On May 31st, I gathered my things, logged off of the classroom computer, erased the whiteboard, and locked the classroom door. I said hello to my new life.
I was extremely nervous about becoming a stay-at-homer. I’ve always been a worker outside of the home, and my stint of unemployment right after college left me slogging through depression and low self-esteem.
But I’m in a much different space now. I’m much more confident as a woman, for one thing. This translates to me not needing nearly as much affirmation from my social and cultural environment. It helps that my husband is so life-affirming in the way he loves me. I know I would not be in the strong, solid place I am now without him.
I would also not be in this space without my son. Becoming a mother has given me such a degree of life. I have been re-identified to my core.
I have not thought about teaching at all since locking that final door. Granted, I did have to comb through final exams and research papers, but that’s finished now. I submitted all the grades last Friday, and I cleaned my phone of all work-related accounts.
I am sure much of my enthusiasm is woven into the newness of my time no longer being linked to a monetary denomination, but I am thrilled. I have had long days of doing menial, mom-wife things, and I’m head over heels.
For example, this was my day yesterday:
-I woke up when my husband did. When I was teaching nights, I couldn’t do this without sacrificing the rest of my day to a sleep-deprived state. While many teachers can teach in a sleep-deprived state, I could not. This act of waking together has already done wonders for our marriage.
-After husband left for work, I had some breakfast and organized some clothes. My clothing sizes are fluctuating again (this time decreasing, due primarily to the decreased stress I now have in my life), so I’m taking clothes out of the closet and putting “new” ones in. This is a part of my desire to live without consuming as the forefront of my activities. I haven’t gotten rid of clothing for a few years now, instead choosing to hold onto pieces for the times when my body would ebb and flow, like an ocean tide.
-Then, my little man woke up. So I dressed* and went into his room to greet him. He is still sleeping in his baby crib, rather than a convertible toddler bed, and I’m perfectly fine with that. I’d rather he stay in the original crib situation as long as possible. This is probably the only area in his life that I want to remain the same as his infant days.
-We had a nice morning of food, diapers, playtime, and laughs, lots of laughs.
-Then we packed up and headed to the gym for his playtime and for my yoga class. (I want to write a whole entry on yoga and how it has transformed my life in so many ways. I’ve been practicing for a year now, and my body has a strength to it that I’ve never seen before.)
-Then we hit Trader Joe’s for some groceries. Grocery shopping with a toddler should become an Olympic sport, especially when the toddler is cranky and wanting to go to bed.
-Then home for lunch and my son’s nap.
-Nap time is often when I nap too. I took a small nap, showered, blogged a bit, and reset.
-When he woke, it was downstairs for more playtime and dinner prep. I know some moms cook while their children nap, but I can’t surrender nap time for that quite yet.
-When my husband came home, we ate salmon, jasmine rice, and salad (thank you Instant Pot! You make me look like a gourmet cook.).
-We did family time (my new favorite time of the day) with some toddler (and parent!) meltdowns.
-Then it was bath for the toddler and books and bedtime.
-Then it was back down to the kitchen to clean up. I tidied the living room while my husband tended to the backyard.
-Then bedtime for us parents.
Boring, mundane, and hard? Yes. But no. It’s full of grace.
I feel more alive doing what I did yesterday than what I had been doing in the classroom.
I am extremely satisfied to be a stay-at-home mom.
*Let me talk about dressing. Before my son, dressing was a production. It required precise outfit selection. It involved setting aside an hour - more if I were going somewhere - for grooming, like a prized show dog. I applied a certain degree of makeup. I did things with my hair. My contact lenses were center stage.
Now? I find clothes that are comfortable and clean (I do want them clean; my husband thinks I over-wash my clothes). I wash my face, brush my teeth, and use a few products. I then just brush my hair. No curling or flat ironing involved. I put this in it to smooth and hydrate it, and I’m usually ready to begin at this point.
My glasses are my go-to sight devices. I have contacts, but they sit in my bathroom drawer. I think too much about the plastic on my eyeballs. I can’t sacrifice mental energy on them anymore.
I haven’t worn makeup on a regular basis in close to two years. I put on a bit last month for a women’s retreat at church, and I wanted to go to the bathroom and wash it off all night. The next day I just chose mascara and a face primer (this one is actually my favorite). And that’s all I needed.
And speaking of mental energy, and money, sexism built into makeup and appearance as a whole, and how media reflects our attitudes about all this mess, watch this documentary on Netflix if you get the chance. It’s nothing new, really. It’s what we see all the time around us.