Happy at Home

My time at home on maternity leave has whizzed by so far. Today Benjamin is 10 weeks old, so I’m halfway through my leave time. It is interesting how different I am at home than I am at work (at least, how different I feel). I’ve been puzzled by this for the five years since I first noticed it. It occurred to me the other day when I was taking a walk outside how good I feel when I’m not indoors. Everything about me inside brightens up, my brain is more awake, and I think and see things more, and…I’m just…happier! Maybe that is what is effecting me at work? Until I got my job at the hospital, I had spent every day of my life with a significant portion of my time spent outside. In every school I’ve been to, I had to go outside to walk from class to class – elementery school, high school, and college. We lived about 12 miles outside of town on 10 acres in the country, so there was always stuff we had or wanted to do outside.

Once I started working at the hospital seven years, I spent every day all day indoors. Being inside all day long, especially when I can’t even see through a window, makes me feel like I’m very slowly dying – kind of like a flower wilting due to insufficient water and sunshine intake. Whenever I feel down, I always feel significantly better almost immediately upon walking out the door, no matter the weather. It just feels right.

I must admit that the thought of going back to work really does not thrill me. It’s not the work, or the people – I do enjoy it, for what it is – but the whole corporate life, being inside all day, looking at numbers and figures, just does not appeal to me. It is not my passion. It makes me feel like I am missing life instead of living it. It is interesting to me how much women have shunned, some quite emphatically, the stay-at-home lifestyle. Our mothers worked so hard to make it into the "man’s" corportate world, to be considered as equals in all ways including the workplace, to be seen as more than "just" a housewife and mother. This subject comes back relatively often in my conversations with my great friend Holly. We love being mothers, wives, and homemakers. I love to spend time with my family, care for my son, be helpmate to my husband, clean the house, cook delicious meals (or try), create beautiful things for the home or as gifts for loved ones, and everything that goes along with all this. I even enjoy laundering and folding my son’s little outfits. We eat healthy homecooked meals, spend more time with our family and friends, get more exercise and fresh air, and are more involved in each other’s lives. I love this. It makes me feel alive. Now, why haven’t I felt this way for the last 7 years in my job? Do I have a bad attitude about my job? Do I need to make better use of my time, be more organized, work harder, or make better choices day-to-day? Or was this job really only meant to be temporary?

All people are made deliciously different. Which is wonderful. It is the spice of life. Some people want to work full-time in a job and setting like mine. But right now, I just can’t imagine wanting to do that. And I guess that makes me feel guilty sometimes, like "not everyone gets the priviledge of staying at home to work as a wife and mom, somebody has to work at these places so they can run properly and provide the services the community needs, so I should just work and be grateful about it." But then I think that perhaps some people do not find what I do all day very appealing either. Let’s see, today I have done several loads of laundry, washed our dishes, fed and changed my son multiple times, cooked dinner, picked up the house, wrote thank you notes, fed the cat, said hello to a neighbor, taken Ben for a walk outside, and a number of other related tasks. I was on my feet for probably 11 out of the 12 hours of the day. My own meals, personal hygene, and other needs went on hold, as my son’s came first. Many folks might find this to be a completely dull life. But I absolutely love it. It makes me happy. It makes me feel at home, that I’m doing what I was made to do. Home, God, family, and creating are my passion. So why do I feel so guilty about it? Its like if I’m happy, then I must be not be doing what I should be doing, because toiling to earn a living shouldn’t be fun – treating myself, playing, is fun. Not being productive. Work and fun are mutually exclusive, right?

My heart knows this is emphatically untrue, but my head is having a hard time with it. I seem to be one of those people that is only happy when they are miserable, because I tend to make things so darn difficult. Silly me! I see this is something I’ll have to think and write on more over time.

Enter the strawberry. Don’t ask me why in the world a jar shaped like a strawberry the size of a soccer ball appeals to me, but when I saw it, I knew it belonged in my kitchen. I don’t collect strawberries, and didn’t particulally need a cookie jar. But the thing just makes me happy. Every time I see it in my kitchen, it makes me smile. Happily, the price was within my budget, so I purchaed it. And now it is in my kitchen and makes me smile every day. That’s all. And I’ll just leave it at that!

Except of course for the usual photo of Ben.

Sigh. I am happy.

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