I met a new neighborhood mom the other day. She just moved into a house around the corner and one of my neighbors invited her and her kids to a birthday party.
She and I were chatting, that initial how old are your kids, are they in school/preschool conversation, and I told her that Z is in first grade and E is in preschool five mornings a week. She looked at me, smiled and said So you work, then?
And then I think I mumbled something about volunteering a bunch and planning on working at some point in the future and then I may have twitched and drooled just a bit before elegantly steering the conversation away to HEY LOOK A BUNNY.
It was one of those conversations that make me cringe now thinking about it. And I've been replaying it in my mind since then, only this time I smile confidently and say No and IT'S FANSTASTIC! I'm able to have some alone time, to exercise and bake and sew Halloween costumes and grocery shop without small children and volunteer for several causes I care about and I'm really enjoying it!
Because truly that's how I feel. I'm really starting to enjoy our lives right now. I'm grateful for where we are in our lives, and happily busy and fulfilled with a small dose of volunteer work.
So why couldn't I say that to this other mom?
While presumptive, I don't think she meant her question to be judgmental. She is home with two younger kids and I'm guessing she is thinking the same thing I thought when I had a baby and a preschooler: as soon as they are both in school and don't need me so much, I will go back to work. When my kids were her kids' ages, I truly couldn't fathom what I would do at home all day while older kids were off at school.
Ha. NOW I KNOW.
Our family's schedules, the running of our entire household, has been built on the presumption that I will be at home in the capacity that I am now. So much would have to change if I were to get a job that it boggles the mind.
Of course, it would be possible. But me working would be a huge change and none of us in our family want to make that change right now so here we are.
I like being home to pick up Z from the bus stop, to hear her talk about her day on the walk home from school is to get an increasingly rare window into her world. I like having lunch with E, all by ourselves, with lots of time to chat and munch and cuddle and chat some more.
The truth is they still need me. A lot. Their needs are different now. But those needs are many and various and true.
My kids are in school and I'm still at home.
Say it loud, say it proud.