The Ending

*Something of a spoiler alert – if you haven’t seen LaLa Land yet (holy wow, who hasn’t seen LaLa Land yet?) But if you haven’t seen it yet, you may want to skip this post, cuz I tell you the ending…….*

 

I bought the LaLa Land DVD when it came out recently. I haven’t watched it though. The Princess and I did see it when it was in theaters, but I haven’t been able to bring myself to watch it again. Here’s why – the ending still haunts me. I still haven’t been able to decide if I liked it or not. And since we’ve kind of been in an emotional place in recent months, neither P nor I felt ourselves in a place to be able to handle it. Heck, the music is enough to make me cry.

I did really love the movie, but that ending…..Did you like it, if you saw it? I get it – it’s more real life than most movies. We don’t always end up getting forever with that one person who was with us during a time we’re becoming, we’re discovering, we’re learning about ourselves. I had one of those – a boy I dated right out of college. I was starting my career, really figuring out what I wanted to do with my life, and I was making plans. Turns out he wasn’t supposed to be Mr. Forever, he was just Mr. Right Then. It took me a few years to figure that out, and I don’t regret that one minute. He encouraged me in so many ways, helped me grow and learn. And we had some amazing adventures together. He was there for me at a pivotal point in my life. But we both ended up married to other people, and that’s as it should be. Spouse is my Mr. Forever, and has stood by my side through things I don’t know that other boy would have been able.

My deal is this – when I go to a movie, I don’t tend to want reality. Hello! I’m there to escape reality. That means the boy gets the girl, and the girl gets the boy, and it’s forever. Amen, and pass the popcorn. I had NO CLUE I was going to get a dose of reality at the end of this movie. For real – who puts real life at the end of a magical musical? It was like a punch to the gut at the end. It took me weeks to recover. I think that’s a big part of why the music still gets to me.

P and I talked about it. We both kind of go back on forth on whether we liked it or not. What’s your take?  Should it have had a happy ending? Or did you consider this a happy ending after all? I mean, she is married with a beautiful child, and is a successful actress, but she’s not married to the guy who helped her get there, the guy who stood by her side as she worked towards her dreams and began to see them realized. There still seemed a certain sadness, a what if, to her at the end. And he definitely seemed sad, even if he did fulfill his dream of having his own jazz club. I didn’t walk away with an “everyone is fine” feeling. I’m leaning towards it not being a happy ending, and it making me sad.

There’s this, and then there’s that

I’ve been working from home a few months now. I’ve learned a few things, and I know I still have a ton to figure out before I consider this a successful venture – not success as far as the actual work, but success in managing it all, working out a solid routine. There are really awesome parts to working from home, and then there are the not-so-awesome parts. Do you work from home? What have you learned to do to help the routine? What are your favorite parts, and least favorite parts of working from home?

I love that I have my own schedule, which runs between school drop-offs and pick-ups, and extra-curricular drop-offs and pick-ups. There are days though that I either am late to one of those things because I get caught up in work, or I’m struggling to get done what needs to get done for work because I have to keep leaving. Throw in some doctor, orthodontist, or specialist appointments, and it can all go to heck quickly. And if the kids have a day off school….it gets interesting. I don’t really have the luxury of choosing to take what I call “check-out days” when you’re dead tired, or sick, or just need to be lazy.

I get to wear yoga pants/workout gear all day, hair in a pony, and even go without make-up nearly every day. Sorry, boss with whom I have video-conference calls once a week. She’s used to seeing me this way now I think, but I always cringe as soon as I see myself on the screen. YIKES!! I don’t have to stress about hair, make-up, or clothes every morning while I’m trying to get kids corralled and out the door. That’s awesome. But then there are the days I have events or meetings, and it truly is nice to put on the “fancy clothes” and walk out the door looking like I a real adult who knows what she’s doing.

