Tag Archives: motherhood

Showing My Underwear

It’s about to get real up in this piece. Why? I’m going to show you my underwear. Not my real underwear, underwear is the term I use for things you don’t want to show people but sometimes the wind blows up your skirt and you’re exposed. In this case, it has come to my attention that because of my carefully considered FB posts – and they are – everyone’s posts are, I have given the impression that my life is an amazing wonderland of togetherness. Well, yeah. That’s what I want you to see. Here’s a little truth bomb – I have like 500 friends on FB and 1k on Twitter- maybe 25 outside of family are invited into my real life. That’s how I want it, that’s how it’s going to stay. That said, have I miraculously cracked the code of how to be a working, stay-at-home mother and student and live a glamorous, stress-free life? No. No one does. So, I’m going to show you my underwear.

First, a little background. I am currently in my 2nd year of an MFA program. This semester, in addition to creative work, I’m writing a 20 page research paper. I work 30 hours per week as a research associate for a STEM non-profit, and I am married and I have two children, ages 4 and 12. Nearly every day people ask me how I do it, and I say, “I dunno, I just do”. But that’s a lie. I do know how I do it, and I will tell you, but you aren’t going to like it. There is no magic spell. What I’ve done is brutally stripped everything from my life that doesn’t fall within a few categories that I’ve determined are essential to my health, happiness, and growth.

Prioritize

These are the things that my life revolves around: Family, Work, School. That’s it. That is the order of importance. When I graduate, writing is going into the school slot. When (not if – take note of that) I start getting overwhelmed, I look at my life, and if something does not fit into one of those three categories – it’s out.

Things that are NOT priorities for me:

TV. I watch maybe 5 hours a week, MAYBE and that’s a high estimate.
Cooking dinner. This one makes me a little sad. I’m a really good cook. Luckily, so is my husband.
Cleaning. My house is a disaster. I clean like once a week. I have learned to let it go. We have clean clothes. We have clean dishes. Good enough.
Hanging out with Friends. Sorry.

My kitchen. It always looks like this. But, the fridge has healthy food in it, so I don’t care about the rest.

This is my office. It’s also my closet. It’s a pit, but I love it.

Things that ARE priorities for me:
Reading. I read 2 hours a day. Minimum. For school and pleasure.
Quality time with my kids
Having healthy food that requires no prep.
Physical Activity every day
Meditation & Yoga

My kids at the beach. I studied while we were there. This is an example of something you’d see on my Instagram or FB.

My priorities are not going to be your priorities. You need to figure out yours. I don’t care about TV, but if I cut out daily reading I’d be miserable. Maybe that’s not the case for you. Maybe you love TV. The key is figuring out what makes you happiest and cutting out the rest.

Plan:
My life is scheduled out, and I write down everything I need to do. I have 2 google calendars, an actual physical planner, and a white board for the family calendar. Here’s my schedule:

Monday – Thursday

630 – Wake Up/Meditation
700-730ish – Yoga  – often pause in the middle to get breakfast for 4yo.
730-800-Breakfast, Coffee, Kids to school etc.
830-330 – Work
330-530 – Family Time
600-630ish – Dinner
630-700- Walk with Mike
700-730-Walk With Maggie
800-11:00 – School
11:00- Sleep

Friday-Sunday

630 – Wake Up/Meditation
700-730ish – Yoga  – often pause in the middle to get breakfast for 4yo.
730-800-Breakfast, Coffee, read news
800-1200- Homework & Writing
100-800- Family Time (this often includes grocery shopping, cleaning the house, etc)
900-1100-This is when I might watch TV

Do I adhere to this exact schedule every day? No. I can’t. I have to go to the office once or twice per week, and travel occasionally. I often multitask. For example, I take the kids to the beach almost every day in the summer, and while they play I study.

Learn to love the word NO. No is your best friend. Do I want to be on the board of directors at our local library? Yes. Can I do it? NO. Can I be on the PTO? I’d love to but, NO. Do I feel a little guilty saying no all the time? Yes. What do I do to get over the guilt? Small things that don’t take any time – when I’m able I donate to local charities, schools, events. I have no time to attend meetings, but I do have time to fire off an email here and there. Mostly though, I am learning not to feel guilty.

Is this balanced? I don’t know.  Am I happy? Very. Am I stressed out? Not really. Will this work for you? I have no idea.

There you have it, a little peek at my underwear.

Via Telegraph.co.uk

The Weight

Except for the jaunty mustache, this is an excellent portrayal of me. I found it on Creative Commons via Leevclarke

I should be preparing for my 2nd MFA residency right now. You might envision me poring over books, furiously typing away on my computer, and you’d be correct. Those are things I need to do. But I am a 39-year-old married mother of 2 that is preparing for 10 days of no at home time except for sleeping. So for me, preparing means: making sure laundry is done, planning for meals and shopping for them, making sure family calendar is up to date and transportation to and from violin and dance and school is arranged for, clean the cat box. I realize typing this you probably think my husband is a jerk who doesn’t help me out. This is not true. He would do these things. But I do it instead. Because I am their mother. Because of the weight.

You see, no matter how many fun, pinteresty memes you see that tell you to follow your dreams! Go for the gold! Do it now or you never will! Those don’t apply to middle-aged mothers who spend tens of thousands of dollars and 30 hours a week on a Master’s degree. Especially an art degree. Not to mention the twice yearly residencies. I am stealing from my children. I am stealing money that could be saved for their college accounts. I am stealing time that their mother should be spending with them.  And no matter what thing it is you want to do for yourself, if you have children, our society will tell you – no. You are not supposed to do that anymore. You are not you. You are a mother. Your life is not about you.

I spent 8 years as a full-time stay at home mother. Then two more as a stay-at-home mother/student. Now I am a working mother and student. Don’t get me wrong, I got shit for being a stay at home mother. ‘Must be nice to not have to work.’ ‘I don’t understand what you do all day.’ ‘Hey, why don’t you watch my kids too?’ .  I know first hand, that no matter what choices you make as a mom, someone is going to give you hell for it.  But even with this knowledge, I feel the weight.

Last residency, my daughter cried when I left one morning, about half way through. She’s 10. She’s not a baby. I’m not even a full-time resident. I’m commuting. This time, my son has already requested I sleep in his room when I get home.  I love these babies of mine, and have obviously raised clingy little beasts.

Why am I doing it? Because I have always wanted to. Because it’s the thing  I will regret not doing.

Why didn’t I do it when I was younger, before I had kids? Because it wasn’t time. Because I had to veer far off the path over and over, so I could get pushed back on, before I finally said, “Yes. It’s true. This is the thing. The thing I’m supposed to do.”

Why am I writing a depressing post about it? Because, I try very hard to keep a good front all the time. Because I need to sort it out and let people know, especially mothers, that if you choose a path that doesn’t put your kids first, even if you put them first in all other aspects of your life, you will feel that weight. But instead of letting it push me down, I will carry it. It will make me stronger.