Wednesday, August 29, 2012

You gotta fight for your right to be happy

So early blog readers (hi family!) have wondered how I find the time to blog on top of raising two small humans, freelancing, cooking and cleaning. 

The answer, of course, is that I crate the girls for an hour or so a day to make sure I can get some quality mommy time -- so far other then needing to lint roller the dog hair off of the kids, the arrangement has worked out. Snacks the dog is a great babysitter and I don't need to worry about the girls running around (or in Jovie's case, rolling around) and getting in to trouble.

OK. OK. Don't call CPS. In the whole four days that I've been blogging, I've just stayed up a little later and watched fewer episodes of "Million Dollar Listing."

The thing is, I needed something to call my own that was outside of wiping up seemingly endless amounts of spit-up, asking Lily for the 1,000th time not to chase the dog with her stroller and writing about the wonders of proper gutter protection. That's not to say that being a stay-at-home mom isn't gratifying -- being able to witness the girl's childhood is a joy and I feel so blessed to be able to be with them -- but lately I've been having a bit of an identity crisis. 

Poor algae-covered ducklings. Photo courtesy of zappowbang on Flickr
Stay-at-Home Motherhood can be kind of like an algae bloom -- it can take over your entire existence and stifle the growth of all the other organisms needed for a health ecosystem (person-system?) So my days had become solely about survival -- make sure the kids are cared for, fed and entertained. Make sure I get enough work done to supplement. Wash dishes. Vacuum. Pick up toys. Bemoan the fact that the kitchen floor needs to be scrubbed again but there's just not enough time in a day. Flop into bed exhausted. Repeat. 

When I worked at the newspaper, there was more immediate gratification, re-enforcement that I was doing a good job and s a definitive end to my workday. But here, gratification isn't always as obvious, the girls will be a life's work, and with Jovie still waking up a couple times a night, the workday is never-ending.

While I'm grateful to have work I can do from home, it's not always the most ... shall we say ... stimulating. 

Writing the occasional Smart column has helped fill a creative void, but it's become clear that   I need a more regular outlet for something that's just for me.

What about that novel you say? Right. Well - here's the deal - the novel is super intimidating. Enough of life right now is intimidating (see making dinner), that I just need something to be more ... bite-sized. 

So here we are. Blogging is like my little plecostomus.

Anyway, I had this revelation today. Happiness isn't always handed to you. Sure, there are moments in the day of joy -- Jovie's bright-eyed smile, Lily showing me how she hops -- but happiness (and by extension sanity) is something you have to work at -- and might require some sacrifice. 

And I admire people who pursue happiness.

One of my best friends recently made the decision to leave her very secure job as a 7th-grade teacher because dreaded the prospect of another school year. She's now trying to figure out her next move -- terrified that she made the wrong choice -- but relieved that she won't be stuck doing something she hates forever. She second guesses herself every day, and assumes the rest of the world thinks she's crazy for giving up her job, but I'm so proud of her. I think it takes courage to face your unhappiness and decide to make a change -- to venture out into the unknown with the hopes that the next step will bring you satisfaction. 

Incidentally, I've suggested that she make these guys and sell them on Etsy

Cellulite in plush.

Come on, pretty funny, right? I'd buy that. (Steph - I'd also buy plush vericose veins ... hint. hint).

Postcard from Spain.
I'm not jealous at all.
Our other friend took a month off from her job right after buying a house in Northern Virginia on her own to dig up skeletons in Spain. Why is this impressive? Have you seen real estate prices in Northern Virginia? They're redonks. She knows that it her budget might be tight for a while, but it was worth it to her to spend the month as an archeologist, doing what she loves and absorbing another culture. Finding a new skin for herself.

My dad set a good example for me in this vein. He worked long hours designing satellites (which, I feel, should be pretty damn gratifying on it's own), and would come home at night and on the weekends and head to the garage-turned-woodshop to build furniture. He also spent a fair amount of time gardening. Despite working a white-collar job, his hands have always been calloused and scratched. Happy hands (not to be confused with the Happy Hands Club.) 

Self-preservation isn't always easy, but it's necessary. Life's too short (I know, I said I was going to avoid cliches -- this is one that is pertinent though). 

Writing makes me happy. So I'm willing to give up sleep in order to do it. And despite being overtired, I think I'll be a better mom for it.

1 comment:

  1. You will be. Setting another great example to your baby girls who may someday be tired, overwrought Mamas.