A Year of Getting It All

In three weeks it will be a full year since I quit my corporate job. I was going to write a book, and build my blogs into a full time venture, and be a model wife and stay at home mom. I’m smart, capable, and pretty high energy most of the time… it was gonna be a piece of cake.

During one of our long chats about the direction I planned for this blog, the PTSA, my garden, and all of my June Cleaver dreams, my friend Jill said “Just remember that it took me a whole year to get the rhythm of our house and our life down so that I could do more than just run around like mad trying to take care of everything.” Of course, I totally knew I’d be able to walk out of the corporate world into the full time homemaking world without so much as a misstep.

I can see Jill’s facial expression in the back of my mind when I said as much. The look that says “Yeah ok… let me know how that works out for you…”

Between family emergencies, children needing to go in opposite directions at the same time, an amazing (but exhausted) husband who works long hours, house repairs, friends in need, social engagements, and trying to battle depression… I’ve spent this last year in complete overload. Except for that 2 month stretch where I gave up on it all and spent all my waking hours playing an MMORPG. As a result, NONE of the things I had on my list last year even made the Top 20 List of Priorities.

girls silly

Here we are though, at the end of year one, and I’m finally feeling like I have (most of) a grip on our life. I’m ready to take baby steps back into all of those goals I have been pushing into the closet for so long. I don’t know where this road is going to go, but I’m long past ready to find out!

Ready! Aim! Aim! Aim! Aim…

When I quit my “day job”, I had this list of plans… ok so a hundred lists of plans. I knew what I was going to do, and how I was going to do it, and how long it was going to take… and nothing was going to stop me. I promised myself that I’d take my much needed 2 week break to recharge and then get started with my business.

Image By Carrot Creative

Well… here we are. It’s been 2 weeks. It’s Monday. So far, I skipped out on my 8 am walk. I posted a grocery deals list – which is great and helpful, but NOT on my list of deliverables. I’ve played Farmville, took the kids for ice cream, started side dishes for dinner (after searching for “The Right Recipe” for 2 hours), read Twitter and Facebook, and changed my seating arrangement three times.

Guess what I haven’t done… you got it… I haven’t done a single damned thing on any of my lists. There’s probably not one single reason that I’m throwing stumbling blocks in my own way, and really, that’s not the important thing anyway. The important thing is that I not allow myself to fall into the habit of blowing off my responsibility to myself and my goals.

If you see me goofing off on Twitter or Facebook or any other social networking site, kick me in the ass and ask me what I’ve accomplished today. If I’ve done what I should, I’ll be thrilled to share… if I haven’t… then I’ll be publicly shamed and should only be plowing 32 more plots on Farmville before I’m back at work again.

Before I Was A Mom

I read what a lot of other Moms say, every day. Some make me think. Some make me laugh. Some make me weep. Some make me remember what my girls were like when they were tiny.

Today, they’ve made me do some of each… most of the articles were all on the same topic: Before I Was a Mom. This is a writing prompt from Mama Kat’s Writers Workshop (of which I am not a participant because I didn’t know about until all these links to today.)

By the time I’d read the 10th one, I thought “cool… think I’m going to give that a go.” Then I started to mentally tally the list of things. You know what? My list made me sad and more than a little ashamed.

I don’t have a Sex and the City past. I was never “just me”. That’s what happens when you’re pregnant at 16… you don’t get to be you as an adult.  You don’t get to travel.  You don’t get to live with reckless abandon.  And you don’t learn until far later who you really are. I’m still not sure if I know.

Before I was a mom:

  • I was the fat kid with the giant curly hair who never shut up that everyone loved to make fun of.
  • I was the teenager who finally melted off all the baby fat and turned into a curvy pretty girl… that still felt ugly and fat.
  • I had sex with boys just because they paid me 10 minutes of attention. Which, of course, was as long as they stuck around afterward.
  • I drank and smoked pot for the exact same reason.
  • I was amazingly smart and I knew it… so I blew off school and skated by on my test scores.
  • I could sleep through tornado sirens, car accidents outside my bedroom window, and bone jarring thunderstorms.
  • I LOVED babysitting other people’s kids and hanging out at their houses… because it meant I didn’t have to be at mine.
  • I was an angry and combative teenager with no future because I was pissing it away.
  • I thought the purest love in the whole wide world was what I felt when I was with my granny (turns out this was pretty close to the truth).
  • I NEVER EVER thought that the life I have today was within my reach.

Almost every moment my life that makes me proud has been since I became a mom. I really don’t think I would have ever gotten off the self destructive, unhappy, broken path that I was on if I hadn’t become a mom. I think becoming a mom saved me from me…

Why do they call it Stay At Home Mom???

