Wednesday, September 19, 2012

The journey has just begun

This year, I took a huge risk.  A terrifying step. I quit my full time job to be a stay at home mom.  I don't have small children - just a loving hubby, a 13 year old son and a cat.

So, why in the world would I want to leave the "working" world and be home full time?  Really, it was a variety of reasons. 

I hated commuting.  Yes, many people commute for a hour to a hour and a half each way.  Yet, this was the longest commute I've ever had, and I would almost always walk in the door in a lot of pain brought on by my arthritic knees operating a stick-shift through that awful traffic. 

I didn't particularly care for my job, and it wasn't serving the purpose it was intended to serve.  I quit school to go back to work in order to make ends meet.  Between commuting costs, convenience foods at home, eating out and the tax bracket that my income put us in, we were basically breaking even for me to come home stressed and in pain.

My son wasn't doing too hot in school - despite being a gifted child, he's never really excelled in school.  His lack of organization, self-discipline and my lack of energy left for parenting at the end of the day were not really a recipe for success. 

A couple of hours on Sundays in January spent with coupons and sale ads resulted in us restocking the grocery stockpile with over $1,000 worth of food for around $300.

When the hubby and I sat down and added all of this up, we figured that by me staying home, the family could benefit greatly:
  • I'd be a lot happier
  • I'd be a lot less stressed
  • I'd have time for my art
  • I'd have time to volunteer more
  • The family would see significant savings in the grocery expenditures every month
  • The kiddo would have an involved parent who could help him learn to keep on track with school
  • The kiddo would be able to participate in extracurricular activities
  • The family would reap health benefits associated with a well-planned menu
June Cleaver by toledo clubber via Flickr
Since quitting my job in April, we've had a lot of changes in our life. It's been a rough and challenging road.  I'm certainly not seeing all of those benefits that we thought we'd see. We moved from a rented 3/2/2 house in a suburb into a 2/2 apartment in the city.  We've struggled financially after a large unexpected expense in June.  I had a not-so-lovely bout with severe depression for the two months before the move.  After we learned that the kiddo has high cholesterol, significant changes to our eating habits were implemented.  I'm having trouble with my personal schedule, and so I'm not volunteering at all right now.  There's no space for an art studio in a 2 bedroom apartment, and most of my supplies are in a storage locker down the street.  And I'd imagined this glorious life of coffee klatches, PTA meetings and homemade cookies.  HA!

I don't know why I thought I'd be June Cleaver within a week of being home full-time - but then again, I've spent most of my life setting unrealistic goals and standards, and beating myself up for not meeting them. 

So, here I am - five months into being at home - still trying to get organized (because an unorganized move wreaks havoc upon existing organization), cooking, cleaning, planning, researching.  Praying for more little feet in the house.  Learning to mentor a young teen in how to succeed at goals.  Discovering my flaws and imperfections, my triggers for depression.  Learning how to navigate relationships with friends and family - because frankly, I've spent years neglecting them.  Figuring out the middle ground between being ridiculously perfectionist and being an ostrich with her head in the sand.  Realizing that I'll never be June Cleaver, and that I really am just fine with that.

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