As a stay at home mom whose only child recently started kindergarten, I find myself in a sort of identity crisis. I still stay home, but taking care of my two cats is hardly a full time job.
I’m not sure what my role is now. Instead of spending my days at the library and park, changing diapers and completing puzzles on my living room floor, I have suddenly been reduced to the dropper-offer and picker-upper.
I still have my chores, but they don’t seem as fun anymore. Loading a washer without waking the baby strapped to my chest or washing a sink full of dishes without my toddler destroying the house were never what I would call easy, but—I don’t know. I wasn’t alone. And I kind of liked figuring out how to be a master multitasker.
My daughter, Kiara, did attend one, and later two, half days of preschool beginning a little after her second birthday. And when she started, I was so happy to have a chunk of “me time” carved predictably into my week.
But Kindergarten? It’s a full time job! She spends seven hours a day “at the office” plus an extra hour for dance on Tuesdays and Sundays, and four hours per week in Italian school. A far cry from the days of waking up at 3 a.m. to nurse and then 7 a.m. (or earlier) to start a full day together, now I never see the kid.
After Kiara’s first week of kindergarten, I reflected on the long stretch of time I had to myself. I need to either get a dog or get a job, I mused.
I felt un-useful but then another thought crept into my head.
Maybe I don’t always have to be useful.
Maybe I could stop measuring my worth based solely on how well I took care of others and also take into account how well I take care of myself.
I checked in with a friend of mine who stays home and has a fourth grader.
“What’s my role now?” I asked her. “Why do I do?”
“Besides cleaning,” I added hastily.
After chatting about her four years of experience staying home with a school-aged child (minus the COVID year of course), I came up with some ideas for myself. Not surprisingly, a lot of them were activities I enjoyed before becoming a mom, but haven’t had much chance to do since.
Early morning walks are one of my favorite pastimes. I especially love how the sun hits the water at daybreak, so I always make my way towards the bay.
Of course, I took plenty of walks with Kiara before she started school, but walking alone is different. It gives me a moment’s pause and a time for introspection, and it starts my day off right.
Hanging Out at Cafes
I am a café girl, through and through. I love my coffee and I could sit and chat with neighbors and strangers alike for hours. Cafes provide a good environment for me to tap into my creativity and write, too.
Writing is in my blood. I have been a writer since the second grade when I crafted my own series based on the Little House on the Prairie books, and it’s the one thing I have never stopped doing (other than showering—but that’s for another post) when I had my baby. Even when the sleep deprivation of the newborn phase was so intense, it was making me feel mentally unstable, I still stayed up at least an hour after I put Kiara down, to write.
Now I have more time to put my words onto paper or onto a computer screen. That means that I can bring in more of the supplemental income I make writing science articles and it means that I can spend more time on poems, essays, and other creative writing that makes me happy.
I’m hoping to incorporate more time practicing yoga, hanging out at the spa, and reading as the school year pushes on. The hubby and I have started talking about going out to lunch together more often too.
There are also a few things that I’m not doing, but I wish I was. I can’t volunteer in Kiara’s classroom, something I always saw myself doing, due to COVID regulations. I also want to read more, but with these new early morning wake-ups, I’m finding myself ready to crash by 8:30 or 9 in the evenings, which is normally my reading time.
I am figuring out my new normal. I still don’t always know what to do with my time, I no longer feel lost and confused about what I should be doing with it. I am just enjoying the fact that I have it.