Archive for the ‘The Journey Home’ Category

Many fears are borne of fatigue and loneliness – Desiderata

I’ve been a SAHM for almost five months and, in the spirit of full disclosure, I want to mention that my transition from Working Mother to SAHM was not exactly seamless.  My girlfriends who had gone before me, while thrilled for me, all warned of the “adjustment period” that would inevitably come.  One close friend, who had left her career nearly five years prior and just before the birth of her first child, explained it best.

“It’s going to feel like an extended vacation at first, or like a materity leave.  It’s going to feel great, and restful and you’ll be giddy.  But trust me, all the while your subconscious will be preparing to return to work.  And when it finally gets the hint that you’re not going back to work – ever – well, BAM!”   

I remember sort of flinching when she told me this, but I had no idea what she meant.  I do now.  As if on cue (self-fulfilling prophecy, perhaps?), 1.5 months after I quit my job I stopped sleeping.  I’m and eight hour/night girl, an I started getting a scant four hours.  I felt worn down and anxious, as though I were forgetting something important.  I quickly realized that if I didn’t keep the little ones busy, they would descend upon me with relentless demands that I find something for them to do, and I would sort of stare at them curiously.  How did I get here?  Who are these children?  Who am I?  Okay, it wasn’t that bad, but I spent a good two months feeling…off.  The sleep deprivation alone was slowly driving me batty.

So I called up that same good friend and told her what I was going through.  She laughed and said, “Yep, that sounds about right.”  I asked her if it would pass on its own.  If I waited patiently, would the anxiousness just dissolve?  “Oh honey, no,” she said.  “You have to take action.”  And then she outlined for me the things that had helped bring her around years before:

Maintain adult contact
This one took more effort than I expected.  I’m a bit of an introvert anyway, and over the years the proximity to grown-ups at the office had made me lazy.  But after spending almost two months in the company of people aged four and under, I was desperate for adult conversation.  My husband was very supportive during this time, but even he started to gently push me to get out more often.  Apparently I have hermit-like tendencies.  So I reached out to a handful of relatives and close friends and made standing dates.  Some were play dates, some were grown-ups only.  All were necessary. 

I fell off the fitness wagon the moment I came home – which is exactly the wrong thing to do.  Vigorous activity is anxiety’s archenemy. I started running and I kickboxed when time allowed.  I never should have stopped, but admittedly I was overwhelmed by the enormity the change I’d made.  After about a week, I was smiling more often, I had more energy, and…

Early to bed
The other thing about exercise is that it helps you sleep, and soon I was ready to crash by about 7:30 p.m.  I didn’t, but I did make sure I hit the hay by 10:00 p.m. 

I realize this contradicts Maintain adult contact, but in truth both are necessary.  I started waking up an hour before everyone else.  I used the time to think or pray, plan or just sip coffee and stare at the wall.  Even now, if I don’t give myself this morning time, if I “hit the ground running,” I can feel the anxiety gremlin start creeping back. 

It’s a challenging change, coming home.  There is no place I would rather be, but there is also no way I could expect, after working for fifteen years, to stop cold-turkey without experiencing some sort of withdrawal.  If any new or aspiring SAHM’s are reading this, I hope my little story will help you.  You’re not alone, and the strangeness does pass.  You have to help it along, but it passes.  Most importantly, experiencing the “adjustment period” does not in any way mean that coming home was the wrong decision.


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I gave a six week’s notice when I resigned from Corporate America and, in the weeks leading up to my Journey Home, I heard three comments/questions almost daily:

1.  “Wow.  You know, you’re very lucky to have that luxury.”
I’ve been home for four months now and finally no longer culture-shocked.  Thinking back now, I’m pretty annoyed about this one.  You know why?  Because I’m not lucky and this is not a luxury.  This is a s.i.g.n.i.f.i.c.a.n.t. lifestyle change that my husband and I chose to make, and it took us five years to make the decision.  We planned and scrounged and doubted and cried and stalled.  We cut our budget in half.  No, former colleagues, luck had nothing to do with it.  The luxuries I am now enjoying are ones like spending the summer with my son before he ventured off to kindergarten.  Now I get him on the bus in the morning and I’m there when he comes home.  When my two year-old daughter is feeling whiney, I can drop what I’m doing and cuddle with her instead of balancing her on my hip while I apply mascara and then rush out the door. 

