September 24, 2012

Simple Does It.

Nesting in preparation for a new baby has transcended my work around the house and seems to be applying to my entire life. Not only am I wiping down the inside of cabinets and showing no mercy to cluttered drawers, making deliveries to Goodwill and slapping coats of pastel paint on old, dark furniture, but I'm working on simplifying our entire life.

The most major development: Three weeks ago we sold our Mini Cooper. Despite how much I loved it, I knew it was impractical and rapidly collecting new "quirks" each year. More importantly, we owed the IRS exactly the amount that we got for the car and were able to pay the IRS off in full after a Russian teenager drove away in what had once been my dream car. When we first put the car on the market, I sat on our front porch and cried, but when we listened to the Mini purr down our street for the last time, all I felt was relief. One less car to maintain, one less car insurance bill, one less thing to worry about.

Now? We're sharing our Nissan Cube. In the morning, Nekos either rides his bicycle the 15 or 20 minutes it takes him to get to work, or Tessa and I drop him off there. On the way we listen to NPR and chat, Tessa browses her Berenstain Bears books and encourages me to "go" when the light turns green and "stop" when it turns red. Tessa has become quite the conversationalist, and I relish our rides together in the morning. After we drop Nekos off, I take her to her mother's day out program, where she goes four days a week from 9 until 2.

Our life has taken on a new rhythm that I love: In the morning we eat breakfast together around our kitchen island, Nekos packs a brown bag lunch for himself and Tessa, we get her dressed and get ourselves dressed, get Nekos to work and Tessa to school, and then I'm alone. I love this time, during which I pay bills, do dishes and laundry, work on a freelance project, do a project around the house, meet a friend for lunch or coffee, blog, run errands or let myself nap. Lately, too, I've been spending time job hunting and doing a lot of thinking about the kind of job I really want during this time of transition--from one child to two, from a lucrative freelance gig to a sudden layoff that's left my bank account empty and my life more full.

A couple weeks ago an opportunity for a full-time job opened up for me at a big, exciting place here in Nashville. Even as I was going through the application/interview process I was trying to sort out in my head how I would handle childcare, how I would fare starting a new job and doing well at it when I'm having a baby in less than 10 weeks. When I didn't get the job, I felt like crap, not good enough, not smart enough, not professional enough. But then, just like when we sold the Mini, I only felt relief.

Professionally, this is not my time to shine. I don't think I'm going to be capable of shining in the coming months, and that's okay. The only thing I really want to shine at anyway is motherhood. So I've refocused my job search on finding something reliable, something part time that I can do from home, something that won't stress me out, and something at which I can make a real difference without too much effort. I don't have to make much money, just enough to help pay the bills for awhile. (I think I may have found something that fits this bill, fingers crossed!)

Nekos says that not getting that job I wanted was God's way of telling me to slow down and simplify. He's right that I need to simplify the expectations I have for myself. I've always been so career-driven, and as a feminist have closely guarded the ideal that women can be both attentive mothers and sharp career women. But can they do both well and still be happy? I wouldn't be. My life would feel too cluttered, my to-do list too long, my list of people to please too impossible. I would always come last, and I don't do well when I put myself last. I've learned that I require a lot of self-love in able to love others the way that I want to.

So we've decided: We're going to pare down our bills to the essentials, continue our family carpool, and find pleasure (and creative ways to make ends meet) one day at a time. I'm going to let myself off the hook. While my precious family is growing, my career can hold, please.