Thursday, May 3, 2012

considering the future. aka fessing up to bon bon days. aka look at my issues. aka dream jobs. aka severe overuse of the word maybe.

What will my life look like for the next 5, 10, 15 years?  In August, both my kids will be in school all day.  I don't think another baby is in the cards.  Some days I still feel sad about that, but more often I find myself okay with it.  I guess you win, Nate.  Even though I'm pretty sure I'd be thrilled if we ever had a "suprise."  But I digress.....  so what does life look like for a stay at home mom with no kids at home from 8-3?  For as many moms who find themselves faced with this question, there are as many answers.  It all depends on your circumstances and preferences, right?  In my own life, there are a couple options I debate as this time in my life draws closer.  One thing I could do is continue to be a stay at home mom and devote myself to the running of the household.  There are plenty of things to be cleaned and organized and prepared.  I could easily fill my day taking care of all this stuff.  If I went this route, I could feel good about the house, and maybe it would free up some time for us to relax on the weekends instead of always trying to get chores done.  Problems with this plan?  Possibly a little boring.  Possibly a little lonely.  Also I'm terrible at making myself do housework.

Another thing I could do is stay home but spend my time making stuff.  This has sort of been in the back of my mind as "the plan" for several years now.  I never really believed I could do it, but now that I've had some success with the onesies, I think perhaps I could.  When I picture it right now, I imagine keeping up with the onesie shop, and then also making stuff for another shop too.  My first shop, the original shop, now known as Tiny Scissor Times.  It will be a lot of work to establish my shop, but I figure I can kind of piggyback off the onesie shop and get the word out that way.  That will help.  From there I just have to make the best stuff I can and hope to spread the word via the various internet channels.  I think this could work, and I want to try it.

I know I would be super lucky to be able to work from home and pursue a career as a maker of things.  I do think this is my most likely path.  The only problem with this, as with the 1950's homemaker scenario I described earlier, is that I can't always motivate myself to get stuff done.  When I'm home alone, there are temptations that I can't always resist.  To name a few, tv, internet, sleeping, stuffing my face.   This year I had half a school day to use wisely.  Some days I did great, got so much done around the house and/or made in my studio.  Other days, not so much.  Some days I totally brought to life the sterotype of a stay at home mom laying on the couch, watching her "stories" and eating bon-bons.  Not literally bon-bons.  But some equally indulgent treat.  Yes, internet, I am confessing to bon-bon days.   I should be ashamed.  And I am.  But not enough to stop having bon-bon days.

Thing is, I don't think an occasional bon-bon day is wrong.  Even once a week, Fridays, perhaps, if I had worked hard all week, would be okay, I think.  The problem is I don't make myself work hard before I have bon-bon times.  I have them whenever I want, often after having done no work at all.  I don't know how often I have these days.....  I don't keep track.  It could be as much as half of my total days at home, but I'm hoping it is less than that.  Frequency varies.... I can have week or two-week long streaks of productivity and responsibility.  Then I can have a week of couch days.  Or I can go one day on, one day off.  There is no rhyme or reason to my ridiculous behavior.

Maybe I'm like a little kid.  I have the house to myself, no "supervision", so I do whatever I want.  Or maybe I'm testing the limits of my progressive marriage.  I'm a stay at home mom, but I don't cook or clean, and my husband still loves me.  Take that, world!  I'm so liberated!  I don't have to do what you think a stay at home mom should do!  Maybe bon-bon days are a symptom of feeling uncertain and directionless in my life.  Maybe they are a symptom of not having the confidence to try to do what I want ----- make stuff and sell it.  Be, like, an artist.  (I still don't feel like I can apply that word to myself, which is, again, reflective of my confidence problem.)  If I don't try, I can't actually experience failure or rejection.  Maybe I'm depressed about the boys growing up too fast and my ambiguity over whether I've done a good job these past 9 years.  Maybe I'm just unbelievably lazy.  Could be a little bit of all these all rolled up into one big ball of LAURA'S ISSUES!

