Friday, January 01, 2010

slowing down

winter sky 2

The past year has been a wonderful one for me, but at the same time, the last three months since I went back to work have been incredibly stressful. I have spent most of the days exhausted, constantly apologizing to the people I love the most for being so grouchy, so irrational, so irritable all the time.

I know that this is all normal. This is life for a working mother. I know that it's supposed to get better with time. But throughout the fall as I got deeper and deeper into it, my heart began screaming at me that this is not the life I want. We didn't have a child so that we could turn her over to someone else to raise for us. I missed her so desperately, and I especially missed something I am just beginning to understand: mothering. So in 2010 that won't be my life anymore. I am going to slow down - way down.

The experiment starts next week. I am going to be a part-time worker. And I'll have four wonderful days a week at home with the Little Pea. We have found an amazing nanny for the other days, and my mom is also going to take on some child care.

I don't kid myself that starting next week, I'll get back all the time I miss so much for knitting yoga, meditation, reading, writing, designing and having lots of grown-up time alone with HWWLLB. But maybe I'll get just a little of that back, and boy will I be grateful for whatever moments I do get.

Mostly what I'll get is to be with our little girl more than I'm at work. She'll get to be with me more than with child care providers. Maybe I'll be the one who hears her say "mama" for the first time.

The challenge is going to be staying slowed down. Resisting the urge to cram twice as many chores, projects and commitments into my life since I'm technically working less.

I know that a lot of you have been through all this, and made lots of different decisions for yourself and your families, and I respect all of you and your choices very much. I am so curious about how other moms and dads have been able to resist the busy-ness in order to just be with your children and be their mom (or dad). Do you take them along and integrate them into your work or projects? Do you carve out sacred time with them when nothing else is allowed to interrupt? Do you just wing it and hope for the best?

In the end, I guess what I need to slow down for the most is to find out who I am now. I know that I'm not the same person I was a year ago at this time. I can see that there are lots of things I have taken on - but what I really wonder about is what do I have to just let go of, and leave behind?

8 comments:

  1. It's wonderful that you can start the new year with such a positive decision. I'm sure it will be a bit bumpy at first but it sounds like it will be a joy to be at home for 4 days a week.

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  2. I think I can understand the way you feel. I'm a mummy myslef, my daughter is one year old and I've been with her since the day she was born but in this new year I know I will have to go back to work, probably very soon... My heart is aching already because I don't want to miss a single moment of her life. I too hope to go only part-time so I could be with her as much as possible...

    I wish you all the best and many happy moments in 2010,
    Kasia

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  3. The thing that helped the most here was to streamline/simplify/declutter, and I don't just mean eliminating stuff, but also eliminating distractions and commitments. It didn't all happen at once, but the calendar shifted to listing optional things, things we could choose to go to if they fit our lives at that moment but no biggie if we didn't make it (outdoor concerts, drop-in events). I tried to clear out one smaller area of the house per day, sometimes just a single kitchen drawer or shelf in a closet, and donated useful stuff (that wasn't getting used by us) to a shelter or Goodwill. We canceled cable tv, learned to say no thank you, chose walks in the woods, chose to spend our money and time on experiences instead of things (see my blog's sidebar for links to photo albums from some of our experiences).

    As the kids grew, the streamlining/decluttering continued. We learned that the less we have, the happier we are because we discover the treasures that rise to the surface. The kids are 15 and 11 now, have homeschooled all the way through, with two home-based self-employed parents.

    Less stuff, more fun. Sounds like you're on the right track. Enjoy!

