Wednesday, August 21, 2013

The 5 Hour Empty Nest

In a few short weeks, all of my children will be in school from at least 8:30am-1:30pm. This is a big time in my life. I've always been a stay at home mom, with the few exceptions to having a few short lived jobs and running a very part time photography business.

I don't try to compare my feelings about this momentous occasion to others, except for the fact that most of the people that I talk to about it have a common reaction of elation and excitement at the possibility of unbridled free time. Nobody else shows a hint of panic or the slightest stress. Empathy nods in between breathy smiles.

There's a some things happening here:

#1. I'm putting pressure on myself to fill in the 5 hour gap with important activities, hopefully practical activities that may also bring income into the house. But, at the very least, it should be meaningful to me as a person and individual. Figure out who I am outside of being a mother as my career and life. So naturally, I think about going back to school and finishing a BA degree and starting a new career. I love school and that would be very convenient and fulfilling!

However, every time I think about going back to school to finish a degree I read about the course description and career options at the end and I get cynical: I'm never going to find a job in that field, I'm not brainy enough to understand this subject, this career is too political, I'm too jaded, this is a useless but interesting degree, do I want to spend alllll that money on something that isn't hugely passionate for me? Do we even have the financial resources??

I think I'll sign up for a parks and rec class first and see how that goes.

#2. I could build my photography business unencumbered. Only, after so many years, transitions, name changes and attempts, I think I'm done.  I really don't want to do it anymore. I actually would love to do shoots for hobby, trade something for them, and remove myself from the "market". I don't want to deal with the pressure I put on myself to MAKE IT WORK. There is a little guilt that I'm being lazy.  I have a talent that I can use to leverage against to get the holy grail of self sustainability, but I'm choosing not to, simply because I really don't like the business part of it. I love shooting, I don't love the managing. Nope. Done.

#3. I'm going to be alone. Sure I'll have coffee dates with friends and meet up with people here and there, have long lunches with Reggie...but I'm going to be alone (well, I'll have the dog but still). Having a ton of kids running around is a hefty distraction from yourself. There's no sacred me time. Every time I step into the shower, the cat has to poop or Max desperately needs to wash his face, or there is some sort of dramatic emergency which requires my deep attention while I'm scrubbing my face. I don't even blog anymore. The alone factor causes me to panic more than anything else. Big questions start to rise like: Will I even like myself? Will I discover that I'm horribly boring or breathtakingly exciting? Will I be too scared to actually find out?  I don't want to just fill in the time with mundane activities.  I am actually extremely excited (and equally terrified) to dive into some self exploration and uncover some passions. I have some strong ideas that I am planning to investigate. As I answer some questions and figure things out, I'm going to be blogging about them as well. It's an important tool for me because I can look back and remember and tap into that space of being connected to myself and inspired and that's huge.

#4 Megaphone to my soul time. Calling in all my internal resources time. For my entire life and especially since having children, I've battled with the inability to manage the mundane details of my life. Most of the time I blame the children. Which is accurate. The little heathens are like cyclones of massive destruction. I build something, they break it.  I clean something, they wipe ketchup on it. I decorate, they knock it off the walls.  I paint, they chip. It's like little shadow people who follow you around and challenge you to decide how serious you are about the thing you're trying to do. Ends up, it doesn't take much for me to completely give up and say FINE...WE WILL LIVE IN A STATE OF WEAKLY ORGANIZED KETCHUP SMEARED CHAOS. YOU WIN. But now the Universe is calling my bluff. With children removed for so many hours a day, what will become of my creations, organizing, cleaned rooms and wall hangings? My hope is that they'll be so exhausted and distracted that they'll maybe not notice all the new curtains to swing from, the new collections of brightly colored dishes to stack into imaginary cities, freshly painted walls to scribble their gang signs on, and art (gasp!) ART hanging on walls to remove from said wall to get a closer look and then forget on the floor to get inevitably smeared in ketchup. I really feel like this time is going to be amazing for me to finally restore some peace and beauty in my home...at least for a little while. I feel myself starting to give a shit about my home and that is tremendously exciting.  God, maybe I'll even have time to clip coupons. What in the world is happening? If I can't blame the children anymore, maybe I'll finally get my ass into awesome shape, eat like I like myself, get off caffeine, manage the house and execute the budget like a budget warlord. Big dreams over here. Big dreams.

#5. Must.Train.The.Great.Dane.  He is a year old, not fixed, stubborn, rambunctious, and absolutely obsessed with me. Separation Anxiety. I've had him for 2 months, I've been working with him daily, and only now do I see little flashes of obedience. Most of the time though he just winds me up into a frothy frenzy of frustration. ohhh bonus alliteration!!! I know as soon as I get him fixed I'll have a better idea about his potential, but right now I feel like he's a crazy stalker and I'm in way over my head. "Time, Amy....give it time" everyone says.  I say time and lots of pairs of shoes to replace.

This is my training wheels time.  Before I know it, (but please don't let it happen *THAT* fast), all my kids will be off on their own and my nest will be truly empty. I'm grateful to get my feet wet and figure some things out in the kiddie pool before I'm tossed into the middle of the Sea.

It's a weird feeling to be filled with cosmic anticipation and relentless terror at the same time. Jesus I hope I don't have a heart attack.


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