Dear Kindergarten, You’re the BEST.

Today was Tate’s first full day at school. It was wonderful. Six. Straight. Hours. Tomorrow he’s home, and then he’s there, all the time.

This is a big change for me, a life change, and I wanted to mark it. Earlier this summer, my sister and I got inexpensive coupons to a spa; I marked my first day by using two. I rode my bike to and from, and when not thinking that I was out of practice I thought about how free I was feeling, and a little scared. And maybe just a little sad.

This marks the end of a chapter of my life. It’s an odd reminiscence I’m having, because I’m realizing that in this chapter, I’ve been missing the forest for the trees.

When I’m talking about the past 8 and 1/2 years, often I talk about being a stay at home mom. That’s how I’ve considered myself, my role amounting to:

  • I’ve been at home with kids.
  • I’ve dealt with the challenges and joys of that – more work than I first expected.
  • I learned to cook and bake.
  • I learned to knit.
  • I learned about finance on a bunch of levels, macro and micro.
  • I moved out of the West End.
  • I went back to volunteerism.
  • I got to explore the work of being doula by educating myself and attending the births of friends.
  • I found online community.
  • I had time to write.


However, I’ve also been self employed.  In truth, I was a working mom much of the time – 2002 and 2010 were my only real SAHM years. I’ve defined myself as a domestic because my schedule was built around the kids, and I’m the primary caregiver, and I often worked in my living room, and I only did one year out of the house during the hours that people usually work.

Only most years I’ve earned as much or more as I did before university – just in less time. I’ve paid for childcare in the form of nannies, daycare, and home care, and paid off a big chunk of my student loan.

I worked alternate schedules, and only occasionally full time, but I worked.

I also am realizing I only started (back) to the habit of writing when Ripley was about a year old, as a hobby. At first, it was mainly that I could get out of the house and go sit at a coffee shop on the weekend and play with my own thoughts. I started actually working at writing in 2005, with Divide By Zero.

 That means in just seven years, I’ve written 2 novels, 8 short stories, a one-act play, a 3day novella, 4 articles, and for a while, a regular blog.  Although not lucrative, it has been work. I’ve even been paid for some of it.  

(When I step back and assess it that way, it appears that perhaps what I need to concentrate on in writing is a little less breadth and a little more depth!)

So this is the end of a chapter in my life, yes. But that chapter is less about being a SAHM than I would have thought. It’s instead the end of an era in which I’m sneaking time out of every corner and assuming I don’t have any reason to take myself seriously.

The greatest liberation of this reckoning, stepping back and looking at the forest, is realizing that LAZY is not in fact something I can accuse of myself.

I appear to have been busy.


  1. Congratulations!

    I tend to think “sneaking time out of every corner” equates to “taking myself VERY seriously”, however. Because there’s stuff that’s important! And you have to fight for every minute of it! It’s actually harder to take it seriously without that ongoing struggle, in my opinion. Not that it can’t be done, but the thought process then becomes “this is my job, and I have to spend X hours at it” rather than “this is the thing I passionately want and I’m just passing time until I get a chance to do it again!”

    So, uh, okay I guess I privilege passion over job in my definition of “serious”. Hm.

  2. My own placement of the definition of ‘serious’ has as much to do with my pervasive survivor guilt as anything I’d choose. As shown variously in guilt over things like not wanting to provide free childcare, sensing myself as lazy, and feeling that I ought to go scrub a floor for $10 an hour. Born white, in the first world, and having choice – I’ve got imposter syndrome and feel like my life choices better *matter*.

    Survivor guilt is an unnatural hobble – and makes for crappy activism – but it appears my first and continuing response. Hell, it’s what all the hand flapping about career and ambition has been. It is a hydra of my psyche: chop one aspect down, and three more spawn.

  3. I hear ya, that’s a tough one. Because none of us “deserves” anything we have – or don’t have, or have to put up with. At least not the stuff we’re born to and haven’t earned in one way or another. I don’t think I get it as strongly as you, but I get it. Any time I feel guilty about complaining about my fucking novel, I feel it.

    My sister Laura has that guilt, very very strong, and has from day one. I think some people are born to feeling it more intensely, and they don’t deserve THAT either. In Laura’s case, I think her religion helps her — not in the sense that god has blessed her specially because she’s better (although that would be some religious folks’ take on it, certainly), but in the sense that if gifts come from god, it’s the height of ingratitude to scorn them. Or something. Don’t ask me, I don’t get it.

    (Sudden insight flash: I just realized when I say “Jebus” instead of Jesus. I’m happy to use “Jesus” as a swear, anytime, but when I’m talking about Acutal Jesus, Laura’s muse, lamb of god, the dude himself, that’s when I won’t name him. And I think that’s my odd attempt to cut my Jesus Grendel off at the knees – don’t let him have his name. Ok. As you were.)

  4. It keeps sounding like Laura and I are similar types. When I’m thinking it through, I have a similar reaction: when given unusual gifts, use them as well as you can, because pissing them away helps no one (and you’ve got those gifts).

    Of course, then I feel it’s my duty to give away childcare or any other number of requests placed in my direction. Also not productive, because it means I can be driven about.

    I think this sort of feeling is innate to who I am, which is fine – it’s a good consideration. But slipping its chains is also necessary for honesty.

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