I can get stuff done at home while I’m working. Yeah!! When I worked full-time outside the home, I stressed to get grocery and Target shopping done, as well as cooking, laundry, and whatever else needed to happen at home done. Nights and weekends weren’t mine – they belonged to chores. Ick. Best of both worlds to work from home, right? You work and  yet you get all that other stuff done without jamming up those nights and weekends? Yeah…it’s also distracting to have the washer and dryer beeping they’re done with their loads, dishes sitting in the sink ten feet away from my desk, dust bunnies floating by my feet across the kitchen floor, a list of appointments to be made for each kid listed on the board above my head. And let’s not even get started on the dogs going berserk with the barking the minute I get on a call.

I learned that while I have the work email accounts on my phone, I have to turn off the notifications. I was making myself crazy trying to answer everything immediately, while sitting outside one school or another, or while waiting in a doctor’s office. I was getting stressed out. It took me a couple of weeks, but once I turned off email/text/DM message notifications, and handled them in my scheduled work time, life was much easier.  If something is urgent, they know to call me. I’ve slotted days and parts of days for each job as well, so I’m not trying to do it all every single day, although I do work my main job each day. Blocking time has been a life-saver. And I live by my calendar, looking two or even three weeks ahead, mentally sorting things out, especially if I know I have a crazy event-filled, kid-filled week coming up.

I can turn on my own music, as loud as I wish, and don’t have to listen to anyone complain, nor worry I’m offending anyone. There’s no one in the cube next to me checking whether I’m posting a blog or peeking at Facebook while I’m working. Shhh…..don’t tell anyone I’m blogging or peeking at Facebook while I wait for a report to open or a file to upload. Also, I love I can grab my laptop and head to one of my favorite lunch spots or out to coffee, and not miss a beat.

All-in-all, this work-from-home thing is going well.  But I’m still taking pointers to other work-from-home-ers.

What it’s about

I received my first paycheck yesterday for the first time in nearly six years. It wasn’t huge. My work right now isn’t earth-shaking. But it’s work. It’s me doing something other than *just* being a stay-at-home mom, granted I do my work from home.

I felt so good when I received the notification from my bank. I was a wee bit excited.  I felt a small sense of freedom.  For the first time in a long time, I am contributing more to the household than laundry, grocery shopping, cooking, cleaning, and being a taxi service. That’s an awesome feeling.

I realized awhile ago this whole job thing wasn’t really about the money, although it’s nice to have something I feel is my own little financial contribution. For years, I’ve agonized every time I’ve spent any money on myself, felt I had to have some kind of permission if I exceeded a certain dollar amount on things for the kids or the house. But it still isn’t about the money deep down. It’s feeling that I have a voice, that I’m not less.

What it’s also about is me. I’ve needed more of a purpose lately than what life has offered the last six years. I’m not unhappy being at home. I love being here for my kids. I love having the opportunity to volunteer at their schools, go on field trips, drop them off, pick them up, take them to their various activities, manage the household errands while they’re in school.  I have the life I never knew I wanted but absolutely love. But there’s been an internal struggle for about a year now….wanting more, needing more. I had a drive to do, not just be. Now I have that. And it’s kind of exciting.

I need a job….or something….maybe

I’ve been a full-time stay-at-home mom for going on six years now. I don’t really miss being in an office dealing with maniacs all day every day. I do sometimes miss feeling like I contribute, as if I’m actually doing something with the college degree I worked hard to obtain, as if I’m more than “just a mom”. And I often miss just being around adults talking about something other than my kids, the last or next book club, or whether I went to the gym that day.  Mostly I miss feeling like I truly have a say in how money is spent in the household, beyond the household/family necessities, since I don’t actually bring any money into the household. Since Big Man started high school Monday, I’ve really been struck with the reality we have college to begin paying for in just four years. All that being said, I think I need a job. But then it has to be a job that fits in with very strict parameters. So maybe I don’t really want a job? Would that blogging about our crazy life paid the big bucks.  But I digress.

With Little Man’s issues, the Princess’ dance schedule, and Big Man’s school/sports schedule, I need something that not only fits in during school hours, but is also flexible if I need to manage an emergency, go to a dance competition, or haul Big Man to a cross country meet. So there’s that. It also can’t be a job that requires any weekend work for all those same reasons.

I believe I’ve mentioned my massive anxiety over talking on the phone? Yeah…..I’d prefer work that doesn’t require me be on the phone much if any at all. I know, it’s a difficult thing. But there ya go. I hate talking on the phone. I’m not good at it any longer. It stresses me out.

