S#!+ just got real (in a good way)

When I left my job earlier this summer, my goal was to find something else that would be less stressful and less time-consuming by the end of this summer so that I could spend more time raising my children. I had realized that the job I had was not a good fit for me. I wanted more out of my life, I wanted to be a better mom, I didn’t want to write about depressing events anymore, and I wanted to start taking better care of myself.

On June 7, I turned in my work laptop and my employee badge to my boss. My boss had security open a gate for me so I could exit the building. We shook hands, I walked to my car, and I never looked back.

I had no idea where I would be or what I would be doing on September 7. Well, here I am. I am in my home. My husband and I are still able to pay the bills. I am happier. My kids and I have created many wonderful memories together this summer while I have been home. My husband is happier. The sunflowers in our backyard are finally blooming. We have ripe tomatoes ready for picking. We are happier as a family.

Prior to quitting my job, my husband and I agreed that staying home with the kids would be a short-term gig for me. Taking a couple of months off would allow me to spend some much-needed quality time with my kids while I also looked for a job that was less than 40 hours per week. Before I had kids, I thought I could have it all. I thought that I could continue to advance in my career without having to sacrifice time with my future children. After I had my son, something inside of me changed. I suddenly wanted to be a mom. Having it all no longer included having a full-time job. I always knew I wanted a child someday, but I also thought that it would be easy to go to work and focus on my career  while also being a mom. I thought I would be able to enjoy my time in the office without feeling like I was sacrificing precious moments with my children. I was so sure that I would climb the ladder quickly. I was eager to learn more, make more money, and make a name for myself in the workplace. But when I had my son, I began to realize that I had no clue just how different my life would be as a parent. I was prepared for sleepless nights. I was prepared for poopy diapers. I was prepared to make sacrifices. I was prepared for taking care of a newborn; I was not prepared for “motherhood.”

Motherhood didn’t hit me until the moment I held my newborn son in my arms. I felt a different kind of love I had never experienced before. This love continues to evolve and surprise me. Before I fall asleep every night, I think to myself that the love I have for my children must be similar to the love God has for us. I sometimes have a difficult time understanding that God loves everyone, even me. Does God really love the abuser? Does God really love the drug dealer? Does God really love the murderer? Does God really love me when all I can do is curse under my breath when the last straw has been pulled? Somehow he still loves us. And the only reason why I have any faith that God really does love us all after everything is said and done is because I now have my own children to love. And even though the love I have for my children is more powerful than I could have ever imagined, God’s love is much greater somehow. God’s love may always be a mystery to me, but my children have given me a reason to try to better understand God’s love. The change that happened inside of me after I had my son may alway be a mystery to me as well, but all I can do now is embrace this motherly love for what it is and what it means to me.

This desire to stay home with my children has been burgeoning inside my heart for years. I never thought it would be possible to stay home instead of working a full-time job. And I tried to find comfort in the reasons for not staying home because I was afraid to put my “career” on hold simply because I thought that I should just suck it up and work like many other moms. Then when I quit my job, I thought that I would be able to quench my desire to stay home with my kids by spending the summer with them before finding another part-time to full-time job. I am so silly and foolish.

Within the first few weeks of being home with my kids this summer, I realized that I needed to be home with my kids for a much longer period of time. My husband even decided that he wanted to help me make this a long-term gig instead of a short-term gig. During the first week of August, I was offered a part-time job as a front-desk receptionist at a hair salon in St. Paul. My husband and I looked over our finances and we decided that it was worth it to give it a shot. My pay is significantly lower from my previous job, but I now get to stay home with my kids. I work two nights a week. My shifts are only four hours each. We don’t have to pay for daycare because my mother-in-law has offered to come over and watch the kids when I leave for work. She watches the kiddos until my husband gets home from work, and I make dinners in the slow cooker on the nights I work so that my mother-in-law, hubby and kiddos are well-fed while I am busy being an awesome receptionist for eight hours a week.

Yeah, shit just got real (in a good way). I am officially a stay-at-home mom.

Motherhood and fatherhood is different for every parent. My journey in motherhood involves staying home with my kids. It is what I have wanted since my son and daughter were born. It took several years to get to this point. I still have concerns about finances since my income has changed drastically, but my husband and I continue to work on creating a budget that works for our current situation. I also have concerns about how staying home for a couple of years may possibly affect future employment opportunities, but I can’t fear the unknown any longer. I am still writing my story.

