As noted, I lost my job a couple of weeks ago. You know what that makes me? A stay at home mom. It’s like I was traded to another team with a whole different rulebook. I’m actively looking for another job, so who knows how long this will last. But here’s what I’m noticing so far…
> I’m happy to be with John in the afternoons, but I think it’s safe to say that the hours between three and five don’t bring out the absolute best in him. I’m probably a lot less fun than my amazing cadre of babysitters. I want him to do five minutes of homework. He wants to spend an hour trying 50 different pencils before he finds just the right one and gets started on the five minutes of work that could have been finished 55 minutes ago. Sigh. We’ve had some tiring afternoons, but we’re getting in a groove now.
> I suddenly feel responsible for the state of our house. This is the first time I’ve ever gone more than a week without a job since I was 22, so the balance between work and domestic activities has always been a consideration. Usually I’ve been able to find time for things like refinishing a table, which I enjoy, but I’ve been far too busy to vacuum. Now that I’m not working, I feel like it’s fair for me to do more of the home stuff. I have the time. That is not to imply that women who don’t work should wear aprons, bake, clean and mix cocktails for their breadwinners at the end of the day. Not at all. It’s just my own struggle with what I could/should be doing with a lot of suddenly free time. (So far: more cleaning, a little baking, but no cocktail-mixing.)
> Lunches. I was eating lunch when I had a job, obviously, but now I’m more likely to meet friends for lunch. Lunches are longer and less stressful than they were when I always expecting to get a call, a text or an email from work. More of my attention is focused on the people that I’m with. I also can’t believe how many people are out and about during the day. It could be that there just aren’t a lot of lunch options in Middlebury, but it seems like you can see everyone you know in town between twelve and one. It’s nice. I’m tempted to have a glass of wine at lunch like all the retirees seem to, but that might set an unfortunate precedent.
> Scheduling babysitters in the afternoons and on minor holidays and teacher workdays and school-canceled-for-wind-chills-of-30-below days (today) can be like a job in itself. I was lucky to have the inestimable Nikki every day when John was in kindergarten and I’m still lucky to have great options, but now I’m working around their sports seasons, play rehearsals, long breaks, exams, etc. Sometimes I don’t even know who’s going to show up at the door. It’s kind of a relief, for the moment, to know that when John’s at home, I’ve got him. No scheduling required.
> I’m much more willing and able to have playdates here for John. While working, I get a feeling that my time with John is very limited, and I don’t always want to share him. Or to deal with the drama that erupts when two seven-year-olds are together for more than an hour and disagree about something. I want (need) serenity at home. Now I get to spend a lot of time with John. I still enjoy his company, but I’m happy for him to have his friends here, too. I have more capacity for drama and noise, possibly because I’m not already splitting my attention three ways.
> It feels decadent to be at home. After eleven years of telecommuting, it isn’t as if I haven’t had the house to myself. But being at the desk working is very different than sending the boys off to school and work and then having a few hours to fill however I decide to fill them. I’m finding that those hours do pass quickly. Between looking for a job and my new interest in keeping the house clean(er), I’m not just hanging around eating grapes. It’s just strange for all this time to be unscheduled. It’s kind of nice, but I actually feel guilty about it. (Again, not trying to imply that other people should feel guilty. Do your thing.)
A friend pointed out to me (over lunch, naturally) that none of this makes me a real stay at home mom. I’m a working mom who’s between jobs. I’m more of a tourist in stay-at-home-land. But it has been an interesting visit so far.