Work Space

March 25, 2011

Today my husband and I went antiquing and came home with a pair drafting tables that I’ve been drooling over for a couple of weeks.

I’ve been yearning to have my own space. Unless you count the laundry room (ha!) I don’t really have a single place in the house that feels like my own. I need a place where I can write (it’s hard to get into work mode, or creative mode, when I’m typing from the couch while watching Desperate Housewives).

However, working in our office just doesn’t do it for me… especially since I’m with a certain adorable 8 month old just about 24/7. I can’t just go upstairs for hours and lock myself in a room and write/work. I need an accessible space. One that is close to where I spend most of my time. And one that I don’t share with another person (i.e., my husband, who uses our home office when he’s working from home).

We have a cute, tiny nook in our living room. Just a small space, sort of tucked-away but not really. It’s out in the open and in view of the living room, but it’s still its own space. And now it’s my space.

Photos soon to come! I’m going to spend this weekend getting it organized and set up how I want it. I am absurdly excited about it, but it feels so good.

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Create

March 14, 2011

I’ve been feeling creative again. Finally.

I want to write. I want to make things. I want to use my hands. I want to build. I want to create stories and things out of yarn and bake and reorganize and make old things new again.

And it feels so, so good.

I am not employed.

I quit my job before we got married in the fall of 2009. I began doing some freelance writing work, and found out that I was pregnant shortly thereafter.

We knew that me being a stay at home mom was the best choice for our family. We were right; I’m not perfect but I cannot imagine not being home with my son every day.

Our plan was for me to stay home and then write part-time in order to pay my own personal bills. Ha!

Being a mother is hard work. It is even more difficult if you have very (very) little help. My husband works a lot and has to travel a lot for work, and is just a busy guy in general. I don’t get nights and weekends “off.” (What mother does?) But, much of the time, I don’t even get a whole lot of help during that time. If my husband is gone, that means I also have to take care of two needy dogs, too. And run the household.

I’m not trying to complain. What I am saying is that this journey has been a lot harder and more exhausting than I ever envisioned. Write articles? When? I need my downtime, too, you know. I also need to do laundry and clean the house and run errands.

Needless to say… not much “real work” was done during the first six months of my son’s life. I think I have written maybe two articles that whole time, if that. I had to resort to selling some thing to help pay my bills.

Sure, some of it is laziness. I have time to go on discussion forums and facebook and blogs, right?

But, in order to work, I need to be in a certain frame of mind. I haven’t been in one since before my son was born. My brain is tired and preoccupied. Words haven’t been coming to me. I have felt a huge lack of creativity. I haven’t even feel like reading books. It’s like there has been something in my brain that blocks the motivation and ideas from flowing… and no wonder when I am constantly in the midst of BABYHOOD.

There have been a lot of tears over money and feeling inadequate and like a failure as a woman. It is very difficult to adjust to being “taken care of” by a man, especially when the two of you used to be equals when it came to working and education. I’ve learned that money and careers can really affect a relationship because it throws off the whole balance of power. And not that a couple should be trying to overpower or control each other… but with money and success comes power. When you lack those things, you lose a bit of power. You feel like you have to fight for respect. It really does change how you feel about yourself, how others look at you. We’re a career and money driven society, and it is reflected in how we treat others and view ourselves.

I’ve noticed this in my own relationship, now that I don’t have a “real” job (again, based on societal views… trust me, I work HARD). But it has changed the power structure in our marriage. The fact that he’s the breadwinner and I’m the stay at home mom has really changed the balance in our household. It stresses him in a lot of ways (he has a lot on his plate and a lot that he has to take care of and be responsible for) while I deal with setting career goals and other dreams aside for awhile so I can focus on raising a family. This is a major shift, because at one point we were BOTH working and BOTH going to school and BOTH paying our bills and we did it all together. It gives him a weird bit of power. He doesn’t abuse it and is usually unaware of it, but I still notice it from time to time. He doesn’t mean to be that way, and when I call him out on certain things he is surprised and doesn’t even realize he’s being a certain way.