Today began the newest phase of my life… the one I’ve been babbling about since my first post here. I officially became a “Stay At Home Mom”. I didn’t count the weekend because it was vacation and all of the mom duties were on hold.

Let me just give you the rundown on my day.juggling_mom

  • Walking on the Silver Comet Trail
  • Scrub the pantry and reorganize it
  • Social Media Break (yay!)
  • Start dinner in the crock pot (beef roast with potatoes, carrots, and onions)
  • Organize Avon order and print invoices
  • Call a few customers who probably thought I fell off the face of the earth
  • Shower
  • Drive kiddos to pick up a friend and drop them all off at Six Flags for the afternoon
  • Drive eldest kiddo to dog sitting gig and get her settled
  • Doctor appointment – 6 month checkup (fantastic blood pressure! Weight down. BONUS)
  • Get car detailed
  • Deposit money at the bank
  • Call and check on mom (she had surgery today)
  • Pick up kiddos from 6 Flags just as torrential downpour hits

I’m home now and getting ready to feed everyone before heading to Sister Scarlett’s house for dinner with friends. Still have to drop off the kiddos’ friend too. So again, I ask… why the hell do they call it a stay at home mom?

If this is Day 1… I’m super interested to see if this is the norm or an anomaly. J Are we taking bets?

It’s Not About The Ending

On Sunday night, a few friends sat on our sofa with Mark and I and watched the series ending of LOST.  Let me start by saying that we weren’t big Losties in the beginning.  We had no desire whatsoever to watch this stupid show.  One night though, we invited my friend Christopher to dinner and he said “Well, that’s LOST night.  So if I can watch it at your house, great.  Otherwise… you know I work nights and it’s tough for me to schedule things.”  So we chose to waste an hour of our life in order to spend several with someone we missed.

Then there was an inhaler and a guy tied to a tree and a really hot kiss and a “HOLY COW WHAT JUST HAPPENED?” moment… and well… that was it.  For the last 6 seasons, there have been an incredibly high number of those cliff hangering, soul wrenching, laughter inducing, scare you out of your seat, tear jerking moments amid the filler and the plot lines that played out too damned long during our one hour of LOST every week.

Back to Sunday night.  We’ve skipped time with friends, lost out on sleep, cut evenings out short, and made a dozen other sacrifices to be home on LOST night.  To say we were emotionally invested in this finale is an understatement of epic proportions.  To say that the finale was a letdown and I felt robbed would be an equally sized understatement.  I was angry.  Furious.  Could not believe I spent all of this time waiting for The Final Episode of LOST… for that.

lost

This morning, however, my brain accidentally drew a connecting line for me and I think I’m ok.  You see, this is my last week of my job.  As I mentioned, I’m leaving the workforce to be a small business owner, ptsa president, and baker of cookies.  It’s The Ending of an era of my life… the end of this particular series, if you will.  And it’s pretty anticlimactic.

Are you wondering what the hell I’m blabbering on about?  (Mark, don’t answer that).  It isn’t about The Finale.  It never was.  It’s about the million breathtaking moments in between the beginning and the end.  The end will always be a letdown, because the end of the roller coaster ride can never ever compete with the 3 loops in the middle.

I didn’t watch LOST for 6 seasons to get to the end.  I watched to sit on the edge of my seat and wonder what the hell was going to happen next.  And I was never disappointed.  I didn’t quit my job to be a puddle of goo on the couch… it’s not the end, it’s just the beginning of the next rise.

This “series” is going to be filled with moments where I scream “HOLY HELL WHAT JUST HAPPENED!!” and it’s going to be wonderful… and sad… and frustrating… and exciting… and boring… and NONE of it will be about The Finale.

We Do It All For The Children … right?

It would be really easy to say I’m making these major life changes for my kiddos.  As a matter of fact, I’ve probably claimed many times that I just want to go into business for myself and make my own schedule so that I can be there for the girls. 

I want to be here to make their dinner and volunteer at their schools.  I want to host sleepovers and scream at them to STFU at FIVE THIRTY AM after they’ve played Eye of the Tiger back to back 78 times on Rock Band, because the new kid doesn’t know any other songs (swear to god… this really happened).  I want to have the freedom to travel with them on chorus trips and college campus visits.  I do.  But if I said I was doing it all for them, I’d be full of crap.  And you’d know it.

The truth is, I know my moments as a mom who is needed on a daily basis are numbered.  I see them slipping away faster than I ever dreamed possible.  Anna is going to be a Senior in high school and my Faitha just graduated from the 6th grade academy yesterday.  Sierra… my mini-me… is graduating 8th grade today and going off to high school in the fall.  They’re flaunting this… this… maturing into young women in front of me every day!

