Tuesday, June 26, 2007

No regrets, just life

Lawmummy (a.k.a. Kelly), one of my fellow Disney ex-bloggers, has a heartbreaking post up today. It's about whether "kids being kids," while you are under a boatload of external stress already, can make you resent, and even regret, ever having had them to begin with.

As I commented on her post, I can so totally relate. The last six weeks of every school year mean I parent almost single-handedly, as Rain Dog focuses on finals and grading and panicky parents and students. This year was no different, with the last week of school especially grueling as I helped him grade finals late each night. Hamlet could tell that we were both preoccupied, and started to act out to get our attention. The more frustrated I got, the more he acted out: throwing toys, hitting us, and even hurting his brother. (You know - the hug that makes the baby cry?) Even after Rain Dog was home for a few days, it took Hamlet that long to return to his sweet self. Me, too.

In prior years, having Rain Dog home for 10 weeks has always been a tough transition. I expect that he'll be around to watch the kids so I can work (at long last), while he expects that I will continue to watch the kids so he can accomplish house projects he's been putting off. This year, I think we were both so relieved to have the school year over with that we were more willing to accommodate each other right from the get-go. We make trade-offs on a daily and sometimes an hourly basis. It's working so well that if healthcare weren't in such a horrible state in this country, I'd happily accept it if Rain Dog said he wanted to self-employ and work from home, too.

Going back to regrets, I think Kelly's post affected me especially because even apart from the last few weeks, the question "Would I have done it differently?" has been on my mind. The loss of Disney income is significant, and I have to find a way to make it up. My business model lately has involved the kind of work I can do in short bursts - around two needy kids - and, sadly, has been more reactive than proactive. That means I take work that's offered to me, but I don't go out looking for it - not while time is at a premium. And all I can think is how much easier it would be if I didn't have kids, or at least if they were older.

So, I've been doing what comes easiest: focusing on my network. I've talked to other freelancers and I now have a few potential freelance jobs, either from other mothers or people who understand my needs as a mother. That's a lot better than going to some freelance bid site and worrying about what I'm likely to get for a client.

Meanwhile, I'm enjoying my family. We still have a lot going on, but that week showed us what we don't want to be like - which has ultimately made it easier for us to enjoy each other as a family. That was the whole point of working from home to begin with.


Anonymous norby said...

You know Christa it's good for me, someone who decided not to have children to read a post like this. I get a lot of guff from people about the fact that I've decided not to be a parent. In my heart I know that there are moments when these same individuals stop and think to themselves "Is this really what I wanted?" or "Can I really tell him stop it one more time without losing my mind?". But it seems like no one ever is willing to admit these things, like it's a weakness to admit that you're human. I'm not sure I've really expressed what I mean well, but it is nice to occasionally hear a parent say you know, this week, the kids, I just really wondered.

26/6/07 12:09 PM  
Blogger spyscribbler said...

LOL, I swear, my post had nothing to do with yours! I hadn't been to your site yet, today. :-)

Good luck with the freelance gigs! There some days I love being self-employed, and then ... other days.

26/6/07 12:39 PM  
Blogger pattinase (abbott) said...

I see my son and a DIL struggling with all these problems. You're struggle is endemic as young patents try to get the right balance.

26/6/07 4:27 PM  
Blogger Mary Louisa said...

THANK you for writing on this subject. I admire you for so many reasons, one of which is your honesty.

Network away, sister. I'll be here if you need me. :)

26/6/07 10:02 PM  
Blogger Daniel Hatadi said...

Both your post and the linked one are pretty illuminating for me.

I'm in a relationship where I'm the one that wants kids and she doesn't. Still, I don't think I'm at the point where I'm ready for the little fellas, but I also wonder about the energy they would take from my creative output. It's my writing and (used to be) music that are my little babies for now.

28/6/07 1:23 AM  
Blogger PT-LawMom said...

I'm glad the networking is leading to something good, even if you aren't pursuing work as actively as you might like. Hopefully this 10-week break with RainDog home will allow you to pull back and refocus on what YOU want and need to do. I'm praying that it starts to make sense and get easier. :)

28/6/07 12:03 PM  
Anonymous Kelly said...

Hey thanks for the link.

I think it would be easier if we, as parents, could just say what we're feeling and let it go. But folks won't allow that - they want to preach to you about why what your feeling is wrong. And that leads to guilt. And then you feel guilty for that. It's a vicious cycle.

29/6/07 4:13 PM  
Blogger Christa M. Miller said...

Sorry folks, for the delayed response. I can't figure out if having Rain Dog home has meant being busier, or more relaxed!

Norby, I don't think it helps anyone to be dishonest about the hard parts. It just makes people (parents or not) feel guilty and start to second-guess themselves - as Kelly's comment points out. We need less unhappiness in the world, not more of it.

Spy, LOL! I know, I thought it was a funny coincidence though. :)

Patti, I'm told there is no right balance, but the rare days I achieve it prove that there is. I'm trying to maximize those days. ;)

ML, anytime dear, anytime. And I'm here for you too!

Daniel, we've talked a little about this. For me, I think everything came together in some cosmic way that made the kids and the writing go hand in hand. I wouldn't have good writing without the kids, and I wouldn't be a good mother without the writing. It just all fell into place, as just about everything does when it is meant to.

Meagan, me too! Thanks hon.

Kelly, I have been caught in that cycle. Someone actually "diagnosed" me with postpartum depression because I was honest about taking 6 weeks to fall in love with my first son. In reality, I'd already read, that is perfectly normal. Just like those women who DO have PPD should not be made to feel like bad mothers because they're not happy. Not much is worse than being judged like that! < /soapbox >

3/7/07 3:03 PM  
Anonymous Silandara said...

Hi Christa,
I keep falling off the blogging world. Ah, kids. ;)

You echo so much of what I feel on a daily basis. I love my munchkins, but I do think about all the time I'd have to work if I didn't have them. But, if I didn't have them, I wouldn't be working from home doing my own thing. It was only after Duncan was born that I had the courage to leave the 9-to-5 life.

Networking. Good idea. I should try that. I'm in the midst of post-maternity-leave marketing right now and it sucks. I know there are clients out there - just haven't found them yet this week. ;) I have, however, sucked it up financially and hired a sitter to come to our house 10 hours a week. Which means I need to earn the $$ to pay her, right? So I've got added incentive (or stress).

Anyway, enjoy the summer. I find it an adjustment when I've had the hubby home with me for a few weeks. It throws my whole schedule off and neither of us quite know what to expect.

3/7/07 8:38 PM  
Blogger Christa M. Miller said...

Silandara! Thanks for poking your head up from the trenches to say hi. :)

I think one reason it's been easier to deal with Rain Dog being home is my existing flexible work non-schedule. Am I saying that having him around is like having another child around? ;)

I'm glad you've been able to hire a sitter. I know many, many other moms who do that, and I've been considering it for myself as well. I hope you find clients soon - if you have a chance, blog about the process, OK? Take care!

4/7/07 9:33 AM  
Anonymous Silandara said...


I'd like to blog about finding clients and how the business is going, but I'm a bit afraid to -- afraid that it might scare off potential clients or I'll say the wrong thing and get myself in hot water. But it is something I want to write about.

9/7/07 1:30 PM  

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