Uncharted Territory

Friends. I’ve wanted to tell you this, but the time just wasn’t right. Err, the time just wasn’t there. Like, I had none. Anyway now it’s upon us.


Tomorrow, after five years of nearly continuous stay-at-home mothering,  I start full time work. Away from the home. Shlepping tacos out of a bus for $13/hour, plus tips.

My Man will be home with the kiddos. Full time.

This will go on for two months, wherein I will get to retire from taco-shlepping to do pottery in my home studio.

(What? I never told you I was a potter?

I see there are quite a few topics left uncovered.)

Many forces have converged to create this upcoming change. One is my constant bitching about how hard it is to be a full time parent and how desperately I need a break to do anything at all that involves grown-ups, as well as the overdosed state of My Man’s brain after three years of such intensive study and his great desire to stay home and “just play with the kids” for awhile; the most obvious and logical reason however is the excruciating three month gap between taking the Bar and finding out if you have passed the Bar and are therefore allowed to begin attempting to work as a lawyer and even dream of paying off your loans.

We need dough, and taco shlepping is a quick and straightforward way to get it.

After the summer season winds down, and the bus closes, I’ll switch to the slower income of my pottery business. I actually make more per hour at that, but it’s all investment at first, followed two months later by a big pay off. I make functional kitchen and tableware, by the way. In case you couldn’t have guessed. And I have a real, grown-up studio, not big or fancy but serviceable for a small scale home business.

At any rate. Working mum. That’s me as of tomorrow. Will you still respect me? Will I find any time at all to write the many posts that have been swirling in my brain? Most importantly, do you have any advice? I’ve never done this before.

Don’t tell me to cook ahead. And don’t tell me to make a little time for myself every day. C’mon. Give me a little credit. Any other less obvious ideas though?

Today, after I was bemoaning all the house projects, and when we will find the time to do them, My Man said something about how he would be able to rebuild the broken woodshed roof while he was home with the kids. I snapped back,

“Yeah, If you are a better person than me, you might be able to manage it.”

As my shithead comment sat with me I realized that, given the fact that I do many things while I am mothering that My Man won’t do (like grow a garden, cook everything under the sun homemade, etc) it is only logical that he will manage to do things that I didn’t get done.

I had already accepted that the kids would not eat as healthily under his watch, that our food bill would be higher, that the house probably would not be as clean, our home generally not as efficient by my standards. But I had (predictably) failed to turn the equation around and realize that he would excel at other things, surpass me. And that’s okay. Or at least it had better be.

We are approaching the big blank hole on the map. Yonder lie dragons.




21 thoughts on “Uncharted Territory

  1. alright, this IS my realm. good start at saying you accept the caveats (your last full paragraph), but um, really ACCEPT them (i have a good idea about the potential here). no fair bitching later that the house is a sty (it will be), and the kids lunched pop tarts and spent the afternoon in front of 4 dvds. and definitely actively notice and appreciate the differences (and they’re important: my monkey gets waaaaay more exercise without me, learns to swim, has more conversation, discovered “shaun the sheep” etc…). staying positive, in my experience, is a lot more work than nitpicking the obvious (wtf, why are the dishes from last week still hanging out? you bought food from the vending machine? how come all the socks are missing partners?). aside from that you know that after you slog through tacos, snotty tourists and dept. of health regulations ALL DAY you’ll come home and your partner will need to detox. so instead of putting your feet up be prepared to come home and work. i suggest taking care of your personal needs (bathroom, drink, calories, headspace) before you walk home so you’re ready to deal with two sugar-hyped, exhausted kids. my #1 tip is to send your spouse out the door for a break so that you only have to deal with two people’s needs. that buffer/transition can head off any stupid arguments about whatever (the condemned-state of the house, the kids’ malnutrition, etc.)

    enjoy your break!

    1. All of the above, but particularly the last part is brilliant advice. Listen to this woman! It is honest constructive advice like this that should be what woman pass to each other all the time, instead of judgement and fear – how much more useful would we be to each other then.

  2. I second Andres’s response! Eat and pee before you get home and send your partner out the door first thing. I say that not because it’s what I do but because we don’t, and I’ll be damned if we don’t have a lot of the arguments she’s describing.