I know that I carry a certain power myself, and I try to keep that in mind… I’m the mother of his child and the leader of our household. I’m the glue that keeps it all together. I keep things running. We chose this, we both want me to stay home with our son. But it comes with its ups and downs. I have had to redefine what the meaning of successful is. Especially because *I* was supposed to be the successful one. It was me who was supposed to have the good job, to make a lot of money. I was told my whole life how smart I was, how successful I would be. I wonder how many people look at me and shake their heads, think I’ve given up, think I’m lazy, think I’m “just” a stay at home mom. There’s more to me than that. But I am LUCKY to be one. I’m sure my son agrees!

I am happy, but I struggle. I see my friends being wildly successful, and I am soooo happy for them. But sometimes I do feel jealous. My husband just got a promotion at work, and I am insanely proud of him. (And hey, I’ll benefit from the raise.) However, it can be hard for me sometimes. I love (LOVE) staying home with my son and I am learning so many things and trying hard to make it all work. But when I spend a whole day trying to get my son to nap, and he is teething, and my elderly dog has an accident in the house, and the laundry pile is overflowing… sometimes it would be nice to get a promotion, too. Or at least someone to come help clean the house once a week.

All that said… I wouldn’t change this situation for anything. I don’t want to go get a “real” job. I love this time with my son. It goes fast. Those first six months… they go fast. I haven’t missed a single milestone. I saw his first smiles, heard his first giggle, saw him roll over for the first (and second, and third) time. I see all the silly, funny, magical things he does. I am there for him when he’s upset and wants to cuddle. I wouldn’t trade those moments for all the money and success in the world. To me, it’s all been worth it. I know, ten years from now, I won’t look back on these early years and think, ‘Gosh I wish I had gone back to work.’ I will, most likely, give anything to go back to this hard time and relive it. It comes with a cost, and yet… it’s priceless.

I am happy to report that my writing “frame of mind” is finally changing. I am getting new ideas. I have FOUR writing projects in mind (BIG ones, not articles). I have poetry that I want to submit to some journals (not new poetry, but still, it feels good to desire something more again). I am feeling creative again, and damn it that feels good! And, these past few days, writing articles and making money again doesn’t feel like some far away unattainable goal that feels impossible. It feels tangible again. I hope, when I write about the second six months, that it will be much more positive than this post has been. My son is now 7 1/2 months old, so it’s been a journey to get to this point.

I’m a guest blogger!

January 20, 2011

My (first ever) guest blog post is being featured on The Cloth Diaper Whisperer today. Check it out!

My son is now two months older than when I first wrote it, but it still holds true: I love our prefolds. G is napping in one right now, actually.

Check out this crazy ass article from Gawker in which a magazine editor steals a writer’s work, puts it in her magazine, and then, when the writer calls her out on it and asks for an apology and a donation to a journalism school, retaliates by saying the writer should pay HER for the time spent editing and rewriting the stolen article.

Ballsy.

But it doesn’t stop there. Check out the Gawker article for follow-ups and links (as well as the editor’s actual response to the original writer I mentioned), and how angered people have discovered that this editor’s magazine sure seems to be doing a LOT of “borrowing.” I’m curious where this will go. I have a feeling that when you (allegedly) take work from Martha Stewart, Oprah, and Disney (unless you received permission; am I being ballsy in guessing this editor probably didn’t?) then copyright lawsuits may be in the future. Needless to say, I’ll be following this to see what happens next. Hopefully, for this editor’s sake, it was just a fluke and she only stole the one article. But I doubt it.

Just think… if the editor had just admitted she was wrong, apologized to the writer, and coughed up $130 bucks to a journalism school, she probably could have continued doing this for years.

p.s. No, the internet is not actually “public domain.” Articles written and posted online are still covered by copyright laws.

p.p.s. This reminds me of something that would appear on SNL’s “Really!?!” sketches.

There is a lot in my brain, scrambled, as I try to put it all into words that make sense for this blog post. I hope it comes out okay.

My whole life I was told I was going to be successful. And I believed it.

