Monday, September 24, 2012

The Hardest Job

Well, my in-home nursery school won't be opening until next fall. Which is both a disappointment, and a huge weight off my shoulders. I suppose it's unrealistic to expect that I can conceive of opening a school in my house and then get it off the ground in under 6 months. :) But then again, what fun is realism all the time, right?

Speaking of realism, I've stumbled on a few too many articles recently about how parenting is the hardest gig going. And each time I can't help think (like we used to say in high school): for real? I'm tired of that trope. Am I the only one who disagrees? I've never worked in a coal mine, but even so, I'll take parenting any day of the week. And actually, I find childcare harder than parenting. It's all the same expectations, at least for the hours you're doing it, but you don't love the kids the way you love your own, which makes the work that much harder to do. Motherhood has never kept me up all hours of the night with knots in my stomach, the way teaching special education in a classroom of kids called "emotionally disturbed" did. Give me a gaggle of kids of my own over another day of that year of hell!

But maybe my particular cross to bear isn't parenthood so much as paid employment. Now, that conundrum has never come easy for me. Always underpaid, underemployed, overworked, overwhelmed or overeducated! I only ever hit the sweet spot once with employment, and for the life of me, I don't know how to find my way back to that balance.

I know what to do with my kids. When it's hard, it's also pretty clearly my own fault. I always know what the problem is, and how to solve it. Get out of the house more, and get them running around. Quit bickering with my husband in earshot of the kids. Don't use a snappy tone of voice if I don't want to hear a snappy tone of voice used at me.

All of that seems simple in comparison to: how do I earn a living? And especially: how do I earn a decent living doing something that interests me, while homeschooling my kids? I find answering that question infinitely harder than motherhood itself.

There was never a magic moment where becoming a parent changed me. If I changed, it was like slipping on a new skin that fit so comfortably I never noticed the difference. But losing my job, deciding to homeschool, and trying to create a new career, is breaking me down, and rebuilding me. Someday -I hope- I will look back on these days and be able to say: of course it was hard. You built something from scratch that hadn't been there before. And now it's so amazing/rewarding/much easier than it used to be!

I can imagine some mothers might say that very thing about their difficult babies, who grow up to be far less challenging children.

I only hope I can someday say it about my career!

Monday, September 3, 2012

End of Summer Bitching and Wishing

I've been waking each night at 1 or 2am. I lie in bed, and try not to think about money. I pray, please, please, please and then I change it to thank you for providing what we need, in case The Secret is right and you have to assume you'll get whatever you're praying for. Don't want to repel the grocery money, for goodness sakes.

(I've never even read The Secret, but you can never be too careful. And all the Gods I've ever studied seem to be so picky about rules. I'd never make it as a God; I tend permissive, and assume everyone's doing the best they can. I don't like a lot of rules because I'm no good at paying attention to the details.)

I push thoughts of money from my mind, roll over, fluff the pillows, huff and puff in frustration. I stay in bed, hoping for the sweet relief of sleep. But if it doesn't come, then I walk down the stairs in the dark, stubbing my toes, kicking things over by accident, and come to read on the couch.

I never thought I'd be an entrepreneur. I thought I'd be a teacher, in a union. I once thought about all the advice I'd ever read in women's magazines about asking for a raise (document your successes, put together a presentation, focus on what you've done for the company's bottom line and how it has benefited from having you as an employee), and I thought: Thank God I'll never have to do THAT!

I wish we could live on my husband's income alone. If only we didn't need to eat.

I wish I had one million dollars stashed away somewhere, and I could live off the interest for the rest of my life.

I wish I gave a shit about money, and found it even the slightest bit interesting, so that thinking about it was not an exercise in the torture of tedium. I spent a long, sleepless night once in the home of a former acquaintance, reading all his self-help books about getting rich. They always asked: do you want, more than anything, to be wealthy beyond your wildest dreams? I knew, then (like I know now), that I would never be wealthy beyond my wildest dreams. My answer, at the start of every book, was: nah.

I just want to be able to buy the groceries, daydream a lot, and spend the days in the company of my kids.

Childcare costs have dropped precipitously in the past year. I charge the top of the market rate, but now everyone else is charging exactly half that. It's a ten hour day, no lunch, no breaks, and even with two kids -my legal max, in addition to my own two- I'd clear less than minimum wage per hour. I won't do that. And so I'm short on clients, and short on grocery money.

Today's the last day of summer and, as if on cue, the summer money is running right out. And the stupid groceries keep needing to be bought!

My husband goes back to work tomorrow. I've somehow got to figure this out on my own.

And I've already rolled it around and around in my head until it makes me furious to think about it.

I know I ought to count my blessings, but today is not the day for that.

Today is the last day of summer. All I've got today is bitching and wishing.