The simplest thing has changed the game for our marriage
When I first started staying/working at home, I read everything I could on schedules and activities. When I talked to my friends who already stayed at home, I asked them for their best practices on managing the balance between playtime and house chores.
I looked at staying at home and working from home with my kids full-time as a new job. Technically, that is exactly what it was.
If you're tracking with me so far, you understand that I was going from working full-time out of the house with two babies and one on the way, to working very part-time at home while caring for these kids and preparing to give birth. I really don't think there's a more drastic change to be made here folks. I had no idea what to expect and really no understanding of Nick's expectations and desires through this transition.
A year ago I took a huge leap of faith and transitioned to part-time consulting from home so I could be with my boys. I've learned a lot in the process. The transition has taught me a lot of logistical things (i.e. never leave the house without snacks) and a lot of mental things (self-care is a requirement).
When I imagined my life as a 17-year-old, I never pictured myself staying at home with multiple children at any point of my adulthood. I really didn't even foresee myself having children. It's not that I was opposed to the idea, but I had other plans. Plans to perform in the Riverdance troupe for a year before college and then get some liberal arts degree. My plans included a job in government, advocacy, or social services while living in a city with exceptional public service so I wouldn't need to own a car. Of course, my plans also included falling madly in love with a man who loved and cared for me in equal amounts.
Take a moment, and walk with me as I paint a picture.
It’s about 9am and you’ve just raced through a Starbucks drive through to grab yourself (or your colleagues) a cup of coffee and you’re waiting at a stop light on your way to work. You look over and just take in the scene around you. There’s a bus stop, a bustling storefront, traffic driving to-and-fro, and on the sidewalk you see a woman pushing three kids in a single stroller. You stop to take in the scene of her three toddlers as the eldest perched on the front of the jogger stroller (only made to hold two kids), flings himself off in defiance onto the sidewalk in protest.
The mom-- that puts the brake on the stroller, picks the toddler up to move his protest to the safe grass (further from traffic), and sits down next to him-- is me. I am the yoga pant wearing mother of three kids under 2 years old that you see in public. I just dropped off my swagger-wagon, err...van, for an oil change and am schlepping my kids back home for lunch.
I am the person you come up to in a store and tell, “You have your hands full.”
Well, here’s the deal. I know. Boy do I know.
And guess what? I did it on purpose. I’m like a fein for complexity and chaos.
Sometimes I wonder if God whispered in my ear after I was born, “I dare you.” Because so, so often I hear myself tell my Maker, “Challenge accepted.”
Most days go really smoothly and I find myself building a block tower or reading ‘Little Blue Truck’ for the umpteenth time and I smile contentedly. The smoother days are filled with no raising of my voice and no blow out diapers.
But a solid 50% of the time I wake up ten minutes late and am making barters with my husband at 7:10a so I can get a shower in before he leaves for work. “I’ll give you a back massage and schedule your doctor appointments,” I offer in desperation.
On the crazier days when I call my children dragons, I absolutely raise my voice because that stupid VTech playtoy is playing incessantly while my 7-month-old whines, 1-year-old squirms during a diaper change, and my 2-year-old is laughing like a hyena jumping on the couch. We don’t jump on the couch in our house because Mama doesn’t have a budget to replace the hand-me-down Ikea couch, Zeke. I’ve got diapers to buy!
I’m very aware that I have my hands full. And I can’t stop. I regularly tell my husband I want a puppy, so instead of getting knee deep in house-training, I’ve started gardening. I mean if it’s not diapers and dog poop, it might as well be fertilizer and compost, right?!
So when I smile at you and emphatically respond, “Yes. I know.” in the grocery store, believe me. I know I have my hands full.