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.

A post about how everything sucks (or the joy of experiencing changes in life)

(Disclaimer: the following post contains a lot of moping, groaning and whining about the stresses of putting a house on the market and life changes in general. You have been warned.)

I’ve been thinking a lot about life-altering events these past few days.

Death and tragedy ones, like the shootings what happened in Tinley Park and NIU this past month. Everyone in Chicago are still reeling over those. Sadder ones, like the breakup of a marriage or the end of a close friendship. More joyous ones, like getting married or having a first child.

And then there’s moving.

There’s something sobering about driving from your house one morning and coming back to see a “For Sale” sign sitting on your lawn. Even though I knew in my head it was going to happen, to see the actual sign with my own eyes, sitting on my own lawn, suddenly drove home the fact that this will no longer be my house. Someone else will sit in the backyard and gaze out over the pond. Someone else will wake up in the bedroom and paddle barefoot to the kitchen to put on a teakettle. In fact, that someone else probably won’t even drink tea; they’ll have a coffeepot. A coffeepot in this house!

I lived in this house for almost seven years. I know every creak in the floor (well, not anymore, since we fixed those), every crack in the ceiling (hmm, actually, that’s gone too, now that’s it’s repaired), every smudge and mark Daniel’s put on (which has been cleaned off…and given new paint…)

Actually, I take all of that back. Ever since we’ve done all the renovations to the house, I don’t know it anymore. Oh, the layout’s still the same, and the pond hasn’t gone anywhere, and we still got (most) of our furniture. But it’s not my house anymore. Everything has to be clean and uncluttered, and there’s a lot less furniture than I like, and the color of the walls are not what I would pick, and it looks too much like the inside of a (tasteful) furniture store than an actual lived-in house, clutter and toys and all.

My house looks so pretty. And it’s depressing, because I don’t recognize it anymore.

This past month has been crazy getting the house ready to put on the market. Now that things are slowing down, I find that I can actually take a breather for once and relax. I can say to myself, now things can get back to normal again…

Except, well, there’s no such thing as normal anymore. The last time anything has been “normal” in this household was back in September, when Daniel was going to daycare, I was writing full-time, my hubbie was working full-time, and life was good. In fact, I remember thinking at that time, hey, this is perfect. Everything is going nicely for once. I hope it lasts for a good long time.

And then October came. KA-BOOM!

Today was the first time in weeks that I didn’t have to concentrate on working on the house. Oh, yes, there’s still cleaning and all, but most of the renovations are done. And you know what? I have no idea what to do. I suppose I could write, but what will Daniel do in the meantime? What do I do with a three-year-old in the middle of winter? According to that ‘perfect schedule’ I had in September, Daniel would be in daycare interacting with other kids and I would be working on Willow. Now that we don’t have (nor can we afford at the moment) daycare, Daniel spends his days playing by himself or parked in front of the TV, which is where I’ve been placing him throughout most of the month of January while we were working on the house. I can start taking him to playgroup again, just to get out of the house, but outdoor activities are definitely out, not until we start having weather that’s not in the single digits.

And writing? I can ease back into that, but those days of working four to six hours a day? Gone. At the most, I can do writing after Daniel goes to bed, but usually, I’m so tired, the most I can manage is fifteen minutes worth of writing before calling it quits. Work on Willow has slowed to a crawl, and working on short stories have become non-existent…

You know, I think I’m in mourning. I’m mourning the fact that everything’s changed, and nothing will be the same again. Not my writing time. Not my house. Nothing. It sucks.

Everything sucks.

Maybe I should cheer myself up by listening to Tom Waits.

(Caveat: This post is merely the author’s method of blowing off steam and in no way reflects the philosophy of the Cafe in the Woods–which is to sit back, relax, and have a cup of tea. Yours Truly promises that the next post will be more uplifting. In the meantime, you’ll just have to make do with what you got because the teapot is in the corner, sulking. And the table’s passed out in the corner. And the napkins are debating about the theory of relativity. And the carpet needs a haircut…

…And you can’t find your waitress with a Geiger counter, and she hates you and your friends and you just can’t be served without her. And the box office is drooling and the bar stools are on fire, and the newspapers were fooling, and the ashtrays have retired…cause the piano has been drinking…the piano has been drinking…the piano has been drinking…not me…not me…not me….not me…not me…)

Finally, a breath of fresh air–cold, snowy and wet, but fresh all the same…

We got a rhyme for rain: rain, rain, go away. Come again some other day. What about snow? Why don’t we have a rhyme for snow? Snow, snow, you really blow. Go pile on someone else’s toe. Feh, not exactly Hallmark sentiment, is it?

It’s not the snow, though, that’s been making things slow around the Cafe. I warned you back in December that I won’t be posting much due to our quest to making our house look spiffy to sale. And that’s pretty much been the case. We’ve been doing so much work, I haven’t done much of anything. No blogging, no writing. When I do, it’s quickly snatched moments of time: 5 minutes before I paint trim, a couple of minutes just before I head to bed, utterly exhausted. Occasionally, my hubby has watched the boy so I can escape to Panera and catch up on stuff there. Writing’s almost become like a date for just myself. (You got a couple of hours to spend just to yourself. Are you going to the mall to buy something? No, I’m gonna write! Yay!)

However, today, I can finally see hope on the horizon. The major renovations have been done, so mostly it’s just little things on the house that needs fine tuning. Oddly, it’s also the little things that’s driving us the most mad. But we knew that. We knew that when we decided to do this, by the time this part rolled around, my hubbie and I will be snarling at the house and each other like frothing dogs. But that’s the case of any type of move. It makes you crazy. What was it about moving being one of the most stressful things in a person’s life?

I think I’m rambling. I’m not surprised. But the fact that I’m sitting here, butt in chair, writing this out means that time is finally freeing up again, that I actually can sit and write and breathe.

Boy, do I miss it.

I know that it’s a respite. Once the house sells, then the flurry of activity increases again. And let’s not even think yet of what will happen once we get to Madison. But for now, I’m going to enjoy having some writing time that’s somewhat close to my pre-move schedule. Maybe I’ll even tackle working on the Cafe itself–a renovation that’s long overdue…

Oh, and by the way, just because I haven’t been able to do writing much this past month doesn’t mean that my stories have been sitting idle. Stay tuned to the Cafe for some awesome announcements over the next couple of weeks.