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Enjoy the first three installments of the Daily Press’ new parenting column, “Spaghetti or Cupcakes?”, by local mother-of-four Franki Ingram. The column is featured in each Sunday’s Community Living section.


Stay at home or working mom – it’s fine either way

Franki Ingram

Early this morning, while every toddler in town was driving their mom crazy with their thousandth viewing of “Johnny Johnny Yes, Papa” on YouTube, I was having my coffee and thinking about the age old question: Is it better to be a working parent or a stay at home parent?

I think the answer is simple: It’s fine either way, just do what works for your family.

I think the “mom wars” over this issue are indeed basically over. We seem to have just accepted one another, finally. The career moms express a bit of wistfulness at missing so much time at home; the at home mothers admit that it sometimes appeals to them to get out of the house (and out of their yoga pants) for a paying gig.

Recently I was talking to a dear friend of mine, for whom I’ve done much nannying, and she said she felt that choosing in-home childcare rather than a larger daycare setting for her girls had enabled her to experience the best of both worlds: a stay at home mom with all the routine and comfort that provides, and the strong example of a working mom who is flourishing in a career she loves.

I couldn’t agree more. Kids should see both, and they should be taught that wanting either or both is perfectly OK.

It’s nice to know that in this day and age when people are easily offended and easily provoked to argument, moms just don’t argue on this point any longer.

So whether you’re a stay at home mom or a working mom or a work from home mom or a mix of all of the above, I just want to tell you that you are ROCKING IT! In fact, let’s meet for coffee soon. You can tell me all about your new chore chart and your morning routine, or you can fill me in on your latest project and inter-office drama.

I’m interested in both, because both are equally important as part of your parenting journey. You’re doing such a great job. I’m proud of you!

(EDITOR’S NOTE: Franki Ingram is a hometown Artesia girl who likes unicorns, classic rock, and coffee. She’s got four kids who range in age from 17-4, and she dabbles in meal planning, budgeting, and trying to get all the kids to their respective schools and activities.)

Fun or structure: It’s a choice parents face multiple times every day

Spaghetti or cupcakes… for me, it’s the essential paradox of motherhood.

A dear friend of mine stopped by the other night just as I was getting ready to start up the Instant Pot and drag out all the makings of a school-night spaghetti dinner. She came bearing gifts of cupcakes, leftover Halloween candy, and Harry Potter trading cards.

The kids all went nuts, naturally.

I tried to keep it together for a while, saying things like, “We can have cupcakes for dessert!” and “Everyone can pick one piece of candy but that’s it!” But there’s a part of every mom that kind of wants a cupcake for dinner herself. Also, there’s a part of every mom that wants to be fun, that wants to stop being in charge and just see what happens when she says yes.

It’s a confusing time for those of us who read all the Mommy bloggers and inspirational posts and social media pages dealing with motherhood. Half of them say structure is vital, nutrition will cure pretty much everything, and that sugar is the devil. The other half say life is too short, say yes as often as you can, and make spontaneous memories so that your kids won’t think you’re a dictator in leggings and an infinity scarf.

When I was a young mother, I was pretty much continually torn between being both. I desperately wanted people to think I was a good mom. I wanted well-behaved children, because I thought good behavior equaled good mothering.

I also really wanted to be Joan Jett instead of June Cleaver.

The older I get and the more children I’ve added to my clan, the more comfortable I am just taking it moment by moment. Some days you’re gonna wake up and be the new-age Carol Brady: your outfit is going to match, your coffee is going to make you energetic instead of anxious, and you’re going to pull off an organic, home-cooked meal in your best Pioneer Woman kitchen gear. Everyone is going to get along splendidly with never a raised voice from you.

Other days you’re gonna hit the ground running, after hitting snooze three times. At breakfast, you’ll be throwing toast across the table; dinner is going to be ordered on the McDonald’s app and it’ll get picked up after school with old-school Dr. Dre blaring out of your windows and your kids throwing their crusty socks at each other in the backseat.

Sometimes someone you love will show up with cupcakes and you’ll say to heck with it, forget the spaghetti, let’s eat the goodies. I promise you, whatever you choose is fine.

Your kids love you so much. You’re a good mom. I’m really proud of you.

P.S. – If you happen to be downtown, I highly suggest stopping by Sweet Confections on Main Street. Their selection of cupcakes, cookies and pastries is phenomenal and will undoubtedly make your day better. Tell them I sent you, and eat a treat for dinner!

(EDITOR’S NOTE: Franki Ingram is a hometown Artesia girl who likes unicorns, classic rock, and coffee. She’s got four kids who range in age from 17-4, and she dabbles in meal planning, budgeting, and trying to get all the kids to their respective schools and activities.)

Tweens: A funny word for a difficult phase

It’s 7:27 a.m. on a Monday, and my middle children, ages 13 and 11, are already arguing.

They’re not fighting over something important, like who gets the bathroom first; they are fighting over the cereal box in front of them. Not the cereal itself. They both have full bowls. They are fighting over who gets to scoot the box closer to themselves and read the fine print ingredient list on the side of the box.

I don’t usually bother breaking up these morning tiffs. Playing referee for every little conflict is tiresome, and I figure they’ll eventually outgrow most of this need to fuss at each other. I’m also notoriously silent in the morning until I’ve had some coffee.

This preteen age is hard. Other moms that I know who have this age group are often exhausted, short tempered, and just plain sick of the level of arguing and attitude they deal with from their tweens. The kids are full of hormones, snark, and the occasional sunny smile which makes you remember that just a couple of short years ago they were mere babies.

They hate every family outing that you want them to love, they seem to think that doing simple chores will probably kill them, and getting a decent picture of them is next to impossible because they either act like you’re murdering them or they just stand there awkwardly, hoping you’ll be quick about it.

It’s not all bad, though. Just when I think all hope is lost and my 13-year-old will never be nice to his sister again, I come down the hall with a basket of laundry and find them playing Legos together, laughing and talking and inventing. Sometimes he’ll come zooming through the kitchen on his way to play Fortnite with his buddies online and he’ll cheerfully yell out “Love you mom!” in his new manly voice that sometimes still cracks. It makes the difficult mornings worth it.

They’re still your babies, these tweens or teens who think they know everything and roll their eyes way too much. You may feel like you’re failing some days but I promise that is not the case. These crazy kids will be much more likable in a year or two, and in the meantime, I know you love them with all your heart.

Keep it up, and have some extra coffee for me. Especially if you’ve got people in your house arguing over the ingredient list on the dang cereal box, for crying out loud. You’re doing a great job.

(EDITOR’S NOTE: Franki Ingram is a hometown Artesia girl who likes unicorns, classic rock, and coffee. She’s got four kids who range in age from 17-4, and she dabbles in meal planning, budgeting, and trying to get all the kids to their respective schools and activities.)