This week’s One Word Blog Challenge words were Wonderful and Confused. When I sat down to write, both of them made their way into my story.
In just a few short months, my last child will be going to Kindergarten. I have conflicting emotions about it. Mostly I’m ecstatic. My two boys (the youngest) were… can we just say… a handful during the toddler years. You know how toddlers are – getting into things ten times faster than you can keep up with them and their shenanigans. Emptying shampoo bottles and tubes of toothpaste, eating the dog’s food, finding a scissors that you were sure was hidden away and cutting up important papers, coloring in permanent marker on walls. It’s relatively easy (though still exhausting) to keep the house toddler proofed when your oldest child is the toddler. But when it’s the youngest of five children, it’s one hundred percent impossible. The older children are kids themselves, and though they have a much better sense of boundaries and knowing not to smear Vaseline all over the living room, they do NOT very well know that they should not leave their backpacks, uneaten food, precious toys, craft supplies, and other valuables laying around where toddler hands can reach them. My dad used to say the house “Looks like a hurricane hit!” I thought he was being hyperbolic, but now I know he wasn’t. Being surrounded by children who make one mess after another, all day, at the speed of light, I felt like I was in the middle of a hurricane. It is insane. It is completely exhausting. It is even defeating. When you’ve been cleaning up messes all day, and the house is still a complete disaster, you wonder why you bother.
This, my friends, is why Kindergarten is wonderful. Preschool is actually kind of wonderful too. The crazy toddler years are behind us, and I’m thankful. Looking back now those memories are full of funny stories. But they weren’t so funny in the moment. This year, with my youngest in preschool, I have about 10 hours a week of kid-free time, which is WONDERFUL. But I still find that my days are full, even with most of the kids at school. Starting in August I will have FORTY HOURS a week of kid-free time. That is a HUGE difference. And it’s strange that though I’ve been looking forward to this for a long time, now that it is approaching I’m feeling confused about it.
I’ve heard of moms at this stage of life going through a kind of identity crisis. I’ve been out of the “work force” for a full decade. I’ve tried to stay connected to some hobbies, to give myself a sense of being an individual – my own person – something other than mom, housekeeper, chef, chauffeur. I find myself feeling a little like I felt at the end of high school, wondering “what am I going to do with the rest of my life?” What are my interests, my skills? Of course, I still have a family to raise. My neighbor next door has two teenagers and one grown and gone. She went back to work full-time when her kids started school, and she advised me not to do that. She said that if she could, she would rather be home, to be there for her kids as they go through the school and teen years. I do feel that if I had the school day to do the “stuff” – the grocery shopping, house cleaning, food making, bill paying – then I would have the time and energy to attend to my kids’ needs in the evenings and on weekends. It would be very difficult to work full time AND do all the stuff, AND take care of the kids. Part time work seems like it might be a good compromise. But where? What? Who hires almost-40 year old moms? Am I really almost 40? Now I’m having another crisis.
I’m not complaining. I’m thankful that I even have choices. Single parents usually have no choice but to work full time AND take care of the kids and all the stuff. Many families need two incomes just to make ends meet. Though to be fair, my circumstances are unique too – My husband works unconventional hours, so I’m often alone with FIVE kids (though my oldest is starting college next year, I think she’s planning on staying at home), trying to juggle homework, chores, making dinner, sports and activities, bedtimes, friends, etc.
I’m in a transition place. Trying to decide on the next step. I might just take the first week and binge watch a bunch of Netflix.
This post is part of the One Word Blog Challenge hosted by:
Lisa of The Golden Spoons
Janine of Confessions of a Mommyholic
Marcia of Blogitudes