Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Corner Office With A View

     I've been promoted! Sort of....We finally moved Julia out of her little nursery off our bedroom into the girls room. We managed to cram her crib into their room that already has two bunk beds-  one with a full size bed. Yes, it's a tad crowded (please don't call the fire department!), but it's very workable for now.
 ---Mother with a large family and very few bedrooms tip #1---Don't have any unnecessary toys, books, or clothes in the bedroom overflowing with kids. I've learned that kids don't need a lot of clothes and  books tend to get strewn all over the floor and ripped apart. This is very, very  bad (given that I have a love affair with books and the utmost respect for most of them). Solution: keep books only on beds and very few of them at that. And toys- oh those things we spend a ridiculous amount of money and time buying, sorting, organizing, and picking up again and again. Same principal applies, however:  the fewer toys, the better. Most of the girls' toys are stored in their closet up high and out of reach. The rest of the toys - and a limited amount at that - are stored in our large, spacious playroom (thank you, God!).
     Anyway, our plan when we constructed Julia's nursery off our bedroom was to eventually make that little room an office. It's in the southeast corner of our home and the view out of that window is the best view in the whole house. There are city lights to the south at night, a majestic mountain view to the north, and a peaceful field view to the east. Pure visual pleasure! So, after hours of wrestling with dozens of outdated files in our lonely filing cabinet that had been subjected to our scary, messy garage, I hauled it into my office. It fit perfectly in the corner next to my next desk and even looks quite satisfied  now that it's updated and ready for official home business!(That was some project! Tim saves everything! But not anymore....shh...) An organized filing system is critical to important documents that can't be easily "computerized." So, after negotiating the space and use of various pieces of furniture in and around my house (and basement) and buying some small things, I  set up "Mom's Office - Keep Out Or Enter At Your Own Risk." The only thing missing is an internet connection, but one more trip to Best Buy for an ether net cable splitter ought to do the trick.

     For the six years I've lived in this house, my "office" has been in a central location, accessible to all the kids and in full view of any visitors. It's been miserable, especially in the last couple of years with more kids home using the computer for school, games, "socializing," etc. To keep my papers and bills organized has been exceedingly challenging. To have a quiet place to work on record-keeping, budgeting, planning, and so on has been non-existent and profoundly discouraging. For most of our married life I have paid the bills and managed our paperwork and finances. Tim and I discuss our budget and financial issues fairly frequently and without much disagreement (especially the small stuff), but I take care of the nuts and bolts and daily expenditures of our household. This is due to the fact that I spend most of the money (I consider part of my job title "Professional Consumer") and have a lot more time during the day to make phone calls. Tim recently asked me if I'd like him to take over paying the bills, but I declined the offer. I requested that instead we meet once a month to discuss how I've done on our budget and what needs and financial issues are coming up. We haven't met yet, but now that I can invite him into my office for an appointment perhaps it will happen soon. I can sell him on the point that my office has a beautiful view!
     In all the many papers I perused while sorting through our file cabinet, I came across some old notes from a women's meeting at church. I was reminded how impacted I was by a comment our former pastor's wife made: "I look at my role as a home schooling, full-time homemaker as my job." This is my "career" were the scribbled notes on my handout. What a thought! Years ago someone estimated the dollar value of a full time homemaker to be about $70, 000 per year. I think the more kids you have, though, the higher the number! (So, maybe about $110,000 for me - yeah, right!). A career implies a wardrobe (I really try to avoid sweats), continuing education like websites, books, and discussions on meal planning, housecleaning, managing a family schedule, etc, and regular pay raises - oh, I'm sorry, I've become delusional (I really need to spend more time in the real world with more adults). I just make sure that, in lieu of a regular paycheck, I go to Bean Town on Saturday mornings BY MYSELF for a large diet Coke (light ice, please) and my favorite chocolate chip orange scone (the best ever). Although, when Daisy asked if she could go with me this last Saturday, I  couldn't refuse. We shared my scone, she got a gumball for 1 cent, and we played Mickey Mouse UNO. What a splendid date it was!
     But really, though, full time homemaking is not viewed as a highly desirable career choice. Who studies to be a "homemaker"? My mom used to encourage me to get a degree in home economics (do such majors exist anymore?) because of how versatile it is. I opted for social science instead which afforded me hours of studying and listening to lectures on history and political science, to name a few topics. My intellect was stimulated and challenged from those classes, although I did not find them helpful to me in any real world sense.
     Interestingly enough, which celebrity figure, notwithstanding her jail time a few years back, makes loads of money on domestic, homemaking things? Billionaire Martha Stewart! I think people really do want encouragement and guidance on how to cultivate a beautiful, productive, enriching home environment. The "domestic arts" really are valuable. And the truth is - not many people can manage a home well without years of working at it, trial and error, and a real vision for it. Just doing the laundry and dishes and changing diapers doesn't make for a well kept  and peaceful home. Although, let me clarify, in those years when I  had lots of little babies and toddlers that didn't sleep and made constant messes (Julia would still fit that profile), I was doing GREAT if I got the laundry and dishes done and had managed to avoid a raging diaper rash on my baby and toddler's bottoms because I had regularly changed their diapers. There are different seasons for different standards.
     In fact, there are different styles of homemaking, too. Mine tends to be the "Well, the mess isn't bothering me enough at this point to do anything about it yet" approach. This is not a style I encourage any woman to aspire to. Truth is, every working mom I know has told me that staying at home and raising kids full time is harder than going to their job. Wow- maybe they need a corner office with a view! (Really, though, my hat is off to all those ladies who can juggle working outside their home and motherhood. I really admire that kind of skill and talent.)
     Well, now that I have a charming and private office, I'm eager to sort through weeks of receipts to see how much money I've spent so far this month. Who am I kidding? I never want to do that, but at least the view from my office is fabulous!

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