Wednesday, September 14, 2011

The Light at the End...

Today was bittersweet. I had been debating whether or not to continue working just a few hours a week from home even after the baby comes because I truly enjoy the work I do. I've invested a big part of my life in my career, developing a skill set in a field I am passionate about. But my family is most important. And so I told my current company that I can't commit to any more than about 10 hours a week from home. Today, they told me that the company policy is a minimum of 20 hours a week to stay on as a part-time employee. So, sadly, I told them that was more than I could commit to. I may still be able to help them here and there as a contract employee, but it won't be anything regular.

The Creative Teams Director announced to the majority of the company that I wouldn't be returning after I have my baby and led everyone in a round of applause for my contributions over the last 10 months. My immediate supervisor, in my performance review later in the afternoon, even got a little teary and told me how much they would miss me at the company. She paid me some of the highest compliments I've ever received and insisted that I'd have a job waiting for me if I ever decided to come back. But she was very supportive and understanding of my decision to be with my children. I appreciated that the most. And I felt overwhelmed with emotion myself. Following the sick day at home with Halle in which I realized how different my life is going to become in the next few months, the final discussion of my future at work was very poignant for me. It is beyond strange to think that I won't be going in to the office every day. Again, I wouldn't have it any other way, I was just struck by how it affected me.

And I still have four weeks of hard work left ahead of me before I officially say goodbye. I'll do what I can to wring every last drop of learning and growth out of this phase of my life. Then I'll move on to the next chapter and not look back.

Change Is the Only Constant

It's an overused saying...but it seems to hold true in my life. Halle woke me up at 5 a.m. on Tuesday with vomit all over her clothes and bedding. Oh, and she scattered some around our room on the way in to wake me. After cleaning her up and throwing the yucky stuff in the wash, we finally settled back to sleep. I wasn't sure if she had a stomach virus or just ate something bad. So I decided to keep her home from preschool and I decided to take a sick day and stay home from work as well.

I've worked full-time pretty much Halle's entire life. I took a 12-week maternity leave after she was born. But since then, I've really not been able to spend many days home all day alone with her. Sure, I'm home with her on the weekends; but Nate or other people in my family are usually there, too. It's very rare that she and I get to spend an entire weekday together, just the two of us. It was eye-opening. Wonderful—but eye-opening. I've been longing to be a stay-at-home-mom since Halle was born. Now that baby girl #2 is on the way, I finally get my wish. But this is following ten years of a full-time career. Ten years of being the “breadwinner” in my family. Ten years of juggling home and career responsibilities.

Halle woke up again at around 9:00 that same Tuesday morning and seemed fine. But I still didn't think it was safe for her to go to school (I didn't want her spreading some virus to her whole class). So, she and I had an entire day to kill. And for a moment, I felt a bit paralyzed. What do moms do with their kids when they're home with them all day? I mean, I could certainly come up with things around the house I needed to do...and I wasn't sure we were completely past the point of potential vomit, so I didn't feel like we should set out to do anything too adventurous. I guess the realization that whacked me over the head was what a completely different day-to-day existence I'm going to lead in about four more weeks. Sure, I'll have a newborn in the mix at that point, and I'll certainly not lack for things to manage. But for the first time, I really thought about how different my life will be. Not easier by any means—just totally different. It will be amazing to get to be home with my girls. But if I'm honest, I think it's going to take a good chunk of time for me to wrap my brain around a new routine, and a new me.

As the day wore on, this realization became even more clear. First big mistake—taking Halle to check out the Lindon Walmart during the middle of the afternoon (the part of the day in which she is most tired) and forgetting that I'm still eight months pregnant. Bad, bad idea. She whined and cried the entire time and I couldn't physically pick her up and make her go where I needed her to go. I had wanted to get her out of the house to do something—this was not the best choice, obviously, even though she at first agreed that it was something she'd like to do. You would think that as a mom of a four-year-old child, I would avoid this silly mistake. But, you see, my child has spent the majority of her afternoons being cared for by someone who is not me. A sad, yet true statement. And so, I realize that I will probably need to learn to be a stay-at-home mom to a newborn and a four-year-old at the same many ways for the first time.

By the time Nate came home from work, I had managed to cook dinner. But the house was a wreck. This normally drives me crazy. But Halle and I had played and colored and danced throughout the afternoon, and those activities created some mess. At that point, I was too tired to care. How do stay-at-home moms deal with all the messes? I was a bit baffled. Eventually, I found some time later in the evening to pick up the clutter, do the dishes, and even throw in a load of laundry. We read scriptures and said our family prayer. I practiced reading some new words with Halle, we read her princess book, and I got her in bed way earlier than I usually do. By the end of the night, I felt pretty good about things. But I still reflected upon how strange and even awkward the day had felt in some moments. For as much change as I have experienced in the last year, I think one of the biggest changes of all is yet to come. I hope I'm ready for it.