The last time I worked outside the home, other than a couple days of subbing, was early June 2011. Fourteen months ago. Back then August 2012 seemed really far away but as time often proves to fly or stall—doing the opposite of whatever we prefer, August 2012 is here. I have one week left before I return to work. I am both giddy and devastated. I am so confused as to how I should feel that I have taken to walking around just a confused and stressed out mess.
Fourteen months ago feels, in some ways, like a different lifetime. I was walking around 7 months pregnant and wondering what on earth I had chosen to do in deciding to take off an entire school year. I asked both myself and blogland exactly who I would be if I was “just a mom”. I feared the loss of my teacher title. I worried about my sanity. I worried about a lot of things. Funny how today I am still worried about many things however none of the worries are even remotely the same. Today I worry whether Allison will find it in her heart to forgive me for leaving her during the day, and if I will be able to get all the places I need to be during my days without losing my mind. And how the basic things like laundry and dishes and bill paying will get done AND I will still sleep at night. I’m wondering who I can get to tell me the working mom of 2 or more children secret that some how gets you through. Though I think it’s probably something I have to discover for myself.
I said at some point, and got a lot of crap for it, that being a stay at home mom feels like a vacation and honestly, I don’t feel any differently now than I did before. I stand by that statement. This has been in many ways the best time of my life! My biggest fear about returning to work is the number of hours in the day and not having enough of them. The freedom to be home, to grocery shop during the week, to have folded clothes and not merely pull clean stuff out of the heap, to be with my children when they are freshly awake and happy not already exhausted and grumpy from a long day, to drop Andrew off and pick him up from school. To go on play dates and meet other moms and know Andrew’s friends. To volunteer in his classroom. To make him lunch AND eat it with him. Those are things I won’t get to do anymore. Those are the luxuries afforded to stay at home moms. Those are the things working moms miss out on daily.
These last 14 months haven’t always been easy. I don’t want anyone to get me wrong here. Definitely they have been easier than working AND raising 2 kids and keeping a house but there were times I was lonely, or felt I just wanted to have a moment to myself in a quiet room without children in it (though lets face it, that’s never going to happen especially now). There were times when I wondered if I was doing a good enough job. There were times when I wished I was doing more or I worried that I was wasting my opportunity by not getting out there and planning more things, organizing more things while I had the chance, volunteering for more things, just plain doing MORE you know, all that mom guilt. There were a lot of times that I was just plain bored. Maybe when you are used to working outside the home you get to be extra efficient at completing tasks because I found myself many many times sitting around with nothing in particular to do that hadn’t already been done. And while it was fun the first couple times, it got boring after a while. I like excitement. I like to be busy. I like to use my brain and solve problems and meet challenges and while being a stay at home mom is rewarding, it is also tedious and not very challenging. Well, unless you count being forced to partake in Allison’s favorite sport— Diapering. I thought I might learn why people consider being a mom to be “the hardest job in the world”. I didn’t.
I have learned a lot though. I think the biggest thing is that the teacher title never really goes away. I never stopped associating myself with being a teacher and I never stopped teaching or learning or investing myself in my children’s education. I don’t know why I was so concerned I would lose that. Maybe it’s that concern that helped me hold on to it. You identify yourself however you choose to whether as a mom, a teacher, a CEO, whatever it happens to be no one can take that away from you.
Fourteen months gave me a lot of opportunities to know my children in ways I couldn’t have if I were working. I feel as though the amount of time I have spent with them as helped us develop a collective brain wavelength that permits communication without words, a knowing and understanding among the three of us that can only come from spending every waking second with each other. I love that we have that. I love that this time has allowed me to listen to my instincts and grow as a parent. I love those shared moments when A would be free for a couple hours and the 4 of us would randomly go have lunch somewhere in the middle of the day. I always wondered what people would think when they saw us. Did they think we were tourists on vacation? I enjoyed that extra time I got to spend with my family. I know that’s what I appreciate most and miss the most when school starts again.
So after 1000 words I sit back and wonder if I’ve made a point at all or if perhaps I’ve just rambled aimlessly. It just seemed fitting to revisit those old concerns and reflect on what I have learned. If I had to make the choice all over again I’d do so in a heartbeat. I am deeply thankful for the opportunity I had and the moments I will cherish to my dying day. In my mind’s eye I see myself closing this chapter of my life, the ending chapter of that particular segment. I see myself closing this volume and placing a leather bound book up on a shelf for safe keeping. I see myself reaching up to find the book next to it and opening that smooth, soft cover and turning to the blank opening page. I’m filled with excitement at the newness of the book. I wonder how it will be written. I wonder what stories wait. I’m nervous to touch pen to the perfect whiteness of the pages but I do because there are stories left to tell and more life to live. A new book, a new chapter. It’s amazing what 14 months can do. I wonder what the next 14 hold.