“You’re so smart.” “You’re going to be something great.” “You’re going places.” I was a good student. Papers and exams and classes were, for the most part, easy for me. I was career-minded. I wanted to go to college and do something BIG with my life, even though my ideas changed about what I wanted to be “when I grew up.” From veterinarian to teacher to writer.

I graduated college with a degree in English after changing my major for the umpteen millionth time. And then I began the job hunt. I took a temporary secretarial position for the summer. When that ended, I lucked out and found a job that I loved as a teacher assistant, and helped struggling readers in an elementary school. Unfortunately, I couldn’t get by on 8 hours a week. So I had to jump when I was offered a receptionist position (full-time with bennies)  that left me feeling like I was at the bottom of the totem pole every day.

I knew I wanted more with my life. I had worked so hard to put myself through college, and I felt like I deserved better. I wanted to use my brain, use my degree, and not just spend my days fetching coffee for people and filing papers while my to-do list got longer (not shorter) every day.

I quit my job. I began freelancing from home. And, less than a month later, I found out I was pregnant.

Fast-forward to the present. I am a full-time stay at home mom (SAHM). It’s a job I never imagined myself with. And yet, I love it. I am a good mother and my son is happy and healthy. He’s my life and I couldn’t be more proud.

And yet, it’s a struggle. I see my career-minded friends doing great things. In many ways, I envy them. I definitely admire them. Sometimes I feel like I put myself into great debt to get an education that I don’t use. I feel like I should be doing more than “just” being a SAHM.

Except… no. While this job already feels like the least appreciated job out there (even moreso than that receptionist position), it’s also incredible. I got to see my son roll over for the first time. I got to see his first real smile. He looks at me differently than he looks at anyone else in the entire world. And I know that HE appreciates what I do.

So this is my career. I am still fine-tuning it. I’m still trying to find a good balance. I do need to write, still. That’s my biggest struggle right now. I give so much to my son, as I should, but it leaves me very little downtime. My husband is incredibly busy so I get very few breaks. When I get a break, do I feel like writing articles? Not really. I feel like having a glass of wine and reading blogs and taking a shower.

I struggle with perfection. I want to be the mom that can do it all. Happy, smiling child. Clean house. A career (even if it’s part-time, from home). Happy husband. I want to appear more pulled-together than I feel most days. And I want to do it all without bags under my eyes. Ha, right.

Yesterday I got my hair cut and colored. It made me feel a million times less frumpy than I have been feeling lately. I woke up today and put on some jeans, rather than my sweats, and ran a brush through my hair. And then I picked up the house, and did two loads of laundry, and tended to a fussy baby (please don’t let him be getting sick!). I tried not to worry about how I’m paying my bills this month, since I haven’t been writing. I ignored the fact that I smell like spit-up and that I ate Count Chocula for breakfast and that these rugs could use a vacuuming and that my husband has been stressed and crabby lately.

So here I am. Trying to do it all. Trying to be at peace with not being “successful.” Because you know something? I am successful. Perhaps not in the traditional, textbook definition of the word. But hey, it could use some redefining. Success has taken on a new meaning for me. This beautiful, happy, healthy, smiley baby makes me a success.

Yes, some days I think about that lost career. But then–THEN–I look at this:

And it all makes sense. I have no regrets. I will just work harder at my career. I will get better. I will find ways to do it all and find ways to drop the perfectionism and find ways to get all my work done… my childcare, my housework, my writing.

Before I know it, my son will be in school. Some day I will no longer be needed as a SAHM. I can re-enter the “real” workforce. I know then that I will look back at these days and be very happy with this choice. Be so glad that I was lucky enough to stay home with him and make memories every day with him. Because it’s such a short time in my life, in his life, and in the grand scheme of things.

Until then, I will try my best to find a balance. To redefine my career and the meaning of success. To look past my flaws and focus on what I’m doing right.

Going back to work

September 26, 2010

Yes, my “maternity leave” is ending. Except that I’m in a (somewhat) unique situation: I am a self-employed freelancer who will work from home part-time while also being a full-time stay at home mom.

When will I write? Ha! Haven’t quite figured that one out. I’m fortunate because, right now, Little Guy still sleeps quite a bit during the day. And if I put him in his mei tai, I could (theoretically) sit at the dining room table and write while he hangs out and/or falls asleep.