We’re by no means wealthy, but God provides.  Every day that I am here with my children and able to work toward making this home a haven, I know that God is continually supporting our decision.  There is absolutely no way we could have done this alone.

2.  “You’re leaving your job?  You know, I hear being at home is harder than working.”
Oh, this is harder than working?  There goes my soap-opera-and-bon-bon plan.  Foiled. 
Yes, this is much harder than working in Corporate America.  So far there has been little recognition for a job well-done and no grown-ups to chat with at the coffee pot.  No Friday lunches with my teammates.  My days are packed and I’m bone-weary by dusk.  Am I surpised by just how hard this is?  Yes.  But I’ve never been so satisfied.

3.  “You’re quitting?  In this economy?”
This one was the hardest to hear, because it reflects my personal fear.  I’m giving up a full-time career in the worst recession since the Great Depression.  I am an idiot.  I still feel a little shakey when I dwell on this one.  But my husband and I have always wanted this for our family.  This was our goal, no matter what type of economy we’re in.  I could either continue to work full-time and pay someone else to raise my children, or I could tighten the purse straps and raise them myself.  When I think about it like that, there was never really a question.

There.  I feel better now.

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I did it. I finally did it. I’m home (and I’ve been here for 1.5 weeks). Although, after 20 years in the working world, at the moment I feel like I’m simply taking vacation time. It hasn’t sunk in yet that I’m not going back. Ever.

But it’s a cool Sunday morning and the world is silent – except for the red-wing blackbirds, but they’re never silent – and knowing that tomorrow morning I will wake up and cook pancakes for my kids instead of nearly break my neck trying to rush us all out into the rat race, well…

If I made the wrong decision, the evidence has yet to surface.

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this is Moo

This is Moo.  He’s a furry, insightful creature bequeathed to me by a former colleage, who left the world of public relations to pursue a nursing career.  Every time I look at Moo, I am reminded of my former colleague’s courage to follow her calling.  More to the point, when Moo fixes his bovine gaze on me, I’m reminded of my own inner voice that’s forever beckoning me to enter the realm of the stay-at-home mom.  I’ve muzzled this voice for years (four years, actually), because the stars never seemed to be in alignment.  

Turns out they’ll never be in alignment and the truth is that I’ve just been scared.  I’m scared to move from two incomes to one.  I’m scared to give up my career which, when face-to-face with the prospect of leaving, defines me more than I’d care to admit.  I’m scared to give up regular adult contact.  I’m scared of this flighty economic downturn that doesn’t want to end.

But then my one-year old wakes up from a nap and demands to, “Rock-a-bye baby!”  or my four-year old does a headstand in the living room and I yelp with delight and his little chest puffs up with pride.  Then I cook a stir-fry and my husband raves about it for days and somehow it brings me more satisfaction than a productive day at the office.  Then I’m alone on the back patio with the birds and the wind and God and I know it’s time to stop being scared.

So I’ll go back to the office tomorrow, but my days are now numbered.  And Moo’s gaze will no longer burn a hole in my back.


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A Sign or a Test?

One week after I decide to stop working and become a stay-at-home-mom, I get “the call.”  Yesterday, at home with a cold and two stir-crazy wee ones, the boss calls and tells me about an “opportunity opening up.”  While I don’t have any details, I find the timing to be far too suspicious.  Trouble is, I don’t know if it’s a sign or a test.  

Time to pray.

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When I told my mom this weekend that we’ve finally decided that I’ll stay home with the kids, I also said it will be a relief not to be constantly pulled in two (or more) directions.  I told her how it’s so hard to try to give 100% across the board, and how it will be so great to focus my energy on my family.

My mother fell quiet and got this faraway look in her eye.  Finally she smiled and said, “Dear, you don’t actually think you’ll be less busy, do you?”

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As it stands, I get up for work at 5:00 a.m.  So naturally I assumed that, once I’m home for good, all that early-morningness would fade like a bad dream and I could snooze until at least 7:00 a.m.  Well, my three year-old cleared up that nonsense this morning when he reminded me that he now wakes up at 6:00 a.m. (a late-coming daylight savings gift).  So, if mommy wants any mommy time before the madness begins, she’ll have to rise at…oh, 5:00 a.m.

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