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  4. "When I was closer to your age...," we eeked out a pitiful existence, my college-educated ski patrol hubby (husband #1), me and my sweet baby boy, living in a nearly bare, very cold attic of another person's small ski chalet in Norden, CA. We didn't even have our own front door; I was 25 then. I was with my baby 24/7 and I loved every snowbound moment with him, but it became a heartwrenching struggle. We could barely keep a roof over our heads, tempers were short...boy was I in a mess. Like you, it nagged at me... "This is not the life I want..." Folks would look at me and whisper, "She needs to get a job...," as though I had created this dire situation all alone. It occurs to me how much I love being an artist. I only wish that I had not allowed myself to be so overwhelmed. I have spent most of my adult life taking care of an elderly parent, a busy husband and raising two boys. I put my own self on the shelf, dutifully bound to my family's needs. I even went out and got a clerk job, nothing artsy about that, which I worked for 20 years until I retired. I could have done and should have done so many artsy things instead (or in addition to) but I didn't. I don't have regrets except that I wasted so many years not developing myself as an artist. I'm doing it now, step by step, but these days it nags at me, "So little time, so much to do." We carry those things we love in our hearts always, no matter what, so don't fret too much. Do what you must. Your path will unfold before you as it should. I wish you much happiness.

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  5. i was going to email you because i think this might be a very looong comment, but i think will leave it here even if it ends up a bit long. and i have to say the best decision i made was to be with them at home for the first two years.

    having twins almost made it necessary to stay at home, but i 'could' have gone back and left them with willing grandparents. the hard part was that i did not want to. and i am ever so grateful that i did not.

    no one paves the path of parenthood exactly as another. no one has the answers. you have them for yours. and you are exploring yours for yours.

    here is the thing. mine are 2.75. they are going to school, we are both back at work in some way and juggling parental responsibilities. but we are watching them grow. every day. my husband has time with them, i have time with them. we are in a bit of shock that their baby days are already gone and right at this moment as i type i can hear them from the next room chittering away from a late night wake up and he is calming them down.

    i think you will just find your way, carve and shape your time as it goes. we juggle and struggle at times, i want more time, i want less time, i wish i finished my paperwork consistently, but it works. somehow it works.

    i do think when we have our children we should raise them. it just feels right in our case. and i think that you are listening to your heart and it is telling you what to do.

    blessings to you in the new year. i hope 2010 gives a little in a lot of ways. :)

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  6. Thoughtful post and comments. We, too, are making our way through this. Our son has been with us for a little over a year, and we're expecting our daughter (both adopted) in a month or two.

    I work full time, but a flexible schedule (as a college professor who teaches nights), and my husband works part-time as substitute teacher. We haven't used any day care yet, partly because we think our kids need our attention and partly because we can't afford it or justify it without two full-time incomes. I do think my son (now 2) could benefit from being around some other kids now.

    Basically I'm either working or taking care of my son. The total time for all other things (knitting, showering, projects around the house, relaxing, reading, etc) is only a few hours a week. It's grueling, but I know it won't last forever.

    I always wanted to work part-time when my kids were young, but as it turned out I have a good full-time job and my husband does not. I wish I had more time for my kids (and a little bit of time for myself), but I feel lucky that we are able to make this work for our family. And I do think our kids will both benefit from so much "daddy time."

    I wish you luck with your decisions and look forward to hearing how it's going!

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  7. I have tried it both ways- stay home and work p/t or work full time with a nanny to help-
    P/t was best for me and my kids- I have 3- a set of twins and an older single- they are grown now but the things they remember are the times spent with Mom-the routines-the fun we had together- they are all still loving to me and to each other. I made time for me(not much) by hiring someone to clean the house once a week- well worth the money since I hate to clean and it gave me more time with the girls. Good luck finding a path that works for you.

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  8. I found you today while wandering through Ravelry looking for a baby blanket pattern that I could make with the mere 160 yds of merino/mohair that I spun last night, and as you mentioned in your post before, I believe I am completely infatuated with you and your blog and your fabulous knitting.

    So I was already enamored when I came to this post, and now must comment--you will never regret whatever it is you aren't doing so that you can be with that baby. Never. Because you already know nothing compares to TIME with a person, and all too soon that little precious pea will be 22 and living in another state, having a life of her own, which is what you raised her for, but still.....

    Twenty years ago, I was in a doctor's waiting room with a fussy baby and an active toddler and getting more and more frazzled as the time went on and on. The receptionist, a grandmotherly woman, spoke sweetly to me and said, "One day, you will miss even this." They were wise words, and true, too. Now, go hold that baby.

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