He is now 10 weeks old. I think most moms go back to work between 8 and 12 weeks (unless you live in a country that values time home with babies, then you may get a much longer time, but that’s neither here nor there). Time to put on my big girl panties and do it.

This will be an interesting time of transition while I figure out what works, what doesn’t, and how to fit everything I need and want to do into a day. Wish me luck! I “go back” to work tomorrow (Monday)… my plan is to focus on a typical 5 day work week so that I can enjoy weekends with my husband and do things together as a family.

Got any tips? I’d love to hear back from any other WAHMs about how you manage your time and are able to balance this type of household.

Ooh! And great timing here… I found a blog courtesy of The Cloth Diaper Whisperer‘s facebook page called The Mom Writes. She’s a fellow writer mama who started her blog as a place to write about her “views, ideas and tips on life as a mom, wife, writer and woman.” Yay!

Oopsie Daisy

September 17, 2010

My goodness, where does time go?

I certainly let my blog go by the wayside for awhile. But I’m back and ready to write write write.

“Little Guy” was born in July. He is amazing and beautiful and I love him more than words. Really… as a writer, I cannot put it into words. It’s incredible being a mother.

I don’t know where the last two months have gone. I am beyond tired, but it’s a very satisfying kind of tired. When Little Guy gives me that big gummy smile, I forget about being sleep deprived and covered in spit up.

It is time for a new journey to begin. I mean, obviously I’ve already begun quite a journey as a new mother. But it’s time to get back to that woman who also used to write. Who made some money by writing articles, who communicated who she was through written word, who showed her creative side by writing poetry and fiction.

And that is why I return to this blog. To combine my old and new lives. To get back to me, even if it’s a new me.

…la la la la, la la laaaa.

I absolutely cannot believe that Christmas is almost here.

It’s been this quiet beast that is creeping up on us.

We’re doing pretty well as far as presents go… we need to order a few photo prints and pick up a few last minute items, but most of the big stuff is taken care of. All of our family gift exchange gifts are purchased–we do a white elephant on my side and draw names on my husband’s side–so here’s to another year of not getting kicked out of the family. I kid, I kid.

It’s weird that this will be our last Christmas as just the two of us! Next year we’ll be waking up with our baby and having Christmas morning together as a family.

In other news… I am doing my best to get my writing back on track. I have a writing goal/magic number for each day, and last Thursday was the first day since I’ve been pregnant that I was able to meet that. I’m hoping to each day this week as well.

Next week will be a struggle for my writing. Our first ultrasound is on Monday (I’ll be a day shy of 9 weeks) and Tuesday my niece has her Christmas program, so I can’t miss that. And then Christmas is Friday. Still in shock over that one! Where did this year go?

Let me count the ways.

So for the first two weeks of my pregnancy (well, that I was aware that I was pregnant), things were going really well. A bit of nausea (HA! or what I then thought was nausea) and fatigue, but nothing major. I considered myself lucky; I had heard horror stories.

Well. I am now in week six and hot damn, it has hit me. On Monday I took three, count ’em, THREE naps. Not little ones, either. One was at least two hours. Also on Monday, my “morning” sickness kicked in and I haven’t felt good since.

Extreme tiredness + all day nausea (made worse when I sit up for too long or, heaven forbid, stand up) + ability to only focus for approximately four minutes = nightmare for a freelance writer.

Pre-pregnancy, I would wake up pretty early and start writing after I had my first mug of coffee, and by noon I was done with a few articles and could take a long lunch before cranking out a few more articles, only to be totally done by 4 or 5:00.

Today, I got out of bed at noon, couldn’t stomach any coffee, and it’s after 6:00 and I have only done some research for my first article.

Until I start feeling better (*fingers crossed that it lightens up withing a few weeks*) it looks like I’ll be working evenings, since that’s when I feel the “best.”

I know this all sounds very whiny, but I must say that knowing these symptoms are there because of my baby growing inside of me… well, that makes it all worth it. Also, I get to hold this over my kid’s head some day! Totally worth it.