On Monday, I will begin a new chapter of my life. Like all new chapters of really good books, I feel a little bit of sadness that the last chapter has ended and a lot of excitement about learning what comes next and how the story will continue to unfold.
After over seventeen years of staying home with the kids, I will be going back to work full-time. While I have dabbled in this and that part-time throughout the years, as well as helped manage our investment properties, I haven’t worked an eight hour day in a very long time. But what have I done?
I have changed a lot of diapers and nursed three babies and attended MOMS Club outings and play groups and swimming lessons and Kindermusik and Gymboree classes. I have treated preschool admissions like Harvard and parent-teacher conferences and well-visit annual checkups like an audience with the Pope. I have been Homeroom Mom and Staff Appreciation Volunteer and Halloween Party Helper. I have been covered in hot glue and glitter and stickers and Sharpie ink and addressed so many Valentines to girls named Caitlin and Kaitlin and Katelyn. I have been to countless field days and school plays and science fairs and chorus concerts and talent shows. I have been soccer mom and lacrosse mom and karate mom and tennis mom and basketball mom and baseball mom. I have driven many miles, mostly in a minivan.
I have dealt with various medical crises, some big and scary, but most blessedly just a nuisance. I have found the best pediatric specialists, whether for ophthalmology or otolaryngology or dental or educational testing or minor surgery. I have fought with several insurance companies, and I have usually won.
I have volunteered as an adult reading tutor and taught English grammar to immigrants wanting to speak better. I have volunteered at the local food pantry and animal shelter. I have happily cooked meals for women’s shelters and new moms and needy families and friends who just needed help.
I don’t regret a single minute of it, but it is finally time for me to move on from the world of stay-at-home-motherhood. I honestly never expected to be here for so long, but that’s what happens sometimes when your children are spaced out so widely. I will still be a mom, of course; that’s a forever job. But I will no longer be that mom.
Years ago, when I thought I knew everything, I was sure staying home and raising children full-time was the only right choice. On behalf of my former self, I apologize. There really is more than one right way to do this thing. I have seen friends and family members with impressive, demanding jobs raise amazing, well adjusted, nice kids who love their working moms every bit as much as my children love me. The answer is there is no answer. We’re all just trying our best.
Like all mothers everywhere, I would happily take a bullet for any of my children, but I no longer feel it’s in our best interest to make them my entire life. It’s time I find another identity besides wife and mother. Wife and mother will always remain my two most valued and important identities, but I am a working dog at heart. I crave a set schedule and a To Do list, and I’m happiest when I’m accomplishing something tangible.
The last couple of years have left me with too much free time, and I’ve not always used it constructively. As much as it sounds luxurious to do whatever you want, whenever you want, I can personally assure you that for my personality type, it’s not all it’s cracked up to be. My mother-in-law has a caligraphied saying which reads, “Only through discipline may a man be born free,” and over the years I’ve come to understand that. I need the discipline and feeling of accomplishment that a job outside the home can bring.
One of the best things I ever did for myself was to start this blog. It has brought me so much joy and satisfaction to document parts of our life (and some of our better meals), and I have no plans of letting it go. I may post more, I may post less. Okay, likely less. I still hope to cook real food, although I can guarantee that won’t be happening much until I get my sea legs.
I hope you’ll stick with me as I start this new chapter. As always, thanks for reading.