Life Stages and Metaphorical Socks

Children's feet

My youngest child - at three and a quarter years old - is desperate to grow up.

My oldest child - at five years and eleven months - is not desperate to grow up because, as the fourth oldest and second tallest child in her class, she already considers herself to be an adult. I referred to her as "young" the other day and she was so offended that she paused her cartoon about how to subtract the number three from the number six to tell me so.

But the youngest knows that she is little because she goes to nursery. She misses gatecrashing her sister's Google Classroom. Sometimes she is so sad about not getting to go to school, too, that the nursery staff walk her along the road to stand outside the tarmac playground and pine. 

She is very aware that she can't do things as well as her sister can. She is not very aware of the word "yet", but she is trying her hardest to catch up. She copies her sister's drawings. She tries to join in with the bigger kids at the park, and gets upset when they run off too fast for her to follow. She is determined to dress herself in the mornings, like a five year old should can, but often ends up sobbing over uncooperative socks.

It is hard when you're ready for the next stage of your life and you don't know how to get there.

Spot the segue.

I've spent six years at home, looking after these kids. It has been both relentless and rewarding. As much as the decision was made for me by reasons which boil down to "our patriarchal society", I'm glad I was here to witness so much of their early years (maybe not the 3am bits, mind). 

Sometimes I toy with home education not so much because it could be better for the kids - although it certainly can be - but because they're children for such a short period of time, I don't want to miss out on any of it by sending them off to school.

On the other hand, I now have these two days a week to myself. A bit. Between 8:55 and 14:40. During term-time. When nobody's ill. 

I'm aware of possibilities.

The possibilities are limited. There aren't many outside-the-home jobs which fit into my few free hours. There aren't many jobs inside the home which fit into them, either. And I'm reluctant to get into a situation where I'm working just to pay for holiday clubs, not least because I want to spend my kids' holidays hanging out with them.

So, like so many mothers before me, it comes down to my kitchen table.

For a while last year, I started selling pictures. A handful of pictures. They weren't quite there yet, but I know if I kept working at it, they could be - I have the start of a skill and the ability to practise. If I really focused on it, I might be able to bring in some money.

But there's also my lifelong intention to write novels. I can string words together pretty well - I just need to bludgeon my vague ideas into some sort of coherent, compelling plot (and, y'know, convince an agent of its worth and sell it and all those other minor details). If I really focused on it, I might be able to bring in some money.

Right now, I wobble back and forth between those options. I don't feel like I have time to do both - certainly not until both kids are at school - and I worry that whichever choice I make will be the wrong one. 

By "wrong" I mean "less lucrative", which I'm not sure is the right way to approach this, but there's only so long I can expect Steve to pay all the bills before he starts asking what I'm doing with my time. Also, it would be nice if our family income was enough for four people to have hobbies with.

So, right now, I feel a bit like a three year old, dreaming of my future skills and the exciting ways in which I could be filling my time.

And, like a three year old, I need to accept that sometimes it will take hours and hours and hours of practise over days and days and days of trying to put on my very own sparkly striped metaphorical socks.

If only I could choose which pair I wanted to wear.

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