Saturday, October 22, 2011

So Far, So Good

I have now officially been a Stay-At-Home Mom for two weeks and—hold on, The Bunny just woke up—okay, I'm back. These two weeks been amazing! I had no idea I would enjoy this as much as I do.

Of course, life is less stressful now. It seems like that should go without saying; I mean, this is practically a vacation, but I wasn't sure what to anticipate. The fact of the matter is that while I have to run a household on a tighter budget than I did with two incomes, I have the whole day to run it. I have all day to accomplish the tasks that I used to try to get done in a couple hours. I do have to get things done with the interference of a toddler who likes to turn our house into an obstacle course, so it's a good thing I have so much time.

Now, the last time I wasn't working I was excessively pregnant, so I didn't do much more than watch Battlestar Galactica and eat gummy worms. This time around, I'm trying to make the most of my time. I have a to-do list app (Do It Tomorrow) on my phone and absolutely anything I think of goes on there. I don't rely on my memory at all. From the time Peter leaves for work until the time he comes home, I work through that list, trying to get as much crossed off as possible. I feel like I'm getting a lot accomplished and am really pleased to have a clean house for the first time in ages. Also, I actually have time to get out and play with Lydia, which brings me to the second big reason this time at home has been such a blessing.

I feel, quite unexpectedly, like I've gotten to know my daughter on a whole new level. It wasn't as if I caught her doing things that she's never done before, but more that I didn't realize the extent to which her "little quirks" were a substantial part of her personality. She's intensely affectionate. She's clever but rebellious. She's more mature than I was prepared for—closer to a child now than a baby.

It frightens me to realize how much I missed as a working parent. I'm in favor of working moms. I've always wanted to be a working mom. I would never claim that you have to stay at home to know your child; however, even though I know others make it work, it seems clear that I was not.

I don't want to delude myself that this is always going to be easy or that I'll enjoy it forever (I am still looking for part-time work, after all), but right now I'm feeling the freedom that comes from being in the right place at the right time in your life. This not working works for me.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

In Which Sarah Stays Home

I tried the working mom thing, and I failed.

It was all going swell until the end of my daughter's first year. I'd missed her while working, of course, but honestly, not as much as I expected to. When I was at work, I was focused on work and when I was at home I enjoyed her company as I did my chores and errands. Then a couple different things happened.

First, she learned to walk; suddenly she wasnt just a passive observer lying on her play mat as I went about my daily life. Remember that blog I used to have, yeah, now I don't even have time to READ blogs let alone write them. My entire day after is spent keeping her out of the dog food and off of the stairs. Cleaning sticky hands and then cleaning spilled milk (and as someone whose car is starting to smell from a hundred tiny spills, I can tell you it definitely makes me cry). After she goes to sleep, I summon the little energy I have to just get the house put back together, much less actually get ahead.

The second thing that happened was she learned to talk and it turned out, she's really fun! I could spend all day just playing with her. Running errands with her is exhausting but great; she always has a comment (unintelligible, of course) to make. I never ever considered being a teacher and never really considered myself a kid person, but watching Lydia begin to explore and learn about the world around her makes me want to be a part of it. I don't see myself home-schooling her and struggling to pretend I know Algebra and Economics, but I do want to teach her the alphabet and colors, and the one or two hours we get at home between work and bed isn't enough.

So last week, I let my contract at my job run out and I went home. I'll be trying to find a part-time job, so prayers and leads are welcome.

I'm a little bit (incredibly) scared about what this means. I'm scared about giving up on my career. I worked so hard to get where I was and then the layoff last year definitely set me back. I feel like this is me surrendering on my dream of being a successful career-woman. What if I never become anything but a mom? What if I'm 40 and unemployable?

The other scary thing is giving up a second income. I don't know how long it will take for me to find a part-time job. I don't know if I have what it takes to run a family on one income. As you may have gathered, neither finances nor DIYing are my fortes. I don't even know where coupons come from!

So here I am, on Day 1 as a SAHM. I have no idea how long this is going to last or how hard it's going to be, but I intend to savor every moment of it.

I'm beginning to believe that if you've got life figured out, you're probably in a coma. In real life, the ground moves beneath your feet. Sometimes it moves slowly, like sand washing in and out with the waves on a beach. Sometimes it moves fast and dangerously, like an earthquake. Either way, you've got to learn to adjust and keep going. That's why this blog is called This Awkward Age—the awkwardness never ends.