I've been daydreaming the past few days about being a stay at home mom. Most of my life I planned to be a stay at home mom while my children were young, like my mom was. Then I spent a lot of time in my 20s reading stories, articles, blog posts, experiences of other moms who stayed home full time. I saw certain common elements that seemed challenging, that would probably challenge me too: lack of adult interaction, regular intellectual stimulation, personal identity outside of motherhood, the feeling after years at home that it was hard to remember what your career was originally about, or how to pick up the pieces and begin again, most likely at the bottom.
But full-time work isn't for me either: the hours away from the baby, the commute, trying to fit family time into evenings and weekends, no time to sit and stare out the window, daydream, make homemade play-dough and wander the neighborhood parks seeking out the best swimming pools and swing-sets. No time to pursue yoga or pilates, or invent mama-baby fitness routines from scratch. No lazy days in pajamas or hours to waste on board books and nursery rhymes. A rhythm too fast for me to move to, a tempo where I just can't catch up.
So I set my mind on part time work and I waited--years in fact--to find it, and to start a family, and this is perfect for me, but you know what? It's still not perfect. There is no perfect. It's a little hard to pay the bills each month, and the weeks I'm home with my son he kinda drives me up-the-wall-crazy, and then the first Monday back to work after that crazy week I always tear up leaving him with his babysitter (even though she's the best babysitter ever invented, and I think he's better off having both of us than he would be just having me!), and sometimes my job--because it's challenging, and intellectually stimulating, and all the things good careers are supposed to be--keeps me up at night with knots in my stomach, and sometimes I daydream stay-at-home-motherhood and other times I daydream paychecks double what I'm making now, and sometimes I miss living in an apartment with no yard, only a stoop to sit on, and nothing to do on that stoop but sit with a cigarette between my fingers and watch smoke rings dissolve into the air, like all the responsibilities I didn't have back then.
Perfect balance is so subjective. Even perfect for me is subjective, being that what I want right now may not be what I want tomorrow. Today I attended a meeting at work and, just as I expected, I walked out the door with a to-do list that will take me through the summer to complete. But I also carried out an accompanying feeling of relief, because as I composed that to-do list, with the support of two women older and more professionally accomplished than myself, I remembered something important: I am capable. I can do this.
And now it's mid-afternoon and I'm at home, blogging, but I'm going to stop, because I have something else I have to do, something very important that can't wait any longer: I have a new recipe for homemade play-dough to make before my son awakens from his nap. I've been meaning to find the time to make it for days. And, now, look: Here it is!