When I was in Grade 7 I was a real go-getter schoolwork-wise.
I was adamant that I would hold my Honours with Distinction certificate at the end of the year and show my parents proudly. I am pretty sure I did, but hey… who can remember back that far? It was nearly 20 years ago, after all. Shit.
There are a few things I do clearly remember about my first year of middle school.
I remember my horrible haircut. I had a hairdo similar to my own mother’s at the time… and this was 1996, so… sorry Mom, but it was a friggin’ disaster.
Tribes. They are everywhere, but my God, socializing as an adult is so awful sometimes and trying to permeate a tribe is like running through a brick wall.
I get it. None of us want to commit to each other. We have been hurt in the past – or have done the hurting – and we don’t have time for investing in people we don’t immediately see a reflection of ourselves in. We also see ourselves as shitty friends anyway – like, who wants to suddenly be friends with someone who has maybe one day a month to hang out?
I feel a little ragey and a little bit of sadness whenever I see the “tribe” quotes on social media. I am sure you have seen them, but if you haven’t let me show you what you’re missing:
So, let me break it down for everyone. Apparently without a group of other like-minded people, we are weak, outcasts and basically too odd to fit.
On Friday I took Toddler to a park she has never been to before. I fully expected her to play around and try to interact with some older kids who would want nothing to do with her, while I watched or played with my phone.
I am not a helicopter mom for a few of reasons.
1) I want my child to figure things out on her own so she learns how to deal. Learning to climb/fall/balance/fall is all a part of the learning process. If she was never to find out she could fall, her survival instinct would be zero.
2) It causes so much useless anxiety for her and myself. I feel like I can trust my instincts when I know something is unsafe or her abilities are not quite there.
3) I find following my child so she is within arms reach to be the exact opposite of what I want to do. So I don’t. I just don’t want to. End of story. I’m not gonna.
Sure, for the first while in my kid’s lives I try to make sure they don’t kill themselves or eat poison, but once they are showing signs that they want to explore I am totally down with that. Go ahead and check things out kid, I already know what is up, so I will sit here and enjoy my semi-silence and the fact that a little person is not trying to crawl all over me for a change.
Parks, playgrounds, playcafés, jungle gyms etc. – these things are a treasure when you have an energetic and inquisitive child. These places give parents a friggin’ minute of not having to entertain. We can disengage for a minute or two and sometimes that is all we need. We can’t be “on” all the time. We just can’t.
So if you feel the need to sit back and relax, it’s fine. Play on your phone, enjoy your book or stare off into the distance remembering what it was like to have less responsibilities.
Enjoy those moments… because your child will eventually notice the swings.
The swings are the deal breaker.
My child will literally swing for an hour. Husband and I have had to take shifts pushing her in the swing in our own backyard. Most times when we have had enough and want her to get out, it is a battle. I am pretty sure the neighbours have heard the screaming and have seen me carrying her like a football into the house while she wails.
Swings are her favourite. So you can imagine I was trying to avoid the swings as much as possible on Friday and let her explore the other equipment instead. It lasted about four minutes and then I was hauled over to the swings. I set her into the toddler swing and pushed her for a good ten minutes – fully expecting it to be longer – before she pointed to the other swing and said, “Your turn.”
Often the regular swings are a little uncomfortable when you are an adult. My hips have widened and my arse is bigger than it was, but I sat in the swing anyway and began swinging. I would at least try for a moment so I could see the look Toddler gave me as she was so happy to see me “having fun” her way.
I didn’t expect to really enjoy myself. It has been quite a few years since being at the playground was about my own enjoyment. So, you can understand how surprised I was to feel that tight ball of nerves in my belly that trickled its way to my extremities. Then I realized that if I closed my eyes tightly, I was five years old again – flying high on the swing my Dad set up for me on the weeping willow in our front yard.
I haven’t felt adrenaline or butterflies in my stomach for so long that they almost felt foreign to me. It felt like childhood.
Toddler and I looked at each other and we laughed and giggled. I had to get off the swing a few times to push her again, but I hopped right back on and tried to catch up with her rhythm.
