March 9, 2012

Insomnia, the Park, and Staying Home

We've enjoyed a couple of days of wonderful weather and I can't even describe how much fun it is to get outside for a few hours. Little Smith has gotten so big that he really takes over at the park and seems to have an instinct for finding an open gate and making a fast dash for the road- he's been sleeping well!

On the other hand I have not been sleeping well. I've been battling awful insomnia for weeks that's leaving me on the edge of zombie-hood all day long. Phases of sleeplessness have followed me for most of my life. It was an asset during college when I could pull consecutive all-nighters like a champ but now it's just frustrating that I can't will myself to drift off.

Sometimes I lie there tackling projects mentally, like how we'll move and organize Little Smith's room when he needs a real bed (which won't happen for another year) or how I'll sequence re caulking the bathtub or our garden plan... other times I just lie there worrying.

Last night my thoughts were circling around "staying at home". I went out for a drink with a group of baby-mamas which is always a welcome treat. We hadn't seen each other for a while so there was lots of catching up... the big topic of conversation was whether those of us at home were killing our careers. One woman who's trying to get back to a day job mentioned " No one will even look at you if you've been out of work for over a year". That's the kind of statement that sort of rings in your head.

It's something I've thought about again and again... and again until two in the morning last night. I'm a designer so of course I do still design. I'm still working on small projects and I'm sure that will continue to ramp up. I'll never shut off that part of my brain but I'm not devoting anywhere close to the hours or degree of obsession that I used to. It isn't my real job. 

My job is days at the park, singing songs, changing diapers, listening to whining, preparing meals, sorting toys, and a million other tasks. It is a very different life from the one I had a year and a half ago, but it truly is what I want right now. There are times when like everyone I'm exhausted and bored or strained for money and I have doubts, but those times are the exception.

I do worry about where this is taking me down the road, because kids grow up so fast and then what? Having my own life and interests outside of my child is important to me, I want to be a whole person. I worry, but I also know that I am maintaining those interests. Even if I only complete a dozen insignificant mini-projects in a year instead of working on one or two giant ones, and even if some of my peers don't understand or respect what I'm doing, it feels right for me. I have a curious mind and a good work ethic and when and if I want to work at an office, I know I can find a way to do it. Right now I am choosing to be home every day. I don't know if that will last months or years or a lifetime but if I can make it work and it's what I want then it's what I'm going to do.

Why do I have to keep justifying that? I guess it's my own lack of confidence. Maybe I can work on that at two in the morning when I'm staring at the ceiling.


  1. I don't think you're alone thinking about hese things. It seems like so many of us worry about things like that. The constant struggle/balance between making something productive and fulfilling as an adult, with an adult's desires and needs, and then also fufilling the very important role of being there for our kids. So many pulls in so many directions.

    I think that working on smaller projects can be satisfying ~ just looking back over time and seeing what you've accomplished. Continuing to feed that adventurous and curious and creative side to you is totally worth it and valid to do.

    Hope the insomnia passes soon!

    x brooke

  2. As it is healthy, walks it is remarkable!

  3. So strange, I have been an insomniac too but just for the past couple of nights... and last night was a full moon. Maybe related?

    As for the whole back-to-work after staying at home dilemma, I try not to think about it because I know I will require a complete re-education and career change if I want to go back... so for now I'm staying put!

  4. I completely relate to this post. I've had very similar feelings about staying home with the kids. And with the area I worked in 3 years off work has now certainly killed my career. So I'm refocusing. But it sounds like you can keep an edge (and portfolio) by doing side projects. For the insomnia- I make lists and drink a cup of chamomile. When that doesn't work, I try a few glasses of wine :)

    1. Thanks guys! Ruthie, I'm not sure I can keep my portfolio up in the same way I would have so I might be "killing" this version of my career too... but I guess I'm just confident that I'll always find some way to do something related to art/ design/ architecture because it's just part of me. That's my hope at least! I used to drink chamomile and sometimes it helps - thanks! (wine works for going to sleep but then I wake up in the middle of the night :))

  5. I am also an insomniac (especially since having a child- strange, huh?), but I find that winding down with a good book and a glass of wine or cup of tea really helps me. It's so hard to slow your mind down at the end of the day that sometimes sending your mind somewhere else through reading can really help.

    You are most definitely not alone in the work/ home dilemma. I am currently very much trying to find that balance in my own life and all I can say it go with your gut. Personally I have resolved myself to the fact that my child will only be a child for a very short period of time and I want to be as much of a part of that as I can be. With that said I also keep little side projects and work part time just for my personal sanity. Ha!

  6. I can relate to this so very much. I put my career doing sound editing on hold when Julian was born...8 years ago. And there doesn't seem to be a break in my current job of being a mom for at least another year, when Audrey will start preschool for a few days a week. It's so hard for me to find the balance of being in love with my kids and knowing that this job isn't permanent, and also really wanting to be my own person again.

  7. Yes. The questioning of whether what you're doing as a stay at home mother is valid, of whether it's fulfilling enough, of whether peers will validate or condemn you for it....Every once in a while when I experience a bit of clarity I realize that these very questions that worry me so are actually the same questions that would worry me no matter what I was doing in my life. I try to remind myself to embrace the choice I've made now without being able to know what exactly will happen in the future.

    You're doing great... ;)


  8. Also an archi, on home status due to our move abroad for my partner's job. Constantly worrying about keeping my license up-to-date, my technical skills up-to-date, my portfolio, etc. Of course enjoying this time, but...