Bumps in the road

It’s plural because it’s not the first and realistically it won’t be the last.  One of my husband’s real estate deals has gone sideways. Not collapsed at least, but sideways. A closing is delayed significantly due to issues with the bank, issues my husband has no control over.  Certainly not ideal news to start the weekend off.  Not the end of the world either, but it’s hard not to start thinking ‘is this really going to work?’  The reality is that the one income we will soon be dependent upon is commission-only, and as such, not guaranteed.  Days like this make me feel as if my plans to stay home are not something I’m doing for my family as much as to it.

Then the ifs and buts come flooding in, and I’m overcome by the fear of late mortgage payments, empty college funds, and dropping my kids off at daycare again. And now that we’ve committed to this plan, there’s more at stake.  I’ve put it out there to my friends, family, here.  I’ve promised myself, my children. I’ve checked out at work as much as I can let myself, and started to envision myself in this new role, embrace it.

The closer I get to being home with my children, the harder the daily grind is, and the more devastated I feel when we face a setback like this closing being delayed. The longer it takes us to save our cushion, the longer I have to wait to quit work and the more likely it is that it will never happen. I’m filled with sadness at the idea of missing more time with them my kids, more of this important, fleeting time. I’ve already been back at work longer than I was home with my second baby and in total, longer than I’ve stayed home with both of my children.  My oldest turns 3 next month and he’s been in daycare the majority of his life. I have less than 2 years left to be at home with him before he starts school. And my youngest will be walking before I quit work. Each day at work I miss them more and more, find myself daydreaming about them during meetings more often, and yearning for that final day of work more than ever.

I pray, beg God to let this happen, and still fear that it may never.  I know we’ll get over this bump, and others. At least I hope.  We have to.

What I won’t miss

A couple of nights ago, my mother reported to me that my 3 year old son told her that she, my husband, my 9-month-old, our cat, and I had died. Hmm, I thought. Earlier that day we’d explained awkwardly how we’d helped a wasp ‘go to sleep, and go to a better place.’  We struggled with our messaging I’ll admit, but I didn’t think we’d screwed it up that horribly, and we avoided using words like dead, death, kill, or die.   I figured, more like hoped, we had a while before we tackled that subject.

But then I wondered, maybe he didn’t learn those words at home. An email inquiry to his teacher confirmed it the next day.  The classroom fish had died, she told me, and the class had talked about it.  It was also covered in a few songs in chapel, she went on to explain. My heart felt heavy in my chest. I knew when I went back to work I would miss some milestones in my children’s lives. I didn’t realize I’d miss even bigger opportunities, like introducing them to central concepts such as death. And how angry was I that I didn’t even know this conversation had taken place?  That I wasn’t given the opportunity to add it to my home teaching, or put it into our family’s safe, loving context?  That I didn’t even know there was a class fish? What else have I missed?

I’m so over this double life.  I know someday, unless I become convinced I can home school successfully, that I will turn a portion [as small as possible] of my parental influence over to a school, and inevitably society and life.  But it shouldn’t be this day, so early in their lives when they are becoming who they are.  When they need me to show them, teach them, help them.

In short, when I’m home with  my children at last, I won’t miss missing so much at all. 

Just under 12 weeks until I give my notice. 

 

I don’t want it all

A work colleague, who shares my philosophy on staying home, forwarded me this article today. 

Though long, it makes some interesting points, largely about why we’ve been trained as a society to think we want it all, need it all.   What follows are are my, somewhat more succinct, observations and advice.

  1. What we think we need is a falsehood to a large degree.  I blame Pinterest, but to be fair, before Pinterest it was Good Housekeeping, Vogue, Cosmo, Martha, etc. The media. How original, right?  The media wants you to want stuff, and they [we] have been trained very well to do just that.
  2. And all this perfection takes money.  How do we get money?  We work.  Suddenly one income isn’t enough to keep us clothed, fed, and warm. We now have to be furnished in Land of Nod, clothed by Gap, and shuttled to school by Lexus.
  3. We think we’ve invented time.  With our smart phones, iPads, calendar apps. But all we’ve done is invent distractions. Distractions kill time. That’s why we’re addicted to them to some degree. To stave off the boredom of a 5 minute wait in the carpool lane. What did we used to do with that 5 minutes?
  4. We no longer think our best is good enough. We always want someone else’s. Again, Pinterest on this one [sorry, I do love Pinterest, which is exactly why I can also hate it]. It’s not enough anymore to gather your closest friends, load your car with enough 5 cent grocery store balloons to be a traffic hazard, and watch your 3 year old blow out his birthday candles. Now we must make coordinated party favors, organic gluten-free cupcakes, and these new things called cake pops.
  5. What everyone else has isn’t necessarily real.  Our online projection of ourselves is getting closer and closer to what can be seen in the pages of those magazines I mentioned.  We can make ourselves and our lives look so much prettier, richer, worldlier than our reality.  People Photoshop their candids after choosing from hundreds of digital “takes” before posting them on Facebook.  So good luck seeing pics of your friends poorly lit, without makeup, looking exhausted/fat/normal…ever! And there’s no such thing as an off the cuff status update. Please.
  6. We forgot that it’s up to us to decide what we want. There’s too much information about what we’re supposed to want, what we’re supposed to be, that we’ve given up control. Having managed people, I’ve seen this at it’s budding beginnings with the fresh graduate putting in unnecessary long hours to prove herself, and the mid-career mommy struggling to keep up with this norm and showing signs of age well before her time.   
  7. Something always, always, always gives.  We may not see it or choose to admit it when it confronts us, but despite our best efforts to do it all, have it all, be it all, something bends or even breaks.  Sometimes we don’t notice it because it’s not always obvious.  It’s not always a life event like a health failure, a nervous breakdown, a job loss, or a divorce that alerts us something’s wrong.  Sometimes it’s the child staring up at the back of your laptop night after night, or the dwindling sex in your marriage that starts out as a funny joke to do with stealing all the precious minutes of sleep you can scrape together.  Sometimes it’s the extra digits that keep showing up in your pants size. Sometimes we never know, at least not until it’s too late. 

I’m trying to slow down, prioritize, and get real.  Balancing enjoyment of life with realistic expectations can be tough, but to me it’s more important to have what I really want and need than to have it all. Ever since I became a mother [that magic moment of peeing on a stick in 2009] my priorities shifted.  My career became no less successful, just less important to me.  I empowered myself to push back on travel, keep my work load and hours reasonable, and now, leave corporate life to raise my children.  In taking those important steps, I’m choosing what I want, what my children need, and working on letting the rest go.