She had a good idea that day. Not only did I manage to actually have fun at the playground, but I honestly lost track of time just like I did when I was little.
We weren’t worried about anything. I didn’t feel like I had to disengage in order to relax. We both felt the joy in the moment and let it ride. We were really connected at that moment.
Maybe when Toddler is older and has the chance to swing again, she will close her eyes and remember the time when her Mama joined her on the swingset at the playground – that tight ball of nerves bringing back all those sensations and feelings.
… and if you are wondering… she still totally lost her shit when it was time to leave. I proudly did the football carry to the car as I was watched by the other parents.
It has been almost one year since I made the move to be a stay-at-home parent. I took on this new position two weeks before we moved into a new house, just under 18 months into my youngest daughter’s life, right before my oldest daughter turned 13, and just over five years into our marriage (together for 10).
Here are some things I have learned during this year:
1) Time passes really fast.– This is mostly obvious, but if you are now in your 30’s and you had parents or older influencers who kept telling you that time is fleeting and all you did was roll your eyes then this one is for you. I bet you are kicking your own ass at this point for not grabbing opportunities while you were younger, or waiting to do something big and brave.
This year has taught me that even when I feel like I have all the time in the world to get things done, to start new projects (or actually finish them), I better fucking get on it. Time goes just as fast now as it did when I was working outside of the home. If I am being totally honest, I really think that the older you get times does some weird warp dance and goes even faster. My Dad told me this would happen and I eye rolled so damn hard.
2) Anxiety is always here. – I have struggled with anxiety for years. I often equated it to stress from school or the workplace, but guess what! It is still here.
You may have read my post about my post part-um anxiety issues, but my generalized anxiety is a bit different. It can strike me at any moment – unprovoked, or it can be caused by outside forces. It SUCKS. I have been doing really well at keeping panic attacks at bay, but anxiety is like a scary clown that is right around the corner ready to pop out and say, “Hey fucker! Gotcha!” I hate anxiety and how it has affected my life. It never quite goes away and makes me feel a little out of control of my own self. Now I know it isn’t always stress that is a trigger – it is just what I have to live with.
3) It is better for OUR family.– Staying at home to raise our kids (teenager is 50/50) was probably the hardest decision to make because I felt like I was giving up on a career that I felt could have gone places had I really pushed for it. However, I didn’t love my career and I certainly didn’t love the time it took away from my family.
I also really love having control of my house. This may sound weird to some, but when I worked I felt like my house was always in chaos. I didn’t know where everything was all the time, I was constantly being surprised by school meetings or events that my child knew about for about a month – but somehow I found out about the day before, and I did not feel like a home boss whatsoever. I was a terrible roommate instead.
Now I really have a good grasp on things like how much butter we have left and what day is garbage and what day is recycling pickup. — OK, this is totally true, but it is kind of funny how knowing these little tiny details make our home run much more smoothly.
If I am going to bake cookies, I need mother effin’ butter.
You know what is the most amazing of all? My husband and I fight wayyyyy less. We never really fought too much to begin with, but it was always a HUGE deal when we did. I have no idea if we are just happier because we have more control of our ship, or if we are just at the point that we know fighting just creates sadness. Either way, we win.
4) I sometimes really miss working outside of the home. – OK, so this is blatantly obvious for any of you who have read my blogs from the get-go.
Yup. Sometimes I get a little bit shack-wacky. I think it is pretty normal for someone like myself who is making a big adjustment like I did. I miss my work frenemies sometimes. I miss shooting the shit with the old guys at work who liked to be a little misogynistic – I miss that because I used to throw it back at them ten-fold. I even miss my commute and being completely by myself and allowing me to wind down for an hour from a stressful day at work before having to step in my door. Now my stress follows me everywhere because I am constantly at the workplace. Those are the days I feel like I am not captaining the ship as well as I should be and I have a huge glass of wine.
5) The longer I wait to have outings, the longer I want to wait.– Sometimes I have to force myself to leave the house. I have to take all of my shitty and lame excuses and get the hell out of here. Otherwise, I will pull every trick so I don’t have to go through the motions of getting ready, getting the kid (or kids) ready, looking like I have my shit some what together and interacting with people even though I often have fuck-all to talk about.