How is the writing of your story going?

Who’s that girl?

I’ve never really stood out in the crowd.

In middle school I was the hyper kid who didn’t know how to act normal when I was with large groups of people. When that didn’t work out for me, I became the shy girl in high school who didn’t talk unless spoken to. And then when I made some good friends during the last two years of high school, I became a little hyper again. It’s a vicious cycle, trying to find your voice and then feeling like you have lost your voice after you no longer have the people you are comfortable interacting with around you anymore. Meeting new people has always been difficult for me, and change is even more terrifying. It takes me a while to feel comfortable being myself around others. I don’t think I am an exceptionally weird person, but I am a bit quirky. All I want is to be friends with people, which means I want people to accept me. Now that I am a “grown” woman, I have decided that it is about time that I get over my silly social fears.

I have to accept that I will not make a strong connection with every person I meet due to differences in personality, timing and other factors. I have to trust that others will respect me for who I truly am. And most importantly, I have to be more confident in myself.

So, in addition to finding my purpose in this world, I am also making it my mission to be more comfortable with who I am. This means I need to make more of an effort to put myself out there and to be more assertive. Some people have no problem doing these things, but making an attempt at being an extrovert and assertive individual makes me want to crawl into a hole.

Earlier this summer, I decided that starting this blog would help me break out of my shell at a slow and comfortable pace. Sure I don’t get much traffic on my blog on most days, but it’s a start. I also decided to put myself out there by submitting some of my writing to various websites. At the end of June, I submitted my personal essay on why I left my job to HelloGiggles. I found the website a few months ago while googling images of Zooey Deschanel’s bangs. I love her bangs and her quirky personality. I started reading HelloGiggles (which is founded by Zooey and two of her friends) because I appreciated that the founders and editors feature contributions from their readers on a daily basis in addition to posts written by regular contributors. I figured that I didn’t have anything to lose by putting myself out there a little and submitting some of my own writing.

Well, I am glad I submitted something! Earlier this week, HelloGiggles featured my post about why I left my job. I was so excited to find out about this. It was the perfect way to start a new week after spending the weekend with a sick kid. However, a few hours after feeling like I could do anything after having my writing featured on a site that has over 225,000 followers on Facebook, I suddenly found myself clinging to my pillow while in the fetal position praying that I wouldn’t die.

My son puked all over himself (and me) while we were at the outlet mall on Saturday looking for new shoes for him. On Monday afternoon I caught whatever 24-hour bug my son had and felt like I was in labor all over again. It was awful. Luckily, it was also the only day of this entire summer when both of my children took three-hour naps at the same time. God was looking out for me because I could barely walk! All I could do was clutch my pillow and iPhone and refresh my blog stats to see how many people were checking out my little blog after coming across my post on HelloGiggles. Despite being in excruciating pain, it was really a magical day.

What’s the moral of this story?

Be confident in who you are and don’t be afraid to speak up and reach out to others. You never know who is willing to listen. I never expected HelloGiggles to feature my post. And I never expected to hear from so many people who have been through or are going through similar experiences. There are so many other people out there searching for the same thing that I am searching for, and going through the same pain, confusion and adventure that I am going through. And there are a lot of people who have quit their jobs for good reasons.

I am not alone. You are not alone. We are not alone. We all have a voice as long as we choose to use it. We all have the chance to stand out in the crowd, even if it is for one day when your writing is shared with people across the world who would have never known that you exist.

Thanks to all of you who actually read my post on HelloGiggles and liked it, shared it, tweeted it, or commented on it. This gives me more courage to keep writing and to continue to spread my wings. Of course, someone did point out that I had two super obvious and annoying typos in my little essay. I read the damn thing dozens of times and still missed those typos and feel like an idiot now for missing the mistakes. Grrr…

I want to give a big thank you to HelloGiggles for featuring my writing and my blog. I took a picture of my featured post because this may be the only time in my life when something I wrote was deemed worthy enough to share with others.

HGphoto

I don’t know if Zooey ever read this post, but the fact that it was featured on a website she founded makes me super giddy.

