Monday, January 2, 2012

Looking Ahead

About a month ago, my oldest child turned ten, which means that I've been a mother for a decade (although if you add up the ages of my kids, I have more than 20 contact-years, and I'm pretty sure some of those years count at least double). Here I am about ten years ago, holding my rather new firstborn and looking way younger (but very tired).

At some point in 2001 after I got pregnant, I had the thought, The next ten years are all about the babies. And I was very, very right, although I don't think I had any idea at the time how right I'd be. I've spent most of the past ten years pregnant, nursing, or, for about five silly months in 2003-2004, both. I nursed all my children into toddler-hood, I was too lazy to bother with pumping and bottles, and I ignored the baby books and let my kids nurse to sleep. When the first one wouldn't nap alone, I lay next to him, reading a book. When the third wouldn't, I strapped her on (because I had two older kids to take care of). I had no "nap time" to call my own; I had very little time at all to call my own. Whenever somebody suggested I let that baby cry himself to sleep or Shouldn't you get out more? or Do you ever put that baby down? I reminded myself that I didn't expect to be on my deathbed saying, Gee, I wish I'd held my babies less. And also, that it wouldn't always be like this. I'm not advocating this way--or any way, for that matter--as the best way to approach babies and motherhood. I made the choices that felt right to me and good for the babies, but I've no doubt I most often made the choice that resulted in things being as hard as possible on me.

Not, mind you, that I'm out of the motherhood trenches. My youngest is only three. But there is an opening, more space, more time, more creative energy to spend on myself. Periodically someone will ask me if I'll be going back to work when my youngest goes to kindergarten (which is still three years away! what long thinkers!). My first reaction is always, Who will do the job I do now? And my second is, Who on earth would hire me, and for what? I was working from home as a copy editor for a medical website when my oldest was born; it was a great job. I was laid off when he was about nine months old, and while I often can't help but edit, even when unasked, I was happy to be able to focus all my attention in one place instead of trying to split myself. But really, what am I going to be hired to do, at this point, anyway?

And...what would I want to do?

That's the question. Because if this past decade was all about the babies, this next one will have more space, I think. It's not that my kids will need me less as they get older, but they need me in different ways. I'm not actively seeking any one goal right now--my life hasn't shifted enough yet to start something big, or even something medium, to be honest. But I think this year is about figuring out what the goals might be, of trying to bring more into focus. If I get a chance to choose, what do I choose?

So that's not really a resolution for 2012. It's more like a...mission statement, maybe? This is the year I work on figuring out what comes next...being open to hearing it and seeing it. Oh, that sounds pretty mystical for practical Virgo me. But there you go.

Happy 2012. What do you hope it has in store for you?


Michelle said...


Love that happy picture!

Choose was my word for last year. I think I was feeling the same kind of thing you are now. I feel like I did more creative things last year, but most of my energy was put towards products for other people. That's fine, because I enjoyed the process, but I'd like to carve out time to do things and make things just for me. For no other reason than I want to or because it makes me happy. And to carve out a little time once in a while just to . . . be.

Rose Red said...

Happy new year! Big questions for early in the day (for me!). I often wonder what I would do if I went back to work too, and I've only been out of the workforce for two years. Fortunately, I have been able to choose not to go back to work.

As for 2012, I haven't thought too much about it, beyond my possible knitting goals. I'd better get onto that!

Bells said...

big questions. Who knows? It's good to be open!

Joey said...

I just saw your comment on Maya's blog so I had to come over to meet you! It sounds from this post that we are in similar situations, except that my kids are now both in school so I'm eager to hear how you figure out what the next step is! I truly believe that was born to be a mom so I stand here wondering what to do next!
~ joey ~

lamina @ do a bit said...

Such a lovely photo of you and your first born :) When I look at photos of me and my little man when he was born and think... whoah you had absolutely no idea what you were in for caring for a baby... ha ha ha :)

I keep asking myself what am I going to do when I go back to work... I certainly don't want to go back to an office environment but I fear it may be the case! Hope you find something you want to do :)

amy said...

Joey, I'm glad you came over & commented, too. I'll post progress if I have any. :)

Lamina, I definitely don't want to go back to work in any sort of traditional way. I think it's so interesting that so many people assume a mom's schedule opens right up when the kids are in school. Having two in school, I can definitely say that's not the case! And office environments--yech. I LOVED working from home all by myself.