My heart aches at every achievement… every award… every honors class… every driving lesson.  I’m a hopeless mess at every chorus performance, report card, and glaringly responsible adult decision they make.  They’re growing up and running as fast as their legs can carry them, the legs I taught them to so proudly stand on… and walk on… and run on.  Running toward a future that I foolishly taught them was theirs for the taking.  I’m thrilled for them … amazingly proud… and even more determined that I need to create memories to hold onto once they’ve gone out to conquer the world.

But even that is only part of the reason.  The part of me that isn’t “all mom all the time” finally woke up and realized that I need to be running toward the future that’s mine for the taking too.  I’m running toward the future that my heart craves… that makes me smile when I wake up in the  morning… that will show them their mom wasn’t just giving them lip service all these years. 

Holy cow ya’all.  I think I’m finally doing it for ME.

A Note From Ida:

The support I’ve received since deciding to quit the corporate world and since I launched this website two days ago has been mindboggling.  I really need to say thank you to my family, to my friends, and to those of you who have no idea who the heck I am.  I’m honored that you’re all coming with me on this adventure, and oh what an adventure it’s going to be!

This is usually the time that I remind my sisters that there are rules against making me cry at work.  But I’m hereby striking that rule down.  I cry ya’all.  When I’m happy and when I’m sad.  When I’m proud.  When I’m overwhelmed with emotion.  So, I guess I can’t really have that rule anymore and live this dream.

Getting Started Getting It All

I’ve heard a lot of people over the years talking about Having It All.  You know the ones I’m talking about.  The ones who sound like the guy on the middle of the night infomercial selling The Chopper…

YOU TOO CAN HAVE IT ALL –  ORDER MY PROGRAM AND WITH JUST 42 SIMPLE STEPS  YOU CAN SLICE, DICE, MAKE JULIENNE FRIES, AND PAY OFF YOUR MORTGAGE 17 YEARS EARLY WHILE YOU SLEEP.

What. Ever.

I think Having It All is a myth.  What makes me believe that?  Because All changes with every moment that passes.  My goals and family’s needs today will not be the same in 6 months or a year.  They may be similar, but they’ll evolve and grow and change.  I think you can have it all for a fleeting moment, but no longer than that.  When you achieve goals or check something off of the “always wanted to do” list, there’s always a new goal… a new dream… a new definition of what Having It All would include.

For as long as I could remember, I’ve had a list of what a perfect daily life aka It All would be for me.  I’ve wanted to do work I love… and write books… and bake cookies… and travel with my family… and blog… and  grow a vegetable garden… and volunteer at my kid’s school in the middle of the afternoon for no other reason than it’s Tuesday.  My list has evolved over the years and some things have fallen off and others have been added to, but that’s the general gist of what getting it all would be in my world.

I never believed that those things were possible because, really… who actually gets to do that? You work, you come home, you fit in the things you love to do around the things you have to do and you suck it the hell up because that’s what being a grownup is about.

Right?

And then, a few months ago, I started seeing these conversations all over my social network about “Living Your Truth” and “Escaping Mediocrity”  and “Finding Work You Love“.  I started thinking that maybe I could start getting the life that I want instead of the life that I was expected to have.  You could say I started drinking the kool aid!

I started reading books and blogs and news articles about sculpting your life into what you want it to be… and about taking back your own power.  I started telling myself that I would not continue to be the barrier to my own success.  I even started to believe all of that nonsense just a little bit more every day.

My AHA moment, and I know this will sound EXTRAORDINARILY HOKEY, was when Elizabeth posted something on twitter that resonated with me so deeply that I can’t even begin to tell you how it felt.  She said “The best thing I ever did was stop asking people what they thought I should do.”  I stopped in my tracks.

I DO that.  I have amazing fabulous ideas… and I never trust myself enough to just run with it.  I always ask.  I always alter my vision to suit what others see.  I always second guess.  And I always stop JUST short of following through.

And I’ve told you all of that to say this… This website is the beginning of me finally following my heart and GETTING IT ALL… and helping you, my friends, see that you can get it all too.  I don’t know yet exactly what it will look like or sound like, but I couldn’t wait any longer to get started.  The excuse monster was lurking.

I do know that I’ll be sharing interviews of other moms who are getting their own brand of “it all” and how they’re doing it and what their challenges are.  I’ll be telling my own stories and sharing in yours as well.  We’ll figure out the rest together.

So here goes.  I quit my day job.  My last day will be May 28th.  I’m building my own web design business and transitioning to a work from home mom and the president of the PTSA next year and I’m baking the damned cookies.  It’s not going to be easy, but I bet that it’ll be educational… for all of us.

I hope you’ll join me and keep me company and share your stories too.

LOVE!

*Edited and added a teeny bit on 5/20