This is my last day as a stay-at-home mom. For awhile. I say goodbye to this sweet mothering life and goodbye to this one version of a self-contained writing life. Goodbye. And I am sad to say goodbye. I may well love what I do next, and it’s a great opportunity and I am in agreement with friends who say I am brave to try something new like this– at this time of my life. All true, but alongside those facts is the fact that I am sad to say goodbye to this life. I do not yet have all the vocabulary to write for real about what I have learned and understood about the lives of women and the brilliance and struggle of women who devote themselves full time to caregiving. I don’t think it is exactly all we want for ourselves but the undervaluing of the brains, stamina, planning, strategy and brilliance it takes to do this work– is one enormous lie of sexism.
I lament the end of this time. Truly. Truly. Truly. Truly.
A longstanding vulnerability has become a major sideline these past weeks. I’ve been mostly sleepless. I’ve turned into part very old woman whose sleep is so fragile, she wanders the empty quiet apartment throughout the night. And part toddler– buffeted by excitement, changes in routine and all the rest. In short, in the past two weeks, I’ve had too many nights of three, four hours of sleep. And I am tired.
I offer a small list of things I will especially miss. Though you should know that there have been a number of distinct periods of time, distinct undertakings and different routines during this year and a half of unemployment.
1. Getting my daughter to school in the morning. Trying, despite lateness, grumpiness (much but not all of it mine) to make it a good send off in the morning. I succeeded sometimes and not others.
2. Doing nearly all the family’s grocery shopping. Much of it during the middle of the day. Doing my chores with other mothers of the world (and those women’s little babies and toddlers), old women, surgical residents finishing a double shift, and others who are not in offices during the middle of the day.
3. The fact that my daughter has figured out a way to call me during the middle of the day. I will miss being consistently available to answer her calls, talk to her and listen to her.
4. After school. The walk home, the ride home, the laughs, the complaints, the tears– her friends, her teachers. All that goes on — on the front steps of the school at 3:20 and beyond.
5. Making a huge plates of nachos for seemingly small girls and their enormous appetites. And then another huge plate. Listening to them talk while they eat.
6. Studying many things including Hebrew and my Torah portion, reading stories, magazines, poetry. I watched a movie about four times in the daytime, during the course of this time at home. I got Prince of Broadway in a rare daytime showing.
7. Wearing the same clothes two days in a row. Well really three. Sometimes four.
8. Driving, driving, driving, driving. The interesting thoughts I’ve thought, the mundane worldliness of it, the beauty of fall days, summer days, winter and rainy days– late evening, early morning.
8. My beloved partner’s unfailing, unwavering love and hope for me. Her loyalty and her good, good face and voice over the phone.
9. Writing. This blog and other things. And revising and revising. This post– the beginning of a new era, where at times if you want to finish something you must give up revising, and reworking.
10. Being available to be with my nephew in his first semester of university here– occasionally during the daytime.
11. My own time at the gym. I’ve not gone for weeks and need to return. I know it will be harder now that I’ll be working, but I must. I liked taking seriously the body’s need for good care and exercise.
So off I go, like your child going off to school for the first time. I take a step away from a life I’ve been building and toward something new and unknown.