End of a Stay-At-Home Era…at Least for Now….

Today is my last day as a stay at home mom. Well, for now, anyway.

Phase I of settling into Madison is complete. All the boxes are put away, things are somewhat in their rightful place again, we’re not tripping over things–much. All we got left is small things, putting up pictures, finding a system to do laundry that doesn’t involve just tossing everything on the floor, etc. Now that we have settled, it’s time to start Phase II–going back into the work force. (Stage III–finding a writer’s group, will proceed in June. Stay tuned as I figure that out.)

I would love to say that the decision to go back to work was agonizing, soul-searching, deeply conflicting against my inner values. If I so happen to run into any die-hard stay-at-home mothers who shake their heads at my predicament, perhaps I would say that. But really, the truth is, it wasn’t that hard a decision at all. A part-time job opened up at the place my hubby now works, so I decided to apply and what-do-you-know, they hired me. So I start tomorrow. Just like that.

The main factor in all this is the word “part-time”. Back when my hubby and I discussed this, I was pretty clear that when I did go back to the working world, I wanted to do it part-time. Partly (grumble…grumble…using the same stem of word twice. such a no-no…) because I wanted time to adjust to working again, partly because I wanted time to focus on Willow (which I am building back up to. Really.). And partly because, well, I guess I don’t want to give up my status of stay-at-home mom. Not just yet.

But the real reason why I’m going back to work? Real reason? I’m bored.

When Daniel came into our lives four years ago, I felt that the best thing for Daniel…and for me…was to stay at home with him. It was great. Not only did I learn how to care for a baby, but I also got to teach things to him, basic things like eating and walking, but also fun things like singing and playing and dancing. He saw me cleaning and working at home, interacting with other mothers. I took him to the library, read him books, did playgroups and crafts (though the latter didn’t happen until his late threes, considering that he barely sat still do to anything crafty). As he transitioned from baby to toddler to sass-back preschooler, I slowly begin to realize that there’s a limit to how much I can teach him. I can introduce him to new music and new places, but when it comes to teaching skills like putting together puzzles or how to put on his shoes, well, I suck. Immensely.

The problem is, I think I have very little patience for those sort of things. I subscribe to magazines like Wondertime and Parenting, and they’re filled with happy mothers happily showing their happy kids to do happy things. And for three years, I can say that I was that type of mother. But then, something happened. Daniel started getting more independent. I started expecting more from him…perhaps more than he was ready to do. I remember back when we started potty-training him again, and I was trying so hard to get him how to stand and pee, rushing him into the bathroom whenever his dad was in there so he could see how to do it (Hubby didn’t really appreciate that.) Daniel, of course, wasn’t having it.

Sometime afterwards, Daniel went to go spend the night over a friend’s house. The next day, I’m working, Daniel’s playing in his room. I see him run into the bathroom, so I glance in to make sure he’s okay–and he is using the washroom standing up. Flabbergasted, I asked him, “How’d you do that?” To which Daniel shrugged and said, “Drew does it.” (Drew being his friend).

At that moment, I realized:

  1. Daniel’s doesn’t need me all that much anymore.
  2. Daniel needs other kids in his life.
  3. I think I’ve taught him everything I know.
  4. What’s the point of staying at home if all he does is watch TV and play by himself?

Now, obviously I know that there are tons of more things to teach him. I know that Daniel still needs me, will in fact need me for a long time (unless he’s in his 30s and still living at home. Then we’ll have a problem). But I think we’ve reached a point in our lives where Daniel will benefit from being around kids his own age, having an outside teacher, learning to be a little boy without his mother hovering around. The boy is ready, eagerly ready, for preschool.

So I guess this is challenging my view of motherhood. It seems that the idea of being a mother is not being there for your children, but rather, it’s to make your children more independent so they don’t have to rely on you forever. In other words, I think that I just worked myself out of the stay-at-home job. Motherhood seems to be a influx thing. And that’s cool. I really had fun doing it. In fact, I know that when the next kid shows up, I’ll most likely do the same thing. But at the same time, it’s nice to know that I don’t have to do the stay-at-home thing forever.