  3. Here’s my two-cents’ worth: enjoy it! It can be a blissful feeling to walk away in the morning from what’s been very wearying. Some mornings I felt like kissing my desk. It’s SO EASY just doing one job at a time. Then you are much more free to love your family single-mindedly when you get home. I second the advice about getting your body to the optimum condition before you walk in the home door. My biggest struggle was not to encourage by even a blink my kids’ preferring me to their father.

  4. as hard as it might be, be thankful to him; smile when you walk in the door (as a matter of rule); and crank up your sense of humor so anything that goes on can be read/watched/heard as if you are watching a sit-com. Just laugh.

  5. You can do it! Best I’ve got. There really is no advice, every day will be different. Let go of pet peeves and little OCD ways you like things and just roll with it (that’s me by the way, not a criticism of you). Letting your spouse do things his way is hard at first, but then, as so many people have probably told you it’s beautiful in it’s uniqueness. My husband stays home with the kidlets and our 2 year old can count to 30 and our 4 year old knows 26 sight words and can read simple books. It’s mind-blowing amazing, fuck the dishes.

  6. Big news! And great advice from all the women above. I’ll have to check back when I return to work in a year or two ;-) Best of luck slinging tacos, I’m sure you’ll kick ass at it!

  7. Lots of good advice above. As someone who works part time and whose partner works part time, one of the hardest things for me was accepting that when he gets home, he\’s not \’On\’ the way I instantly am, because the kids don\’t mob him the way they do me. So yeah, having a drink of water and going to the bathroom before you come home, great advice.

    I have also noticed that both of us have more of a tendency to want to debrief about our day when we are the one coming home from work than when we are the one at home – maybe because we\’ve \’finished\’ for the day – and trying to do that as soon as we get home or during dinner (usually both of us arrive home on our respective work days just in time to sit down at the table, moreorless), is just hopeless, when the kids want to reconnect with us.

    But your point about different things getting done because you have different strengths is really an excellent one, and something i still struggle with (after 9 years, on and off), but more in the opposite way. Chris actually is far better at getting big housework done – stuff like the laundry – while he might not sweep the floor all day, or have the kids in their PJs when I get home, or organise peer plays for the kids. but I have a tendency to beat myself up about what i don\’t do, as much as him for what he doesn\’t do. I really should just accept both for what we are, and be thankful we get to take turns being home!

  8. enbrace the change and let him also, remember people are more important than things (or clean things), and gear up for the next change! happy tacos!

  9. Woo, that’s a big change in lifestyle! Good luck and enjoy the freedom from kids. I’m rubbish at biting my lip about the mess if I ever leave mine with my husband and about all the tv watching etc etc, so I won’t be passing on any advice. But I’ll have to remember to check back here when I eventually break out and do things all by myself again – some great tips up there! Have a great time and keep writing to us all!

  10. And then, last night I was talking to Chris about this, and he pointed out that he does sweep the floor :) and in fact (though he didn’t point this out), I often don’t! So I don’t want to give the wrong impression. :)

  11. ‘Bring home free tacos’ is possibly my favourite chunk of all this fabulous advice. I I got nothing for you. Except to say that swapping your roles around for a while can only be a wonderful way to give each other a real, true perspective on what life is like on both sides of the fence – a gift really. Good luck CJ xx

  12. Exciting and terrifying all at once. I can’t wait to hear how you tamed those dragons!
    And, I second or third the motion to see your pottery!

  13. I like getting dressed up and leaving for 2 days every week as an editor. But it took over a year for me to realize that both my husband and I thought of my job as ME TIME (which it’s NOT – we never classify his job as personal time for him!). So that explained my resentment and his seeming selfishness. We now approach our time differently and I am more firm about getting the kind of time with my kids I want – not just doing catch-up chores from the fun time when Daddy was with them, but just being able to noodle around and play.
    Good luck to you!

  14. My two cents, one, lower your expectations. And two, learn to settle. I’ve been bringing home the bacon in our house since our second child was born, and my DIY stay-at-home dad husband has done a bang up job with our three kids. I remember the days of coming home and getting tagged, “You’re it! Gotta go to anywhere that’s just not here for an hour.” And sure, DIY hubby didn’t/doesn’t do everything I would if our roles were reversed, but I don’t do his work either. When I see the wood rack piled high, or that the fridge is fixed or my car’s oil is changed, I am thankful. Plus he cooks most weeknights, and there really is nothing like a home cooked meal with your family to take the edge off a hard days work. You and your family be fine, and maybe even better than you were for the experience. I’m pulling for you!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s