Since announcing my layoff so publicly, I have had the wonderful experience of hearing some extremely wonderful words of support from a variety of people in my life - new friends, old friends, colleagues from across my career, readers. And I cherish them all. Truly.
But I do have to admit, I have struggled with those expressing their jealousy or reminding me that I "don't have to" work. Let me be clear, all of these were extremely well-meaning comments, I understand where they were coming from a place of love and I appreciate their supportive intent, but it's hard to feel enviable right now.
Yes, I thoroughly enjoyed spending yesterday morning at field day opening ceremonies with my seven year old guilt free then meeting a friend for a spot of shopping and lunch - something I was never able to do with my flex working schedule. I ran to the post office alone this morning after car pool without having to plead with a four year old to stop trying to pile the extra Priority Mail boxes on the scale. I'm currently enjoying a cup of coffee with my feet up, iTunes streaming and the opportunity of a blank page in front of me.
But. Always a but. But, I didn't choose this. Not this time.
I've been the full time stay at home mom before. A choice I made. A choice made with my husband. For our family. Full of the budgetary sacrifices that entails. We were prepared.
Going back to work part time was also a choice. A choice I made. A choice made with my husband. For our family. Full of the budgetary benefits that entails. Adding child care challenges to our routine. Rebalancing how the hubby and I tackled household responsibilities. We were prepared.
This wasn't a choice. I was unprepared.
Yes, we can tweak our budgets a bit to accommodate our new situation. Yes, I am excited by opportunities I now have the flexibility to pursue. Yes, a summer by the pool with the boys without having to check my iPhone or balancing babysitter schedules is a relief. And yet, I still taste a bit of bitterness since it wasn't on my terms.
No matter our situations, the grass is always greener. As a stay at home mom I was jealous of the financial freedom and adult interaction of working parents. As a flex worker, I often wondered if it was easier to be a full time working parent since flexible child care is impossible to arrange. And I know many a full time working mom who thinks either of those choices would be preferable to their situation.
Through all this, I am reminded of my dad. My dad takes great pride in his landscaping. He is forever puttering with new plants, tending new beds, keeping the yard cut and neat. Although one thing he always seemed to let go was the grass. Oh, his yard is beautiful and tended to, but it isn't without weeds. For as long as I can remember, there was always an "as long as its green" policy.
As I move through yet another new phase of my life, I have decided to take this landscaping philosophy to heart. My "grass" may appear greener to someone else looking from the street, I just have to remember that they might not be able to see my patch of clover just as I might not be able to see their dandelions. The fact is, we all need to tend to our own patch of grass and decide what's important for our own yards.
So I'm taking a step back and taking stock of my own landscape. I need to decide which weeds to pull and which I can let go and see what spots need new seed.
What parts of your yard need cultivating?