one year in the doldrums

Yikes, as of last Friday, I have been staying-at-home for ONE YEAR. Certain individual months took an eternity to pass, yet somehow the year zoomed by. My squalling infant is now climbing and crawling and aggressively hugging cats. My chatty toddler is even chattier and the size of a grown man, bless their tall dad genes.



In the past year I…had that second baby! Fed her approximately 2,000 times! Changed a comparable number of diapers! Made my first two professional short story sales! Saw the first one go live! Eagerly started chasing the third!

I edited my 2017 book! Then I spent a great deal of time making a query package for my 2016 book! Then I heavily edited my 2016 book again to tackle weaknesses made apparent by the query package! And I did it all with very little sleep!

Okay, so, after working for two years when my first child was tiny, and staying home for a year after my second, I conclude: BOTH WAYS ARE HARD AND I HAVE NO PATIENCE FOR ANYONE DISMISSING EITHER PARENTING MODE AS EASIER. Same for “natural” birth versus C-section. I am here to tell you I have done both and THERE IS NO EASY WAY OUT.

I suspect there is a grass-is-greener tendency to pine after the good bits on the other side and ignore the bad bits. When I was working, my day ran 6am to 8pm with minimal breaks, my attention was fractured by multiple Sam modes, and I felt a lot of guilt for not seeing my kid enough. Once I was home, my day ran 6am to 8pm with minimal breaks, I became painfully cabin-feverishly bored by NOT having multiple Sam modes, and I felt a lot of guilt for not contributing to the finances the way I had before.

When I was working, I could actually relax a bit and take bathroom breaks by myself, I got positive reinforcement from grateful library patrons and colleagues, and there was so much quiet. Now that I’m home, I don’t have to put on customer service face after a sleepless night, I don’t even have to get out of my pajamas if I don’t want to, and I get to sprawl on my own couch during nap time.

This is obviously based on me having had a convenient morning day job that I enjoyed, and two fairly well-behaved kids that I also enjoy. If I had good kids and was still in the hellscape of retail shift work, I’d have fled to the home life as soon as financially possible. If I’d had a lucrative ladder-climbing career and colicky nightmare babies I’d have guiltily but steadfastly clung to the job longer.

I’m supremely lucky that after a couple years of scrimping we could afford to make this arrangement work. Most folks don’t have the option of weighing pros and cons, they just…do what they have to do. Sometimes you can’t afford to leave work–or, even more perversely, sometimes you can’t afford TO work because of childcare costs. Either way you’re penned in by circumstances, and that can be grueling.

So in conclusion again: everyone does what they need to do, if they’re lucky they get some choice in the matter, and everyone else just mind ya bizness and resist the backhanded compliments. You know the ones. “Ah ha, that must be nice [getting away to work / getting to stay home all day].” Yeah I see you.

Now. We’ll see how my opinion shifts when we enter…The School Years!

the woes of overcommitment

I fell asleep while making a pumpkin pie today. The pie did not survive. I will be buying a different sort of pie on the way to my dinner commitment tomorrow.

The fact that I sat down for a minute and then awoke disoriented two hours later reinforces my conclusion that it is time to lighten the schedule (and also that my oven timer should really beep more than once). I am the master of overcommitment. Why have one job when you can have three?? I actually reduced from three jobs to two back in April, when two of my jobs promoted me to higher hours and responsibilities. Somehow my new schedule was even more work than the old one. At the beginning of 2014 I managed to write a book on a series of hard-won Saturdays. After April… nada.

So. In three weeks I am leaving my afternoon job. I gave three months’ notice. It took them two months to post the job. I’ve spent those two months panicking over how I can possibly convey a building full of information to somebody I may or may not even meet before I leave. But I think I’ve come to terms with the situation. I’m constructing a “how to” binder full of everything I can think of, and if my successor chooses to consult it their life will be much easier. I’ll leave my email behind in case of emergency, but otherwise I’m a free woman come 2015.

Well, except for the morning job. And the writing goals. And the impending baby. A baby is kind of like having an afternoon job, right?  … RIGHT??

I think I’ll keep taking naps while I can.


P.S. Randy has been rereading Elizabeth Kostova’s “The Historian” and suggests that I start every section of the work binder, “My dear and unfortunate successor.” I wholly approve of this plan.