06 July 2011

A new kind of life

My first day in eight years without a paying job.

It feels...odd.

Yesterday people at work tell me that I must be so relieved. That it must be nice to be getting rid of my stress. And, yes, it is.

But I haven't totally gotten rid of stress in my life...just the stress of working in a job at which I was pretty good for a long time, but on which I had burned out some time ago.

Now there's new and different stress...

We're officially a one-income family until I can figure out a way to generate some income while I'm a stay-at-home-mom. Hopefully with my writing.

I've committed to getting the house in shape for the baby's eventual (and hopefully soon!) arrival in our lives. That means cleaning out all of the closets, getting rid of more accumulated stuff to make way for new baby stuff, baby proofing, painting the baby's bookshelves and dresser, and the big project - sanding/priming/painting the remaining trim on our main floor. That's seven door frames (both sides), four window frames, and all of the baseboards. May not sound like a lot, but if you've ever sanded/primed/painted trim you'll know that it's a huge, time consuming, tedious and tiring task. Still, when it's finally done the house will feel fresh.

And then there's making sure that I'm using my time wisely and efficiently each day. That I don't allow myself to get lazy. That I don't sleep in everyday, but I get up and go to "work." That I make a list of things needing to get done each day and that I do them.

As part of my daily "get things done/don't get lazy" regime, I need to make progress on my book. Big progress. Now that I'm not dealing with the exhaustion (or the excuse of exhaustion...) of a full-time job I am making the commitment to myself to write everyday.

Every. Single. Day.

To make writing part of my daily list of things to do because until now I've been pretty haphazard in my approach to getting this book written. Some days I don't even look at it. Other days I'm off at the coffee house for six hours clackering away on my laptop and ignoring the rest of my life. It's time to learn a little discipline when it comes to pounding out my novel.

Then there's also the stress of being the person who is now available to get "stuff" done. The cat needs to go to the vet. The plumber is coming to deal with the leaky faucet. Deliveries. Other house stuff. Grocery shopping. Cleaning. Laundry. That's all going to fall to me because I'm the one that will be home and not "working."

My conversation with my husband this morning:

CHRIS: So, what's on tap for you today for your first day of freedom?

ME: Well, I need to head to the Target in W to get sheets and beach towels for the trip. And also those t-shirts that I like so much, but they didn't have a whole lot left at the Target in S. Um, and then I have a couple of other errands to do and then an appointment with N (my therapist) at 2:30. And then I'm going to come home and deal with laundry.

CHRIS [furrowed brow]: Mmmm. Um.

ME: What?

CHRIS: Would you mind doing the laundry this morning?

ME [furrowed brow]: Why?

CHRIS: So everything has time to dry today. I'd really like to pack this evening so we can get on the road tomorrow as soon as I get home from work.

ME [brow still furrowed]: Um.

For about half a minute I'm annoyed by my husband's perfectly reasonable request/suggestion.
I have my schedule planned out for the day! The way I want to get things done in the order that I want to get them done. And now he wants me to change my whole schedule to take care of the laundry this morning???

I'm about to make a really stupid comment to the effect of what is on my mind which will surely start something that involves serious bickering. But I stop myself. Suddenly feeling very foolish and embarrassed for being annoyed for even thirty seconds.

He's right, of course.

It certainly makes more sense to get the laundry done and hung up this morning before I head out for the day. And, aside from my 2:30 appointment, do I really have a set schedule? Nope. Just my handy list of things to do and purchase.So, getting the laundry done this morning? Not such a big deal.

ME [flushing slightly with embarrassment and hoping that Chris doesn't notice]: Of course. I'll take care of it.

The first load of laundry is in the washer right now. It's still early and I have plenty of time to get everything done that I want to today.

* * *

Just because I don't have a paying job doesn't mean that I'm not going to be working or that I won't have stress.

I'm just going to have a different kind of job. And there's going to be different kinds of stress. And I'm sure that there will be days where I wish desperately that I was heading into the office. Days when if I have to look at another load of laundry or clean out another closet I will likely lose my mind just a little.

Hopefully that's in the distant future (or, even more hopefully, not in the future at all.)

But for now I've signed on for a new life of being the person in our house who takes care of the "stuff" and who has to learn how to fill her days in new ways - with writing, taking care of our home, hopefully taking care of a baby very soon.

Am I excited?

Yeah, kind of.

Am I scared?

Yeah, a little.

OK, a lot.

But here I am and I want to be in the present moment with all of it.


  1. Oh my goodness, I feel you on this post. I went freelance 4 years ago, and while I've been very lucky in my writing career since, it's all too easy to let the days slip away or get sucked up by the mundane daily tasks that I'm technically free to do, but really shouldn't since I ought to be writing! Your plan to have a clear schedule & to-do list each day is a good one, and I hope you are able to stick to it better than I sometimes can!

    Also, I really enjoy reading your blog, so here's a blog award: http://writebaby.blogspot.com/2011/07/big-thank-you-to-kelly-versatile.html :)

  2. Willow - thanks again for the award! It's going to take me a few days to post the award and pay it forward per award instructions.

    So glad to hear about your success as a freelancer - gives me hope that it's possible. Also glad to know that other folks have a tough time sticking to daily schedules (lol - I'm on Day 2 and already off schedule!) I wish you the best as you move forward with your little one and your many books!

  3. As a stay-at-home mom now back in the workforce - the only way I found to make it work was to of myself as self employed. I used those strategies, but my writing did suffer. Please don't stop writing! -G2

  4. Recently suffered adoption loss (last week) and I appear to be out of a job as well.

  5. Hey Jennifer! It's Rachel, I just thought I'd let you know that this is my actual blog URL: thewordthings.blogspot.com
    I always forget that darned "the"!
    Anyways, I've read quite a few of your posts already and I love your blog so much. It's so heartfelt and beautifully written. You make the most ordinary of days significant and you really make people think. It's a wonderful talent. You and I share trait, in finding the moments that most others would overlook (like the woman ordering donuts and coffee) the ones that can mean that most. I truly love your blog, and I hope to be reading more soon! :)

  6. Dear Jennifer,

    I've been reading through your blog today and I must say you are amazing. I feel so many parallels between our lives it's strange but fascinating at the same time. I have been thinking of writing a blog to share, sort out, and connect my own experiences with others. Reading yours today has given me additional inspiration and motivation. I look forward to reading your journey......