September 2009 started the beginning of the new school year. What a difference a year can make. Derek started his second season at Detroit with optimism. With some transfer players able to play this year and the new recruits it looked as if the season would pan out a little better than last year. My year was looking pretty good too. My baby would be starting kindergarten this year. This will be the first time in twelve years that I didn’t have a child home with me. I was not pregnant. I was not nursing. We were not moving and all the kids were in school. The kids could walk to school so I didn’t have to leave the house if I didn’t want to. If you want to know what heaven feels like this comes pretty darn close! There was a permanent smile plastered on my face. I love my children more than anything but raising four children is the hardest thing I had ever done in my life. To know I successfully managed to get four kids into school without killing or maiming anyone was a huge achievement. The first thing I noticed was the silence. Silence is beautiful especially when you have been without for so long. The second thing I noticed was that I finally had time to myself. I had seven hours a day to do what I wanted to do. My life was not divided into 1 1/2 hour increments of dropping off and picking up. I could actually get something done. I was not used to it. I was not used to easy. Everything has always been so hard. I thought there had to be a catch. I was waiting for the other shoe to drop. To have seven consecutive hours in the day when you didn’t have to think of anyone but yourself was such a freeing experience. No one was depending on me. There was no one to fix lunch for, no one to entertain, and no one to pacify. Just me. Just me. Just me.
A new phase was beginning for me. And the first question everyone asked was, “when are you going back to work?” The kids hadn’t been in school for a week and wondering minds wanted to know the answer to the million dollar question. It was never an issue for my husband. He rather I stay home with the kids at least until they got into high school and could drive and fend for themselves. It was usually friends and neighbors who kept asking. They were not pushing me into working; instead it was a logical question to ask someone who has stayed at home for so long. But because everyone did ask I did feel some pressure to at least look to see what was out there. Maybe they knew something that I didn’t know. Maybe I wouldn’t be able to handle all that time to myself so I panicked and applied for some part time jobs. I didn’t want the stress of a nursing job so I applied for jobs that a stay at home mom of twelve years would be comfortable applying for. I applied to Target and Sam’s Club because I knew those stores like the back of my hand. I also applied at Cookies By Design and another local bakery because I had become an expert at decorating cookies and cakes for the many birthdays and bake sales that I attended. I just wanted something a few hours a week that I could call my own. Although, if I had a nickel for every person that suggested I become a school nurse I would be a rich woman. Really – a school nurse? I just spent the last 12 years with a child in my face every day and now that they are finally gone I should go follow them? So when they are home I am home and when they are in school I am right there with them too. Oh no. That was not in my game plan. If I was going to go back to work I wanted to do something for me that had nothing to do with my children. I devoted so much to them that I just wanted something for myself and I wasn’t even sure if I wanted to go back to work. So, I came up with my own calculations for when I would return to the work force – for every year of breastfeeding I would take a year off from going back to work. I was going to get to test that theory too because no one wanted to hire a person who has not been in the work force for over 12 years and couldn’t work weekends or evenings. I was at peace with the situation. I really didn’t want to go back to work right away and I was going to enjoy this time to myself.