The Other Side of the Fruit Roll-Up
As we were driving back from my parents’ house in Coos Bay, I got a couple of fruit roll-ups for my family. Fruit roll-ups are amazing in that they have almost as many flavors as Jelly Bellies nowadays.
Abigail picked hers out, and I picked a few out for me. As soon as we got into the car, she made me unroll hers so that it wouldn’t rip, and she took a huge, smiley bite out of it. I proceeded to do the same.
She sat cheerfully munching on her watermelon fruit roll up and then looked at me. Obviously, I was enjoying the apple one very much. I could see her little mind working. Is she enjoying her apple one as much as me? What if she likes it BETTER than I like mine? I wonder if there is a way to go back in time and reverse this obviously rash decision on my part?
Perhaps her vocabulary isn’t as advanced as all that, but she immediately asked if we could trade, which I was happy to oblige to. What’s wrong with jumping the fence now and then?
I realized that this would be the subject of my first blog – about jumping the fence. In reality, I feel this is what I have done recently, jumped the fence of professional working mom to the green and glorious fields of stay-at-home motherdom. The problem is, now that I am on the other side, I can see the cow doodles much more clearly than I could when I was on the road to success.
For the last 3 years, I have been a professional teacher. Not just any teacher, mind you. An English Teacher. (That has to be capitalized because it is such a proper position I am treating it like a proper noun) Basically, I have been working with high school students to teach them how to write, talk good, and generally make choices that will not lead to imprisonment or death.
Actually, that life was a very delicious fruit roll up. A very nice, interesting road.
A few months ago, my husband Kyle got great news: He had a new job in Portland, Oregon. Since I grew up there, it wasn’t exactly new terrain, but it brought with it a fantastic new job opportunity for me.
Kyle said, “Oh, and since I will be making more each month, you will be able to stay at home with Abigail. It should save on babysitting.”
Oh heavenly joy! Oh rapture! Oh sweet miracle of miracles!!
As a daughter of a stay-at-home mom, and a pretty devout Mormon, I had been harboring the guilt of the working mother. I couldn’t deny that I loved my work as a teacher, helping at-risk youth not kill themselves with stupidity. But, the twisting guilt knife was always in my back screaming, “If Abigail becomes a prostitute, drug dealer, or actress, it is going to be your fault!!”
So, I jumped that damn fence as fast as I possibly could. Nothing wrong with a different fruit roll-up.
There was another dream that haunted me, too. All my life I have been dancing around the fact that I can write, that I’m pretty good at it, and that I love to tell stories. I thought, since I am going to be home anyway, maybe I’ll pursue my small, starving dream of becoming a Real Writer. (Once again, very proper) A Real Writer could support her family with the magnificent words from her brilliant, poignant brain.
The problem is, it’s never that easy. There are growing pains, problems, internal and external pressures that make this a long haul instead of an easy hop. I feel like I’ve been given a chance to learn something very important and new, as both a writer and a mother, and perhaps help others like myself find solace in these brand new fields of work.
Many people told me that being a stay-at-home mom is hard. It is lonely and isolating. It is not obviously rewarding. It is monotonous and frustrating. It takes every ounce of strength, patience, love and faith that you have on a daily basis. I wasn’t stupid enough ignore them. I’m pretty sure that writing is the exact same way.
Still, I wanted to do both for my family and myself. Maybe to prove that I can do it.
One more thing.
When I was 19, I was diagnosed Bi-Polar. What that means is, sometimes I’m really fun and exciting and cool (and do a lot of dancing and singing randomly), and sometimes I am pretty depressed (but mostly just angry). This is a part of my personality that I have lived with for almost 15 years, and I feel like I have a good handle on it.
I knew that this added element would make this next year or so very interesting. Maybe it will be funny, maybe it will be sad. Probably there will be a lot of anger and frustration than I have felt up to this point. I thought, If I could document this next year of my life, perhaps I could help other women who feel the new responsibility of being a stay-at-home mom and are also dealing with their own feelings of depression and inadequacy. Perhaps I could help someone who is feeling these same things know that she is not alone.
My goal is to help you by helping myself. This personal blog will give you unparalleled insight into my life and personality, while also possibly teaching you how to survive your first year as a stay-at-home mom, or being crazy, or becoming a writer, or all of the above. Hopefully, you will realize that you actually like your new side of the fence a little better, maybe make some arts and crafts out of the cow doodles.
As for me, I am just really planning on enjoying this brand new fruit roll-up.