what am I going to do with all the free time…

With M going to school five days a week until 3pm, I’m going to have roughly 5 1/2 hours to myself on days I’m not working. That’s 16.25 “free hours” per week! I’ve been advised to do nothing that first week, just lie back and relax. Don’t plan any big projects or massive household undertakings, for example…

But I really, really want to plan a massive household undertaking. My mother used to have half the enclosed porch (which is heated and insulated and really just another room in the house) as her “office”, and M’s room has essentially just been her storage space, as she sleeps in my room and has the other half of the porch as her playroom. Well, we’re finally throwing out the old recliner and rickety desk on the porch, and the whole room will be free for M. Which means I’m going to set up a Montessori-inspired space that will serve as her playroom and “bedroom” (sans bed). I’ll bring M’s clothes out and put them in the porch room’s closet, move the stuff there into the second bedroom closet, and the 2nd bedroom will become my mom’s room/guest room. I will move the toddler decor onto the porch (it’s a much bigger room).

I’m really excited to get going. I want to get the old “baby” toys that M doesn’t play with out, and start setting the room up for my “big girl”, with her easel, a nice sitting area by her book shelves, a clothesline with clothes pins where she can hang up her art. She’ll have her train table, and kitchen, and tool bench. To be honest I should just ditch the tool bench cause she’s ready to use more realistic tool stuff now, and this is a very basic toddler model.

reaching out

I’ve mentioned how lately I’ve been feeling isolated, alone, and desperate for adult friends. Going to playgrounds by myself with the toddler, going to fairs and playgroups and libraries by myself with a toddlers, cooking for and eating dinner by myself with a toddler, well… it’s all become somewhat depressing. I found that lately I cling to work, I feel desperate for the adult connections of days past, and even have a hard time getting up and facing a new day.

I have been reaching out though. Reaching out online to single mom blog friends (hi Lindsay!), reaching out to facebook friends, reaching out to co-workers, and to family members. And guess what? It’s kind of working! I felt like I’d sound like a desperate, pathetic loser (and maybe I have), but I’m also getting just what I wanted: the opportunity to spend time with friends and family that I otherwise would not have had had I said nothing.

First of all, I made a friend on the playground. This is hard for me to believe, because my impromptu conversations with other playground moms has never resulted in… well, in anything. But somehow, I finally started conversing with a perfect stranger (also there by herself with a toddler) that led to us exchanging contact info and actually really, truly enjoying each other’s company! She’s also a single, working mom in my area, and we met up again at a local Relay for Life event. Being very introverted, I felt buoyed and inspired by the fact that I actually made a friend, and I’m super happy that we’re going to keep each other company again tomorrow at our local county fair. OMG, actual adult company, it sounds so seriously amazing.

Then, Saturday, my sister came out with her new husband, my niece and my brother-in-law’s son, and we had a nice evening on the lake with all the kids playing. I also went to the annual lake picnic and connected with someone I went to high school with who is a stay-at-home mom and with whom I exchanged numbers (so hopefully we’ll have some playdates). The next day, on the heels of all this socializing, I was feeling bored and sad again, so I texted about everyone I knew, including my aunt. She invited us over, and we spent the day with her, and my cousin, and it ended up being a wonderful impromptu get-together that never would’ve happened had I not reached out! She often watches her grandson, who is M’s age, and now we’re meeting them at the splash pad they go to every week. Another family friend of mine and I set up a day to take Mariah out for ice cream and swimming, because I reached out to ask her if she was free anytime in the coming weeks.

I ended up going back to work, where I’m setting up some playdates with co-workers who have kids, and also setting up some kid-free outings with some co-workers that I really get along with. Who knew, sometimes you just have to ask! I’m feeling a little better now, like I may actually have some people to socialize with, and I’m also feeling loved. I’m so glad I made the effort!

my week as a basket case

So this last week, I’ve been a basket case. I was going to write “I’ve not been the best mother”, which is true perhaps, but I just read Lindsay’s post and now I feel like putting it that way is putting too much pressure and shame on myself for being, well, normal. I hate when I’m not 100% the best mom I can possibly be, because of course I feel like M deserves that. But no one can be 100% anything all of the time, and yet this last week has been particularly bad for me, to the point where I’ve looked up planetary alignments and checked in with my menstrual cycle, just to see what’s up.

Last Saturday I went to the grocery store, with M, as usual. I noticed how spacey I was, how my surroundings and even my daughter felt like a dream. I’ve been feeling a bit out of touch with myself, I guess. Like, who am I besides a mom? Or besides someone who takes care of other people? I remember who I was before being a mom, before my grandparents started needing so much help. I remember being able to simply do and be whatever was in line with my self. So here I am, wondering if that self even exists anymore, and if it does, has it changed? Or has it just stayed the same, stagnated, not matured with the rest of me since I haven’t nurtured it.