It can’t be a job that has anything to do with meeting people at their worst ie after a car crash or house fire/flood/break-in. I did that for twelve years. No thank you. I don’t want any customer service or sales either. See all of the above. While I am good at helping people – or so I’ve been told – there’s always that dark side that seems to come out in even the nicest people when something unexpected has happened to them. I lost my patience for that type of work. It makes me twitch just thinking about it.

If you need research done, especially if I don’t have to talk to anyone to complete it, I’m your girl. Need a paper/book/article edited? I can do that. Do you need a social media content writer/manager? I know social media, how to connect the various sites all together, and just ask my friends, I definitely know how to write social media content. Hello….blogger! Want help putting together a playlist for your runs? I do have some expertise in that field. Need help coming up with fundraising ideas? I have all kinds of fundraising ideas, just don’t ask me to do the fundraising for you – I do a ton of that already, and it’s not the easiest thing for me to actually do. Do you need someone to help you select your next book club book? That would be me. I have a literate degree, and have been a book club member for over seven years.

I’m going to keep pondering this job thing. I’ll figure it out, right?

Following someone else’s dream?

I can’t remember where I read the question, “Are you following someone else’s dream?” but it stuck with me and haunts me in some ways. I’ve been struggling the last year to figure out what I want to be when I grow up, what I really want to do with my life (besides all the fun of being wife, mom, sister, daughter, friend, carpool driver, activities chauffeur, dance mom, cook, maid, personal shopper, social organizer, volunteer extraordinaire). I realize that may be an odd thing to be working on when one is middle-aged, but there you have it.

I have a BA in Literature and a minor in Business Admin. In college I had no clue what I wanted to do, but I knew then I didn’t want to teach, not at that point in my life anyways. I ended up in the insurance industry straight out of college. I probably would have stayed had the company I worked for when we moved to Southern CA not been so awful. Once Little Man was born, I was done with all the commuting, the politics, the sucking up, the bureaucracy, the constant conflict with customers and vendors alike. I spent the next five years at a company I enjoyed doing various things, but I still wasn’t “living the dream.” That was more about a paycheck and the people I worked for and with than doing anything I loved. I’ve been home full-time for five years now. It’s really only been in the last year or so I’ve felt myself fighting against myself, trying to figure out what I want, what legacy I want to leave, and if I have the courage and drive to do what I long ago dreamed of doing.

I can’t seem to focus in on anything. I love writing my blog. I love the community I’ve found. But how do you take that and launch it into something lucrative? I hesitate to think about putting ads on my blog, and I have yet to hear of anyone getting solid paychecks from that adventure. And that’s not really why I write about our Herd. Friends have suggested a book, but really? Are there enough people in the world who would want to pay money for a book about ONE family’s experiences?

I know I let fear of failure hold me back. But I’m not entirely convinced writing anything more than what I currently write is my dream. How do you know what your dream really is anyways, much less if you’re living it or someone else’s? I know all the things I don’t want. But what is it that I do want?

I love being home with my kids. I honestly can’t imagine being back in an office, nor working full time in any capacity. But I do feel the pull of being around adults, doing something more productive than just (hah! Don’t punch me for this one!) being mom/wife/homemaker, of getting paid for my efforts. In four years, we will have one kid in college. Within seven years, we will have all three in college. That strikes fear in the financial heart. So I feel like I need to do something, but what? And does “doing something” preclude or exclude living my dream?

I’m running in circles. I am so very aware of that. These are some of the thoughts that keep me awake at 3am.

What’s your dream? How did you know what your dream was? Are you living it, or are you living someone else’s dream?

Becoming, Pt. 2

Four years ago (ouch!) I wrote about being 40, and still becoming who I am. You can read it here https://threesaherd.com/2010/01/06/becoming/  One of the things I wrote I was becoming was a runner. Now, four years later, I actually call myself a runner. For years, I would never have said that about myself, even at the point of running 10+  miles a week. I would say, “I’m not a real runner, I just run for exercise, and not very far.”  Denial, denial, denial. But now, now I own it. I am a runner.  It only took four years and four half marathons, along with realizing I obsess about shoes, foam rollers, IT band pain, running socks, tights vs shorts, and the color tech shirt I’m going to wear on race day. I AM A RUNNER!