I don't know what it is, but I do know that if I'm going to continue to stay at home, whether 1950's ideal wife style, or artist/crafter style, the bon-bon days need to stop.  Or at least significantly decrease.  I wish it were a matter of discipline, and that I could give up this nasty habit through sheer force of will.  Something tells me, though, that I'll have to do my emotional homework, and address whatever issues are at the root of this behavior, before I can fix it.  Dammit. 

Here's one last thing about bon-bon days.  I am all for relaxation.  I think it's a great thing and that too many people, Americans especially, would get a big red F if they were graded for their relaxation skills.  Generally speaking I think it's good to do things that make you feel good.  And sometimes I get tricked into thinking that a bon-bon day is going to make me feel good.  But it doesn't.  It might feel good at first, but at the end of that couple of hours, when my time is up and I have to pick up the boys from school, I look around and see a messy house and realize I have done nothing and I feel GROSS.  Watching tv with Nate at the end of the day, after we've both been working all day, possibly having a treat, now that feels good.  Doing the same thing by myself?  That feels icky.  I have to remember that!  I have to quit fooling myself into thinking a lazy day is a treat I deserve.  It feels more like a punishment when all is said and done.  Funny how the same behavior in a different context can feel so different.

The fact that I struggle to stay productive and use my time wisely when I'm at home makes me wonder about getting a job outside the house.  Maybe it would be good for me.  It would force me into a more structured existence.  It would give me opportunities to interact more with other people, which I think might be healthy for me.  I think it would help me get out of my own head.  When I'm home alone every day there is a lot of self examination that goes on.  It's not necessarily a good thing that I look at all of my thoughts and actions under microscope.  Maybe it would feel freeing to go to work, do what someone else told me to do, and not have to be my own boss and motivate myself all the time.

There are a couple hang-ups, though, when it comes to getting a job.  Some of my readers may know this, but I never got a college degree.  I earned my associates degree then got pregnant with S before I got my bachelor's.  I never entered the workforce, so there is not a job or career that I could return to.  And the jobs I could get with my associates degree would be very limited.  The other major sticking point is summer.  And after-school care.  My boys are big and it sometimes seems like they don't need much help with anything anymore, but I'm definitely not ready to leave them alone for hours after school or during the summer. If I had a job, working around those times would be tricky if not impossible.  For that reason alone, working outside the home doesn't make sense for me right now.  It could change in a few years down the road.  The other thing about getting a job is that it scares me to think I wouldn't have time to make stuff.  Sure, right now I don't always use the time I have.  Which is lame.  But what if it was taken away from me and I no longer had the choice between bon-bon time or creative time?  Would I make time for it in the evenings?  Or would I be too exhausted?  Would it kill me to give it up?  It might, I don't know.

If I did get a job, what would it be?  Like, my top choices?  Well, I think it could be fun to work retail in a little boutique.  A fabric store could be fun, I think.  I would have to reach my own weight loss and fitness goals before this could happen, but sometimes I think it would be fun to work at the gym teaching group classes.  Don't laugh!  I'm there all the time anyway, why not get paid to work out?  Makes sense to me.  A school aide might be a good option.  I could interact with lots of kids and teachers, which could be very fulfilling or could drive me to the brink of insanity.  If it was the same school that the boys attend, our schedules would line up perfectly, which would be a huge perk. 

You know what I think would be really fun?  This is a big one, a crazy one, but one that could actually happen, though not any time soon.  I think it would be great to open a business that would be part shop, part craft studio.  We could sell art/craft supplies, and maybe also handmade items by local artists.  We could offer classes, maybe for kids, maybe for adults, maybe both.  My friend Megan and I talked about doing this once upon a time.  Then she moved far away and I kind of forgot about it.  But I've been thinking about it again and about how awesome it would be.  I could spend my days interacting with people, making things, and teaching people to love making things.  I mean.... that could be really amazing.  It would take a lot to pull it off.  We'd have to have the right place (hint, probably not where we live now), we'd have to be super organized on the business end, which is not my strong point.  I'd have to hire someone to help with that, I guess.  We'd need a well designed space and well designed literature/web stuff.  I'd probably have to hire someone to help with that, too.  It would be a giant, scary undertaking.  As of right now, though, it's number one on my list of big dreams for the future.