In fact, I’ve been happiest (or least unsettled) when I’m working, which is opposite of how it normally is and how it should be. I’m so distracted by the demands of my job and the problems of my patients, it relieves me from even thinking about this stuff. I tried reaching out to my bestie, but she is too busy with her work and travel to respond. She knows everything about everything in my life, so I wish she was closer or had more time to talk. I honestly have no one else to just be “me” with, and apart from co-workers while I’m working and occasional chats with neighbors, I have no friends to just unload onto. The playgroups/music classes have some nice moms, but we haven’t connected beyond anything superficial, and some of them are just really clique-y and sort of “that mom”, the perfect bake sale mom, two kids two years apart, a dog, a husband, and a lovely large house with matching furniture. I’m so not that mom. I don’t identify with that lifestyle and they don’t identify with mine.

I hope, at least, that this weird spacey funk I’m in lets up enough soon that I can be more fun and in touch with M. I don’t feel engaged right now, and I know she senses that. In fact, I lost some things that were very precious to me (they’re missing), and spent some time crying yesterday, and she was very sad, trying to comfort me and make me feel better. I have no problem showing my daughter that I have emotions, that I can be comforted, and that it’s ok not to always feel good. On the other hand, I don’t want to be a mess in front of her very often without a real good reason.

So, I guess I’m just feeling the urge for some “me” time, and yet I don’t necessarily want to be alone. I definitely need to reset somehow, but ultimately I’m not sure how to go about it. I’m just hoping it passes on its own.

my problem with school and why I’m quitting (but not really) PART 2

So after all of that frank (and somewhat scathing) diatribe of NP positions and my current program, what have I decided to do about it?

I’ve been thinking hard all day. I am going to apply to both programs I discussed in PART 1, but that then begs the question: what do I do with the program I’m currently in? Do I stay in it until a for sure acceptance into the programs I really want? I can’t help but think this is a giant waste of money and time, since only 6 maximum credits would transfer (I’ve completed 9 total). Why waste energy, and more importantly, time away from my daughter if the credits don’t even transfer?

I hate being a quitter, but knowing deep down that this program isn’t for me, and isn’t bringing out the best of my abilities or talents, means that I need to leave it and pursue something better. I will probably not be able to start my new programs of choice until next fall, assuming I am accepted at all. But I am actually very optimistic, I believe I will get accepted to at least one of them, and in the meantime I won’t be wasting time away from my daughter. I know that the right career path is out there, and I feel like this last year has really revealed to me what I don’t want in a program and where my true interest lies.

Still, it sucks to officially “withdraw” from a graduate program, especially because I was so proud of being accepted. I have a 4.0 in all of my classes (because they were stupidly, moronically easy and worried me that they weren’t preparing me at all) and I really did love being at my undergrad alma mater. Staying is definitely not right for me, but leaving doesn’t feel good either.

In the end, though, if I’m going to do this, I’m going to do it all the way. Staying in this program would be easiest, but it would not take me where I want to be and it would not adequately prepare me or open doors for me in my desired field. If I lose a year, well, these are two year programs. It’ll be ok. I gain a lot of time with my daughter while she’s little, and am still on track to finish around the time she enters kindergarten. Nothing lost, but possibly everything gained.

school blues

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve wondered if I’m doing the right thing by being in school. I hate being away from M so much while she’s so little. I’ve already completed two semesters, so I have the rest of this year and next year to go. It hasn’t been difficult, I’ve been getting all As and not breaking my back to do it. It’s next year that I’m worried about because I’ll be required to be in clinicals so much. It makes me miserable thinking of not only working 3 days a week, but being in school from 3-10pm once a week and having a clinical day once a week. That’s four and a half days away from my kid, and despite the fact that I could never be, nor would want to be, a stay at home mom, I do want to be with her more than I’m not with her, at least until she starts kindergarten.

I’m doing this so that when she’s in kindergarten on up I’ll be home every evening and weekend. My current job as a staff RN requires me to work half the weekend days of a given month, plus all three work days keep me gone from 5am to 9pm. Once she’s in school full time, I would miss three of her evenings and half of her weekends. So I’d basically never see her. Also, my income will double. I currently make $52,000 per year before taxes, insurance, union fees, etc. I bring home about $2800 per month as actual money in the bank for bills, and every last penny goes towards something. (None in savings, none in college fund.) That being said, I do prioritize things like traveling, so I guess any disposable income I have goes there. My new career would allow me to put money away for M’s future as well as emergency money for us. It would also allow more breathing room for fun things like traveling or updating our boat and seawall.

So yes, I’m going to do it and stick with it. Making a better life for myself and family isn’t easy, but that was never the expectation. It would be easier to just stay where I am and get by, but that’s not who I am. My heart hurts and aches when I think of time away from my kiddo, but it is going to give us much more time together after I’m done, and for the rest of her childhood. I have to keep focusing on that.

What I actually think about the nurse practitioner program and content is a matter for another blog post. Mostly it’s so much BS and I fear for the profession as a whole.

Ok time to crack open the books.