Sunday, October 04, 2015

Fall Back

Yes! I am still alive. Busy, but alive.

Long overdue: my daughters on the first day of school (a month ago now! sheesh).

Sixth grade (that's middle school, yo!) and fourth grade, if you can believe that ridiculousness. I mean. I was just taking pictures of them on their first days of PRESCHOOL, after all.

The first month of school and work has been as expected: crazy-busy, full of ups and downs, warm and sunny, challenging, tiring, and mostly good. The transition to middle school is no joke, people. I could say a lot more if I had the energy (ha!).

Work is awesome and exhausting, as always. The most interesting part, to me, about returning to full-time work this fall is the comparison to my first transition to full-time work a year ago. Even though I'm just as busy (more so, actually, because my kiddos have more activities this year and now one of them is at a different school, which doubles the schedules/requirements/procedures/policies/obligations I have to think about), I've clearly acclimated to some degree because I no longer find myself comatose by 6 p.m. like I did last autumn. I mean, don't get me wrong: I'm going to sleep at 8:30 each night, have missed more workouts in the past month than the entire summer combined, and am deeply indebted to whomever invented convenience dinner foods like frozen chicken tenders, but I'm not quite as completely knocked flat like I was when I first began this whole full-time-working-mom gig in September 2014.

And, although Julia and I have already caught the first cold virus of the school year, we have also managed to squeeze in some fall fun:

(Not pictured: high school football games, a parade, numerous playdates, the zoo...)

I love my job, I really do. This is a big relief because I wondered, would I feel the same way about it this year? Would it be just as satisfying? So far I do, and it is. But I do still miss being a stay-at-home mom sometimes, too. Especially after being home full-time over the summer, it seems impossible now to do all the home-family-mom stuff while never being home during the day. I find myself missing the days when I could run, grocery-shop, clean, cook, bake, and run errands at times other than evenings and weekends. Now that I can't, my weekends are a marathon of doing all that, and I never feel like I get to rest or recover from the workweek.

For some reason I feel like I was more efficient and productive last year than I am this fall. Maybe the panic of such a big change caused me to overcompensate last fall, or maybe it's just that this year is harder and more complicated, with a child starting middle school. Whatever the reason, I'm struggling more this fall with fitting in runs, staying in shape, cooking real dinners, and generally getting everything done. Gah. It's an ongoing struggle, isn't it, mamas?

A co-worker with teenage children told me the other week that the only jobs that are feasible once you have kiddos in middle and high school are ones that mimic your children's school schedule (i.e., our jobs as educational assistants at the elementary school, ones for which we are vastly overqualified and underpaid but which include no demands on our time once school is out each day and from which we are off on all days our kids are off from school), or being a stay-at-home mom. Another work friend, with kids ranging in age from 10 to 17, mentioned not long ago that her husband is lobbying for her to return to stay-at-home motherhood because life is just too difficult without a parent at home and available to manage all the household tasks and kids' activity schedules. I get it, I really do.

On a completely different note, but speaking of stay-at-home guys, every single month I am stunned and inexpressibly grateful when I continue to receive a book royalty check. I am utterly AMAZED by this. My book on the stay-at-home-mom-life was published almost four years ago, and it continues to actually earn me royalties. You cannot imagine how unexpected this has been to me. I can only reiterate my extreme thanks to all of you, any of you, who have supported and continue to support my writing in this way. Love you guys!!

And so, here we go into a new week, in a new month, with all its complexities and challenges and moments of sweetness and exhaustion. The leaves are turning, the kiddos are busy and growing, the days are speeding by and getting shorter.

As for me, I'm just trying to hang on, make a good decision every now and then, feed my babes, get some sleep, and soak up any available sun. The evenings are short, there is no doubt now. Life isn't easy in the fall; everyone knows what's ahead. It's time to prepare, take stock, shore up, gather your strength. Runs will be cold. Nights will be long. All we can do is keep on keeping on!

Let's do this.