Tag Archives: back to school

Discover Challenge: tough questions

For the last 22 years, there has been one question that I consistently have a difficult time answering.  After all of this time one would think I could come up with an adequate answer but I still pause a second before spilling out an answer that may or may not be well received.

So what is this question? It may seem innocent enough as an attempted conversation starter but for me, it’s a quick way to stop the conversation.  Quite simply it is:  Kristin, what do you do?

When my daughter was 9 months old, I made what some would consider the old-fashioned decision to give up my career and stay home with my baby. I feel so fortunate that I was able to make that choice because I know for a lot of women it is a decision that they can’t contemplate. It wasn’t easy, we made huge sacrifices and there were many, many lean years. Financially is was difficult but if I had to do it again, I would make the same decison all over again. I have loved my years at home and the time with my kids, even when they were difficult teenagers driving me nuts!  Once, in a rage, I threw a ham sandwich at my son and we still laugh about it as one of my crazy mom moments. (By the way, the dogs thought a flying ham sandwich was the best thing to happen in a very long time.)

In the early years I made a few friends who had also made the same decision and we would get together at each others homes, pack lunches and go to the park or explore other places that had free admission.  It was an opportunity to get out of the house, have some adult conversation, share ideas, do a little venting and socialize our kids. The days went by quickly and I was always exhausted by the time the kids went to bed.

The difficult part for me has always been how to describe what I do when it is no longer a conventional career.  Going to parties or being in situations where I am being introduced to new people has always been a challenge.  I’m pretty introverted and have difficulty making conversation. When I get asked this question I don’t really know what to say.  Stay at home Mom or I don’t work don’t seem adequate.   I have been met with admiration, contempt, jealousy, confusion, curiousity, any combination of the above or been completely dismissed.  Should I stretch the truth and say I’m a teacher, nurse, fund manager, chauffeur, cleaning lady, chef, philanthropist, life coach, dog trainer or blogger? Maybe that would make me more interesting and worthy of continued conversation.

The real raised eyebrows started when my youngest went off to kindergarten and my working friends would ask me what I would do now that he was in school all day.  Surely I wanted to go back to work!  Just because he was gone for a few hours didn’t mean my goals had changed, but that was hard for some to understand. They asked again when he was in high school and now they are really baffled since he is in college and we are “empty nesters”.   I always assumed I would go back to work full-time but I HAVE worked part-time during school hours and weekends for the last 15 years.  The difference is that it is just a job, not a career, and not really something that I identify with but it does seem to satisfy the question most of the time.  In my mind I left the professional work force over 20 years ago and the ever-changing marketplace has passed me by. I’m the first to admit that I am a technological dummy. Things are very different now in most industries so I continue on with my part-time work and still wonder why does it matter what I do? I’ve been doing it so long now that our budget and household function well enough.  My dogs certainly don’t care, they are thrilled when I come walking through the door and at this point that’s the best kind of approval I could ask for!

This post is a response to this week’s Discover Challenge: tough questions

Feeling blue

IMG_2667The kids are both back to school and the house feels so empty.  Even though they aren’t around much during the summer it still feels so quiet when they are gone.  Why is it so hard to say good-bye?

Sometimes they drive us all crazy when they are here but now we miss them so much!

The house looks like a whirlwind blew through and the discarded remnants are all that is left to remind us that they were here at all.

Hopefully by the end of the week we will all be feeling better.  We kind of like the quiet house, especially when it’s all cleaned up.  Fall Weekend and Thanksgiving will be here before we know it and we can hug and kiss them all over again!

Ahhh…Back to School

By the day after Labor Day, everyone will be safely back into a school routine.

Each summer, when August rolls around, our thoughts always turn to Back to School. When the kids were younger we would start thumbing through catalogs looking at new backpacks, lunch boxes and clothes. We would go to Target with the supply list in hand and try to get all of the required notebooks, pencils, pens, assorted other desk needs as well as the requested Kleenex, paper towels and hand sanitizer for each class room. Every attempt was made to do this shopping as soon as the list was available to avoid the mess and mayhem of the over crowded supply section as the first day of school approached–some years we were successful!

As the kids got older, the lists got shorter since we usually had an abundance of supplies that hadn’t been used the year before. On the last day of school, they would come home with a bag of unused pens, pencils, sharpies, markers, scissors, paper and spirals that would get shoved into the basement closet and dragged back out in August to be recycled in the upcoming year. Once they were in high school, the supply list didn’t exist, they were on their own to determine what supplies they needed and they would pick them up when necessary. Talk about supply list liberation!

As the years went by, it became easier for me to say good-bye as they headed off to school, and I even caught myself breathing a sigh of relief. I love summer and the relaxed schedule, but eventually it’s time to get everyone back into a routine. For years that meant earlier to bed and earlier to rise, regular meal times and reconditioned study habits. Now, with Thomas about to start his sophomore year in college and Abigail moving to a new city to begin graduate school, it means making piles in the living room with dorm room and apartment needs, wardrobes for warm weather and the change of season, laptops and study aids, fans, mini- fridge and all the other assorted items they cant live without.

Abigail’s pile of stuff.  Her college diploma came the week before she left and sits on the table.

This year, by the beginning of August I was ready for them to go. I was ready to have my quiet house back. I will not miss the multiple baskets of laundry stacked high in varying states of cleanliness, tripping over the huge shoe that has been kicked off right in the middle of the door way, my favorite beach towel missing because someone else decided to swipe it,  the wet bath towels strewn around on the floor, the egg skillet left in the sink and the refrigerator and pantry constantly being raided.

Last breakfast together until they are home again.

There is a pile of crumbs and a dirty knife in front of the toaster. Every. Damn. Day! To be fair, they are in charge of their own laundry and bathroom, and supposedly the egg pan and dirty dishes, but none is done on a schedule or with a thoroughness that I would like.

I love having my kids home but by last spring my husband and I had started to enjoy having the house to ourselves. I never thought I would say that. It seemed impossible to imagine a life that didn’t have them home every night, but we learned to love it! We splurged on a new couch that fits just the two of us. We like to fix our dinner on a tray and eat in front of the TV with our 2 big dogs curled up at our feet. I like coming in the back door and not tripping over a discarded shoe. I like reaching for my favorite bag of potato chips and knowing that it will be there. I like finding the house exactly the way that I left it, whether it is dirty or clean. Somehow, two huge and hairy dogs can’t compete with two grown children when comes to leaving a messy trail.

I’ve surprised myself by liking the empty nest and I look forward to missing my kids again and counting the days until they will be home for thanksgiving weekend!IMG_2726IMG_2721