Friday, June 17, 2011

A Mid-Wife Crisis

I titled this a Mid-Wife crisis, but I think it's more like a mid-wife-mommy-staying-at-home crisis.  It's that point in my life where I felt as if I'd lost my identity.  It's been a slow picking away since we adopted the Stin, but now being home with the Ster, I've felt a much stronger wave of emotion.  I've written and rewritten this blog-it never seemed right, first it was too weepy, then too whiny then all over the place. I think at those times I was using it more as a diary to get it out and that is why I never wanted to share or post.  Honestly I was quite embarrassed, I don't like to be too vulnerable with my emotions, I'm known as the rock and I wasn't ready to lose that part of my identity, but I've come to terms with these feelings and can finally write about them.

The main struggle has been guilt!  I love being at home with the Stin and Ster, I can't imagine not being with them every day, now that I've had this having these selfish feelings of losing my identity seemed like such a horrible thing to write about.  How dare I complain about being at home when there are so many women out there who would kill to be at home with their kids- like how I was when I was working.  But this isn't about me being at home, this is about me and only me.  Me as a woman, as a wife, as a mother, as a provider and as a friend.  After having the Ster all these parts of me seemed to be shifting and I felt like I couldn't keep up with the shift and began failing miserably at every aspect.  It can become overwhelming and it did.

I remember my first sense that a part of who I was had gone and boy does it sound petty.  It was the day I turned over my leased Jeep Wrangler to the lot.  I had that car for 5 years and it had become a part of my identity.  Everyone knew I drove the bright yellow Jeep, people said they always thought of me whenever they saw one.  I loved that car, I loved the size, I loved that it was a stick, it was the perfect vehicle for me.  But it wasn't practical with kids and when the Stin came to us, we knew it needed to go for something safer and more suitable...four doors and good gas mileage.  So off went the Jeep to lease lot heaven and when I handed over the keys I cried.  It was a shift and I was ok with it, the Stin was much more important than that car, but I did love having it and there were a lot of memories tied to it, so respects had to be paid. It's these little things that add up through the years.  Maybe it's not a vehicle for everyone, but there is that something that just takes you back to good times and it's hard if you have to let it go. 

Then the huge change came...the decision to stay-at-home and quit my job.  It was close to a no-brainer, my maternity leave was amazing and when The Don and I figured out I could stay-at-home, I was ecstatic.  I couldn't wait to put in my notice and be back at home with the kids, finally, like I had always dreamt. But my whole being had been built around my work ethic, that's what I did and that's who I was-a worker.  I had no problem working 2 jobs through college and 3 jobs in the summer.  I picked up waitressing jobs while working full time in advertising to help build up a savings account and pay off school loans.  I didn't mind working, I didn't mind staying late, I liked contributing to the finances and I felt like I did a pretty good job.  If I was asked to describe myself, hard-worker was my go-to descriptor, so losing that was like a part of me was gone.  This was a shift that could have rated a 9 on the Richter scale for me, and like those impossible to predict earthquakes, I never expected to feel the loss of self-worth and the feeling of loneliness in that decision.

I mean here I was doing exactly what I had wanted and now I'm going to throw a pity party because I was feeling sad.  Who would I dare talk to about this?
My friends who were at home and loving it- No
My friends who were still working and wishing they could be at home- No
My friends who didn't have any children- No
My family who thought being at home was perfect- No
My family who seemed to doubt me staying-at-home in the first place- No. 
To have a major event take place and not feel like you can talk about it with anyone, especially when you've always felt like you had lots of friends, that is a very hard place to find yourself in.  I tried not to dump my feelings on The Don but he sure had to deal with a very sad Nici far too often.

Then the day came where my insecurities hit a new high and the complete ridiculousness of it all came to a head-literally.  I had decided to blow dry my hair one day after weeks and weeks of the ever so sexy ponytail.  I took my nice paddle brush to my hair and started to part down the side when they appeared, and I say they because there were so many!  The gray hairs, not just a couple that you pluck and shrug off, these are gray hairseseseseses.  It was devastating, because I'm a red head-since I was born, never been dyed, temper and all RED head.  I expected to go gray at some point and was ok with it, but not at 31. Combined with my already fragile state, it put me over the edge. As I sobbed pathetically, I realized,  I had to deal with this, I had to get over myself and so another shift came-but this time it was my decision and on my terms.

