I am a super Type A perfectionist. (Newsflash, right?)
When I stopped working as an attorney, a friend supportively cautioned me that it might take about a year to adjust.
I scoffed. (I am also an occasional scoffer.)
"I'm sure I'll be fine," I thought. "I think it will take me about three weeks to adjust. Yup, three weeks."
That was a year ago.
* * * * *
I've learned a lot this year. Here are some of my discoveries:
1. It is not good for one's soul to do laundry every day.
Nothing makes you feel like you're in a hamster wheel faster.
2. Not having a commute is &*(##@ awesome.
When Durel and I moved back to Austin from DC, I swore that I wouldn't complain about the traffic. "Nothing will EVER be worse than 5 PM on the Beltway," I thought. Nothing.
Oh man, I hadn't seen 620 at 8 AM, had I?
3. Moms need more yoga pants.
One of the best perks of my new job is walking Jack to school every day. Those first few days of kindergarten, I had an existential wardrobe crisis. It's 7 AM. Am I supposed to get dressed? Have on makeup? I DON'T UNDERSTAND.
So, I got dressed and brushed my teeth and hair and put on some mascara and lip gloss. And so did several other moms, I noticed.
You know what? By Thursday of the first week of school we were all bare-faced in yoga pants. We haven't looked back.
4. Labels are dangerous.
I'm going to get sociological for a minute. Labels are an intrinsic part of human society. We need to define ourselves, and we do so in large part by comparing and contrasting ourselves with others. I had (and still have, truth be told) a lot invested in my label of "attorney." It's a prestigious one and it wears well, like an expensive suit.
Beware, though. The label of "stay at home mom" is a patriarchal booby trap. It should be called CEO, because that's what it is. Our society systematically undervalues the labor of the home, and that's some bullshit. I have not started wearing retro dresses (any more than I ever did), and wearing an apron all the time, standing at the ready with freshly-baked, organic, gluten-free cookies. I do not loll about on the couch eating bonbons. Let me repeat: I do not loll.
I also don't grow all my own food or work out for six hours a day. We don't have a goat or chickens (though not for lack of asking by both Durel and Jack). I don't stare at Pinterest all day. I don't make my own cleaning supplies out of all natural ingredients.
I work. I do the work that is required to run a household smoothly. And if you want to get tricky with details, I also do work to contribute to the smooth operation of my parents' household.
Is there a job title for "double CEO"?
5. It doesn't matter what people think.
This is the part that takes a year. This is why I'm writing this post now, not after three weeks.
I lost a few friends when I stopped lawyering. I saw their eyes glaze over when I told them about my decision to care for my family and take a break from the practice of law. In large part, I ceased being relevant to them at that moment. (Lawyers are big on relevance.)
I also made some new friends when I stopped lawyering. Jack's amazing kindergarten teacher will become a happy hour buddy as soon as we decide it's appropriate. Some of the moms I've met while volunteering at school are new, good, real friends.
Apparently, I've inspired some friends, too, which I find surprisingly delightful! One friend is moving with her family back to Michigan and changing up their work-life balance. She told me I gave her the courage to think outside the box. I think that's SO RAD.
I got reacquainted with myself, too. I've wrestled with my lifelong ambition of running at least a half marathon, if not a full one. I pretended that I don't want to do that anymore, what with my 40 year old physique and creaky feet. I then called my own bluff, because I do. I remembered that I take a lot of joy in writing and reading and realized that I need to do them more. I rediscovered cooking for nourishment and relaxation.
To Seussify it, I thought some thinks that needed to be thunk.
And look! How happy I am!
Hope your day is refreshingly free of patriarchal booby traps.