Thursday, July 21, 2011

Inner Musings After a Looooong Mommy Day

As a stay-at-home-home for the past 8.5 years, I occasionally struggle to find measurable meaning in my overwhelmingly routine existence. I understand that my reward for endless sacrifice and suffocatingly difficult days with young kids will come when they emerge as strong, loving, contributing adults, but some days it's hard to lay my head down at night with no tangible validation for all the work I put in that day.

Eons ago, back when I was in the working world, corporate speak was the norm, pantyhose were a curse and at the end of the day, I could look at a pile of projects checked off my list and feel satisfied with the day's accomplishments. I took pride in my work, had confidence in my abilities, and overall, felt that whichever company I was working for was benefiting from having me on staff.

Now, I rarely get a shower before noon. I can clean up the same mess six times in one day but, somehow, it's still there at bedtime. Dishes and laundry simply do not have a finish line. At any given point in the day, it is a safe bet that I am wiping someone's butt. I make 1,000 micro decisions per day, and have little confidence in many of them. I often wonder if anyone in the family is benefiting from having me “on staff”. Sometimes, I long for the days when I could see tangible proof of my contributions and received validation from coworkers and clients for my hard work. I miss the feeling of having something important to contribute to a project, or giving intelligent interjections at a meeting. I can work my tail off for my kids and they still say my arms are flabby, I have yellow teeth, and, most recently, John informed me I have no talent. I can laugh at those innocent proclamations, but deep down, I often long for the days when there were a few people around who respected me.

I admire my friends who are throwing together multi-million dollar corporate extravaganzas, saving lives as RNs, making a difference in a classroom or boardroom, etc. I often envy the stories they have to tell at the end of the day. My spit-up and poop debacles are hardly fodder for table talk.

In a society where one's worth is often irrevocably connected to their occupation and education, I am quite frequently presumed to hold a lower social rung on the proverbial ladder. I often find that others equate stay-at-home-mom with uneducated or incapable of achieving higher goals. While I occasionally find the misconceptions humorous, it inevitably chips away at my inner self-confidence. Fact is, I have a bachelor's degree and held positions in numerous reputable companies before I consciously chose to stay home and raise my children – a decision I do not regret.

What is regrettable, however, is how inadequate I often feel when surrounded by my husband's colleagues or other corporate-types. (A large number of my extended family all work for the same company.) I rarely have anything useful to contribute to the natural flow of conversation, and often find myself spinning one-liners or meager attempts at humor if only to feel included. Sometimes I just space out. Quite frankly, talking about investing and finance for hours on end is not my idea of a happenin’ night out. However, it's those moments of interaction with other educated, successful grown-ups when I find myself wistfully wishing that someone would turn and say, “Let's hear what Jeni has to say about this,” and genuinely care. Now, if the conversation suddenly turns to how to multi-task in the kitchen or juggle the needs of three children while simultaneously folding laundry, doing dishes, wiping snot and feeding the dog, then, heck, I've got that market cornered!

As I sign off from this entry, I am about to head upstairs to tuck my children in bed, kiss them goodnight, and then spend the next hour cleaning up the various messes they left in their wake – and then do it all again tomorrow. When I wake up, I will trade the pantyhose and heels for denim and flip flops and the most important decision I make will be what to fix for lunch. I will judge my accomplishments to be successful if I manage to get from the kitchen to the bedroom without tripping over legos. And when my husband comes home from work, he will most likely find dishes in the sink, toys on the floor, an unmade bed and a dirty diaper on Jossilyn. What he doesn't know is that I already did breakfast and lunch dishes, but then the kids ate snacks. I made the bed first thing in the morning, but then the boys built a fort out of my covers. I changed Jossilyn's diaper 10 minutes earlier, but she “did her thing” seconds before he walked in the door.

That’s my life. And I love it. I’m not contributing to world peace, forging corporate mergers or even designing a magazine ad, but my kids will go to bed knowing that Mommy will be there in the morning. And at lunch. And at dinner. And then I will trip over legos as I walk upstairs to tuck them in at night.

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Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Ahhhh, the country life!

Well, here we are! I can hardly believe that I am ACTUALLY living in the same small, country, back-woods town where I spent my early childhood! James has known since he met me nearly 14 years ago that I dreamed of raising my children in this quiet, country environment. I love it here. The town is only 2,500 people, but we are only minutes from major shopping and a quick 20-min drive to Ft. Worth. It's truly the best of both worlds!

The move has gone smoothly. The only hiccup was a prolonged argument with AT&T in which I did prevail and I am quite sure "Jeni" is now a 4-letter-word in some segments of the company. For the most part, we are settled in and assuming a normal daily routine. Since we moved "home", the transition was an easy one. No need to stress over not having friends and family around - they're all here!!! WHOO HOOO!!!!

Let me cut to the chase… many of you have been asking - and in some cases, begging - for pictures of the new house. Here they are! Well, here are most of them, anyway. You're going to have to wait for pics of the guest room and John's room. Those were too messy to photograph. 'Nuff said.

So, let's start the tour. Here is the front and back of the house. We are nestled on just shy of 2.5 acres. I'll snap some pics of the rest of the property for you soon to give you a better idea. Click on the pics to enlarge them.

Here are some pics of the entry way and living room…

The kitchen is just off the living room…

The dining room is just off the entry way and connected to the living room. Had to have this room painted… it was pumpkin orange! Nice color for some, but not for me. =)

The game room in this house is smaller, but I like it. It's cozy and has huge windows overlooking the property.

Just off the game room is the downstairs hall which leads to Matt's room and bathroom.

The master bedroom is so nice. I truly feel like I have a retreat to go to. It's quiet back there and the views of the backyard are so peaceful. Love love love my bedroom!

Upstairs is a loooooooong hall. This was exciting to me because our last house was designed with NO hallways. Finding places to hang all my pictures was so traumatic for me. If you know me well, then you know I have an extraordinary affinity for photography. The baby gate is to keep Jossilyn from breaching John's "safe zone" and creating havoc in the guestroom.
Jossilyn's room is HUGE. It's the perfect size to accommodate the HUGE messes she makes with her toys. The decor is the same as the old house. I had to re-buy a lot of the decorations, but it was totally worth it to keep the same theme.

And that's it! For now, anyway… everything beyond the baby gate was too messy for film, which means that Jossilyn is NOT the messiest kid in our family! =)