What? You don’t want to hear about our potty-training woes? Well fuck me. I have literally nothing else to talk about today. Hit me up to tomorrow.
Some days I just really don’t feel like I am all that interesting or good company.
Some days I really want to clean my house or sit back and read my book and take advantage of my child’s elusive naps so I can be alone.
I like being alone sometimes and that is OK, but I also don’t want to lose the friendships and connections I currently have, so I have to remember to nurture those relationships and part of that is actually seeing them. Oddly, once I am out and on the go, I actually love it.
So, suck it up and get out of the house. Period.
6) People talk no matter what you do. – I was really shocked when I heard my name being tossed around a few times in the gossip circles. I am super boring. I stay home and try to find grocery bargains and crafts to do with my toddler that aren’t going to cause emotional scarring.
Then I realized how easy it is to gossip.
Gossip doesn’t even have to be malicious or false. One of the definitions of gossip is that it is “idle talk” and I have caught myself in a few situations where something I have said about someone gets back to them and actually causes them pain. Nope, I didn’t mean it the way it was interpreted and I didn’t even think it was a big deal, but the thing about gossip is that once it is out of your mouth it can never be put back in. Ever.
7) I can cook and clean. Hoo-fuckin-rah.– For some reason when I was growing up my family liked to make fun of me for not being able to cook or clean.
Little did they know that this was a huge survival tactic for me. Why bother cooking and cleaning when someone else will do it for you if you do a shitty enough job?
Well, surprise! When it comes time to taking care of my own home, kids, husband, myself – I can actually do it AND I do it well.
So… neener neener neener to all the ones who told me I could never do it.
8) I am worthy of praise.– HOLD UP. That last one there, the cooking and cleaning thing – do you really think it just ends right there? Is my only mission in life to make my house spotless and to have dinner ready at 5pm while my children play quietly waiting for Husband to walk in the door and take a load off?
Well, if it is, some days I am bang on and I want to have someone tell me that I am nailing it and I want a fucking raise too because doing things that can seem so monotonous, and doing them with joy, deserves a friggin’ nod every now and then.
Some days are hard. Some days my toddler drives me up the wall and my teenager acts like I don’t exist. Some days nothing goes the way I want it to and makes me feel so inadequate.
Then I remember that if I left my husband alone for a week with toddler this place would be a wreck and so would he. I feel like I am doing a pretty good job at something I never pictured myself doing. Give me a pat on the back now and then and I will return that gratitude exponentially – like baking the best damn chocolate chip cookies ever.
9) I still need to have goals.– I go a bit cray cray if I am not working towards something. It can be a personal fitness goal, a business goal, or even a financial goal. I need goals. Otherwise I feel like I am floundering and life is getting a bit mish mash. Without goals life takes monotony to a whole otha’ level.
I also feel like goals make you stronger because often when you are trying to reach a goal you fail 800 times. In those failings we learn a lot of shit…
…and I have a lot of shit I want to learn.
10) I am still an individual.– When I first decided to leave my job and stay home I was so worried I would lose myself and the parts of me that made me unique. I have discovered because I am now a stay-at-home-mom it doesn’t mean I am fading into the background. In fact, at my old job I was probably more of a number on a piece of paper than I ever was considered a valued individual.
Stay-at-home-parents are super valuable and we are not just some mass of unseen creatures that have less esteem in society. We are part of the PTAs. We help organize and fund raise amazing things like school and sports trips. We often take in other children to care for. We build communities of volunteers. We sacrifice careers to make sure our kids have healthy and loving homes. We are a bunch of self-less badasses!
…OK – I am a little selfish sometimes and I will never be on any PTA, but if there are seriously people out there who believe that being a stay-at-home-parent means losing their individuality or self-worth then they are terribly wrong.
None of us are from the same mould. There is no one-size fits all to life.
I am just as weird/unique/individual as ever and I love that I am who I am.
Above all of these things that I have learned I have also developed some sort of idea of the actual human being I would like to be. I also have a better grasp on how my parenting and relationships should grow. I am discovering new things about myself constantly – some good, some bad and that’s just fine too.