Here’s when I feel best: When I’m home with my sons and they are happy to see the first snow, jumping up and down at the window, putting on their coats and boots over their pjs. When they come in cold and rosy, warming up their bellies with hot chocolate and pumpkin muffins. When I put their mittens, hats, and snow pants in the dryer while we get ready for school.
Lunches packed. Library books found. Boys in the van. This is right where I want to be.
When we get to school, Owen takes off (best not to be seen with me), but Noah holds my hand all the way to the kindergarten room. A little hug at the door and he’s off. And from 9:30 to 4:00 I’m alone.
To many women, and for sure for me just two years ago, the idea of having nearly all day every day to yourself would seem a dream come true. And it could be, if I could find a way to be productive and happy and focused. But I’m very unfocused, highly unproductive, and while not exactly unhappy, I certainly feel like something is missing.
And then I realized it was him. My little guy. My shadow. My sidekick. My soundtrack. My partner in all things shopping, cooking, baking, cleaning, and folding. The reason I left my career, stopped out, and took a chance I’d never pick it up in quite the same place again.
The chance to be home with him before he started school was the reason I left, and, like his brother before him, my reason just left me.
So now what? What do I do? Who do I become? What do I do with all this time, this emptiness?
I didn’t expect to love being a stay-at-home mom as much as I did. I did it because I didn’t want to regret missing the opportunity with our last child, and I did it because our kids needed it. Third grade (two-and-a-half years ago) was not a good year for my older son. He was moody, irritable, and got in trouble at home a lot. He fell in with the naughty kids at school. We actually got calls from the after-school program about his behavior. And while his schoolwork didn’t suffer terribly, it was clear he was.
Our little one, just two-and-a-half then, used to cry and scream the entire “witching hour” from 5-6 p.m.; the transition to daycare to home was never easy for him. He was also a little reserved, less physical and demonstrative as his brother had been. There wasn’t trouble, really, but it was an observation I didn’t like.
So I quit. I left my wonderful team of professionals and friends, my big-time title and good salary, and tried something totally uncharted for all of us. I’m not sure I was exactly good at it, but I am sure it was exactly what we needed.
I know that continuing to stay home might be easier for all of us. Scott’s work life is certainly simplified. The boys aren’t rushed in the morning, and neither am I. I pick them up after school. We have snacks and I try to get them to tell me something about their day. They play and do homework. I issue instructions and reminders and reprimands and break up fights. I administer time outs and empty the dishwasher. Scott comes home, I make dinner, we eat, rinse, and repeat.
It is peaceful, happy, and comforting. But for me, it’s also lonely.
So now what? I don’t really know, but I’m looking for a sign of what we — and I — need next.