It’s been a paint-a-thon in my house the last couple of weeks. With starting my new job, my son starting soccer and my husband starting up classes again, I have suddenly had a burst of energy to paint. I am finally getting to painting the basement doors (a project I started in January), I started repainting a desk, and now I have the urge to repaint our kitchen. Why is it that change and transition scream “makeover!”?
While I have been giving my house a makeover one nap and late evening at a time, I have been able to slow down again and reflect on all of the changes that are happening in my life. I was in a dark place last spring, and it is amazing how bright things have become in just a few months. To celebrate, my husband and I have decided to paint our desk Appletini by Behr with a few accents of Tawny Birch. It’s bright, and glossy and yummy looking. Our desk has been hiding in the basement for the past couple of years, but we have plans to show it off once we create a new office nook in our kitchen.
There are a lot of other things I have been thinking about during my painting adventures. There is much to write about and new ideas to explore for this blog. But where do I begin?
When I started this blog, one of my goals was to create a sense of community. I don’t want this blog to be all about me. This blog certainly allows me to express who I am, but I also want others to be able to express themselves.
So while I take some time to sort through my reflections and ideas, I will direct you to another blog.
One of my friends from college recently started a blog after leaving her job without having another job lined up as well. She is now searching for a new job and writing about her adventures. Her posts are insightful and honest. She writes beautifully about her experiences and reflections. I truly admire her writing.
My friend and I met in Oaxaca, Mexico, in January 2005 during a study abroad trip. We were roommates during our time in Mexico, and while sharing a bathroom that was about two feet by five feet wide, it was inevitable that we would become friends. For real, I could practically shower while sitting on the toilet brushing my teeth. That’s how small our bathroom was. Anyway, you can check out more about her adventures at Embracing the Scenic Route. Stop over, say hi, and enjoy her lovely writing.
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?
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.
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.