Thursday, August 16, 2012

Next Steps

This is the post where I pour out what's in my heart.

Nine and a half years ago I quit my job as a fundraiser/grant writer to become a stay at home mom.  As my husband said recently I left, "to do something more important," knowing that it was the right decision for our family.

I will not bore you with the entire back story behind that decision.  I will say, though, that when it came right down to it I had been unhappy with my position for quite some time, and my nonprofit salary would barely have covered child care and the various expenses associated with working. 

Besides....I was walking towards the dream of motherhood that I'd had since I was a little girl.  It was honestly the only thing I'd ever truly wanted for myself, and I knew from the bottom of my heart that if I was to be the type of mother I wanted to be I couldn't divide myself from my children in any way.  The fact that my children are turning out to be exactly the type of people I'd hoped they would be has served as a confirmation that I made the right choice.

As an interesting aside, I recently discovered a journal entry that I wrote in high school which detailed exactly what I wanted from the future....and was shocked to discover that I have achieved (for the most part) my dreams, modest though many people would think them to be.  Such a discovery does tend to shift one's perspective a bit.

Our decision was not without heartache and sacrifice.  Financially, our road has been very difficult, and we've often felt the strain.  It flat out sucks that we can't provide our children with the things we want to give them.....regular vacations, dance or gymnastics lessons, etc.  We are blessed to have supportive families who've helped out with many of the extras, but there is a bit of a blow to the ego in accepting that help.

And I'm just going to be honest.  For all that the feminist movement was supposed to give us choice, those of us who chose the 'traditional' route get a lot of crap for having made that decision.  There have been gatherings where I've received a pat on the head for doing what's 'best' and then the person has turned to a relative or a friend who's managing a huge career and children with a level of respect and attention that wasn't afforded me.  Someone in a knitting forum once told me I was a drain on society because I wasn't contributing.  The ridiculous media-fueled "Mommy Wars" haven't helped either as they've engendered many false assumptions about motherhood in general.

I digress.

The point is that I'm now at a crossroad.

Years ago Sean and I made an agreement.  I would stay home until our girls both were in school, and then I would go back to work.  After all, with them gone for most of the day there was no need for me to sit around the house twiddling my thumbs, and we do need the money!

If only it were that simple.

You see, I never truly figured out what I wanted to do 'when I grow up.'  The decision would be oh so much easier if I had a clue, and I truly envy my girlfriends who have careers that fulfill them.  I've had a knot in my stomach since high school about the whole mess....a knot that has only gotten bigger over time.  I feel a total failure because I've not figured it out - and because I haven't fulfilled the intellectual promise I showed in school.  Yes, I understand - thanks in no small part to a very wise therapist I had a few years ago - that years of crazy expectations and family prejudices were at so great a conflict with my personality and natural inclinations that I fell into a swirl of chaotic confusion and fear from which I've yet to fully escape.  The problem was further compounded by my health, which I've discussed in great detail over the last few years.  Understanding why I am the way I am, though, doesn't make it any easier to live with.

I do know two things.  One, I have to figure something out that will still allow me to be logistically and emotionally present for my children.  Two, I refuse to settle for just anything because I know an unhappy, drained Kristin is very bad for our family.
And right now, that's about all I've got.

After a long talk with Sean, I have a plan for the immediate future  After all, I do have a lot of hours to fill each day. 

For starters, I'm going to finally sign up for the PTSO and will be volunteering in the girls' classrooms.  They are both delighted with the fact that Mommy will be able to help out with class parties and field trips this year.  I think it will be good for us.

We've also a plan to make all of our Christmas gifts this year from materials already at hand...which mostly falls on my shoulders.  (It's going to be interesting trying to maintain what was supposed to be a 'craft' blog for the next few months without spilling the beans on some of those gifts.)  There will be quite a time commitment, but ultimately it will save us a lot of money this year.  Besides, hand made gifts are the best!

Finally, there are many long-neglected organizational projects in our home that need serious attention.  (Um, I haven't touched any of the photos since our marriage.....)  I feel very strongly that in order to move on I need to have our home put in order, as the weight of those projects has been heavy on my shoulders for quite some time.

But obviously these are all finite projects, and further plans will need to be made.

Honesty, again.

I don't know what's going to happen.

I don't know where my life is going.

I do know that I need to banish the fear and confusion for once and for all, and that's still going to take some work.
I do know that there is more out there for me if I could just stop worrying so much and embrace the adventure that life can truly be.

I also know that I am very blessed to have a husband who understands how difficult this all is for me, and who is giving me the time and support I need to make the big decisions.

Slow and timid as they may (or may not) is truly time for those next steps.

1 comment:

Barbara S. said...

Dear Kristin...I found your blog following a ravelry link for the Celaeno shawl. I resonated with your post as I stopped my career to stay home as well. I have 2 daughters much older than yours (27 & 24). Although I've sometimes wondered about the "contributing to society" trap, I would not have made a different decision. Raising kids is a big contribution. And how wonderful that you don't know "what you want to be as a grown-up"...all potential is open to you if you see it that way. Give yourself time; when you are open to receive, the right path will show itself to you. Your daughters are beautiful and how great that Gillian spins & knits! I wish you well...enjoy the journey.