Funny thing about life…it seems we are always becoming. Life is a process. I guess I still thought that by my mid-forties (YIKES!) I would be. Yeah, not so much. Four years after my last becoming post, I am still a work in progress. I still don’t know what I’m going to be when I grow up. I’m working on it. For the past year, I made my blog a focus. We took it public to test the waters, see if there would be any interest in what I had to say. Yesterday, I went over 100 followers. THANK YOU!! I was giddy when that notification popped up on my phone. What an amazing feeling. I write mostly as my own form of therapy. That anyone finds any comfort in it, or is interested in my words, makes me speechless.

I still wouldn’t call myself a writer. When anyone says I am a writer, I respond the way I used to when people said I was a runner. I shyly shake my head…”No, not yet. I’m not a writer yet.” I still consider myself in the process of becoming a writer. It hit me last night, I’m no longer becoming, I am. I’m going to own that, and I’m going to keep working at it. For now, my writing is confined to this blog. And there’s no financial benefit involved. That is my next step. Whenever we talk about what I’m going to “do” when the kids are grown and gone, I get twitchy. I have absolutely no desire to work in an office again. I don’t want to have to deal with people (12 years as a claim representative and four years in retail turns one off to any type of customer interaction).  I dread talking on the phone.  I love my quiet corner of the kitchen where my computer sits, with pictures of my babies surrounding me, my yoga or running clothes on, the  Today Show playing in the background. This is my happy place. If I can be the writer I want to be, one of my dreams will be a reality.

I’ve become a writer of sorts. I’m working on becoming a real writer – one who won’t shake her head in embarrassment when someone else calls me a writer.

Value and Contribution

When first Ryley and then Grace was born, I knew I was not going to stay home with them. First, we couldn’t afford to lose my salary. Second, hardly I knew stayed home with their kids except a random few. Third, there was no support system of other stay-at-homes in our neighborhood to help keep me from losing my mind. I took extended time off with both, but then I went back to work and they both were in an amazing daycare.

When E came along, I was working at a job I hated. And I was surrounded by friends who all stayed home. M’s career was on track. Things were different. We made the decision for me to stay home. It was a HUGE adjustment for me. Granted, in the five years that followed his birth, I worked part-time in an office, full-time in an office, and part-time from home. Three years ago, I was laid off and haven’t looked back.

I love that I am the one to drop off and pick up my kids. I love that I am around to get them to and from their activities. I love that I am able to go on field trips, volunteer in their classrooms, know who their friends and their friends’ parents are. I love that I can get cleaning, laundry, errands and such done on the weekdays when they are at school so that weekends don’t have to be spent taking care of those things. I love that I can have lunch with my friends during the week.

The  dynamic has been changing over the past few years though.  Many of my stay-at-home friends are returning to offices and full-time work. I am almost in the minority now. Of the fourteen girls on Grace’s soccer team, I was one of two moms at home full-time. Lately, I find myself apologizing and/or explaining why I “still” am a stay at home mom, probably due to my own insecurities more than any judgement I’ve received from anyone else.

I know I have absolutely no desire to be back in the office 9-5.  And I don’t want a job just to have a job. But I begin to wonder at my value and contribution. I have a degree, but the extent to which I use it anymore is in editing my own writing and helping my kids with their language arts homework and writing projects.  I know what I do for our home and family is invaluable. And I spend countless hours volunteering for the March of Dimes, at school, and with the kids’ various teams/activities. But I’m beginning to feel I should be doing more.

What do I want to be when I grow up? How do I want to spend my time? What do I want to do to contribute and feel I add value to not only our family but our world? I’ve made list upon list of the things I enjoy, the things I know how to do, the experiences I’ve had and skills I’ve developed. But how does that all translate? This really isn’t about finding a job, I think it’s more about finding me and being okay with whatever I do, whether that continue to be a stay-at-home, or getting out there in the world.  That is my biggest struggle…my battle with myself and my own feeling of value and contribution.