I was thinking for the month of May, because we celebrate mom, I would share a couple of stories about moms. I'll start with me.
I think that my favorite thing about Poppy Haus is that I get to write a little everyday. When you spend the majority of your time making light sabers out of cardboard tubes, discussing the yuck-factor of green beans, refereeing fights, often while in a state of mild sleep deprivation from the never ending series of nightmares and stomach flu you start to go batty, and at least for me, my brain gets a little mushy. This last part accounts for most of my typos. The act of writing something, even if it's instructions on how to make oatmeal pancakes forces me to consider my words, and taps into the part of my brain once reserved for term papers and event proposals. When I was a little girl, I used to make colored pencil paper books about the things that interested me, like dinosaurs or ponies. I'd put little facts about them under the detailed drawings. I liked to take pictures with my 110-film camera and make photo-journals of our backyard. In 1986 when the space shuttle Challenger exploded, much like Punky Brewster, I was heartbroken, so I sat down at our Commodore 64 and typed out a story about the accident from the perspective of a kid. You wouldn't know it from meeting me, but I've always been little bit shy, and I think from the beginning, I've felt more comfortable expressing myself with written words.
I haven't talked about this much before, but I've found that one of the drawbacks of being a stay-at-home mom is that you don't have a professional identity, as in "I'm a writer", nor do you ever have the need for an out-of-office reply on your email. It's a non-stop job being a mom (employed or not), and it's mentally taxing, but when you don't get to change gears and identities when you walk out the door in the morning you lose the ability to step out into the world on your own. I shower, I promise you, and I try not to wear yoga pants unless I'm actually doing yoga, but some days I don't get to do much more outside the confines of our house than drive my minivan around and go to the grocery store. It's also really gratifying to bring home the bacon. As it turns out, being a mom is not a paid position.
We made the decision that I would stay home with the kids after Wylie was born. Before that I had been working just short of full-time managing a showroom in San Francisco, while co-managing a small business in the off-hours, often late at night, or on the weekends. Now with two kids, the expense of full-time daycare or a nanny-share, an after-school program, coupled with the the logistics and costs of activities, lessons, and summer camps, seemed to outweigh the advantage of the money we'd retain after doling it all out every month. The hassle of negotiating the morning routine myself considering my husband's early work day and erratic evening schedule (he's a high school principal) sealed the deal. I would be a stay-at-home mom. I would eventually give up the business that I'd been working at for several years. I'd like to say I did it for them, but really I did it for myself. I was burnt out trying to make it work, and life has been easier ever since I committed to staying home. Even though we can't take big family vacations or have a gym membership, and we've had to put our plan buying a house on hold, I think it was the right decision.
I'm also convinced that writing this blog has actually made me a better mom, and a much happier person. I get to spend my time at home with the kids, but I also get to create something of value that gives me a little bit of that other identity I so crave. The simple act of writing a little every day, taking pictures, working on recipes, designing projects and sharing them with people is a very satisfying way to make my way through this experience staying home while they are very young. I also like that I get to collaborate with my kids. They love to make things, and to see themselves in the pictures, and they are mostly good sports when I ask them to wash their hands and put on a clean shirt to taste a bowl of soup. It seems that they like living this way; our house being half test-kitchen, half Etsy shop. And while I know this time as a young family is fleeting, we will always have this to look back on.