It’s hard to believe that it’s been three years.
Three summers ago, at the very same time that school was getting out, I said goodbye to my full-time working-mom self. Until then, I never imagined not working. But I decided it was time to take a little break, shake things up, and start something new – something more creative and fulfilling. I needed better balance. I wanted to spend more time with my kids, and less time doing work that didn’t feel meaningful or appreciated. I didn’t have much of a plan, but I did have faith in the net, and, I guess, in myself. I thought it would take me about a year to get it all figured out.
In these past three years the one thing I’ve figured out is that I’ll never figure it out. Nobody does. But I’ll keep on trying. I’ll keep plugging away. I’ll keep making progress. Time moves quickly, and everything keeps changing, including me and my perspective.
So much has changed since three summers ago! Like…
Three years ago I had a six-year-old and an eight-year-old – a first-grader and third-grader. Now I have a third-grader going into fourth, and a fifth-grader going into middle school. Back then they were babies. Now they are incredibly capable and independent. I rely on them to help me. They don’t need me nearly as much as I think they used to.
Back then, because I’d been working all day and the kids were in the after-school-care program, I didn’t spent much time at their school and didn’t know many of the other parents. Now the other moms are my new best friends and my kids’ friends and their parents are our main social circle. We rely on each-other so much for help (and sanity.)
Back then I was really excited (and nervous) about not working all summer and spending 100% of my time with my kids. Now I’m excited (and nervous) about a new contract job I’ve taken this summer (a part-time/flex hours web dev job at Nordstrom) and leaving the kids to their own devices for part of the day.
Back then Todd’s business was in it’s infancy and he would stress out about getting enough work and staying in business. Now he has a reputable business and stresses out about how he’s going to get all his work done. Unfortunately this has given him a bulged disk in his neck, so he’s had to take a break, can’t do any heavy lifting for a while (or ever?) and has had to hire employees for the first time. Talk about a perspective changer.
Back then I hadn’t written a single blog post. Now I’ve written hundreds. I hadn’t silk-screened on fabric or made a single pillow. Now I’ve made a whole bunch and even sold a few. I hadn’t built a single WordPress website. Now I’ve created several.
Back then I had platinum blond hair. Now I have gray hair in the front, brown hair in the back, and blond hair on the ends.
Back then I had an older sister who I considered a breast cancer survivor. Now I have only a younger sister.
Back then I thought money was a key component to happiness. Now I know it’s how you spend your time.
Back then I was looking for my calling. Now I’m pretty comfortable with my “web developer/pillow maker” status. Although I haven’t brought myself to make it my job title on LinkedIn just yet.
Back then Todd thought I was crazy to walk away from a steady income, excellent benefits, and a solid savings plan. Now he says “I doubt you will ever regret quitting your job and spending more time with your kids.”
And I don’t regret it. At all. Yes, sometimes the money thing makes me nervous. The people around us seem to have so much more of it. Their cars are so much nicer. But my perspective on money has changed a lot. I value what I spend my money on so much more. When I get paid for a freelance job, or when someone buys a pillow, I feel a swell of satisfaction and pride that I never experienced with my salaried paychecks. I feel like I really truly earned every penny, for working hard on what’s important to me.
The past three years have been a bit of a roller coaster, scary and fun, riding the waves of doubt and faith, fear and fearlessness, impatience and patience. But things have leveled out lately. I’m more comfortable in my skin. I’m proud of my choices. For the past three years Todd and I have invested in ourselves (instead of our retirement funds) and I think that investment is starting to pay off.
In another three years even more will have changed. The kids will be teenagers and I’ll be 51. (Yikes!) They will be even more independent and capable. My hair will be all-over grey by then. I’ll have sold thousands of pillows and created lots of successful websites. Todd’s back will be fine and he’ll have more employees to help him build amazing metalwork. We’ll have slightly nicer cars and money will be going back into our savings accounts. We’ll take a trip to China and we’ll finally make the kitchen and dining room a bit bigger and the yard a little nicer. And I will continue to savor my time with my family - the best gift the world has ever given me.
Yesterday was Father’s day, and when we were visiting with Todd’s brother’s family, I saw this page in Real Simple magazine. I really love the photo, but I think the words apply to both dads and moms, and totally agree with this line:
The end product of child raising is not the child but the parent.