I'm writing this post at 2:12 PM on a Friday afternoon. The boys are at preschool, Lucy is napping and Jeff is at work. The house is silent, except for the faint sound of Lucy's music playing from upstairs. The gate outside keeps swinging back and forth, banging every time it closes, only to pop open again when the latch doesn't catch. I will finish this and then get up to start prepping for our weekend up north and Jacob's family birthday celebration.
Why is this important?
Because this is the first day in 2.5 years I don't have a job to think about. I woke up this morning, showered, got the kids fed and ready for school and spent a couple of hours participating in Jacob's parent volunteer club. I checked email on my iPhone a few times before stopping myself, realizing that I didn't need to be a slave to it anymore. Lucy and I went for mommy/daughter pedicures, I gave her lunch and cleaned up the collection of breakfast and lunch dishes.
I am breathing. And it feels so damn good.
When I gave birth five years ago, I gave up my highly stressful, around-the-clock job. It didn't seem reasonable to expect myself to put in what was required and take care of my baby. For several months, I worked from home on a freelance basis... always stopping at 4:00 PM to go for an afternoon walk with Jacob and spend the rest of the day playing, prepping dinner, doing our routine and off to bed. After that began to take on more stress than I felt like handling, I moved on to something else. I had the sweetest gig working part time (like 10-15 hours a week) for the Hallmark Channel. Who knew Little House and Walker Texas Ranger episodes would be the answer to my prayers -- helping make ends meet, and getting me out of the house for a bit. I took a considerable amount of time off between having another baby and slapping potential cancer around but continued to work my perfect schedule for quite a while.
Until I got a call.
Who would pass up an opportunity to shift a career to encompass all the things I love most -- family, writing and entertainment? I agreed to two weeks full time, which turned into a few months. Back and forth over two-plus years, I would bounce from part time to full time so often, I felt like a ping pong ball. I could feel my level of happiness drastically change every time I took on more than I knew was right -- for me and my family.
The past few months have been filled with anxiety, sadness, frustration and despair. The limited time I had with my kids had very little quality in it. I was distracted, depressed and buried my feelings while spending every night alone, comforted by bad food and my friends on Facebook and Twitter. I hadn't seen Jeff in what felt like forever, and the kids were getting the worst of me -- the world was getting the worst of me.
I couldn't see more than a day ahead of me. I was exhausted and, through my eyes, failing at everything in my life, but especially letting down the little ones who call me mom.
After careful deliberation and countless discussions, we decided it was time to let go of my job -- fully and completely. My aha moment came when I realized Lucy was going to early intervention twice a week with her dad and I had no idea who her therapists were or what goals were set for her. I had spent her first four months at home with her but now was getting a couple of hours here and there, hoping we could still create a lasting bond that would help us live life as mother and child. Jeff is an exceptional parent -- that's not even a question. But there's something about a mom's intuition. I just know there are questions and conversations that need to happen week to week but didn't have the time, information or ability to make it happen. My daughter was growing leaps and bounds through the help of two highly skilled therapists and yet I couldn't even pick them out of a lineup.
This is by no means saying that moms shouldn't work. I like to work. It's taken me a long time to feel confident enough to say that loud and proud. I like the feeling of being successful at something that fires me up creatively and forces me to tap into abilities I didn't even know I had. I want to make a difference in people's lives outside of my family -- whether it be through entertainment, providing resources, or spearheading important movements. I want to contribute not only to the better good of my household but to that around me, in my community, both real-life and online.
But not at the expense of my kids.
I also want to take my kids to the dentist, volunteer at school, and sit on the grass at the playground without feeling like I'm supposed to be checking in with someone. I want to take impromptu trips to the beach, chaperone field trips and fit grocery shopping in during daylight hours. I want to be in the same room with my husband more than two days a week.
I want to have a life.
So I will take this Memorial Day weekend to enjoy with my family, with absolutely no distractions. But come Tuesday, it's time to figure out what the next chapter will be. I want to do something that's relevant, important, entertaining and rewarding. To connect with readers, and provide something you can't get anywhere else. I want to do something that matters.
Life is a blank canvas for my family right now, ready to be painted with all we have to offer. And I will do my very best to find the right balance, making it work for all of us. I've learned a lot about myself over the past few years. But the most important thing I've realized is that money honestly and truly doesn't buy happiness, and that I would rather sell my house... than my soul.