Gahhh, I'm not ready! I love autumn but this summer was so darn nice, never going much above 80 degrees where I live, breezy, pleasant...I want to stay in it a little longer. Most years I am chomping at the bit for cold, rainy days, pumpkin flavors and cinnamon scents by now because I'm wrung out after weeks of sticky hot days. Not this year!
Alas, time marches on. School has started (FOR BOTH KIDS OMG MY LITTLE BOY IS IN KINDERGARTEN!) leaving me alone for 7 hours every day. Oh man. I haven't had this life...well...ever, really. Before kids I worked full time so it's never been a case of having every single day to myself. I'm mostly enjoying it, but along with that comes guilt of course. Like I should have run right out and found work immediately after putting my children on the bus on the first day of school.
But I am working. I mean, I feel like I am! The bathrooms don't clean themselves, and the groceries don't just show up. Food needs to be prepped and cooked. And the laundry...oh my word, the laundry. And ironing. And managing the papers that avalanche through the door once school is in session.
I have other stuff in mind to do this year. I may work again one of these years, possibly something within the school district (or some other district with a similar calendar to ours), so I can be home when my children are. Otherwise I have to pay for child care and then I enter the vicious cycle of needing a job that pays well enough to justify the high cost of care but that still leaves me with enough money to make it worthwhile. As you who work outside the home know, the costs pile up...dry cleaning because there is less time to carefully launder and iron work garments, the cost of buying said work garments, takeout/processed foods because time is short, gas to go to-and-from work and childcare, etc, etc. And the sheer exhaustion of trying to work, care for a family, get kids to extracurricular activities, get days off to care for them when sick, and so on.
I am super, super fortunate that my husband has a good job and that we've been willing and able to make things work for so many years on one income. For now, since we don't desperately need additional money to pay the bills (though extra would be so nice...vacations...shopping for clothes somewhere other than clearance racks at Target...dinners out...ahhh), and since any work I would do would be a job strictly to earn income rather than a career to further myself in life, I will continue my housewife/stay-home-mom duties.
This year I have signed up to volunteer in the cafeteria at my kids' school a few days each month. I will also be heading in to help my 4th grader make salt maps with her class, to assist with a Kindergarten event, and to work with my son's class in the computer lab, all in the next two weeks. I have been waiting for 9.5 years to do this stuff! I want to be involved with them even more now, in a different way. I made it through all those rough early years and now I want to do this new stuff! Is that not also work? Is that not also worthy of my time? Is a little extra money more important than these things? I really struggle with this and I know it is SO controversial, but I don't believe my children stopped needing me because they stepped onto the school bus two weeks ago.
I don't feel I am wasting those 7 hours I have each day. I believe the laundry, ironing, dishes, baking, cooking, cleaning, shopping, sewing (most recently: 2 pink nightgowns for my coltish girl who fits into zero commercially-produced clothes), knitting (for family, etsy, and charity [prayer shawl in process above]), and general maintenance of our home ARE WORK. They always were, for heaven's sake, it's only in the last 40 years or so that they were pushed to the back burner in pursuit of money. Sure, I will probably do something to make money in the future, but right now it's not the priority. I feel a weird mixture of guilt and pride in saying that. But it's true.
Anyway, that's that. I'm off to make a cup of tea and work on some sewing for my kids. Cold nights are coming and they need pajamas.