Tag Archives: Working Mom

Letting Go for the Sake of Balance

I realized I was so focused on trying to find a way to work from home that I wasn't actually focusing on what matters most when I'm at home.
I realized I was so focused on trying to find a way to work from home that I wasn’t actually focusing on what matters most when I’m at home. My family.

Something happened last summer. I was suddenly in turbo drive. After nearly a year and a half of being in total mommy mode, all my other curiosities flooded back. I wanted to do EVERYTHING. Teach, write, start a business, work for my husband, take care of my family…

I felt like supermom. I could do it all. And, I did, for about six months and then it became too much. I found myself less present with my family. I wasn’t exercising as much as I needed. I couldn’t keep up around the house. I forgot what it felt like to sit on the couch. Still, I couldn’t decide what to let go. I liked it ALL so how could I make a choice?

Thankfully, I had this nagging feeling time would tell. Oh, patience, a lesson I must need again and again. And, just like that, a new (part-time!) teaching opportunity I’ve been lusting after presented itself. Suddenly everything else made sense. Teaching, writing, family were non-negotiable.

It all feels a little obvious as I write this now. After all, I taught and wrote before my daughter was born, but I had been so focused on keeping myself at home as much as possible that I’d lost track of why I wanted to be home in the first place, to be with my family. By letting go and being out of the house a bit more, I’m actually able to be more present in all aspects of my life.

Even so, I had fun experimenting with my previously dormant entrepreneurial spirit. I learned a lot. Especially about margins and what my time is worth. I let myself be a hummingbird and I have renewed faith it will prove useful somewhere down the road.

For now, Wandertots is mostly on hold. At first I thought it would require a lot of humility to share this but instead it feels empowering. We should have the right to experiment and put ourselves out there without worrying about how it makes us look. I have no trouble taking ownership over the fact that I have a lot of interests and love learning through experimentation.

I’m still fulfilling orders and have oddly become the queen of selling kid’s headphones, so if you want any busy items, get in touch. I’ll give you a good discount for being a loyal reader. That’s the irony. Wandertots received a ton of interest and still receives regular orders, it’s just not the best home-based model, or at least not the way I’m doing it.

Whew.

Sharing all that feels like the load is getting lighter and I can focus again. If you’ve been in my shoes of doing more than you can handle, I wish you the patience and awareness to let what matters most float to the top. It’s not easy letting anything go, but the last few weeks have felt so much better for me. I’m even writing again, something that had fallen to the bottom because it seemed the least profitable. But I guess that’s just it. You never know, you just have to keep working at what calls you, even when sometimes you’re called multiple places at once.

Coming Home

Among the many pictures sent to me throughout the day. Hard to miss them too much when they're having this much fun together.
Hard to feel bad about leaving when she’s having this much fun with her dad. The picture updates also help.

At first I just wanted to get my feet wet, to see what it felt like to work again. Then I found myself to my ankles, and now I am up to my knees. Sometimes I open doors without thinking. Now the question remains, do I dive the rest of the way or continue to enjoy the ability to step back out, should the mood strike.

“For two years, no one wanted me.”

Those words from a child repeat in my mind. This week I met my match. The first kid in four years I could not crack in two solid days. Games of Horse followed by games of hiding. Maybe more days together would do the trick. I may never know. It all depends on decisions. A little deeper, a plunge perhaps, or the safety of the shallow end.

Last night, I needed a working family’s dinner, no dishes and no cooking. We invited friends to join us at a restaurant down the street. They have a brand new baby and as my friend described the feeling of leaving her son for the first time to go to a doctor’s appointment, the memory of intense attachment flooded back.

In the beginning, I could not leave her. I would get in my car and cry before I left the driveway. Still, I would go, for an hour or two, until the feeling became too intense and I had to be home again with her in my arms. As the months went on, I could go a little longer, an evening date perhaps or an afternoon of yoga and grocery shopping. Still that feeling would usually return and leave me desperate to be home again.

Did I mention they made it all the way to Coloma just so E would take a nap in the car?
Did I mention they made it all the way to Coloma just so E would take a nap in the car?

The first day I subbed I cried. It was in a friend’s classroom at a sister school for just four hours. To my great relief, I hadn’t forgotten how to be a teacher. The kids were great but I missed my girl. Then I subbed five hours with a gigantic smile on my face, homecoming to my old campus with my old friends and students. This week, a test. Two nine hour days back-to-back at the other school.

I missed her, but I was all right. Tired, but all right. Time after work was condensed to the essentials. Food, rest, time together. Each afternoon, when I arrived home, she and her dad were waiting for me in the driveway. Sweaty, covered in a little dirt, with gigantic smiles. They were better than all right. They had days packed with new adventures, happy to be together and happy to welcome me home.

Watching the kids play at recess, my thoughts returned to E. One day she won’t want me to hold her and squish her with so many kisses. I’m not ready to let go of our closeness, of our sweet time together. Still, maybe a couple days a week isn’t so bad. Maybe I need to let her dad have his turn. Maybe going away makes me better when I return.

This is the first Saturday in a long while where a weekend has taken on the familiar texture of time ticking, ticking, ticking. I used to hate the sensation of never having enough time, but there is also something powerful about making the most of each minute.

Maybe I’m in deeper than I thought.

Month Eight: Hints of Independence

E. is still living up to her nickname, Little Beast.
E is still living up to her nickname, Little Beast.

Last night E pulled herself up and stood without holding onto anything for a few seconds. Her dad and I stared at each other. We couldn’t believe it. Around six months she skipped sitting and went straight to crawling. Then last week she suddenly started kneeling. Because she was late to the sitting party, we didn’t expect her to be standing so soon.

This month has been about hints of independence. Suddenly other people can babysit her again (thank heavens!). She makes her own jokes and tells her own stories. She is eating all kinds of foods and insisting on feeding herself. She is becoming a kid instead of a baby, (even though I know there are still plenty of baby moments left).

As she is becoming a little person, I am regaining parts of myself, too.

She is also bonding with Daddy-- even spent three hours with him yesterday so I could drive across town to catch a yoga class... They ventured (successfully!) to the grocery store.
She is also bonding with Daddy– even spent three hours with him yesterday so I could drive across town to catch a yoga class… They ventured (successfully!) to the grocery store.

I am beginning to itch to go back to work part-time again. Her rediscovered comfort around others makes me feel better about leaving. While I won’t stop writing, I am also dreaming of teaching. Literally. Half my dreams have been about the classroom lately. I miss my old students. Even interacting with trick-or-treaters brought out that teacher part of me (much to the chagrin of the 11-year-old who tried to double up on the candy). Writing is great, but it fits into the time I steal for myself.

Maybe that is what needs to change, making time for myself instead of just stealing it when she is asleep. I am ready for someone else to take care of her part of the time. I am ready to get serious about work again, whether it is writing or teaching. I will finish the book I am writing first, but then maybe, just maybe, I will be ready to get out of the house and back into a classroom part-time.

Watching her get bigger is a bittersweet process. We are both gaining independence, but she will always be my sweet, cuddly girl. It is a big relief to know she will not need me close forever, even if there is also a whisper of sadness in this realization. Everything at once. Parenthood in three words. I don’t want to take a single second for granted, even if I am also excited for our future.

Hard to believe 8 months has passed.
Hard to believe 8 months has passed. I am having so much fun discovering the little girl she will become.