Saturday, October 29, 2016

Slowly Re-gaining Life

Last week, with assistance from Matt, both of my in-laws and three babysitters (Elizabeth, Allegra and Martha), I WENT AWAY!!! I worked! I was independent, productive and a person for three and a half days! I slept through three nights! I commuted somewhere! I listened to podcasts on my headphones rather than my bluetooth speaker! I didn't once worry what my kids would eat for dinner. I didn't make any lunches. I wiped no tushies. It was amazing.

I worked until November, 2013 when I left my job in anticipation of moving back to America. I had a job in a bank (not a banker...), and I had great hours for a bank - I was out of the house from 7:30 am until 6:45 pm. My commute was about a half hour. I often signed on at night. I ended up working two days from home for a year or so, and shortly before I went on bed rest when I was pregnant with Elie, I was only working three days a week. I SUPER struggled with being a working mom. I blogged about it here. I asked a lot of questions - how can it all work?

Five years after that blog post, two kids later, and now living in the United States - I have even fewer answers. I REALLY don't get how it can all work. I can barely survive (see my last post)!! Since we moved back to the US and conceived Koby, we decided I would take a few years out of the workforce and focus solely on our kids and our home life. Matt's job is extremely demanding and there isn't much else he can pitch in with. Three kids demand a lot of care. Food prep takes so much of my time. I'm on top of laundry, which means that I am doing it nearly every day (five people produce a LOT of laundry, it turns out!). Plus, I really enjoy engaging with my kids (most of the time), and I try to read with them, play with them, build with them, play a lot outside...and then there's playdates. Not only do the kids need friends, but so do I! We're new here - if I don't invest in relationships a little bit, there's no one to fall back on (other than one friend, Sarah, from Otzma who lives in Somerville). So...I have put just about all of my energy into making our family function.

In July a consulting project dropped in my lap. It was an opportunity to update something I wrote in 2013 - a guide for banks on how to better reach and serve women customers. I have one babysitter who is available during the days who can take care of all three kids, including pick ups and drop offs, naps, meals, laundry plus the house is tidy when I come home. She is amazing. We LOVE Martha. I asked if Martha could spend more time with our family while I worked on this project, and she could. So I could do it. Working 1-2 days per week since July has been pretty life altering. I have left my children and come home to them. I really hadn't previously left them at all. When working (I go to the Newton Free Library), I can pee when I have to pee. I can spend a second to look at books or make a phone call. I got to bike there and back, most days. I have absolutely loved it. And when I come home to my kids, I really enjoy seeing them! In response to that blog post I wrote in 2011, I agree that the answer is work with limited hours AND flexible work arrangements. The organization I'm working with understands that I am the principal caregiver for my family. If the babysitter shows up (Martha does!), I can work. If there is a problem, I cannot. I can put in a few hours whenever I have a few hours. And I don't believe I could do more than 12-15 hours a week.

The organization I have been writing for then invited me to attend their annual Summit last week in DC. I went to the same event in Sydney in 2011 and hadn't been since. I had to organize a lot of help - thank the LORD for in-laws!!!! Matt took a day off work and came home early the other two. Babysitters helped with the busy afternoons. The kids not only survived, but they did great and had a fantastic time. We may have wiped out my in-laws, but they looked strong when I came back. And I really enjoyed being a person. I understand I can't do this all the time, but man does it feel good to use my brain.

I constantly hate answering the question, "so what do you do?" I think on a daily basis, "So glad I have two master's degrees so I can change four poopy diapers by 7:30am." I am in bed before 9 on most nights. I have no energy for other people or other things right now, and it is somewhat depressing when I stop to think about it. Doing something else has completely pumped life into me. I remember that I'm a smart person, and I can do great and meaningful work. Now let's see where I can go with it...