This week marks the one year anniversary of my transition from a full to part time sales position. The adjustment from 40 to 20 work hours per week has allowed for a considerable amount of margin in our lives. So much has occurred in these rapid flying 365 days. My home is immaculate, my children are well behaved and obedient, physical fitness has become a priority and we eat like kings as I serve gourmet meals each night. I am thankful for the fresh produce in our organic garden that I tend each day.
Yep, all that.
Ok, so joining reality again…….the last year has been a revelation on many levels but surprisingly (or not surprisingly to most of you) none of the above activities occurred. It appears I was a bit off in my calculations and predictions about what this job shift would mean for me and my family. We’ve had to adjust and adjust again, learning how to balance the needs with the wants. Here are a few of the highlights I’ve noted since June 2016:
I am not blessed in the homemaking department. I had delusions of grandeur that I would be a domestic goddess once I had more time ‘at home.’ But, let’s be real, I am a stinky Stay ‘At Home’ Mom. I do well being a Stay Busy and Run Kids Around and Have Fun Mom but amazingly the house didn’t clean itself while I was out. Sorry, Matt. I found out early on that days spent solely at home led to a grouchy me. Because as many of you can relate, dirty laundry is not at a shortage over here and there are only so many loads you can wash before LOSING. YOUR. MIND. There were days where I would stand in the middle of the kitchen debating (often out loud and to myself) whether I should clean the file drawers or take the kids to the zoo. Lemme tell ya, the zoo won. Every time. We’ve visited the giraffe so many times I feel like I should invite the guy for dinner. But I have zero regrets because the dishes and laundry always waited on me. The little people I dwell with did not.
We are not destitute. This was a real area of learning for me. To be completely honest, and why wouldn’t we be, this is just a personal area of struggle. Most of us rely on financial stability a bit too much and I’m no exception. I’m likely the poster child for often having the incorrect thinking that a budget is more powerful than my God. I was convinced that my decision to change jobs would immediately lead to Murphy’s Law in all regards. If any of you listen to Dave Ramsey, you’ll fully understand why I heard his voice in my head in the months leading up to my job change. I foresaw busted furnaces and a leaky roof and broken vehicles and unexpected medical bills and opportunities to be involved in activities that would stretch our budget. I envisioned all of these cropping up at once and leading me to wish I’d never left the security of a full time position. And you know what? They ALL happened. Not at once, fortunately, but slowly over the course of a year. You know what else? We’re still standing. Each unexpected incident provided a hurdle that we worked through. And each jump over that hurdle reminded me that even after the rush of joy I felt last year in trusting God enough to take this step, my faith is still sooooooo small at times. Work in progress, I said. What has been more profound is that I’m not clinging to my former idea of where my security lies. I’ve always known that there is no such thing as financial security, that life can change in an instant. But while I’ve known it, I’ve never really lived it or fully believed it. Over the last year I’ve felt my crazy tight grip loosening. Odd that it took making less money to worry less about money……
I know very little about parenting. This might have been the most convicting and frustrating of all my ‘learnings’ in the last year. I knew without a shadow of a doubt what I was jumping into when it came to the kids. Extra time, opportunity to get to know them better, fun days at the park, time to help at school, coloring contests on rainy mornings. I had been a mother for nine years and had endured a variety of life stages with four kiddos in that time. This was one aspect of the job change to which I had not given much extra thought. I just knew what it would be like. And. I. Was. Dead. Wrong. I hadn’t bargained for a true two year old. I hadn’t factored in a child who would not nap. I ate so much crow and had so many visions of the mothers I’d secretly judged because they said their kids wouldn’t nap. Ladies, super sorry. Those of you judging me now, watch yourself! We’re figuring it out as we go, though. Working through the daily battles, learning the rules of the game and figuring out a new strategy…just in time for the kids to change the game yet again.
Certain chores are debilitating to me. I read an article years ago that talked about energy-giving and energy-depleting chores. It was a fascinating read that resonated with me as it described the impact certain menial tasks have on our mental state. I HATE, DETEST, ABHOR matching socks and mopping the floor. And cleaning, dusting, dish washing, general home maintenance and tidying up. But mainly matching socks and mopping. When faced with these tasks, I get super agitated. More so than my general agitated state. In the last year I’ve learned to make it a game by asking the kids to match 10 pairs in 5 minutes. This might not seem like a challenge but if you saw our Rubbermaid tote of mismatched socks, you’d understand the significance. No lie- Rubbermaid tote. As for the mopping, my husband is a champ and typically handles this one. So, if I could get them to rub my feet and feed me bon-bons I’d be in really good shape around here.
Being any sort of mom has its challenges. There are preconceived notions of what working moms and stay at home moms are like. What their failures are. Where their strengths lie. Having been a stay at home mom, a full time working mom and now a combination of the two, I can say many of the notions are accurate. And many are not. My SAHM friends are not clueless on current events, don’t lack motivation and are not all helicopter parents. My working mom friends are not hyper driven kid haters who run to their offices to avoid their offspring. As with most areas in life, nothing is as clear as we like to make it in our heads. The moms I know, regardless of work status, are genuinely trying to raise decent humans and not freak out in the process. The mom’s I know are concerned they neglect their husbands while they focus so heavily on the kids. The moms I know are wondering whether they’re doing this parenting thing to the best of their ability. The moms I know are wondering if they failed to send the right kid to school wearing the right outfit for dress up day. Ok, that’s just me.
I need to trust myself more. I am surrounded by friends who are able to make decisions easily and often. They trust their gut and run with it. I toil and fret and make lists and drive everyone in my path crazy in my decision making. This particular decision to leave my full time job took YEARS. The last year I felt like I was crawling out of my skin because I knew what I wanted, what we wanted, what was right and what was possible. And it still took nearly 12 months to pull the trigger. Since that decision, and living out months where we didn’t starve and didn’t kill each other, I’m slowly learning to trust that God has given me enough sense to make a solid decision. Slowly. But for someone who is hopelessly indecisive, it has been freeing to simply make a one small decision and move on. I’ve only had to retype this last paragraph ten times. Last year it would’ve been fifteen revisions. Success.
Time flies. This should come as no surprise to anyone but this last year flew by. Faster than the last which continues to seem like a cruel joke. Thaddeus, my baby boy, is now having full blown conversations about just how many ‘pocksicles’ he should be allowed to have in any given day. Louise is registered for Kindergarten and wise beyond her years. Elyse and I are having sweet conversations about why some people are easily able to be kind and others are not. I catch Reid’s eye as I realize he is picking up on adult humor. We now share inside jokes. The time is passing all too quickly.
As for the switch, I have only one regret. That I didn’t do it sooner. But while I’m learning to be more decisive, I’m also learning to be more forgiving of myself. I can no longer control that lost time….only the minutes and hours that spill out before us. So, for now, I’ll make the best decision I can at the time. And at this very minute, that decision is banana pancakes for breakfast with the eight little feet that have suddenly shown up at my desk!
I’ve missed writing. For those who read TickingTimeMom and have asked if I am still blogging, a sincere thank you.