I took January off of writing, both from the blog and from the books (one to edit, one that is still be written.) We've had some changes in our home and a new sort of day is emerging.
Those first few months at home after we put all five children in school were invaluable. I wrote 2 books! I cleaned up the house! I slept and walked and, most importantly, began to heal from the summer's emotional exhaustion and slowly got back my game for this journey called Parenting Traumatized/Attachment-Challenged Children.
But as time wore on, I realized that I now had an opportunity to begin to develop Me. Not me as Mom or me as Wife or me as Housekeeper/Pinterest Follower. But Me as a person who has something to give to society in general. Me as a person who can contribute to our household and help out with extras like a family trip to a waterpark or driver's ed for a certain teen-ager or a second car (we only own my van- the Mister's company provides his car) or upcoming college expenses.
It was time to take on a part-time job.
I began a part-time job with the Green Bay school district. I work as a
noon hour supervisor/paraprofessional support at a local elementary
school. The pay is great, the hours are perfect and I will never have a childcare conflict because my kids' school operates from the same calendar.
I love it. I work with the K-1st-2nd grades, which are my favorite ages for
children as everything is exciting and new and wondrous for them.
The school I work at is considered one of Green Bay's "inner city" school (which I find amusing, since "city" is still a stretch for our town, in my mind.) Yet many of the factors support this claim: 90% of our families live below poverty level, 96% qualify for free lunch, white children are smallest percentage racially in this school, which is certainly not the average in our midwestern home.
Not to toot my own horn, but I am good at this work. Being an adoptive mother of older children, living with trauma issues and attachment disorders and all sorts of accompanying destructive behaviors has been great training. I have an awareness now that I certainly did not have when I had bio children only at home. I can see through the behaviors and see the child in each of these children because I've had to do this with my own two sons.
Admittedly, this is far easier to do at my job- I am only with these children several hours a day. I get breaks and weekends off. There are other adults and teachers and layers of rules, authority, activities. I am doing this in the capacity of employee and not Mother, and that makes a huge difference.
I am happy to go to work each day and have my own identity there. Not as Mom or Cliff's wife but as me. With my own skill set that I bring to the table, which is valued there. It's a new thing for me, and I really like it.
So for me, January was about getting healthy after that terrible flu and adjusting to my new schedule. About giving myself the time and space to just adjust and be and not put too much on myself that all has to be perfect or seamless.
I work 3 hours a day. I have mornings at home and I finish work just in time to swing through and collect our youngest 4 from their elementary school.
I used to cook dinner between 1 and 2:30 each day before getting the kids, and since I am at work those house, the crockpot is now fired up 3 to 4 days a week, as we go from school to dance and music lesson schedules most weekday afternoons.
The kids each had an extra chore added to their chore list, and the Mister is stepping up and helping out in the kitchen more. And I am letting him (and letting him do it his way), instead of shooing him away.
Overall, it's been a great and smooth transition. But still we have days where I have dropped the ball on something or realize that I didn't take something else into account and messiness ensues. Those days kind of suck, but it's just a day and I can learn and move on.
And, I still have some major stuff to figure out. Like when to write. Or seriously hit my reading list. Or watch those cable series the Mister and I are so addicted to. Or keeping my telomeres from looking like stubbed-out cigarette butts.
But that's what life is about, isn't it? Figuring it all out while enjoying the ride.