September always feels ripe with promise and potential. With the kids back in school I can finally catch my breath, and catch up on all the undone tasks which accumulate during the summer (when I abandon all requirements beyond the necessary to
spend as much time with the kids drive them to all the fun places they want to go without me).
September feels luxurious, and indulgent. A little reprieve caught between summer and the holiday season. For me, it marks another year of many years as a full-time mom, years for which I am extremely grateful. But with kids ages 18 (college freshman), 16 (high school junior) and nine (fourth grade), I feel a bit sheepish when answering the question, “so what do you do?” or the more gentle but still slightly accusatory, “do you work outside of the home?” These questions have never bothered me, a thankful stay-at-home mom. But with the olders growing ever rapidly into young adults, these questions unsettle me. They demand justification.
And really, I know how it must look to a outstider, who likely can’t help but wonder what fills my days. I myself am still baffled at how quickly morning becomes afternoon, and how dropping Daughter at school flips to retrieving her. Running errands, coordinating schedules, overseeing food inventory, laundry and clutter detail, critter management, moving piles from one spot to another in the house, getting kiddos to doctors, dentists and orthodontists who (frustratingly) only keep the same hours as students, is all still consuming. It quickly fills a day.
“How we spend our days is, of course, is how we spend our lives,” writes Annie Dillard. Which is thought-provoking as I stand at this September crossroads, with an itch to do a little something more.
I am also carrying a recent post by Jennifer Groeber in my heart titled How You Measure Half a Life. In this piece, at age 44 and knee-deep in motherhood, Jen takes a heartfelt look at her life — then, now, what is to come. “There is time for us all then. Time to be amazing young women, time to discover, time to take chances, to write, to make art, fall in love, fall out of love, time to mother, care for someone else, find a new career, make a difference, make a mark. It is not over. It is never over.”
At this point in my life it is poignantly clear that my job as a mom, actively raising kids, is finite. While I will always be a mom, I won’t always be a Mommy. And thankfully, gently, during the past few years, life has suggested some additional future paths. But which road to choose? Blogging? Writing? Italiano? Classroom teacher? Some other path yet to be revealed? Do the different paths ever cross or merge? Are these new (paid) career options or just-for-funsies? Perhaps the question which taunts me is not “what do you,” but rather, “what will you do?” At 46 years old, I feel the need to get the answer right in the next part of life’s adventure. After all, how many new starts are left?
Alas, which way now? Which will scratch my itch to want to work a bit and contribute to the family income while still allowing Full-Time Mommy to do her job completely and well?
“There is time then now, to be this and that….” writes Jen, as if she’s talking to just me. A little encouragement as I seek the answer to the question scrolling through my head, and as I happily continue with my this, with maybe just a bit that mixed into the journey.