May 7, 2013

Having All the Things

The alarm goes off at 5:15am.  I blearily wander to the bathroom and hop into the shower.  As I gradually wake up, I mentally run through a list of all the things that must be accomplished for the day.  I finish my shower, get dressed and stumble downstairs. I put the tea kettle on, feed the cats, mist tarantula cages, let the dog out, let various cats in and out (and inevitably, in again).  By 6:30am, I am headed out the door to work where I bury myself in an exciting extravaganza of process documentation and identifying the associated risks and controls. My client, a giant packaging provider in the consumer products and foodservice industries, is a dream to work with and one of the best clients I have ever had.  Everyone is very agreeable! and organized! and forthcoming! and has made this project go so, so smoothly.  At 3pm, I will hurriedly pack up my laptop and dash to the school to retrieve Team Chaos. Sometimes, there is work to be finished.  Sometimes, there is not.

Yes, I am working.  While it has never seemed to me there was a time where I was not working, society demands the distinction.  Last year while on another contract, I wrote a post titled “On Working” that detailed my hazy, mixed feelings on this so-called “working thing” and that ambivalence has still not cleared.   I love making money (along with the rest of humanity?) I like relieving Manoj of some of our fiscal responsibilities.  I enjoy getting dressed up every day.  I appreciate that I am working with intelligent professionals.  I relish pulling out Big School Words mixed with Business Clich├ęs.  I love digging deep into a Visio diagram and even deeper into my brain as I recall past knowledge and experiences.  I like hanging out with men for a change and talking sports and politics and pop culture all in my favorite sarcastic, cynical sense of humor (I always had a difficult time finding my Sarcastic, Cynical Tribe of SAHMs. Where were they??!!)

I feel the tide turning with a slow, creeping ascent.  When my kids were little, I was not conflicted about “just staying home” with them.  Not ever once. My self-esteem remained intact, I was never bored and I certainly never thought that I had tossed some feminist agenda to the wind!  However, this current school year has introduced a subtle shift to our lives.  Anjali is in afternoon Kindergarten and I cherished our mornings together while appreciating my afternoons all to myself.  I was able to do quick errands, visit my grandma, volunteer at the school and sneak in some reading or gym time.   I suddenly found myself with a luxurious abundance of free time and unapologetically, I was enjoying it. 

Obviously, accepting this current project ended all of that and frankly, the transition was painful.  Anjali has missed me terribly and has expressed herself in extremes – either with sadness or anger.  One day, she might sob uncontrollably at how she misses me.  The next day, she might completely reject me and drift toward Manoj.  I rarely cook these days.  The house is a complete disaster.  And the worst part is oh, how I miss my kids.  They are asleep when I leave the house and not seeing them until 3:40pm each day is difficult.

I don’t know what our new life will hold for us this fall when both kids are in school full-time.  I hope to find a solution that will allow me the flexibility to be home with them after they get out of school since rushed, frantic evenings are not a lifestyle I ever want. However, I also know that I simply cannot drop my children off at school, and then sit around all day just waiting for them to come home. The days of gin-soaked afternoons playing canasta with bland snacks served on melamine plates belong to the likes of Betty Draper.

Yes, I love Staying Home but only when my children are actually home with me.