One year ago this week, I cleaned off my desk, packed up my case files and books, and left
egal world behind to follow Big R and our family for an overseas adventure. That means I have officially been what the media calls a SAHM, or Stay At Home Mom, for one entire, very adventurous, extremely challenging, and remarkably rewarding year. I honestly had no idea what I was walking into leaving the working world behind and succumbing myself to the every day needs of a toddler and running a household. It's also hard to believe a year has already passed...
As much as staying home with little r was appeasing, being unemployed for an indefinite amount of time was a terrifying prospect for me. I have always been work-driven. I took no time entering the world of employment as soon as the law said I was old enough. I worked all my summers during high school, full-time through college, and my transition into the world of 70-hour work weeks happened seemlessly as though it was my fate.
So here I found myself in this unusual place where my full-time job became taking care of my toddler, two cats, a dog, and of course, Big R as well. My family was my job. If you think about it, how much more rewarding could it possibly become? (The feminist in me is screaming at that question.) I have many a girlfriend, acquaintance, and friend of a friend that consciously made the decision to stay home when their children were young to leave a high powered career.
Then I met K who inspires me on a daily basis to enrich my life one step at a time. I'm not really sure where I would be today if I hadn't met her because she came into my life at a time when I really needed a friend with her personality and outlook on life to push me forward to keep the perspective
facing the right direction. In the military world, it's not uncommon for a spouse to be unemployed, especially in her trained profession. And we were now, for better or worse, a military family. K has been invaluable at helping me stay focused on the positive side of this journey and not falling into the negativity that we can often find ourselves in.
I had high hopes of teaching. Before coming to Germany I had several interviews and really thought teaching would come to fruition, and maybe it will eventually, but not in the way I was headed last summer. Seeing that prospect dissolve, I decided I needed to find another means of staying tied to the legal community and started my legal blog. All of these ideas I had in my mind to better myself and push my career in a forward direction were much more overzealous than I had originally thought. Working pro bono is difficult without an already exisiting connection, legal writing is near impossible without access to a law library online or otherwise, and getting an advanced law degree here in Germany requires that my German be much more proficient. Ah, all these roadblocks I refuse to acknowledge, but nonetheless must accept...at least at this stage.
I suppose I focused on obtaining the baby steps of those goals with the hopes to maybe obtain them in the future. My legal blog allows me to write about legal issues without the necessity of case research from a law library. My German is getting better every day and I'm looking into taking a full immersion class this fall to push me toward bettering my proficiency, and maybe I'll finally reach out to the right person that has some pro bono work I could do from afar - you never know...
Instead, Big R and I began to realize that although I'm not working in my profession, in many ways, it's better financially for us to have me stay home while we're living overseas. It also frees up my time so that we can leave on a dime and travel without worrying about bosses or leave time, etc. And boy, have we LOVED all of our travel. Something else important that I have realized this past year is that I take much better care of my family when I take good care of myself. How many times do we say, "I just wish I had time to go for a good run or do yoga every day or read a book"? I know I said it endlessly, and now not only can I take the time, but I do.
Despite finding the right perspective and taking better care of myself, I have one constant challenge that I really need to work on: tackling the guilt. GUILT. What a horrible word. A friend of my says it'll take years off your life, and man, is she so very right. But I still feel it ALL THE TIME. It's horrible and stupid and something that I hope to push away. Where does this guilt come from? I'm sure I know, but I couldn't tell you if I tried. What I do know is that I base my daily worth on what I accomplish in my day. I rack up the points in my head as if it's some sick game that I'm playing with myself. I know this isn't healthy. I unnecessarily fill my life with busy-ness that gives me that horrible feeling of having no time and not enjoying the day-to-day awesomeness that life provides.
For example, the warm summer weather finally made its way back to Bavaria. This area is AMAZING when it's warm. All I wanted to do was sit on my porch with a cup of coffee and read a book. I had zero motivation to do little of anything else while little r was at kindergarten. Then after little r got home from school, we spent the afternoon at an outdoor swimming pool with friends. All this was happening while Big R was slaving away calling hostile witnesses for his next trial and preparing himself for depositions he has in the U.S. this weekend. Enjoying my day while Big R works so hard makes me feel guilty. Yes, this is a truly sick world we put ourselves into, and it's one I really need to change.
All that aside, this past year as a SAHM has allowed me to embrace the good things in life, especially being a mother. My respect goes out to all my other SAHM's because this job is no cup of tea. I would never trade back all the days I have spent with little r, but I know that my sanity has been tested numerous times and he continues to provide life with never-ending unpredictability.
It has also forced me to slow down and think outside the box as far as my career is concerned. This is the time in my life to be creative and try all those things I always thought I was interested in. It occurred to me awhile back that I didn't go to law school to practice law in the traditional sense in the first place. There were so many other reasons I put myself through that education. It was rewarding in many ways, so I'm trying not to overfocus on "not using it" and instead channel that focus into building myself into person that someone would want to hire to do the things I enjoy like consulting, advising, and writing. We'll see how that all goes when the time comes.
If I knew where life was going to take me perhaps I would have done things differently and maybe not picked a career that I was so sorry to leave behind, even if temporarily. But then again, it was life that took me on the course of obtaining my law degree and, of course, we cannot forget that I never would have met Big R if I hadn't decided that law was a career I wanted to pursue. No, I think the culmination of my life experiences have led me here and I believe that they will continue to take me to that place where I belong whether it's law or writing or teaching yoga or all of these things combined!
This past year has been a great year of reflection and growth for me. I might not be the financial hero of the household like Big R always thought I would be, but we are doing alright. He makes enough that we have a comfortable life and with a wife that doesn't have the stress of an overpowering job like his, we are able to keep balanced to enjoy our vacations and the few evenings we have together here in Bavaria. I think the universe knows what its doing. I'm going to try harder to trust it and myself. We have an awful lot of life left and I can't wait see where it takes us...