That is what I say when Zach asks why I don’t go to work anymore, I say I retired. I also put that recently on a form requesting my “employment status”. Unemployed just seems so harsh.
It was six months, December 14th, that I have been staying home full time and five months since the boys started in their true 9-2 school schedules. People ask me regularly how it is going, do I like it, and do I miss working? The quick answer is good, yes, and absolutely not.
At Trader Joe’s this morning I overheard a woman about my age with about a two year old little boy in her basket, talking about how she didn’t understand why she wasn’t as happy as other working mothers. That comment stopped me in my tracks, and forced me to linger behind her to eavesdrop, pretending I was very interested in the chopped vs. whole Brussels sprouts options. She went on to say that she just didn’t get it and what was she missing? I had said that exact comment to Sonia in one of my many should I, should I not quit, should I go part time conversations. That is completely how I felt; that other mothers had somehow figured out how to make it all work and I just could not. They had these great careers, husbands who were supportive, kids that didn’t miss them and they were above all happy. So why couldn’t I be happy? I had all those things, but I was miserable.
So six months later, am I happy? Yes. So, so much more happy. Now, am I happy every bit of every day? Of course not. But I will take the stress over summer camps (It is JANUARY, why do I have to worry about this now?) over the anxiety I was feeling about failing as a working woman and a mother any day.
The thought of going back to work gives me anxiety. The other night I had a dream that I did, in fact, go back to work. I was sitting at Zach’s swim lessons when my boss, Regina, calls me to ask if I am coming to the meeting. I had totally forgotten I was supposed to be at work. The me in the dream just shrugged her shoulders and said, “Well, I can’t because I am at swim lessons, but I will be there tomorrow.” The me, in real life, woke up in a panic and had to calm down once I realized it was only a dream. But it haunts me…
On the flip side, the thought of not going back to work also gives me anxiety. I am clearly becoming dumber by the day. Seriously, did you notice I spelled pole wrong? Now, I know plenty of very smart SAHM’s but I don’t think I am one of them. I think the stress of summer camps (Zoo or Legos, their school or soccer, seriously, what??) is not enough stress on my brain after having to be on top of so many things at one time for the past 5-10 years. I clearly need to start reading more and maybe doing crosswords. Alex says he is going to give me math problems to do, but I had some choice words regarding that suggestion that are not blog worthy. Aka, not helpful Alex, not helpful.
So I am still struggling to figure out who I am without my career and what can I do, besides the laundry, that gives me a sense of fulfillment. But, spending so much time with them has helped me to really know who my kids are and what makes them tick. I can see the fights before they happen, I can negate the missing/stolen snack issues, etc. And the happy part of each day is when I have the time to stare into the boys faces and really see them. See that fat baby for the toddler he is, and little boy he is turning into. Appreciate that he kisses me willingly and runs into my arms when he sees me. How his little lisp is slowly going away and how athletic he is – even with a big baby belly.
I see my five year old for the self-sufficient kid he is, but still see the sweet little boy inside. I try to remember what it was like to be the older sibling and to not want your little sibling to be with you all the time nor destroy your block towers. I love our little jokes, his full, smart negotiations and how he still wants me to lay with him at the end of every day, even just to have me turn back into Kinsey vs. Mommy (that happens at 8pm) when I have even less patience for potty words.
This is a super rambly post and I am sorry about that. But, that basically sums up my life right now. I am happy to be where I am, I don’t regret leaving for one second, but, I do look forward to the next chapter when I can fully become Kinsey for more than just 12 hours, during which most of that time I am sleeping.