Creative budgeting (Part IV)

Yeah, we are back to the creative budgeting posts. Boring, I know, but it needs to be done. There are so many other women out there who are working jobs they hate when all they want to do is quit, stay home with their kids, and embrace their inner domestic goddess‘. I must forge on and do my duty by sharing with others some ways my husband and I are trying to make ends meet and save money while going from a two-income household to a one-income household.

Being home with my kids this summer has been wonderful, but since I no longer have a paycheck, my family and I have also had to make some major adjustments when it comes to how we spend money. In addition to bills and food, I noticed after reviewing our checking account history that my family used to spend a lot of money on entertainment every month. We didn’t spend money on dates, going to movies, concerts or anything like that, but we did spend a lot of money on entertainment for our kids. The Minnesota Zoo, Science Museum of Minnesota, rides at the Mall of America, Monster Jam monster truck shows and other local attractions and events are awesome and fun, but these activities add up quickly.

Fortunately, it has been a beautiful summer here in Minnesota so I have been able to do a lot of free and budget-friendly activities with the kids. We have a membership to the Minnesota Children’s Museum so we can go there for free on super hot or rainy days. We like to go to Como Zoo and the library (both are free and have a variety of events going on throughout the year). We have walked to the beach a few times, we go to parks almost every day, and we run through the sprinkler at home. The kids can play at Choo Choo Bob’s and at Lego Land for free as well when we feel like spending some time indoors. The kids love all of this. These activities are engaging, and my kiddos also get a chance to meet and play with other kids who are around the same age as them. All for free! FREE! I did take my son to see Despicable Me 2 last month, but I had an AMC gift card so I didn’t spend a dime on that outing. Yay for free things and gift cards!

The only entertainment we are paying for is the Internet and Netflix. Since we are eliminating entertainment expenses by choosing to go to events and do activities that are free or super inexpensive, we are allowing ourselves to keep Netflix and the Internet. A big monthly expense for many families is cable TV, but we have never had cable TV in our house. My husband and I know that we won’t get a chance to watch shows we would like to watch until the kids are in bed, so why bother? We like Netflix because we can choose what we watch and when. Sure our options are limited, but we never seem to have a problem finding something to watch. Netflix is also very affordable; we pay less than $20 a month. And parents, Netflix is also a great babysitter. Need to escape to the kitchen to make dinner? Need to take a shower? Have a phone interview coming up? Just turn on Netflix! It’s cheap and fun for the whole family! (Wow, Netflix should really pay me for writing so many nice things about them on my blog.)

I love that I have been able to stay home with my kids this summer. But it is nice to get out of the house and go do new things as well. For those of you who live in the Twin Cities, here is a list of some of the free and inexpensive activities my children and I have been enjoying this summer:

