For the first time in weeks (months, even), I am staying home all day with my baby girl. My baby girl who is not so much a baby anymore but a self confident toddler who throws herself on the floor with the intensity of a tornado touching-down, and then instantaneously turns into a wet, moppy rag doll so you can’t pick her up off said floor. She giggles at my lame attempts to get her to stand in between screams of frustration about whatever it was that caused the floor-drop in the first place (she wasn’t allowed to pull the cat’s tail; she couldn’t stick her finger in the electrical outlet; I gave her an apple instead of a banana; the sky is blue.)
I’m home, sitting in silence, watching her on the monitor as she sleeps away a terrible fever. This, such a short time ago, was my every-day, my life, my focus. Now I am stretched and commuting, I am snuggling her at 5:30 as I pick her up from daycare as if I haven’t seen her in a week instead of a day, I am so tired and so refreshed in totally different yet very basically the same ways.
I have more patience with her than I used to. Instead of being thinned out over the hours (which can feel like years sometimes) I get a short window of time for her to scream at me because she is hungry or tired, to throw herself on the floor, to giggle and take a running leap into my arms (my very favorite one). We read books, we eat snacks, and then she is done for the day and rubbing her eyes and I feel like I just barely got to see her.
I have more drive and energy than I used to. The routine is good for me; for my anxiety-riddled brain, that, given enough down-time, can spiral into darkness and chaos. Getting up every day and driving to a place in which there are expected things that I do, and do well, is calming to those shadowy creatures of habit in my gut. I find that outside of work I am trying to make better use of my time; having less of it for myself – and while this is absolutely nothing new to me (I always worked best in school when I was scheduled up to the gills) it is also something that is much harder for me to enjoy. I feel like I am missing out – missing her smiles and chatter, missing the very raising of my child.
40 hours is a lot of time. Before I was a stay at home mom I worked a job that had an alternative schedule – every two weeks you would get one extra day off, giving you 3 day weekends every other week. It was glorious. I was there for 5 years. My point in saying this is that I haven’t worked at 40-hour week full time job in over 6 years. My stress-induced eye twitch is back in full force. Have you ever had an eye twitch? It is one of the more irritating harmless-body-things that I’ve dealt with in life. It happens when I do too much, when I am moving forward at an unsustainable rate. When I’ve lost track of the pace car; barreling downhill. I barely have enough time on the weekends for all of my laundry, you can forget driving an hour each way to see friends on the other side of the city. I want to write, I want to exercise, I want to cook dinner. All of these things feel like the last domino, like it’s just too much. These are the things that make me happy in life. I may be okay now forgoing these things, but what about 6 months from now? A year from now? Will I still be happy with so little time for *anything else* in life?
I’ve never defined myself as what I do. Some people say “Hello, I’m Ashley. I’m a teacher.” They say this because it is part of their identity, their very being. This is their passion, their love, their life. I have had dream jobs. Except for my stellar resume, I didn’t advertise that I had them. I’ve always defined myself with other parts of my life. It wasn’t until I stayed home from work to be with the little girl that I started doing things like calling myself a writer. A developer. A creator. Because for the first time, when I was doing these things for myself, on my own time and by my own rules, that I had pride in my work. Pride with what I was doing every day. I say this because I have yet to disclose to almost anyone where I am currently working, what I am doing. I have fallen back into the “it doesn’t matter” camp. And while I don’t necessarily feel negativity towards this, it is an interesting thing to note. It simply is what it is.
I guess my point here is that if I can be 5 years old for a minute, I’d really, truly wish, that I could have my cake and eat it too. There are a lot of good things that have come out of me going back to work – namely, organizing my headspace and giving me something else to focus on, something to make use of my “curse of competency.” But I’m not sold that I can sustain a 40-hour in-office old-school dress-code type of job without those balances tipping back into the direction of “not worth it.”
I’m just not sure. I’m not sure of much these days. All I know is that my little girl is sick and I am worried. It makes me think, this worry, think about what is important in life and what is the responsible choice for our future, and how those two things don’t seem to coexist very well. I wish society was structured differently; that I could keep one foot in the workforce without jumping in completely. I wish a lot of things.
I make responsive and beautiful, flexible websites. Isn’t it fair to want that sort of flexibility for the analog realm as well? I need to sit down and wireframe life.