So by the time the spouse had a decent paying job with health insurance, I was rearing to go. Buckin' bronco. So excited my pants almost flew off.
And now? Was it worth it? What did I learn? Would I do it again, or am I ready to rejoin the workforce?
1. Not needing to work in an office is awesome.
I do not miss that commute. I do not miss standing in the rain, the wind, the heat, with a random gaggle of strangers, waiting for the train to come. I am happy my belongings now sit nicely in my home instead of shoved in bags thrown over my shoulder or stuck in metal drawers that don't open or half-pinned/half-taped onto a carpeted wall with a little bit of foam in it. I really enjoy the freedom to blow my nose, cough, and sing loudly if I want to. I don't need to ride wonky elevators. I don't need to go into the office. And that is awesome.
2. I wish I had an office.
I know. I make no sense. Now see, I built a beautiful little office space beneath my stairs in my basement. It's gorgeous and comfortable and all Jen. But you know what I am trying to do for a living these days? Write. And you know what I can't do when I hear little feet and then big feet and then screaming and yelling and eerie silence and then more yelling? Write. I am officially one of those jerks who wants a trailer outside in the backyard so I can leave the house in my pj's and be isolated and alone in my own little space. When I worked in an office, this was one thing they kinda had going for them. If I needed to work, I'd toss in those earbuds and away I'd go, no kids to worry about, no husband to worry about, just me and my office and the snack cart right in front of my desk. Here at home, it's not the same. I worry more. I see more laundry. And earbuds don't drown out kids.
3. You don't have more time.
I am embarrassed and appalled to report I do not have more time now that I'm not working. I've found a plethora of volunteer work. Some of you may have read my Food Shed Co-op post last week. If you haven't please do. Food co-ops are awesome. And see that's the problem. Everything really is awesome. There are so many beautiful places for me to spend my time. So instead of chillin' and writing in a cave wrapped in 50 blankets, I find my days full of shuffling back and forth to my church for mom's groups and preschool and choir and festivals. I find myself schlepping to the next town over to meet with the food co-op people or to visit a friend who had a new baby or visit another friend who I just never see or visit a store that sells pine shavings for my chickens. I spend hours emailing parents about classroom parties. I spend hours crafting things to win free tuition at my kid's preschool. I spend hours just trying to keep my house clean. Sure, there's less time spent working for dollars, but I've filled every minute of that time working for nothing. Nice job, Jen! Literally!
4. Judgement will happen.
I hate to say it, but people judge me constantly. I don't blame them - I was the same way when I worked in an office. I judged the crap out of stay-at-home-moms and honestly thought moms who stayed home had all the time in the world, so they had no excuse to be late, or disheveled, or irritated about their situations. I was ignorant. And so are the people who judge me today...the ones who think they are busier, smarter, more successful, more put-together, more organized, working harder, in a tougher spot, more sacrificial. I mean really, the list goes on. People judge what you do with your time....but take my word for it, people only judge what you do with your time because they are insecure about what they are doing with theirs.
5. Kids are ungrateful assholes 99% of the time.
When I worked at the office, I didn't get heaps of praise. I was thanked every so often by my coworkers, but my boss was not one for delivering positive feedback. He was more like, "If I don't say anything, you're doing good." So I wasn't accustomed to getting that pat on the head or hip-hip hooray. No big deal. But every year, at least once a year, he was forced to remark on my progress. I clung to the things he said, especially the good things, and it sustained me throughout the year. You wanna know a secret? Kids don't do that crap. I'm a parent. I'm not an employee. They didn't ask to be born. I made them. So while it's nice to get hugs and coupon books, there is a certain part of my heart that aches for that positive review. The "Mom, this is fantastic," instead of, "I don't like veggie rice skillet!!" I find myself trying to recreate those occasional moments of positivity by planning fun, family-centered things for us to do, but they epic fail each and every time. Trunk or treat? Screaming toddler. Fun, family-only weekend? Grumpy, tired, sick kids. Fun time taking my older kid on a fall drive? Attitude and a "don't care" mentality. I miss the solid, reliable moments of positive feedback. You don't get that from kids. They just aren't wired that way.
6. Your house is always dirty.
Seriously. You think that by cleaning it on a schedule, regularly, with good products, that your house would be nice and neat. It's not. It's dirty. I'm seriously considering purging everything and living with nothing in my house so I don't feel so grossed out by the mess.
7. People will push for more, more, more.
Now that I don't have the excuse of "working," for 12 hours a day, I've noticed people like to ask for more of my time. It seems like every time I try to do something good for myself, I end up getting roped into a volunteer position I didn't want anything to do with. Don't get me wrong, I like helping out, but for some reason, having that "working mom" title protected me from the rather demanding aspects of daytime motherhood. I've never realized just how many opportunities a person has to serve someone else...especially for free.
8. I'd rather sleep than interact with other people.
This one shocked me. I thought I'd be starving for adult time. I am not. I want sleep. I want alone time. I am around other people, primarily my kids, 24/7. I want to be in a room, a nice, quiet room, maybe my garden, with nothing else but a book, some gardening gloves, and maybe my laptop so I can write. I don't want to go out. I don't want to plan big things. I want to be alone, in a quiet place of rest and relaxation, renewing my soul.
9. I am not in control.
I thought not having a boss man in front of me would allow me certain freedoms, like eating, sleeping, and using the bathroom whenever I felt like it. Now, however, I have to answer to the schedule of a pint-sized person with a larger-than-life attitude. After preschool today, for example, I received a call from a woman I'd met this weekend during my attempted mother-and-daughter-bonding-fall-drive. She had bales of straw and was selling for $3 a piece. I wanted them, but by the time I received her voicemail, it was 11:30 and I needed to feed my kid lunch, get her down for a nap, and then get this blog post done so I could then call my MOPS moms, write my big girl's teacher, hand-make a card for a dear friend, and login to a new client's website. But those straw bales....$3 each? That's a wonderful price for straw. I couldn't pass that up. So I drove 30 minutes in the opposite direction of home, scanning the side of the road for a bank so I could withdrawal some cash. And true to form, I couldn't find a bank. I ended up needing to drive 20 minutes past my straw destination into the next town over to grab my cash. Meanwhile, it's past noon and my kid is hungry and tired and sitting in the sunny side of the truck and very, very unhappy. By the time I finally made it home with the straw, it was 1:30 and something had snapped inside of my toddler and there was no recovering from it and she is still crying right now as I type this. I thought working for yourself made you immune to someone else's schedule, but that only holds true if you don't have children.
10. Happiness lies in the soul, not the surroundings.
I often walked by apartment buildings in the city and wondered how people could be happy living among so much noise and so little green. I wondered about the little old lady walking her dog down the road as gangster rap blared down the street and a Metra train flew into the station, whistle blaring wildly. I often scanned the sky, thinking the jet I was hearing was obviously in peril, when in actuality it was just flying low, coming into the airport. I wondered how these people were happy living there, in the land of smoke and smog and loud noises. I thought being home, in my own world, would fill up my soul and make me happy beyond words. And while I am joyous at least once a day, I've realized it has little to do with my surroundings and everything to do with how I am feeling in my heart and my head and my body. Perspective, while hard to hold onto, is key to a happy life. And that holds true no matter where you're standing.
Bottom line: I never want to go back. Never in a million years. I've learned more about myself in this past year than I did in all the years combined at the office. This is where I'm supposed to be.
What about you, dear readers? Ever done something drastic, a real life change, and then looked back and been surprised about what you'd learned along the way? I'd love to hear about it in the comments down below and as always, thank you so much for reading :)