Friday, February 29

Be yourself.

These words are inscribed on the title page of my copy of Momma Zen, but until recently, I just didn't get it. Of course I should be myself, but who am I?

What I am starting to realize, in my better moments, is that I don't have to complicate my life with labels. I don't have to fix myself. I don't have to find a new direction, or find any direction.

All I need, to be myself, is just to be: free, afraid, joyful, sad, peaceful, angry, awake, exhausted, creative, drained, engineering, nurturing, blogging, loving, changing, the same, many voices, all one, breathing, heart beating, me.

Thank you all for reminding me.

Thursday, February 28


Even though I don't claim the moniker "control freak" nor even pass as one most of the time, I do like to feel in control of major life decisions. Rolling down the hill inside a hamster ball put me out of sorts, until my loving AD explained that I was really on skis, and could stop any time I like, even climb back up the hill with a bit of effort.

That is, he told me (paraphrased) "If you want to go back to work, go back to work. So, we have a house [halfway across the country]. It will be ready for us when we are ready to go. If you want to work part-time, work part-time. If you want to go back for a while to see if it will work, go back for a while." If this version of the future doesn't work for you, try on another one.

Oh. Freedom. I am still free. I can stop the ball, or the skis. I can return to my job either full or part-time. I can try to pick up contract work. I can try to pick up other kinds of work. We can stay here another couple months while I decide. We can go right away, and live off savings, and I can spend my days with my boys and exploring how I'd like to live the rest of my life. Oh. I get it.

Remind me, now, what was I afraid of?

Wednesday, February 27

Ball is Rolling

Raw writing here. Acknowledging my emotions and trying to work through them for my own benefit. Feel free to read on, but I won't be offended if you turn back.

My thoughts are churning, swirling, as I fly head-over-heels inside the ball, rolling down the hill. I don't know what awaits me at the bottom of the hill, and I fear it. Perhaps the ball will be smashed to pieces, and life as I know it will end.

What will end? What am I afraid of losing? If I don't take chances, I risk losing myself.

My life these days consists largely of poop and pee and spit, and feeding and eating and sleeping. In between, I find myself busying myself with chores, with reading, in a desperate attempt to escape from my thoughts, those thoughts that muddy my sight, muddy my self-understanding. (They are still with me.)

Last week we went on a house-hunting trip. As we found something we liked, though it cost more than we were hoping, we put in an offer on a cute little old house with a biggish yard, two side-walked blocks from a park, walking distance to shopping, and a short drive from the shores of Lake Michigan. Closing is set for the end of March. All we await now is loan approval.

I find, in this land of bodily fluids and little rest, that I am not as confident about our choices, about my choices, as I was before little Composer was born. Things are not so serene now - I don't find myself happily watching the boys and peacefully acknowledging where I am. Everything is moving too fast. I'm not just afraid of what's happening, I'm downright terrified. I cling to the edge of the ship as it sails along, but I don't feel like I am setting the sails, or deciding which direction to go. Why? What is so scary?

I start to gain some insight, with the help of my mirror, AD. What do I want if money is no object? What do I want, if I see things with the right perspective? Nothing more than to spend time with my family, watch my boys grow and help them to learn as they teach me, to rediscover my own creative spirit, to live a little every day, rather than die a little in the grip of blinding fear of the unknown.

Ok, then it is a good decision to leave work and spend more time with my family. But when asked if I want to go back to work (or if I want to leave work) my mind seizes up and I can't answer. Why? What makes me so afraid to say "I'm quitting! I'm going to take 'their' advice and spend the next few years enjoying my babes while they are little. I'm going to live and love and create."

A big part of the answer appears to be money. We are picking up & moving across the country, to a location in which it will be difficult for me to find employment in my current field. AD's business is just getting off the ground, and may not make any money for months, or years. We will be living off of savings in the interim, and are locking ourselves into a costly (ever so much less so than in this part of the country) home loan. Now that we are investigating them in earnest, the moving costs are piling up. We are leaving behind my substantial salary and health care benefits for nothing. (No dollars that is.)

Voices in my head: "That's just not what you do! How long will our money last? What if the business doesn't become profitable on a convenient timetable? What if I need to go back to work? What if I want to go back to work?"

By moving across the country, we are cutting off a convenient "escape route" in my mind - that of going back to work, in the same place, a known quantity, a good job working on "cool" projects - just in case the need should arise.

But really, why should the need arise? We have a good standard of living, but we can afford to live on less, especially in a much less expensive part of the country. We can do without a lot of the little luxuries we have become accustomed to ... such as buying just about anything whenever we feel like it. (A side benefit from living on less might be that we are all more grateful and appreciative.) But say we really do need more money even after we cut corners as much as we are able? Well, hey, then AD, or I, or both of us can get a job. We are both employable, I am sure. Worst case scenario, if I decide I just must absolutely go back into my current profession, and I can't find a way to do it from the western shores of the Lake? Well, then, we will just have to move again. But we won't have to do that. We have other options.

What is important? Is it all these things in the house that are causing the moving costs to go up up up? Is it the "cool things" built by my current prestigious employer? Is it my fear of explaining myself to people? Is it my reputation, my salary, the "perks" of the job? Is it the warm weather and oranges growing in our backyard? Is it the number of dollar signs stored in the bank?

Jen's quote of MLK drives it home: I do this for me, but I also do it for my family. Nothing else is certain.

Monday, February 4


Perhaps I fear becoming the woman that this woman finds revolting.

On the one hand, I want to be "mom" to my boys; I want to be involved at their schools, help them with homework and projects and crafts, to read to them and take them on adventures to explore the neighborhood, or the beach, or the museum. I also crave connection with other moms; I want to sit & have coffee with friends while our kids play in the park, to compare joys and headaches, to trade babysitting and parenting tips. I want to not feel so alone.

Of course, I am mom, whether I have paid employment or not. And there always seems to be time for diaper changes and laundry and dishes. But finding time for living my ideal version of motherhood is difficult to fit in with a full time job outside the house.

Then there's the other hand. What if staying at home with the boys falls far short (as it surely will) of my high expectations? Then who and what would I be? The answer is, of course, below - but apparently I have been away from my thoughts (or my paint) for too long.

Sunday, February 3


I could go back to work, throw myself into it, try to make changes that would make me happier in my career, all the while feeling like I am spending too much time away from my beautiful boys, wishing I had time to spend on hobbies and crafts, wishing I had a support network nearby, wishing I had time to meet other mothers of young children, to build a community.

Or I could quit my job and still not have time for hobbies, but the possibilities seem endless if I am not spending 40 hours per week on paid employment. I'm sure I could find some way to make some money if I need to. I can certainly find some time to connect with other moms - after all, I have to do something with the boys if I will be watching them all day. And I'm sure I can find other ways to feel useful, competent, and appreciated.

Would I really throw myself into my work and make changes to my career path while I am worrying about the babes at home? What would I do if I didn't need the money?

The choice seems apparent - leave. But for some reason I still cling to my job. Being an engineer, a "rocket scientist" is wrapped up in my identity, and it is very hard to let it go. Instead, I continue to remind myself that quitting this job doesn't mean quitting my career, even if I take a few years off. And even if I never return to paid employment as an engineer, no one can take that part of my identity away from me. When I am ready to shed it, I will.