Next Up: Staying at Home and Other Updates


 I am welcoming September from a new vantage point in life. Life has been a mass of changes and transitions in the past month. I’ve resigned from my job. Panda has received her green card. Shortstack has started third grade. Changes. Evolutions. Progressions. Transitions. And yet some parts of life remain our comfortable routine: the start of the fall semester with chaos on the campuses, back-to-school shopping and settling in, the start of athletics seasons with our return to football, soccer and volleyball games, coordinating the pick-up/drop-off scheduling for the week’s soccer practices and games and ukulele lessons, homework and lunch-making. Yes, our routines remain the same. And yet so, so, SO different! 

For the first time in my adult life, I am unemployed and not going to school for {another} degree. It feels weird. I feel weird. And at a bit of loss for how to move through my days as a home wife. When I made the decision to resign from my job, Panda agreed, supported and encouraged me to take the leap into the unknown “next.” My constant cheerleader (oh, she’ll hate that descriptor), Panda was concerned about my well-being and sanity if I continued in my job. We both knew that the transition phase between ending my job and finding my next position would be challenging and we’re both anxious about that. But, she affirms my decision every day and encourages me to pursue the projects that interest me while continuing to search for a job that will fuel instead of flail me. 

But, of course, best laid plans are … well, they may be well-laid but that doesn’t mean that the follow-through is smooth or hiccup-free. I ended my job and I don’t have my “next.” As of yet. You see, I’m hopeful. In fact, I’m gut-sure that my “next” will be a pretty interesting adventure – whenever that doorway opens up. Now, don’t think that I’m not doing all the things you need to do when you’re looking for a job – networking, applying, revising and refining my resume, actively searching for new pathways to explore and creating back-up plans as best I can. 

In the meantime, I’m having a whole new experience – as a stay-home mama and wife. I have A LOT of respect for stay-at-home partners/mamas. The demands of keeping the home running smoothly is challenging for all families, but stay-at-homes partners seem to be expected to live up to a higher level of provision for home and hearth. I am feeling a lot of mixed feelings about my new role in our family and how this new role – or, possibly, the lack of my “old” role – is affecting my identity. In the week and a bit that I’ve been unemployed, I have been feeling a lot of guilt for not having a job. Even though the decision to resign my position was made with the support and encouragement of my wife, when I send her on her way in the morning and I know that she has a crazy day ahead of her, my gut clenches and I fleetingly wonder if she resents that I’m standing before her in my casual clothes with a cup of coffee in my hand, getting ready to walk our boy to school.

Growing up, my maternal role model was not very domestic. My mother, for all her perfectionist tendencies in how she kept the house, was not one who desired to stay at home and revel in the duties and pleasures of “keeping” the house. She is a remarkable woman who ran her career on the fast track and made sure that every room in our house was up to her expectations. Staying at home was never a path that would bring her fulfillment or contentment. I, on the other hand, love to funnel my energies into creating a home space that is welcoming and comfortable. I love to putz around in my kitchen creating off-the-wall menu ideas that are quick and yummy; I could spend hours working my way room-through-room in the house reorganizing and deep cleaning; I am so thankful for the time that I have to walk our boy to school and do homework with him in the afternoons (even if 3rd grade math is beyond my capabilities). BUT, I have learned in the last two weeks that I do not want, nor am I fulfilled or challenged by being a stay-at-home mama and wife. If a stranger were to look in our front window by 2pm in the afternoon, they would be baffled by the sight of me having a fully engaged conversation WITH MYSELF about only the fates-know-what. I have deep cleaned almost every room in the house (minus Shortstack’s room because, well, apoplectic fits are not necessarily good for my mental well-being). I have purged and organized closets and the fridge. I have launched my Etsy shop ( – after all, why not talk it up here? It is my space after all!) I have read books … many, many books! The library and I have become close friends again. I have gone for walks, watered plants, sat on the steps and brainstormed who I think I am and who I think I want to be. I have sat down with hours ahead of me to write ponder and journal and rewrite and reconsider and create. I have started a substitute teaching course. I have gone on one interview and have revised (and revised and revised) my resume. I have done all of this and more because I have time. 

This time I’ve been given is a boon and a luxury. I know how lucky I am that my wife is championing my choice to walk away from my career and take the time to figure out what I want to do next. I have 20 years (well, realistically, 30 years unless we come into a windfall of money somewhere down the line … and, no, I don’t think that we’ll strike it rich in Vegas) of work ahead of me and I want those years to be enjoyable and purposeful and fulfilling. Every day, I continue to search for a new job, all the while, keeping it foremost in my mind that I want my job to have a reason and be meaningful as well as providing an income and security for our family. I don’t think that’s too much to ask. In fact, I know it isn’t. I think that we’ve been persuaded into believing that it is unreasonable for us to believe that how we make a living can be part of the reason we enjoy life. I haven’t figured out all the details yet. But I’m learning …. I’m muddling my way through … and I’m doing my best to take care of me and mine as I get a grasp on this whole “Next” thing. 

So, our family is good. We’re settling in and continually creating our life. We cuddle together when we get tired or things get rough. Hell, we cuddle together when we’re busting out in laughter over the daily life things that kick our funny bones. It’s a whole new world and, when it comes down to it, I’m a hell of a lucky woman …



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