it. I explained my situation, but as we outlined before, WalMart associates do not care about special circumstance. If anything, they enjoy squelching hopes and dreams. It’s what they live for. Then she went on break.
A new kid who had never worked in photo before that day came up and called the 1800 number for the machine. The people on the other end were able to tell him to push the “continue” button, because the first girl had hit “pause” accidentally. He remarked that she had said, “Today has been a really easy day! Hardly nothing has come through! But why do all these people keep showing up asking for pictures?”
After New Kid got the machine running again, I was told that my order would print in about 30 minutes. No problem. I wandered around WalMart talking to my mom on the phone. In 30 minutes, I came back to the counter with a picture frame, gift bag, card, etc…but the pictures were still not done. The first girl was back from her break, and told me, “Yeah, the machine was jammed or paused or something.” (Basically she decided NOT to be honest OR apologize.) Then, the new kid says that he thinks my pictures are done, but he can’t price them because he doesn’t have that ability. Some other kid who was off the clock but actually knows how to run photo was standing off to the side trying to explain the whole situation in his 18 year old hipster dialect. I was still pretty willing to accept this kind of poor service in exchange for the pictures until another 20 minutes ticked by. After waiting at the counter for 50 minutes, I set the items I was going to purchase on the counter and said, “Ok, this is enough. I think it’s time for me to go. I am disappointed.”
But…instead of leaving…I went to Customer Service in the front of the store and approached a Manager who was chatting with an associate. The Manager rudely told me that he had other things to take care of first – – and quickly scurried off to the cash registers…where I followed him. I was polite, quiet, and reserved. But I was going to follow him until I got to speak to someone who could do something about the extremely poor service of the One Hour Photo. Yes, I have sunk pretty low to allow myself to follow a manager like a dog until he will listen to me speak, but keep in mind that I want to have something besides just a cheeseburger to offer my husband for his birthday. Finally, the Manager addressed me with “May I ask what you would like to discuss?” (As if he might say “no” to discussing something he deemed unreasonable…) I said, “Yes you may. I have been waiting 3 hours for my 1 hour photos, one hour of which has been in the store. The pictures are for my husband’s birthday…which is tonight.” Saying that last part made me feel like a bit of a heel, especially since the evil spirits of WalMart seem to prey on people’s weaknesses and situational neediness.
He led me back to the One hour photo, and said that he would give me the photos for 50% off. I’m thinking this really is not a reasonable discount for the extremely poor service, but I go along with it. Another 20 minutes passes as 1. The first girl (pause pusher) is very slowly sorting my pictures with some wedding pictures that became mixed in, 2. The New Kid pulled my 8×10 from the trash, with slight crumples on it now, 3. The kid who is off the clock is trying to handle the plethora of photos pouring from the unpaused printer 4. I am looking through my pictures and seeing that some were printed on the wrong size paper and have white bars on the sides.
None of the pictures were printed TrueDigital, as I ordered…I let that slide. At least I had some pictures at this point. They told me that this is normal and I would have to cut my pictures with scissors at home. Then, to delay my departure more, Rude Manager doesn’t know how to make the pictures 50% off. The girl suggests keeping them at full price. Then, Rude Manager calls another manager on his phone….and I hear Manager #2 say through the phone…“Is that the same order that you called me about a half hour ago?” “Yes,” replies Rude Manager…”Make the whole order $5 under code ***.” Simple.
The Girl and Rude Manager stand there and chuckle and talk about me as I stand quietly in front of them. I am shocked and totally pissed off as they are “surprised they made them this cheap”. I finally spoke up with, “I would not have paid full One Hour price for photos that I waited 3 hours for. Thank you for finishing them. I’m sorry I had to get a manager here to get my photos, but your service is horrible and I won’t be back.” They continue to talk quietly (but not quietly enough) in front of me as the pause-pushing Girl says, “Yeah, I used to work in that Customer Service sh**…I know how it is.” Which basically means…he probably isn’t a manager. Just a supervisor with a lighter colored shirt than the other Wal Mart workers.
So, now I am hoping to stay permanently detached from WalMart. I’m looking forward to shopping at Wegmans, Genuardi’s, Target, Whole Foods, and other places that offer better quality items. It’s too bad that WalMart turned out to be such a bad seed, but luckily for me there are more fish in the sea.
WalMart and I were only together because it enjoyed my money and I enjoyed their low prices.
And then, WalMart finally screwed me over in enough of a personal way that I thought I had dumped them for good.
It was winter of 2011, and I was very pregnant, and very uncomfortable. I was near to completing the album “Red”, and had a radio interview with Mona Rodriguez. It’s commonplace to bring the radio station an autographed head shot along with a bio and a demo or pre-release CD. I placed my photo order for the head shots in their 1 hour service, then went to pick them up at the photo lab a few hours before the radio interview. I had used a program to add my name and web address to the front of the picture in my typical extra-big font, all caps. When I went to pick up the pictures, I was told I could not have them because they were professional pictures, and the photographer’s name is right on the front. I pulled out my driver’s license and showed them that it was myname on the front. Not good enough. Apparently, I needed to fill out a form stating that I own the copyright for the pictures, they couldn’t find the form at the store, and I would need the person behind the camera to sign the form, regardless if they are a friend or family member. Swell. Just wonderful. I explained my situation to them – that I needed to leave for a radio interview, that the pictures really were not copyrighted by a professional photographer, and that I really really just wanted to purchase them….please? Pretty please? No. I couldn’t have them. They look professional. There’s a name on the front. “Yes, it’s MY name!” I was told that I didn’t need to get upset, as if I were a kindergartener. I wanted to say, “This isn’t me upset. You want to see me get UPSET?” Somehow, being very pregnant and standing there for a long time with Zoey’s head pressed against my uterus didn’t make matters much better. I secretly hoped I would go into labor and gush amniotic fluid all over their floor…then they would HAVE to give me my pictures, right? “Sell me my pictures, or I will have this baby right HERE! Right NOW!” OK, so even though I spoke with several associates, and one rather mean female manager who clearly needed dental insurance, I left without any pictures, swearing I would never return. I had my pictures printed at “emergency” speed at the nearest CVS, where they didn’t give me guff about my name being on the front, but charged me a little more.
Like a boyfriend who had done me wrong, I thought I was leaving the enticingly bright lights and deceptively low prices of WalMart for good.
I complained on their online customer service, exchanging emails with them for about 2 weeks, during which time I shopped at Giant for groceries and Target for housewares. After 2 weeks of complaining and getting automated responses, someone actually read what I wrote in an email, and WalMart’s customer service support gave me a $10 giftcard for walmart . com. We were back in business. And that easily, WalMart had NOT won back my trust or confidence, but they had my business, and that was all that mattered.