5 Things: Melissa

I’m a stay-at-home mom, but I haven’t always been one.

Once upon a time, I worked full time in a professional career. I brought my kids to childcare every day. I enjoyed my work, and even professed loudly that I could never see myself as a happy, successful stay-at-home parent. But then, real life happened.

I was in grad school part-time. Todd was in grad school full-time. He took a professional job and began his career. That job required three hours of commuting for him every day, most of it during a North Dakota winter. I began going just a little bit batty and something had to change. My work was suffering. My family was suffering. I was suffering.

Because Todd was just starting out in his career and I was in the throes of burnout, it made the most sense at the time for me to take a step back from work (temporarily, I told myself and the world) and find balance once again. It’s been almost ten years now since I made that choice. It is one of the best I ever made. Sometimes, I miss my former life and wonder what it would be like to “go back” to work. Mostly, though, I’m just really happy to be doing what I do at home.

Homeschool Field Trip
Homeschool Field Trip

 

After my husband, my brother is my best friend.

I’m quite a bit older than my “little” brother (he’s actually a lot taller than I am now that we’re both adults), and it has taken time for us to grow into our friendship. When we were younger, we often found ourselves in positions where I ended up as an authority figure. We both resented it. Once we left home, though, we learned how to interact with one another as equals and friends.

I have other friends, good ones, in fact. But when something exciting happens in my home that I just have to share with someone, it’s my brother that I call. I stood beside him when he got married to his wonderful wife, and he’s the one that will raise my kids if something horrible ever happens to Todd and me. And I have complete confidence in his ability to do a great job. I suspect that as this blog progresses, many of the posts you see will be at his suggestion.


We understand each other

 

I have a serious soft spot for kids—especially those who face some pretty big challenges.

After I left my professional career, I spent a few years operating a family childcare out of our home. I enjoyed the work, but found the extremely long hours to be incompatible with our lifestyle. We are on the go too much for me to be chained to the house eleven hours a day, five days a week.

Around the time that I stepped back from full-time childcare, we became licensed foster parents. We’ve done a variety of programs over the years, both full and part-time. Some of those kiddos have brought some very big challenges along with them. We are a better family for having had the wide variety of children come into our home. Currently, we participate in a program that allows us to act as mentors to youth in the community that are living with their biological parents. It’s a great fit and extremely rewarding.

 

I don’t like cleaning, but I really like living in a clean home.

I am not a germaphobe, but I do like my environment to be clean. I also prefer to walk into a room and feel at peace because I am not surrounded with a mess and tons of clutter. Our family has a cleaning schedule and we stick to it pretty closely. I accept laundry, dish washing, vacuuming, and toilet scrubbing as necessary evils. I also feel strongly that our children, as they are able, should contribute to keeping our home clean and orderly. They help create to the mess, so they should help clean it up.

Jocelyn’s chore envelopes

 

I enjoy a good book or movie, but I struggle to carve out time for either one.

When my youngest daughter was really struggling to understand what bedtime meant, I devoured almost all of Sue Grafton’s alphabet mysteries by nightlight over the course of a few months. I know I didn’t do my eyesight any favors, but I did enjoy the books enough that I almost miss the nightlight time.

I make an occasional appearance at a monthly book club with friends. Once every year or two, Todd and I go to a movie together on an extremely rare date night without the kids. As a moment of confession, I don’t put enough time into taking time out. I generally follow good health habits, but two areas I struggle in are exercise and time spent alone.

Considering my introverted nature and arthritic hip, these are things I should work on. My hope, as the blog takes shape, is to find ways that improve my accountability and follow-through in areas that I would like to change in myself.