  • Weekly trips to the library. The library is only three blocks away from my house, and I am a little embarrassed to admit that I have never taken my children there until I started staying home with them this summer. Now a trip to the library has become a weekly activity. My children enjoy playing in the children’s section and picking out new books to read at home. Our library offers story time in three different languages throughout the week. Our library has also been hosting some pretty awesome events this summer for the Summer Reading Program. We have seen a puppet show, juggling act and RADZOO. This week we will be attending the magic show. All of these events are free, and my children look forward to going to the library and reading the books they pick out each week. This is every English major’s dream!
  • Daily trips to the park. There are at least five playgrounds that are in walking distance from my house so we go to the park almost every day. Trips to the park are getting more enjoyable for me because my daughter is old enough to run around on her own this summer. She turned two earlier this month, and she is starting to try new things at the playground that she wouldn’t dare to do earlier this summer. She likes to climb ladders and will finally go in the swing. She also loves to dig in the sand with sticks and pretend that she is making me pizzas and chocolate shakes. My son loves meeting new kids at the playground. I am so happy that he can go up and talk to any kid. Last week I found him playing in the sand with five other girls. I asked him what he was up to and he told me that he was, “hanging out with the ladies.” He also enjoys playing tag so I get my exercise in, too. To mix things up a bit, we will hop in the car and drive to a playground we have never been to before to play. This is not a good idea when traveling through the suburbs, though. One day we found an awesome park in Woodbury with a splash pad. But after parking and getting the kids out of the car, I noticed a sign that said the playground was only for residents of whatever development we were in. My son was devastated when we had to get back in the car without playing. Looking for a park near you? Check out your city’s parks and recreation website.
  • Splash pads. I can’t take my kids to the pool by myself because they both need to be attended to. However, splash pads are awesome because my kiddos can run around and get wet without my help! Is there a splash pad near you? Check out this great splash pad resource I found a few weeks ago.
  • Toddler Tuesdays. The Mall of America hosts Toddler Tuesdays on, you guessed it, every Tuesday. Events vary and are entirely free. Events may include story times, live performances, crafts or movies. Over the next few weeks, the theater at MOA is showing movies for free on Tuesdays (the mall also shows family movies for free on Saturday mornings). The movies are older flicks and times for free showings vary, but it is still something fun and different for the kids to do. Last week’s movie was The Land Before Time, which was one of my faves when I was little. My kids made it about 45 minutes through the movie. My daughter was scared of the dinos. If you plan on taking your kids to the MOA for Toddler Tuesdays, be sure to download this brochure for more information and coupons for the third quarter events. If you don’t mind spending a little cash, make sure you purchase ride points on Tuesdays for a discounted price.
  • Como Park Zoo and Conservatory. Admission to Como Park Zoo and Conservatory in St. Paul is free, but donations are accepted. My kids like to see the gorillas and walk through the conservatory. Every now and then I’ll treat them to a ride at Como Town. There are also free outdoor concert events at Como on Wednesdays through September 11. And my family’s favorite event is Zoo Boo in October. Check out the website to learn more about other free or low-cost events at Como.
  • Choo Choo Bob’s Train Store. Choo Choo Bob’s Train Store in St. Paul is so much more than a simple store that sells train sets and other merchandise. Choo Choo Bob’s offers children a place to use their imaginations while playing at the many train tables that are set up for kids to enjoy for free. It’s also a great place to take your kids if they need some practice sharing with others. Tantrums over who gets to play with Thomas on the tracks are bound to happen, but it’s a good learning experience for kiddos. Choo Choo Bob’s offers several story times throughout the month as well.

There are so many other things I have been able to do with my kids this summer, but these are some of our favorite things to do together. What sort of free events or places do you like to take your kids to?

Scary Mommy
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  • Mondays are good for setting new goals, right? New day, fresh week. So, while I wait for my son during his Tae Kwon Do class tonight, I decided to set some writing goals. It's so hard to make time for writing because life gets busy with other priorities. But, I need to remember that writing is a priority too. 📝 #justwrite
  • I've been working out consistently since the end of February. I drag my booty out of bed at 4:45 am to hit the gym and work out with my amazing instructors and morning crew friends during the week. And most Saturdays I double up to take my two favorite classes, PiYo Live and BodyPump. I've never felt stronger and happier about myself. My mental health has improved drastically. My clothes fit better. I have more energy. And guess how much weight I've lost...NONE!!! I've actually gained 10lbs...of muscle baby 💪🏽💪🏽. I remember the first class I took after taking over 7 years off of taking care of myself. My whole body was trembling after, and I thought damn, I'm gonna lose so much weight if I keep doing this. I ignored my instructor's remark that working out isn't for losing weight, it's for getting stronger. Well @frazzledmomfit you were so right! I'm so much stronger now than I ever thought I could be.  #badassery #twincitiesblogger #piyolove #bodypump #mnblogger #strongnotskinny
  • #summerinmn #naturewalk #twincitiesblogger
  • Hello, Summer. And hello, adorable clearance outdoor mat from Target. #hellosummer
  • Today we took on the @mnzoo! Summer break is the best 💜🐒😎☀️ #adventureawaits #dayatthemnzoo #summerinmn #summerbreak #twincitiesblogger #mnblogger #goatsofinstagram
  • Happy Father's Day to this man who works so hard for our family and who can play just as hard too! We'd be lost without you, Farley! And I'm sorry we found another home project to do... #fathersday #thisisfatherhood #homeprojectsneverend
  • Taking on @nickelodeonuniverse at @mallofamerica with five kids in tow today! #summerbreak #summerinmn #twincitiesblogger #adventureawaits #thisismotherhood
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  • Library day! #readingrocks #twincitiesblogger #adventureawaits #ilikebigbooksandicannotlie #iheartlibraries