So Serena is loving kindergarten and Rio is gearing up to homeschool. And then there’s me.
I spent the summer with the kids on the lake, enjoying long days watching them swim and chase frogs and read books. I read a lot of books myself, and did some important-to-me writing. I barely tried to blog, just took the summer to be with my family. It was wonderful.
Also draining and overwhelming, the way being with kids 24/7 can be. We were all ready for school to start when it did.
My plan for the school year had been to look for a full-time job with an employer. The kind you show up at an office for, where they trade you grown-up money & retirement funds & health benefits for a a solid effort at their less-creative but more-structured job.
It’s been six years I’ve been floating out here in the self-employed seas, and I felt like it was time to knuckle down and make some real money for awhile. Where by “awhile” I mean “until my kids are done with college” and by “real money” I mean “I need to pay for that college education. Also groceries.”
Obviously this is not compatible with homeschooling. I can’t be committed to a job for 50+ hours a week and homeschool an 8-year-old.
It’s not even compatible with having a kid who’s going through a huge, difficult transition at school and needs a lot of extra support from her mom. I mean, obviously lots of working parents pull those kind of hours at their office jobs and still show up for all the support their kids need. What I mean is, me suddenly starting a job like that for the first time in their lives wouldn’t be great for my kids in the midst of the transition they’re already going through. Big change + big change = more stress.
I’ve been thinking about this a lot. I think part of my motivation for seeking the shelter of a steady employer is just a yearning for change, and part of it is a real assessment of how best to meet my family’s needs right now. We need my income.
But we also need my parenting work, which for these kids has always meant having me around all day whenever they need me. If I’m going to change that, I need to do it carefully.
So for now I’m chasing several butterflies, as I was on the school question. I’ve begun a very part-time temp gig at Harvard. I’m sending out resumes and cover letters for full-time work writing for alumni magazines and things like that, jobs where I feel I’d enjoy the work culture and the daily work would use my skills. My theory there is that if I get a job offer, the whole landscape of options available to me changes. Rio could go back to school, to a different school, or we could work something else out.
I’m also doubling down my efforts at freelancing, and reaching out to editors for more writing work at home. I’m working on placing some work at magazines. I’m more engaged with Strollerderby than I’ve been in a year, writing regularly for them on topics I’m actually enjoying. I have a fair amount of energy for writing these days, and it feels great to be flexing those muscles.
I don’t know what my life will look like in a few weeks or months. Career & money stuff aside, I’m trying to feel into the shape I want my life to have over the coming year. Today I spent a few hours temping, came home and wrote until school pick-up time, and then spent the afternoon with my kids. The house is relatively clean, I’ve written to my heart’s content and also caught up with a few friends. Oh, and had a glorious bike ride across town.
Can I have days like this while homeschooling an 8-year-old? How will I get my own needs met, to work and create and clean the house?
I’m putting almost as much energy into figuring out how I want to live now as I am into figuring out how I want to homeschool Rio. As I consider homeschooling her, I’m thinking about routines that will nourish and feed me as well, that will give us space for separation as well as togetherness. As I work on becoming part of the school community at Serena’s new school, I’m taking in the enormity of the commitment and figuring out where I need my boundaries about it to be. It’s a lot.
In the midst of all this stress and change, though, I’m doing really well. I feel calm and happy most of the time, sort of buoyed up by my inner mood. I’m taking good care of myself; eating well, sleeping well, getting enough exercise and causing just about the right amount of mischief. I’ve been journaling a lot, and keeping up with my sitting practice. And all that is paying off in feeling good and staying grounded through kind of a wild period in our lives.
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