Out of the Weeds

IMG_4155I have to move on from the somber subject of my last official blog entry here. There Are No Words was a cathartic piece to write but the experience of my friend’s loss rattled me more than I realized. As a result, I’ve spent much of the time between late November and now reflecting on the brevity and uncertainty of life.

It’s time to focus on the many positives that have occurred since last year’s tragedy. For one thing, my youngest child turned 5 (and the parents among us know that 5 is a huge milestone in the parenting world).

Once your youngest child turns 5, my husband and I refer to it as the point in parenthood when you finally get to “come out-of-the-weeds.” Five means we are just months away from full-day kindergarten, and isn’t sending your final child to kindergarten the chance to reclaim self again?

When DH and I brought our first-born home from the hospital in 2006, life as we knew it turned on its head. When your first baby comes home, everything in life has to adjust to a new baby. When your second baby (or third or fourth) comes home, the baby has to adjust to its new life as part of your family.

For the first eight years of parenting, DH and I existed on coffee, schedule juggling and those precious time windows during naps. In fact, we were such “nap Nazis” that everything in our schedules involved ensuring our young charges got some modicum of daytime shut-eye—if only to ensure that we retained some modicum of sanity.

It’s amazing how many back roads we’ve traveled during nap drives. How many school pick ups I’ve rushed to after dragging a groggy child out of bed. How many sleepy windows I’ve desperately attempted to keep open only to render myself prisoner to car or house or chair.

And as much as I’ve been looking forward to having a predictable and consistent schedule—one in which both children are in school six-hours-a-day, five-days-a-week, 180-days-a-year—I have spent the better pat of this year fretting about what to do with myself next.

The stress of feeling I needed to reinvent myself has been a drain of energy, a waste of time and a totally unnecessary, self-imposed goal. For some reason I felt guilty that, come September, I will have 32 (fairly consistent) hours a week without someone to entertain, educate or prepare snacks and meals for during the day.

The anxiety drove me to seek the counsel of a life coach, who has really helped me put things into perspective. For example, despite not earning a steady income for the past seven years that I’ve been staying home with my children, I haven’t been idle. I’ve served on boards; volunteered on numerous committees; helped friends launch two amazing endeavors: World Moms Blog and The Writers’ Loft; and done freelance writing projects that have brought in supplemental income.

Choosing to be a stay-at-home-mom isn’t making the choice not to be a working mom, it’s just choosing different “work.” It means availing yourself to help support the needs within your children’s schools, taxi-ing kids all around town for extra curricular activities and helping fill in where working parents can’t. It’s a whole lot of juggling abbreviated windows-of-time, engaging in childish activities and entertaining the very young. It’s TOUGH WORK!

More than one of my working-mom friends has commented that she thinks being a SAHM would actually be much harder than maintaining her career. I agree.

I feel very blessed that DH and I committed to having me stay home with our kids while they were young. But I didn’t fully come to terms with the struggle and sacrifice of it until, Cynthia, my life-coach, said something that struck me to the core in our last session. When I confessed that I felt directionless and unmotivated to contribute more and maybe go back to work now that my kids were both heading off to school, she said:

“Contribute more? When you were 8 years old, your parents were divorced and your mother moved clear across the country. Don’t you think being involved with your children and being the mother you didn’t get to have is a pretty incredible contribution?”

Thank you Cynthia, yes, that is an important contribution and I do feel proud and fulfilled knowing DH and I are providing for our children something more stable and reliable than what I knew as a child. I guess whether I’m dealing with life-in-the-weeds or on a perfectly manicured lawn, I am happy with the work I am doing.

So come fall, I won’t be looking for a new job, shifting careers or feeling undervalued afterall. Instead, I’ll continue to invest in my professional development and do the best I can, knowing that being an engaged and present mom is the most important job I could ever do.

 

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8 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. slightlywonky
    May 20, 2014 @ 15:35:09

    Best. Post. Ever. You are such a beautiful writer! I am thrilled to think that your recent epiphany about motherhood will bring you some peace of mind. You do enough. You are enough. No need for anything else. Your children are not only lovely, they are lucky to have such a devoted, caring, and fun mom. (Want to adopt me? Just kidding.) I love that you’re focusing on what you ARE doing, instead of what you are not…something that we should all keep in mind. I’m so thrilled!

    Reply

    • growingmuses
      May 20, 2014 @ 22:55:03

      Wow, I sure am lucky to have such great friends. Thanks for all your loving support (and for putting up with me while I’ve been trying to find my way outta the weeds)

      Reply

  2. EG
    May 20, 2014 @ 17:29:25

    Brava!!

    Reply

  3. Hayley B
    May 20, 2014 @ 18:23:41

    I liked this a lot, Kyla. In fact, when you mentioned filling in for working parents, I realized again how often I did that during my many at-home years. I wanted to and could stay home. Other mothers didn’t and /or couldn’t. My volunteer work as a religious ed. teacher, room parent, Girl Scout/Boy Scout helper, etc., made sure their kids were getting motherly TLC from someone who actually cared about them. I loved every minute of it.

    Reply

    • growingmuses
      May 27, 2014 @ 10:56:19

      And what value you brought to the table Haley! I would have been so delighted to have you engaged with either of my kids. In fact, I have made decisions *not* to sign my kids up for things (girl scouts) based on very different parenting styles of the leaders (but I didn’t name that reason until I just read your comment above). It all circles back to the fact that raising kids truly takes a village, doesn’t it?

      Reply

  4. DH
    May 22, 2014 @ 12:58:13

    Yes, we’re certainly feeling like we’re “coming out of the weeds” as parents: the kids can pick out their own clothes and get themselves dressed, buckle their own seatbelts, ride bikes around the neighborhood and play outside without supervision, etc. That said….a whole new stage of parenting has emerged for our not-so-wee-ones (i.e. social acceptance vs. individuality, trying not to over-program, etc).

    Your rejuvenated spirits on the deliberate choice to be a SAHM has enabled more emotional freedom to not worry about what you should be doing next – and instead revel in what you are doing in the present. Although you’ve opted for different “work”, you wake up each day the master of your own agenda (and of two others’). In effect, you are the master gardener….

    Because of your commitment and dedication thus far, two saplings have begun to emerge from out of the weeds…and each passing season they continue to flourish.

    Reply

  5. growingmuses
    May 27, 2014 @ 10:51:17

    Thanks my love, parenting is certainly hard work and bets accomplished when you can job share. I am thankful for your unyielding support and love every step of the way. And of course for all of your hard work in the garden too!

    Reply

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