cyanonestscan

I think I’ve lost a little of who I am.  Many of the choices we’ve made for great reasons have combined to make this bewildering set of circumstances for me.  Somehow, I’ve turned into a stay-at-home mom homeschooler.  This role is odd for me, like an ill-fitting suit with a scratchy collar and too tight pants.

Being a parent is inherently a matter of self-sacrifice.  You give up things for your kids, be it sacrificing money to pay for diapers, or spending time on homework instead of that movie you wanted to see.  For those of us with a lead parent role, we give up more: our sense of identity.

I am blessed to have my job.  Not many parents have the luxury of staying at home with their kids.  In our case, it’s more necessity than luxury because I can’t make enough money to cover child care for 3 kids.  Someone had to stay home with them.  We made a brutal career choice analysis and I lost the coin flip.

Our choices turned out to be the right ones when we realized our kids needed extra help.  There is no way the Engineer could function in a child care environment and the Destroyer has severe separation anxiety that even affects his sleep.  No one else can do my job, even my husband who should get a Daddy-of-the-year award.

Even though I love my kids, I have to admit there’s a little bit of resentment going on.  I miss who I was.  I want one day – just one, I’m not greedy! – to go do what I want to do without small hands clinging to me and small voices wailing about whatever kid drama is going on.  I want one day to not worry about the Engineer’s safety and emotional state.

Being a parent of a special needs child is brutal.  You never get a break.  You’re always on, always alert, always cautious.  There are plenty of days I spend worried that I can’t do this. That I can’t help him enough, do enough, be enough of what he needs.

I keep hoping that as the kids get a little older that I’ll be able to start a little work on my own projects.  That I can get back to the creative process that was my touchstone, my identity.  In reality I’m much too stressed out and exhausted to be creative.  Being an artist is demanding creatively, and I’m not sure I have that kind of stamina right now.

Before kids, I was a photographer that worked in cyanotype: a very old photographic process that some people call sun prints because you expose the print to sunlight.  I am a conceptual artist, meaning my work has a deeper meaning than just the surface image.  Not sure if I was a good one, but that doesn’t really matter.

I miss the clear, singing joy of seeing a finished print start to emerge in the developer.  I miss the technical challenges of printing and the sense of accomplishment from a final piece.  I’m rarely so centered and at peace than when I’m working on my art.

On my positive days I’m optimistic that I’ll be able to start working again soon.  The rest of the time I mourn what I lost.  I love my kids.  Don’t ever doubt that.  But I’m not blind to the cost of raising them.

 

 

 

 

How did it come to this?
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8 thoughts on “How did it come to this?

  • May 26, 2016 at 8:34 pm
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    The other side of the parent coin is the father, who is on a nuclear submarine, home only 42 days in a year. A necessary duty (At the time it was during the cold war). However, the duty leaves the stay-at-home mom with 24/7 duty without a break. Really puts a strain on a marriage, can cause riffs in relationships and then “The Enforcer” returns home looking for a renewed relationship. The kids, being kids, have been told “wait ’til your father gets home…..” So upon arrival the father gets a “report card” listing the behaviors that were unacceptable during his absence. The kids like dad and mom but can see how easy it is to play one against the other in this situation. So dad, wanting peace and quiet, gives “the evil eye” and the silent look that says “don’t do that any more” and peace returns to the house til its time for dad to leave again. This roller coaster marriage continues until dad transfers off the submarine.
    My daughter raised 7 children who were all home schooled. One completed college, four are married with at least one child, the only male aced home schooling completed test given by the State. The last is adopted and has autism. She is being home schooled at a slower rate, but home schooled none the less. They are all the heart and sole of my wife and I who are now in our mid-70s. So in spite of some rough early years, everyone did well. I pray those of you who home school your children realize how lucky you are to have that time with them.

    Reply
    • May 28, 2016 at 2:07 am
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      My husband frequently says he’s so thankful he’s not in the military anymore: the kind of scenario you describe is so heartbreakingly difficult! I do realize how blessed and lucky I am, but no job should ever require complete subsumption of self. The burnout risk is too high.

      Reply
  • May 18, 2016 at 12:19 am
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    I am an achievement driven person by nature so staying at home and being a home educator was never in my plan. But God saw something different for me. I am so thankful for this opportunity and I really do enjoy it, but I definitely need lots more ME time because of it. I am trying to be more consistent with focusing on me even if for only 15 min/day. The last few years I have slowly been building my business and teaching more classes, but know home is always top priority. But some days I long for a commute to work on the bus or Metro just so I can have a few moments or hours to myself! LOL

    Reply
    • May 18, 2016 at 12:54 am
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      I know what you mean. Things are pretty bad when a commute is a welcome thing! I keep telling myself they will grow out of it and up and away, and I’ll find myself regretting posting this at all. Thanks for your comment!

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  • May 17, 2016 at 7:30 am
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    Right there with you in so many ways. It is hard to feel so blessed and yet so empty at the same time. I have always marveled at the moms who simply love homeschooling. It seems like every year I want to move on to something else, but in the end homeschooling is the best fit for our family. I am thankful for the years I’ve spent with my kids. I am also very tired. Here is a link to a recent post I wrote in a similar vein: https://goodbeautifulandtrue.wordpress.com/2016/05/11/the-conflicted-homeschooler/
    Sometimes it helps to know we are not the only ones:)

    Reply
    • May 18, 2016 at 12:58 am
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      Homeschoolers are the best for supporting each other – I read your post, completely resonates with me. There’s such a fine line between being a good parent and turning into a self-denying servant to your family. One day at a time I guess! Thanks for commenting 🙂

      Reply
  • May 14, 2016 at 8:34 am
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    I know how you feel, although my two have no special needs, but still, two young kids at home with you, all day, every day is hard sometimes. I never had a career, just jobs I didn’t particularly enjoy, so in a way I avoided more of that by being at home with the kids. On the other hand it means you lose pretty much all of your free time and sometimes your sanity!

    I’m creative too, writing is my thing, so I get to do that some time, but not as much or as consistently as I would like. However, I tell myself that life won’t always be this hard and hectic, that they will be easier as they get older and more free time will come to me. I also remind myself that I am so lucky to enjoy their childhood with them, that I won’t miss out on all those milestones of discovery and growth. One day they will be grown up and gone and we will at least have spent quality time together and grown closer than some families ever will.

    Sounds like you’re doing a great job, don’t beat yourself up, you will find time for yourself soon. ?

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    • May 14, 2016 at 11:13 pm
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      You are so right! I’m very happy that I’m able to spend time with them and not miss the important stuff. And they’re already maturing – my oldest went from toddler to kid overnight, it goes so fast!

      Reply

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