I can smell the woods

These past four months, I have been stuck in a world of work. Returning from maternity leave, I was brought back to a job that needed more of my attention than I was able to give. But during and before my leave, I had been prioritizing me in order to prioritize my family. I was working one less day a week and instead making space for other things like writing, parenting, and loving on myself.

During the past four months, having to release that time off has been hard on my body and my mind, it’s been hard on parenting.

But mixed in there has been a lot of joy and transition. We moved to another state, selling our house and seeking a new community to raise our family. We have found a quiet, connected little town, that smells like the woods. At night, I can see the full milky way, sprinkled by stars that I have only seen in such mass in a few other places. The other night we lost power. It was so dark and so quiet, that all of these years of watching the Walking Dead made me suspect that the zombies had finally come.

Perhaps it was the smell in the air, or just that I’m tired, but a few weeks ago, I made a choice to let go. This, week I have officially stopped working. I have worked diligently over the last year to try to save money to give me some time to stay home with my family, to spend more time with my kids. Selling our home pushed this savings into a pot of reality. So one Sunday night, I looked at my partner and said that I needed to do this. He agreed and now here I am after wrapping up the final week of work at a place where I have built my life, my work for the past 10 1/2 years. I can taste the freedom, feel the liberation seeping into my soul. It’s time to step back and be me.

My Mom delivered a box of items from my childhood when she came up last month to help unpack. In it, I found a book of us 5th graders, citing our intentions for the future. “When I grow up, I want to be a writer or an artist,” I filled in. All I could think was where did that go. How did that get lost?

A while back, I was driving to work one day thinking about my kid and her love for baby dolls. I was trying to figure out how that came to be, this obsession with mothering, caring for a little one. Then, I saw it. Clear as day. The image of myself playing house with my friends, holding my Baby Talks doll tight. I was the mom, my friends were the kids. And I took the job seriously, even nursing the baby when she was hungry.

In moments like this, I remember. I remember what it’s like to not be told who I should be, what I am capable of, where I should go next. My career has been that. Noticed as a “leader” early on, I have been pointed in that direction. Given opportunity after opportunity, too young to feel that it’s acceptable to say no. Too driven by money in a time where working full time, living in a two income household, making more money than I could have imagined, still left us without a savings, or some basic needs as they arose.

These next few weeks, I will spend some time grounding myself in my art, writing, and mothering. I am blessed to have financial support to do this for a couple of months. To hold these babies close so many more hours a week. To play, laugh, love, even lose my patience for once at something so pure rather than so systematically contrived.

I hope to write more, and I hope to explore where this life takes me next. Thank you for joining along the way.

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