After 6.5 loooong years in the making I am getting to do exactly what I set out to do: I am a mom who is blessed with the opportunity to stay at home with her child (with a general game plan for still contributing to the family finances and finish my doctorate).
The first month, despite the ups and downs of being a new mom, I was perfectly content to stay very close to home and begin to traverse this new role of being a mom and to be honest that is all I had the time and energy to focus on. The second month, while still grappling to find my bearings as a new mom, was fraught with health issues (mine, Isabella's and J.T.'s) so again all of my time, energy and thoughts were spoken for. However, as we have begun moving into month three, many of the health and brand new mom hiccups are subsiding and I am beginning to focus more on what lies ahead in the big rather than simply putting one foot in front of the other for the day to day stuff...and it feels...well...weird...
Adjustment #1--It's a small world after all
My world has become so very small. For my whole adult life I have (whether I should have or not) been focused on the needs/wants/concerns of dozens (as a teacher) and hundreds (as a principal) people most of the days of the year. These needs/wants/concerns filled most of my work days and thoughts and I needed the rest of time time to unwind from it all.
Now for the first time I am only focused on the needs/wants/concerns of two people. Going from hundreds to two is strangely overwhelming in that I seem to have taken the energy that was once given to lots and lots of needs/wants/concerns and am now pumping that same level of energy into my tiny family. Um, yeah, that's not going to work in the long run as both J.T. and my mom have begun to gently point out that I am essentially making mountains out of mole hills. They are not wrong, but how do I reprogram this part of myself?
Adjustment #2--Work/Life Balance
Since about my third year of teaching I began to try to have work/life balance. As an educator this has always been a real challenge (ask any teacher you know and they will tell you the struggle is real!). Over the last five years or so I have been pretty successful in working my 50 or so hour work week and then leaving it behind (for the most part) once I left campus.
Well now I have a new challenge in that my new work IS my life. TGIF no longer means the same thing because Saturdays and Sundays strongly resemble Mondays-Fridays. Do I get days "off"? Though I suspect some would argue as a mom who is home I am always off, it definitely feels like the concept of "free time" is nearly a distant memory as any time I am not directly caring for my child (which is only when she is sleeping) I am working on my house, finances, health, future endeavors, etc. This blog is one of my few personal outlets and it seems I only get to it about once a week and crank out multiple posts that have been lingering around my brain for days but I couldn't get to (though I should probably have used this time to try to sleep considering I got less than four hours of sleep last night!).
Also there is no physical boundary as I now work and live in the same space and there is no beginning or end to my workday (as evidenced by being awoken by my tiny boss every hour past midnight last night!). I am getting 100% what I asked for, but what is a work/life balance supposed to look like when you are a mom who works/stays home?
Adjustment #3--Into the great wide open
As a teacher and even as a principal I have experienced summer breaks. Once upon a time I used to work during my summer breaks but for about the last 10 years I have taken my summers off (be it 10 weeks as a teacher or 4 weeks as a principal), so a part of me feels like I am currently on summer break. The catch that causes me to nearly break out in hives when I think about it? In the past there was a return date, schedule, and game plan when my summer break ended, but now the return date/schedule/game plan for my new wage earning work life falls 100% on my shoulders and for now is almost totally wide open.
I will continue to be a full time student in the fall, so that date in August is concrete. It has also been my plan that I would begin earning money again in August. I have begun advertising my home child care services and have met with two moms who each need part time care come August/September. While this is a good start, it only fills 4-6 (one mom is still trying to decide whether she wants one day or two) of the 10 slots I need filled each week to hit my magic budgeting number. I am continuing to find new ways to get the word out and it is still very early. Also I continue to look at other sources of income (for instance online teaching), so feel confident that the magic number will somehow be reached. However, the fact that I do not know with certainty what I will be doing day to day come August is more than a little unnerving. That same part of me that lets me know things are all going to work out the way they are supposed to is as confident as ever, but the tiny nagging voice that appears from time to time that asks "what if it doesn't?" seems to be a bit louder these days...how can I make him shut up?!?!?
Some food for thought as I let the above sink in: