Unsettled

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I’ve been postponing and postponing writing this one because I’m aware of how spoiled and whiny I’m going to sound.  (So what’s new?!)

During the time that I was calling myself an at-home mom, I wasn’t really.  Not like the other at-home moms I know, who are on their own all day long keeping the house in order, organizing activities for the children, and providing twenty-one nutritious meals a week.  The difference is I always had backup.  My husband was home with me during the day, not just molecularly but materially.  He cooked, cleaned, played with the children — we were partners and together the two of us did what is usually done by one at-home parent.  Nonetheless, I didn’t really protest much when, for example, the women at my synagogue commiserated about how hard it is to be at home with the kids all day, and I certainly didn’t argue when people commented on what a good mother I was and how lucky my kids were to have me with them.  (I mean yes, but…)

Just before our reversal of fortune, I had been starting to think that I’m not really cut out to be at home all the time, that it might be a good idea to do a little more singing, that it wouldn’t hurt to have a babysitter be with the kids a few hours a week so I could take a class or go to the movies or have acting lessons.  I was really starting to feel at peace about changing how I labelled myself, de-emphasizing the earthy-crunchy soul mama and getting a little more practical about “me time.”  (Hate that phrase.  Not sure why.)  Under my breath, I was practicing saying, “Oh, but I have a lot of help.”

Now the clock is ticking, the savings are dwindling, the idea of taking a class or going to the movies on a regular basis is off the table.  Bill is actively looking for employment and if/when he finds it, I’m going to have to actually start living up to the largely unearned label I so blithely wore before.

I’m very anxious about it all.  And I sort of feel ripped off, like I finally had some ideas for my life and now I have to shelve them and learn a whole new set of skills I had planned to subcontract.  Of late, I frequently find myself in situations where I wonder what the hell I’m going to do when I have to handle this alone.  (You know, one kid asking me to read to him, the other one screaming for a snack, applesauce boiling on the stove, bread about to come out of the oven.)  I mean, I guess the simple answer is do one thing at a time and try not to freak out.

The complicated answer is that I’m forty years old and being the harried housewife is not what I want(ed) for my one and only life.

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One thought on “Unsettled

  1. Big sigh here.

    I don’t even know where to start.

    You don’t sound spoiled and whiny. You sound scared to me. And what I want to tell you is that you can do it. You may not do it in exactly the same way you have in the past, but you can and will do it, because you must do it.

    Having said that, I often wonder how single moms do it. I mean, sure, I’m busy, but at least I have backup. Imagining working all day and then picking kids up from daycare to do the second shift all by myself makes me think I might as well get my frequent flyer card for McLean right now.

    Thankfully, that’s not what either of us is facing, but I can see how such a big change would worry you. I don’t really have an answer, but I can tell you how I manage.

    The house isn’t perfectly clean.
    Boboli pizza and frozen chicken nuggets sub in for homemade dinners once or twice a week. Breakfasts are simple. Lunches, too.
    Children learn (ever so slowly) that I’m only one person and really can only do one thing at a time, and they have to wait their turn.
    School is a wonderful thing. 🙂
    Babysitters are wonderful, too. Nothing wrong with calling one so you can pursue something over and above motherhood. Or take one evening a week for acting lessons, after Bill comes home from work. That’s what I did for my writing class. Still do, for writers’ group 1x/month. Sanity-saving, this “me time” that you hate to say so much. Don’t let yourself be ripped off completely. Postponed until Gideon is in school, maybe, but don’t be a martyr for your children. It’s not good for you or for them.

    Naomi, it took me a looooooong time to adjust my thinking, and I never even came close to your level of soul-mamahood. It will be an adjustment, for everyone (including Bill!) But you will do it. I promise.

    Call to vent anytime. 🙂

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