Tuesday, February 26, 2013

I am happy.

Do you remember the Roald Dahl novel Matilda, about the smart little girl whose abusive, neglected family situation led her to have magical powers?

Spoiler alert if you've never read it, but at the end, when she's been adopted and skips ahead five grades in school and is happy and loved and challenged--her powers fade away. They served her well when she was in distress, but she no longer needed them once everything was going well in her life.

Well, sometimes I feel like writing is that way for me. When I'm anxious and overwhelmed and depressed, I write a lot. All the time. The words come pouring out, processing all those Big Emotions.

But when I'm happy and content with my life...nothing.

And I'm happier now than I have been since I was a kid, I think.

It's not that I have nothing to say, but the impetus to put words on paper (or the screen) just isn't there.

But let me tell you how happy I am. For the last several years, I've doubted myself. See, I never had a plan for What I Want To Be When I Grow Up. Because I knew, I just knew, that I would stay home with my children like my mom did (in retrospect it was quite naive of me to assume that I was guaranteed a husband and children at all, but that's youth).

So I majored in English and German (with a history minor because why not?), which I enjoy greatly but which don't necessarily prepare you for any particular career.

I never expected to get married so early. I intended to go on to graduate school, maybe work at something (I had vague notions of a career in academia, I think). But I never put much thought into a future career, because there was nothing I was passionate about, nothing I really wanted to do despite being good at many things.

So, when the reality of finding work and working jobs hit, I was lost. I hadn't had a plan or a destination, and so I just sort of wandered aimlessly from job to job, all of which I was grateful to have at the time I had them, but none of which I ever enjoyed. And the longer I saw that future stretching in front of me, the more lost I felt. Apparently I had been wrong in thinking I would be a stay-at-home mom and everything would work out. Apparently I should have trained for something, because now I did nothing.

Eventually I ended up in the job I had been working. It was a very good job, making a reasonable amount of money, intellectually challenging, different and interesting and with a good title. But the boss is emotionally abusive. And it still wasn't really what I wanted to do.

I was downright depressed during my pregnancy thinking I would have to go back to that job (or any job, but especially that one), abandoning poor little T-Rex and, so far as I could see, ramping up my stress levels to eleven to no purpose except a financial one. \

(I still can't imagine how working moms do it, how they get up and get themselves and one or more kids ready and drop them off and go to work and are on on on all day and then go and get the kids again and come home and feed them all and somehow in there also do at least a minimum of laundry and cooking and housecleaning and quality time. I don't understand how they do it. I get burned out just thinking about it, and was spiraling deeper and deeper into a burnt-out depression contemplating that future while pregnant.)

Maybe if I enjoyed my job, if I had some sort of career ambitions or passion for my work or believed I was making a difference in the world, maybe then it would be different. But I didn't and don't.

Then somehow, miraculously, my boss agreed to let me work from home. I assist with some paperwork and record maintenance and other things I can do from my computer at home without being in the office. It's just a few hours here and there, but it pays our car insurance and some groceries and that's enough.

And so now I'm happy, truly happy, relaxed and content with my life, for the first time since college. I can keep on top of laundry and house cleaning. I get to nurse and play and watch my little guy all day. I go to exercise classes and funerals and all sorts of things I could never do before. I truck T-Rex around to grocery stores shopping the sales. I cook dinner. I pet the dogs.

It is still work--T-Rex is not really always a happy baby, and I still have a short temper. I'm taking seriously the responsibilities of having hot food on the table for us in the evening, of doing the various household chores that I used to split with the DDH.

But this, finally, is work I'm passionate about. Work I enjoy as well as excel at. The worst part of the day is the time I spend working for money, though at least I get to do it from home, when convenient for me.

Not everyone would be happy here. But I am. I don't know how long it will last; at some point my old boss is likely to get irritated and demand I either come in to the office or quit completely. At that point, if nothing has changed with the DDH's salary, I'm not sure what we'll do.

But for now, I'm treasuring this time, and I'm happy, and I'm sorry if I'm not on here much. I always wanted Matilda to be happy and have magical powers. Maybe I'll manage to make that happen in my own life.

This was a strange and rambly and not entirely coherent post, so here's a cute picture of T-Rex so it's not a total waste of your time ;-):

In a funny snow sack.


  1. I'm happy for you :)

    Although I experienced more than a little cognitive dissonance at your intro. When I was growing up, my parents called me "Matilda" when I was misbehaving--she was my "bad kid" alter ego. So that name has very definite associations for me and "happy" isn't part of them!

    But I love Roald Dahl--I should actually read that book to help me get over it. :)

    1. That is too funny, Anne! Matilda is one of my favorites; if you like Roald Dahl you should definitely give it a try!

  2. I love that snow sack! Does he just roll around in it? It doesn't have legs, does it? :-)

    I'll tell you, we don't have kids, nor am I pregnant, or even planning to be anytime soon, but I TOTALLY understand how awesome it is to work from home. I love my job, I absolutely do; I knew from Freshman year on that this was exactly what I want to do for my career. But travelling in to work every day was killing me. Now that I basically work from home and only go into the office every once in a while when I need to, it's fabulous! I could do this for forever!

    Glad you got that worked out and that you are happy. :-)

    1. No, it doesn't have legs. But then, he can't walk yet. We put him in sacks for sleeping, too, and I just love the way he looks in them, like a little worm.

      Ugh, yes, my commute was all of ten minutes and I still would get serious road rage! Heh. Working from home is the best.

      Thanks, Jessi. ^_^

  3. Oh my goodness. I could have written this post.

    Of course, a few of the details are different: I planned on having babies way sooner, but struggled with infertility for two years; I haven't yet started making money again after becoming a mom, etc; but otherwise: DEAD ON. I am SO SO SO much happier as a stay-at-home mom than I've ever been in my life. I was made to do this. At the same time, it means I don't have much to write about. Happy people typically aren't very interesting writers. But for now, I'm very okay with that.

    Also? I have NO IDEA how working moms do it, either. I just have no idea. Kudos to them.

    1. I was thinking of your "canning tomatoes" post a little when I wrote it.

      I guess there's a reason most famous classic writers are also famously tortured souls? I'll take being happy any day, I think.

      No kidding. Major, major kudos.

  4. I am so over the moon happy for you!! I can feel the joy. It is an amazing blessing to be enjoying this time at home. I know it's not for everyone, but I also know I shouldn't take it for granted!

    1. Thank you, Jennifer! Also, love the new site/design! ^_^ Also #2, your little man is ADORABLE.