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May 27

End of an Era

I’ve loved being home with my kids.

I start my new job next week, and I’m mostly delighted (slightly panicked about the changes it’ll bring, but mostly absolutely shocked and thrilled at how perfect this job fits into what I was looking for at this stage).  But what’s more surprising to me is how many people have assured me how much better my life will be now.  Now that I’m not stuck at home with the kids all the time.

I have three children.  Jessica is twelve, Samuel is almost nine and Julianna just turned five.  And being at home with them for the past decade has been, without question, a dream come true for me.

I’m sure I’ll love my new job, and I’m equally sure that I’ll love all of the perks that go along with working – the new facet to my identity, the extra money that’ll come with having a two-income family, etc.  But I’ve loved being at home too, and I’m baffled and confused as to why anyone would think that I’m going to be better off now.

Going to work is the right decision, my kids are going to be in school six hours a day, and won’t need me at home.  I’m being outgrown, essentially.  At least, outgrown in this incarnation.  With all three kids in full time school, this is exactly when I should be looking at getting back into the workforce, and I was fortunate enough to find the perfect position in a great company.

So I’m not regretting my decision to go back to work.  What I’m doing, I think, is mourning the end of something wonderful for me.  Maybe mourning is the wrong word, I’m not sad that it’s ending, I think it’s more that I’m so aware of it being an ending.  Of a stage in my life, being at home with my babies, coming to an end.  It’s ending in the best possible sense, all three kids happy, healthy, and excited about going to school, and I’ve got my dream job, with perfect hours, the best location and absolutely everything I could want in a new job.

But I still loved being at home, and I’ll miss it.

I’ll miss the slow mornings, with my laptop on my lap, and my little girl beside me playing.  I’ll miss setting my own schedule, deciding that the dishes can wait while I fold the laundry, or randomly decide to rearrange the dining room.  I’ll miss having the freedom to run over to the school and bring in a forgotten flute, or to arrange doctor’s appointments or conferences during school hours.   (I won’t necessarily miss the whining and the crying – or the shipping of a hostile and angry five year old to her room because she holds me responsible for everything that ever goes wrong her life, but that’s another story).  (And I might even miss that, given enough time away from it.)

I’ll miss knowing everything that happens in their world. It’s a loss that’s coupled with the joy of watching their worlds expand, and their self-confidence grow.  And it would happen regardless of me starting work – Jessie will be in seventh grade, Sam in third, and Julianna in kindergarten – and me sitting at home while they were gone wouldn’t change it.   But me being at work while they are at school just feels different.  Even if the reality won’t be all that different for them, they’ll still have me dropping off and picking up most of the time, and when I’m not there, their dad will be. But our world is going to different now – I have responsibilities that won’t have anything to with the care and feeding of these three kids. My world is going to get a lot bigger now too – and that’s what’s so different. I won’t just be watching them go out into the world, protecting and waiting and watching them.  I’ll be waving goodbye and heading out to work.

And that’s so dramatically different from what I’ve been doing, I’m a little scared, a little thrilled and mostly just incredibly thoughtful and aware of this huge transformation in our lives together as a family.

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