Well, this has turned out to be a rambling post. I think I better go and make the most of my last day staying at home all day. There’s laundry to do, bills to pay, books to put on the bookshelf…

Bleh. Forget it. I’m taking Daniel out to get some ice cream.

Little by little, it’s coming together…

Well, it’s done.

The house is sold. We’ve moved into our apartment and we’ve officially become Wisconsinites. Well, there’s still the matter of our driver’s licenses, but once we get those updated, then we’ll be Wisconsinites.

Which means that pretty soon, I won’t have any excuse to start writing again.

Actually, I’m quite proud of how I weathered writing up to now. I worked on my short story “She’s All Light” right until we had to break down my computer desk the day before we moved. Granted, I could on work on it roughly a paragraph at a time–in fact, I think for the entire month of April, I mainly focused on one scene in the story. In some ways, it’s good. I had a hard time with making the scene the way I wanted it. Focusing solely on it paragraph by paragraph helped me to shape it better. Still, I wonder if I had more time, I would have had an easier time shaping it. I don’t know.

What I do know is that I’m itching to get back to working on Willow and my stories. But there’s still so much unpacking to do…putting stuff where they belong…trying to find our vacuum cleaner which got mysteriously packed up…I don’t think I’ll be able set a schedule of writing this week. If I get to it, great, if not, feh. Again, like last week and the week before, I’m not going to beat myself up for not writing.

But hey, the apartment is coming together. And once that gets organized…

Okay. Back to figuring out where I’m gonna put my clothes.

10 Things that our Madison apartment has that our house didn’t

10. A fireplace

9. A kitchen sink that looks out into the family room.

8. Ceiling fans

7. Two full bathrooms

6. Washer/Dryer in bathroom

5. Adjustable Electric Heat in each room

4. A park with a sledding hill across the street

3. Cul-de-sac

2. A kick-butt teahouse 15 minutes away (more on this in a later post)

1. Sci-fi Channel

The house is silent and cold…

The truck is packed.

Rain patters on the rooftop. It will be a while before I hear the soft susurration of rain on shingle again.

The house looks the same. There’s no empty feel to it. I keep trying to will it empty, but I can’t. Because everything looks the same, even without furniture. It’s curves and creaks and knobs and squeaks are familiar to me. I can walk a path to my son’s former bedroom with my eyes closed.

In eight hours or so, I will sit in an empty apartment. It’s floors, walls, ceiling, view will be deeply unfamiliar. I will sit there and think to myself, what are we getting into?

I think I thought the same thought when we first got this house. This familiar-to-me, silent, cold, not-quite-empty house.

Six days left until Cheesehead status

Cheesehead. Cheese…head. Headcheese. Cheese for heads. Heads for cheese.

As you can see, I’m preparing myself now. Once I get out to Wisconsin, there’s going to be a lot of mocking going on. And most of it will come from Chicagoans, so I might as well get used to it.

Since we’re this close to moving, I can now officially go on the blog to say, yes, we’re moving to Wisconsin. We’re in the final stages of selling our house, and this Saturday, we’re getting a Budget truck and hauling our butts out of Roselle.

So while I still have the time, I’m going to write this to myself now, before the guilt sets in.

I’m permitting myself not to write these next couple of weeks.

If I do write, I’m not going to beat myself up if I only get a few sentences done. I’m going to allow myself days when I’ll say, “I’m just too busy. The stories will have to wait.”

If I do write, I’m going to have fun. Do little doodles. Sketches. Poetry. Flash fiction. Freewrites. Total, blathering nonsense.

I allow myself to be absolutely disorganized and unstructured. I’ll write whatever will comes to mind.

The next couple of weeks are going to be crazy. Therefore, I permit myself to take time out for myself, to get away, to pray, to be alone with God, to escape into His presence to be filled again.

I also permit myself to grieve, knowing that I’m giving up a life I’ve known for six years. And I permit myself to get incredibly excited, because I’m about to start a whole new adventure in a new state.

Finally, I permit myself to go with the flow, have fun doing it, and not stress out over things.

Turtle.

medium turtle