Well, I'm back to being a full-time homemaker! I stayed home for 16 years from the birth of our first child until the fourth child was nearly 4 years old. I loved those years! I was totally absorbed in my family's life. I homeschooled for 8 of those years. I ran a constant taxi service to scouts, 4-H, music lessons, soccer, basketball, etc, etc. I always had my own projects to work on which ranged from home decorating, creating a family cookbook, church projects, and teaching in our homeschool co-op. At the point where 3 of our children had gone to public school and the youngest was nearly at that point, I began to get a little restless. I felt ready to update my teaching credentials and be ready for the next phase in my life. I studied for the Praxis exam to get my certification up to date. Very shortly after passing the exam (5 years ago), a job became available that was perfect for me. I became a teacher in a new program for children with autism and multiple disabilities in our public school system. There was a lot of grant money earmarked for trainings, too. I really came into a unique situation at that time which was a great learning and professional growth experience. While I liked my job and loved the children I taught, I never had enough time for doing all the things that I had enjoyed in my past life. I really had no time just for myself. I awoke between 4:30 and 5:00 am to get ready, start laundry, start dinner, straighten up, get the kids going. I left the house by 6:45 to spend a very interesting yet very stressful day at school. I managed 4 classroom assistants and as many as 13 VERY high need children. I got home by 3:30, but that is when my next job of being the taxi service for afterschool activities, finishing dinner, finishing laundry, housework, and errands all began. Weekends were busy with ball games, band contests, housework, and church activities. I rarely had the time or energy to take a walk, bake bread, or read a magazine. So now nearly 5 years after this phase began, I have come a full circle.
I decided last spring that something had to give. I would love to work a couple of days a week, but that wasn't an option. So, I resigned from my position, though I worked most of the fall semester to help with another teacher's maternity leave. Now we're nearly ready for the new year and I am beginning another new phase. I'm excited! I'm ready. I want to sleep in until 6:00 am (instead of 4:30). After I see the kids off to school, I want to take a walk and drink a cup of hot tea at the computer. While they're at school, I want to have all my household chores complete and still have the time to work on my new projects. I want to have lunch dates with my husband where we can really talk about things uninterrupted. I want the kids to come in the door to the smells of warm bread or chocolate chip cookies baking in the oven. I want them to know that I have the time to be totally devoted to listening to their stories of the day rather than be distracted by running around doing household chores. I want to reinstitute a Friday night family night where I can stay awake through the opening credits on a movie. And maybe most importantly, I hope to never be at Walmart again between the hours of 3:30-5:30 pm again!
So that is the full circle of my life right now. I have lots of projects and plans that I want to accomplish. I want to read through the entire Bible this year. I want to learn new skills like blogging and photography. I want to develop my public speaking skills by conducting training sessions for Bible teachers. I want to write an article for Christian Woman magazine. I want to learn some basic Spanish so that I can communicate more on my next mission trip. I want to create a family cookbook of our most special recipes that are complete with photos and journaling. I want to be more creative by learning to use my new Cricut machine for making more beautiful scrapbook pages. I want to work on my crafting skills by learning to make a rag quilt and learning to crochet cute scarves. I want to dig out the sewing machine, (try to remember how to thread it), and make something cute (ok, I'll admit it, I really like aprons).
I know that the time will come when I will probably want to work outside the home again. Because of that, I am finishing up my autism certification and trying to develop my skills in doing autism consultation. I do love the field of special education and especially children with autism, but for now I also know that I'm the wife and mother for our family. These special people need me the most.
As I look at the past year and to the new year ahead, I know that I am blessed. We all go through phases in life. Sometimes I feel a little sad about how quickly the children are growing up and how much I would like to hang on to the wonderful times of the past. It is very easy to only remember the good. While those first 16 years of staying home were wonderful, they were also filled with day and night morning sickness (5 times), sleepless nights with fussy babies, potty training, and the miscarriage of a child.
I don't know what good or bad 2009 will hold, but I am definitely looking forward to new beginnings and coming back around this full circle!