So, for those of you not caught up on my recent details, I have taken a part-time job at a local yarn shop in the District. It's lovely, and I have been filled with inspiration and glee at all its wonderous artistic possibilities. The owner wrote my favorite knitting book. No, seriously. She totally did! My first favorite knitting book ever was Kat Coyle's Boho Baby Knits. But then I found Marie Connolly's The Expectant Knitter. And I was in love as soon as I saw the pattern for the knitted pinwheel baby quilt that was backed with an antique embroidered pillowcase. LOVE!!!! So now, I am teaching classes, knitting even more than I did before (shocking I know,) minding the shop, and commuting 4 days a week. All this in the blink of an eye.
Today's post is about the impact that this new position is having specifically on my sense of self as an artist, my domesticity, and on my Motherhood. Yes, I consider my children to be MickieMade. Or, at the very least, MickieInfluenced. And I am now gone from home almost as much as I am home (when they are awake.) And I am noticing a profound gap. Or two.
Now, let me get my concessions out of the way, right off the bat. Yes, I know EXACTLY how lucky I am that I can afford to choose a side job that is: 1) Part-time, 2) Fulfilling to my personal interests, 3) Helpful to the community in which I participate, 4) A relaxed, supportive, positive work environment, and 5) That Graham is able to work from home everyday to be a steady and consistent presence for The Boys. These are not details I take for granted. Nor can I ignore that there has been an unsubtle shift in my family since we took on this new situation.
Well, Riley is old enough to look me straight in the eye and tell me that he and Everett "miss-ed me while I was at work." And he crawls in my bed in the mornings and says that he wants to just "have a talk and catch me up." You know, as if I've been back-packing across Mongolia for decades.... My Mom was sitting for us one afternoon when Graham had a business trip come up, and when the baby started really crying about something, Mimi asked Riley what he thought would be upsetting to Everett. His reply, "Well, maybe he's sad that his Mom and Dad are gone." Dagger. Heart. Death..... But mostly it's the "average" times that wound me. Like when I watch him boldly fly up our sidewalk on his red scooter, finally daring to lift his timid left foot, and glide. I realize that this trick is a new risk, that has been calculated while I was away at work. It was only a few short months ago that he dared ride the scooter at all, and that was with me by his side over every square inch of pavement. He's learning to be self-sufficient, to need me less for the little things. And that makes me so proud, and so sad at the same time. I do not wish to cripple his will to be independent, but the kid is FOUR YEARS OLD. And, I like him. I mean, I enjoy hanging out with him. All day, everyday. He's a cool little dude. I do not want him to believe we have a friendship, or that I relate to him as a peer, but I would definitely call myself a fan. A lifelong appreciator, if you will.
And I do feel the same basic feelings about leaving Graham at home all day while I go create beautiful things that feed my artistic soul. But I also think of him as a grown man that can balance his missing me and his appreciation that I help earn some bread around here too now, and his support that I am lucky enough to do something so special.
And then there is Everett. 13 months, 10 days old. He already receives different parenting than Riley did at his age, simply because he is the second baby. I have to split my attention between the two of them all the time. But I don't feel like I have the freedom within our new schedule to explore the world with The Boys the way I did when I was at home full-time. I used to jokingly refer to myself as the "Director of Childhood Development" instead of a stay-at-home-Mom. But there's a grain of truth in that reflection. I took Riley to playdates, on grand adventures as we got acclimated to our new city (Chicago at the time,) and we were extremely active in a Moms' Group up there that gave us some of our closest friends to date. And each of these little lifestyle choices helped shape parts of Riley's view of the world. He's still pretty sure that the world is fascinating, and full of cool details that you can find at museums, which should be visited regularly. And that people are awesome, because even in conflict, there is always somebody around that will help you navigate the choppy seas of social structure. Everyday is a chance to reach out into the world, and learn something completely new and exciting. Just pick a direction and boldly go forward. Enjoy the ride. We still behave this way some of the time, but it doesn't have the same heady sense of exuberance when I'm squeezing in these adventures on the 3 days a week I'm home, filling them in around the mundane details of dental appointments, errands, and minimal house-cleaning. There is less hedonistic appeal since we've begun "flying by the seat of our Dayplanner."
With all that longing addressed, there are reasons that I did reach out and grab the chance to work again as well. And financial gain is FAR, FAR down that list. I truly feel like the more time I spend in my work environment, the better I am at making art. Through osmosis or opportunity, or both, I know my knitting, and crafting have improved dramatically. And so has my interest is expressing myself creatively. (Thus a blog.) I mean, it's like this place has just opened a sun roof to my creative self, and I'm driving fast while blasting rock music. I feel curious, alive, helpful, inspired, intellectually stimulated, respected, and valued. My crafting blood is bubbling.
I get the feeling that I have some tweeking to do to improve my work/life balance. But I must say, I do feel a certain tugging at my heartstrings in both directions. And I needed to think it through in a linear sort of way. Hope I didn't drag you too far into my Working Mom Longing. I think it snuck up on me, unaware. So, I am surprised by how torn I do feel, and how entrenched I am at the same time.
~ M ~