For now, it looks like I'll be staying home and trying to MAKE MYSELF make the most of my time.  And we'll see where things go from there.

If you made it this far:
-you are crazy
-you are the best
-I love ya.


Megan said...

I think all stay at home moms think about the same things. I don't always use my time to the fullest and other days I am super productive. One rule I have for myself is I don't turn the tv on during the day. I can't wait to hear how next fall goes for you. And everyone needs a bonbon day every once in a while ;-)

Megan B. said...

Well, I hope it helps to know that most of us who are home during the day (whether work-from-home, or doing that 50's housewife thing) have all comtemplated these same issues. And we've ALL wasted hideous amounts of time. For instance, I am commenting on your blog rather than doing my mountain of laundry or tacking my 6 mile-long to do list. ;)

One thing I can speak to with some amount of authority is pursuing a dream job. I have a mug that is emblazoned with the somewhat cheesy saying "Do what you love and love what you do!" I found it right before I bit the bullet and started my business. It seemed like a good way to live my life. Is my house messier now than when I worked my office job (aka soul sucking, mind numbing work)? Yes, it sure is, but I am extremely fulfilled by my work and knowing that others find some use in it. It's not exactly what I pictured when I was going to school all those years ago, but it works for me right now and that's all I've got.

Oh yeah, love ya too. :)

Anonymous said...

LB, I started a long drawn out comment, but I will instead be concise. Your struggle with time and productivity is one that I think every stay at home mom battles. You are brave to admit what so many of us won't, that we are not June Cleaver. The reality is that none of us can measure up to doing it all well. And some days it is hard to even want to try.

You are an incredible artist Laura, you have been for as long as I can remember. The reality is that we only get to live once, so dream big girl! And maybe that dream will blossom to the point that you can do what you love every day and hire help to do the rest!


Unknown said...

Hi Laura!

I'm at the beginning of my career as a stay at home mom and I'm already thinking about these things you bring up. If you come to Chicago, I would TOTALLY start that shop with you :-)


Anonymous said...

You are too hard on yourself! We all have days like that. And not to be too clinical, but if you did keep track of them you may see a pattern. I know I do. My energy tanks certain times of the month. Then, a week or so later when I feel like just laying around, I realize I'm low on iron and take a supplement which helps. For me, motivation does make a huge difference. If the next thing on the list is to design the electrical plan for the patio, sweet-I'm all over that. But if it is fold and put away the 7 baskets of clean laundry...not so exciting. It is a blessing that you have the opportunity to stay home, and the freedom to choose what you would like to pursue. Motivation may be a struggle home with kid in school all the way until you are old and in a nursing home (or being cared for by your boys-imagine that) It is great that you are continuing to find things to do that energize you and use your creative talents. It is just a bonus really to get paid for it! Stick with things you enjoy doing! You are doing a great job!
Your sis

maryflorence said...

I am not a stay at home mom in the traditional sense because I work from home and I'm just learning how to balance everything so my advice may not be great. It's not even advice, really.
But you are too creative and talented to be cleaning the house. Sorry but it's true. There are women out there (sorry folks) who can just sweep and cook and be happy but you ain't one. :) You have a gift to share with the world and I think you'll be unhappy if you aren't doing something crafty on some level. So while the shop idea is great, start small and see what happens. I have a couple friends who are artsy like you and they get together and craft. They sell their stuff in a local shop and every few months put together a little craft fair thing. But maybe just finding a couple other women would help with motivation and companionship while your kids are in school. If you have some collective goals that might help all of you. Bon bon profits may take a hit. :) haha.
But if you can find someone who wants to do an etsy store or whatever then you don't have to pay an employee, you just have someone to motivate and they can motivate you. I think it's easier to make Seth work than it is to make myself. :)
Anyway, just a thought and encouragement. You'll figure it out as you go. If something doesn't work, you keep trying different ways until you do fix it.

Megan said...

I still dream about that shop, too! And yes, I've thought about all these things you brought up. I wish that if I was going to end up a stay-at-homer I would have started earlier in my life so when the season is over I won't be so old to start a new career...You're only in your early 30s!