One part of my identity I refuse to give up is my outlook, I have always been quite optimistic-it could verge on annoying I'm sure.  I am also a huge cliche believer, because most of them are true.  So I'm tapping into that part of my being and starting to rebuild.  I am doing what I've always wanted, being home with my kids and we are making it work on a salary that most wouldn't think was doable.  I have healthy children. I have a wonderful husband who is my best friend and we have always been able to pull through...together.  Everything happens for a reason and this to shall pass. 

I'm sure I'll have minor set backs and this will be a continual adjustment, but it's one that I'm happy with.  I've come to the realization that I'm still Nici.  I'll have another Jeep some day, I'll rock the gray hair as it comes and maybe consider a dye job for the first time, I'll go back to work when I feel that my time at home is done and I'll just keep doing the best I can.

Instead of looking back I'm going to start looking forward, I'll just pull some of my favorite things from behind to bring with me, like my high heels. I have lots from my working days and I love them. I don't get to wear them as often as I'd like, but I think I'll change that, plus I have some really cute ones for my new path in this journey we call life.

Friday, June 10, 2011

It's come down to Bike Lessons...

Yes, that's right, bike lessons.  The Stin had a friend over the other day to play.  I use the word "play" loosely, as their definition is very different than mine.  They would be completely content with playing the Wii, DS or any other form of video gaming system, all day long-sometimes even separately. I, on the other hand, feel that playing means interacting, requires physical exertion, imagination and usually requires them being outside. So when I said the dreaded words, "No Wii boys, go play outside" the moping and dropped heads began- they were SO bored.

I swear that The Stin and his friends don't know how to actually be friends.  They are kind of  like The Ster... who is 16 months. They play by each other-but not with each other, it's like independent play with's crazy!  I have actually begun telling the boys to go figure out how to be friends and how to play together-because they really don't know how.

As the dragging of the feet and constant check ins of "can we play the Wii yet" continued, I decided to start rattling off things they could do: go get some other kids and play tag, hide-and-seek, capture the flag, get a game of football or soccer going, go out back and set up the horseshoes or the croquet set, shoot some hoops, get your remote control cars out, go get your bikes and ride around the block...and that's when I heard it:
"I can't Mrs. Crislip, I need to take bike lessons." WHAT?! I tried to give him the benefit of the doubt and inquired into this lessons? Why would you need those? He was quite articulate in telling me that he has almost everything down but is having a problem with balance so his parents think he needs bike lessons...yup bike lessons. What do you say to that...I just shook my head and sent their moping butts outside to sit around and be bored.  I gave it a good go and after the bike lesson excuse, I was done for the day.

This is my dilemma every day.  I've written before about the other parents being a huge obstacle, none of us are on the same page any more with what is appropriate or necessary for our kids and the "bike lesson" was just another notch on my motherhood frustration belt.  This is a boy who is very sweet, he has good manners, but he is not forced to do anything outside and tends to spend most of his time with technology instead of nature-and hence he can't ride a bike.  This isn't a lesson situation, we're not playing the piano, you can't teach balance, you feel balance and unfortunately you feel the cement or grass before you feel the balance.  He was never required to get out there and practice and fall and get back up and try again so he is now 10 years old and cannot ride a bike.  The sad thing is that the best thing would probably be to put his training wheels back on, but how do you do that to a 10 year old boy? 

It's just crazy to me, but this is how it is right now.  I worry that the art of "being a boy" will be lost soon and it just kind of makes me sad.  I want The Stin to grow up and be sweet and compassionate, but I also want him to be a man.  I want him to embrace his testosterone and use those powers for good.  Honestly, if I caught him and a friend in an argument and rolling around in the grass, I would probably breathe a sigh of relief.  It might sound wrong, but boys are boys and I would love to see them acting that way...because the truth is, I don't. 

So if you are raising a boy and he picks up a bug and sticks it in his pocket or rough houses in the grass with his dad-embrace it!  They don't say boys will be boys for nothing and I don't want that phrase to become a moot point.