This has been a transition year for us. My stepson is now a young man. My daughter is in middle school. My twins are turning double digits. My almost-6 year old is reading and writing…. and the baby, well, he just isn’t a baby anymore. We cut his hair for the first time, B”H, in just three weeks.
I spend a lot of time feeling wistful that we don’t have any cute little newborns around anymore. No squishy, non-verbal, nursing gigglers in sight.
… Then my daughter opens up a “Birthday Spa” just for me, with the works, including a pedicure with a most interesting shade of red…
And I thank Hashem for the blessing of a house full of big kids.
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I seem to have hit a selfish phase lately. I think it has been brought on, like most things, by a combination of factors. I am not saying it like it’s a bad thing, it just is.
Pesach was a long two weeks of break from school, with my husband spending a lot of the time home.
I turned 38, which I already blogged about, but feels, well, older, for some reason.
I got sick, and it took a while to feel better.
And my youngest child turned two.
For some reason I have yet to understand, something happens to me in my subconscious when my littlest ones turn 2. It is as if an alarm goes off in my body that screams “enough!”. I give a lot of time and attention to my kids, not as much as some, but a lot. I nursed a lot of my kids until 2 or close to it. And after two years (not even including pregnancy) of giving up so many of my own needs and desires, I get restless. I think the restlessness is good. It helps me allow my children to become more independent and grow.
So, with all of these reasons brewing, I have taken half of a day off for a massage and manicure / pedicure. I have taken naps when I feel like it, including at 7 pm. I have planned an overnight trip, on the weekend, without my family, just to spend time with friends. (I can’t wait!)
I am sure that many of you cannot see what the big deal is. “Me time” is an important given for many. But it hasn’t always been easy for me. My guess is that moms of a large number of kids are a self-selecting group for whom this is often true.
I know the old idea that I am taking care of my family by taking care of me. It doesn’t go down that way with the troops in my house. Especially since taking care of me lately means getting away from them. : )
I have mentioned before that this year I am feeling older – and wiser. I think the selfishness is part of that unfolding wisdom.
It isn’t that I haven’t done things for myself before. The selfish phases do come.
More often then not, when I have a child that has recently turned two.
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I am trying something new this year. I am now what I like to call a “work at home” mom. I am working as a PR consulant part time, from home. I also am home full time with my 1 1/2 year old son.
while the other six are in school during the day, that only gives me until 3:30 to work until basically 9 pm, when bedtime is over.
(I also carve out time for teaching early childhood Jewish music classes and some Torah learning.)
I have remained a “stay at home” mom for almost the entirety of the preschoolers-rearing stage — a long ten years. I am glad that I did, and it has always been because I felt it what was best for my kids. I even kept everyone home for a year, with 3 preschoolers and a baby having “Gan Ima” all day every day. (The horror others had that I was “homeschooling” my children who were all too young to technically be in school is for another post.)
But being home with my kids full time was always a struggle for me. I don’t enjoy going to the playground for hours. I don’t like fingerpaint. I don’t enjoy sitting on the floor with one cute little child and playing trains. Certainly not as much as I liked working. I LOVED working. I enjoyed my career. When I gave it up, it was never forever and it was never really completely. I found fulfillment in event planning or article writing within my Jewish community instead of for an employer. I joined the shul board, founded a Jewish girl scout troop… lots of activities to keep me busy and engaged at certain elements of my career.
Two years I began working again outside of volunteering. Very, very part time, and all from home. At first pregnant, with a sitter for my toddler. Then, with a little baby around. It wasn’t so complicated. He loved to nurse and sleep, and those things made it easy for me to squeeze in work. And parts of my brain started to buzz with activity again.
Now I have developed a business and a client base. (I happen to love the clients I have now.) My little one is a lot less little, and I find myself doing a challenging juggling act I never really attempted when my other children were this young.
A friend who has her children in the same school was laid off this year, and is having a go at consulting, and also at trying to be a “work at home” mom. Her little one is younger than mine, and still a tad easier. (He will catch up soon enough, I have no doubt)
“G” & and I are trying an experiment; we are going to try to work in the same house 2 – 3 days a week while the little ones play, sleep, whine, make messes, etc. The idea is to have a mother’s helper here with us, share the expense, be with our children, while successfully earning money.
When my now ten year old was 18 months I would have never made it past the guilt to such a plan. I needed to be spending my days at mommy and me, music classes, gymnastics for toddlers, and water babies — which very pregnant with twins was quite a picture, believe me.
Now, I am a different woman, ten years older with a lot more experience and confidence. Those classes were fun, but she didn’t need them. What she needed, and what my little one needs now is a happy, healthy, focused, centered mommy who can give her little one(s) attention and love with a whole heart and mind. She didn’t really like those classes any more than she liked the park. It was “Ima time” no matter how you sliced it, made it fancy, added programming, or spent a lot of money on it.
I am hoping that I can find the perfect balance for this child and for me – his Ima – at this stage. The experiment with his friend, my friend, a sitter and two laptops all in one house is a new one, and you will have to follow me in seeing if it works.
But I can tell you that I nurse him to sleep while writing letters and articles. I take a break between skype calls and emails to nuzzle his neck and tickle him like crazy and even to play with trains a little…. and so far, it is the most fun I have had being home.
Now if I can just find a way to get the 20 weekly loads of laundry done in the mix……….
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This is a posting by the very talented “A Mother in Israel”, titled; “Tips on Staying Home and Staying Sane”. I could paraphrase, but I hope you read it. It is the best advice distilled. Not only do I concur, but I really wish I had had access to such a list when I was starting out with my oldest.
Yasher Koach, Hannah Katsman.
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