When I became a parent almost four years ago I quickly learned that I was Mommy - not Jennifer. Parenthood requires a level selflessness and service I had never known before. Unfortunately, as a stay-at-home-mom with virtually no social life, I forgot about me. Most days the only adult I talked with was my husband when he got home from work. Blogs, email, and facebook kept me feeling some semblance of connectivity to the world outside my immediate family as did attending church. Like many adults, my birthdays in recent years have gone by with little fanfare and barely a blip on my own radar. This year was different.
Last month I decided to temporarily go back to work full time. I wanted to make money and blow the cobwebs out of my mommy brain. I wanted to feel professional again and have a reason to actually get dressed in pretty clothes, fix my hair, and do my make-up. I wanted daily interaction with other people and tangible accomplishments resulting in more than a clean house and laundry. A friend of mine and elementary principal at a nearby Christian school asked me to take over a third grade class for this second semester. I love teaching third grade and knew this was an opportunity for me to teach, for fourteen weeks, and earn money my family needed. I look forward to being a stay-at-home-mom again - at least until my girls are older. Maybe when they are all school-aged - if I don't homeschool them, perhaps I would go back to work. I'm just not sure I would figure out how to balance the demands I place on myself as a good teacher with the kind of wife and mother I want to be who provides nutricious meals, a clean home and quality family time.
My girls are being watched in the home of a fantastic former preschool teacher who now stays home with her own toddler daughter. Lauren is the wife of a nearby church's youth pastor. My girls absolutely love going to her home.
I've been putting in at least fifty hours a week and keep telling myself it is only for ____ more weeks. I'm down to only 7 more weeks! I love teaching, but had no idea having three small children and working full time would be so hard. My house is the most disheveled it has ever been and we pick up frozen pizzas or take-out a couple times a week now because Judd and I simply can't do it ALL. Judd has really stepped up too and become Mr. Mom. He drops the girls off on his way to work and picks them up on his way back home. For dinner he usually feeds them crockpot meals I've put together.
With the crazy whirlwind I have been in lately, I honestly didn't even know what day of the week my birthday was on this month. My friends and husband have just gone above and beyond in pampering me as they celebrated my birthday - which is today. Last week, Jackie - one of my best friends - took me out to dinner. Friday, at school, the other third grade teacher - the incredibly sweet Ms. Sharon Fine - organized a surprise birthday party for me with some of my homeroom moms and both of our third grade classes. Then, my former high-school classmate at dear friend - Kym - organized a little get-together for me at one of my favorite restaurants today. Kym lives in Texas and I live in Tulsa, OK. She planned this long distance. What an amazing person - and willing to fly up here just to celebrate my birthday then fly back home. One of my friends - Kelli - drove two hours in order to be here for my birthday luncheon. My two other friends, Jamie and Rebecka were willing to give up their valuable time with their families to celebrate my birthday with me.
When I got home from my outing with friends, my husband - Judd - had just finished baking me a homemade-from-scratch (no box) double layer chocolate cake with homemade frosting. It was so moist and scrumptious! I'm actually a little jealous that he baked a cake that was so much prettier and tastier than any chocolate cake I've ever made.
Hearing my sweet daughter, Sophie, singing happy birthday to me, made my heart smile.
Top all of these celebrations off with a zillion birthday wishes from facebook friends and I am ending my birthday with a (very) full tummy and a heart overflowing with love and gratitude for everyone who helped me feel special and loved. I celebrated Jennifer - not Mommy...at least for today.