When I first started writing this blog for The Stir, I had an office job with a lengthy commute. My kids went to daycare full-time. Every morning we rushed around getting ready to take them to school, every night we tried to make the most of the few hours we had before their bedtime.
It wasn't all bad, but a lot of it was.
As of two weeks ago, I am now a stay-home mom. I work from home and with the use of a babysitter for 9 hours a week. My kids no longer go to daycare or even preschool, and I'm homeschooling my oldest.
It isn't all good, but a lot of it is.
Almost every single aspect of our lives has changed, in more ways than I have room to describe here. There's been a lot to adjust to, and I definitely feel like I'm still blindly making my way through our new routines, groping my way along, and occasionally stubbing the hell out of my toe.
Perhaps my biggest challenge at the moment is the isolation of being home with two small children. We go somewhere every day, but I've yet to find a playgroup or some sort of social activity for us all. Even when the babysitter arrives and I can sit in the library or a coffee shop to get some work done, I'm mired to my laptop. I talk to the kids all day, of course, but ... well, I miss conversations that don't revolve around dinosaurs, you know? I miss using curse words.
There are other difficulties, of course. There are the times when I absolutely have to do some writing but there are two rambunctious boys nearby who are hell-bent on breaking their necks while jumping off the couch pretending to be Buzz Lightyear. There's the daily stressful activity of chasing my little hellions through a public location, hissing to stay where I can see you, please. There's the challenge of coming up with school lessons each day, and helping a toddler identify shapes while simultaneously discussing the eating habits of a Triceratops with a kindergartner.
There's the proximity of the fridge, and my increasing waistline.
But oh, there's so much good stuff. We wander through parks and stores together, talking about the things we see. I take them to lunch and watch the way they eat pizza (the 5-year-old: fastidiously, with great suspicion over any vegetable-like substances; the 2-year-old: lustfully, with the slice held upside down and dripping). We invent stories and draw pictures and make snacks and create elaborate pillow forts.
I never realized how hard it was to switch gears each day, to come home from my exasperating commute and try to flip into Mommy Mode. All of us would walk in the door tired and hungry and cranky from being stuck in traffic, and half the time the kids were sick from whatever germ was making its rounds at daycare.
These days it's just all ... smoother. Even though I'm busier, I'm less frustrated. The kids seem so much happier and more capable of entertaining themselves. They seem to enjoy each other's company more. The three of us seem to be a stronger unit than we used to be.
One of my biggest regrets about my job was how it kept me from having family dinners. Even when I got home in time to get food on the table for the kids, I could never manage it so we all ate at the same time. The kids would eat at the kitchen nook while my husband and I grabbed something afterwards, usually while stealing glances at our email to see what office fires had blown up since we left.
Now all four of us eat together every night. We sit at the dining room table, and before every meal we say our version of grace: we bump fists, then raise thumbs skyward, yelling, "TEEAAAMMM .... SHARPS!"
It's amazing how much can change in such a short amount of time. It makes me wonder what twists and turns will happen over the next year, the next five years. I love that I don't know. I love that right now, the road feels so wide and welcoming.