I did not actively decide to become a 'stay at home mom'. When I was pregnant with R, my youngest, I told LP that I would no longer work at the children's shelter I was working at. Not because I didn't love the job. It was great. It was b/c I worked weekends and holidays, and so was he at the time. We worked opposite shifts, and never saw each other. It was tough, but we got through it. Sometimes I think we survived because we didn't see each other and weren't physically able to strangle one another.
As soon as I had her I quit, and when she was 3 weeks old, an former co-worker from the shelter invited me to work at her company on a part-time basis.
Right about this time my grandma was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease. First time I realized this was when she asked me who that little boy was visiting my house. It was my oldest daughter. Crushed me to know she had no recollection of her.
I worked as a drug counselor at the local high school for almost a year. It was fun, easy, and very flexible. I remember one day teaching a 6th grade class about peer pressure while cradling R in my hands and pointing to the chalkboard in another. Maybe I should've been talking about sex education.....
It was becoming obvious my grandpa needed more help with grandma, and my mom asked if I would help out. LP and I discussed it, and it was the easiest decision we've ever made. And probably the best. I quit my job.
This was December 2000. My grandma didn't know who I was by that time. I'd come over, get her dressed, feed her, talk to her, try to keep things light. My grandpa would try to keep control of the situation, and I felt for him, watching the woman he loved so much forget everything that meant anything to her.
I learned more about my grandparents than I ever knew. I learned about my grandpa being shipped off to relatives when he was 8 to work on a farm because he dad couldn't hold a job. He told me about how his father had come home from school one day and his family had left, so he changed his name. There is no way we can trace his family back farther than that since no one knows what their name was.
I learned that my grandparents walked to breakfast every morning hand in hand.
I learned my grandma and grandpa used to go to Chicago in the heyday of swing and dance the weekend away at the Riviera.
I learned that when my uncle, while stationed in Vietnam, only wanted to buy a Pioneer stereo when he got home. He came home, bought the stereo, and died in a car accident on his wedding day. My mom still has the stereo.
I also learned that the only thing that made my grandma happy was the Lawrence Welk show. She would dance and laugh, and sing. She knew every single word. But she didn't remember me.
My grandpa died in February of 2002. Three months later, my grandma died too.
I learned more about my grandparents in that year and a half than I'd known in the years prior to that.
Afterwards, I decided that helping my kids grow up was more important than earning money. It has been HARD, and sometimes I really wanted to run out of the house and drive out into the sunset. We've scrimped. We have had to buy used stuff. We have had to stay at home and eat leftovers.
But I KNOW it was worth it. I know that I will remember all those great moments with my kids, treasure them, because time with them will always mean more than money.
I hadn't meant to pour all this out, but today I got a Job. A real, honest to goodness Job.
I'm glad and thankful I was fortunate to be able to stay at home as long as I have. Now that both girls will be at school, I'll be able to help out financially and I'm glad. It's time, I'm ready, and I'm excited. I'll be doing what I went back to school for, and making decent money.
I'd trade it all in for another day with my grandparents, but I can't.
But now I can cherish those 2 years I had with them.
And I will always be able to watch Lawrence Welk and smile.