Sunday, February 14, 2016

life choices

Hello out there!
I made a big decision recently that I'd like to tell you about. The last year and a half I've been staying home with my now two kids, Noah (2) and Zoe (5 months).

At first I was super-enthusiastic about this project, determined to raise the smartest, most verbal, best-fed, sweetest-natured children ever made. I talked to Noah incessantly, keeping up a running narration of everything I was doing in order to expose him to the absolute maximum language possible.  but after a while it gets very tedious. you get sick of talking, sick of mops and trucks and dinosaurs and garbage or whatever your kid is obsessed by 24 hours a day. also I spend a lot of time doing laundry and changing diapers and picking up toys and cleaning the house. and I don't mind housework per se, I actually have grown to kinda like it, especially the clean warm orderliness of laundry, but I'm SO BORED. I avoid my friends because I know I'm a conversational black hole.  I reread old blog posts and miss myself.

So I made plans to put them both in a local Montessori school next September and return to teaching at 318. I miss 318, at least parts of it: my advanced classes and the Saturday tournaments. Also I miss the long overnight trips. (I'm going to elementary nationals this year with another school and I can't wait-- 5 days of nonstop chess analysis without my children sounds like a dream.) I feel in some way that I belong at 318 and do a lot of good there.

And then Jonathan asked me to stay home another year with Zoe-- to put Noah in preschool 9-3 5 days a week and just take care of her, the house, and Noah after/ before school. He asked me like its a favor.

At first I thought no, I need for myself to be working outside our house for my own mental health. but then the next morning I was pushing the double stroller through the park on an unseasonably warm sunny winter day and we stopped and Noah got out to play chase with a puppy, and amidst the squeals of joy I thought "of course it's glorious to have another year off to spend with my children. How lucky I am." And so I cancelled Zoe's enrollment at the Montessori school, committing myself.

I'm still going back and forth in my mind. On the one hand I think we'd be stretched very thin as a family if we were both working. The house would never be clean and the dog would not get dewormed and no one would eat anything but takeout and toast.

Maybe with just one kid to watch I can blog and go running and maybe even play chess.
and if I was working, I'd be staring through my window, wishing I could be with my kids.

any thoughts, blog readers?


Anonymous said...



Anonymous said...

Welcome back. Now tell Coakley to write that book.

Anonymous said...

i remember someone once telling me that the days are long, but the years are short, once you have kids. it goes so fast in retrospect, you will NEVER regret the time you spend with your children now. My daughter Bree is 10 now, and I'm glad I spent so much time with her when she was younger. It's true the feelings you describe when you're at home, but it's much worse when you're at work fulltime, your life is stress stress stress, not enough time in the day, you feel like you're not succeeding as a parent and not succeeding at your job! It won't be long until your kids are older and won't want to spend as much time with you, and it's bittersweet
for sure - happy they're more independent but you'll miss it for sure...

Bill said...

I wonder what you could do to help your mental health while staying at home. For example, I often used to go birdwatching while the kids were in pre-school.

Joan said...

I'm really proud of your decision. You'll be doing great with your kids (I have to tell you two boys may be brother and I, my two children...) and on top of that this blog is the reason I'm trying to improve my chess following some of your advice.
Thank you and keep up with it!
(Greetings from spain)

Anonymous said...

Is there anyway you can work part time? Maybe 2 full days a week? Then you get the best of both. One on one with your daughter most of the time and 2 days of adult time. Just a thought.

Your kiddos are lucky!

Gurdonark said...

I think that life is full of balancing between one thing and another. The balancing you are doing makes perfect sense to me. I think that it's easy to under-value the joy of regular meals and a livable space.

Maybe it would be fun to use some of the time to draft things that will help you when you do return to school. By now, you've been at this for some years. This is almost like a sabbatical without any real sabbatical free time, but maybe there will be just enough to do those revamps in your written materials (or draft new ones) that you always meant to do.

Maybe instead it would be fun to add a new opening to your own repertoire. Learn something fun, like the black side of the Alekhine or the Reti with White.

There will be time enough and chess enough and you'll make the right choices. Perhaps the secret is not to see it as opening and closing doors, but as choices to balance, subject to change and re-balance.

Anonymous said...

Why does the dad always get to ask the mom to stay home? Mom did it for two years, so it's his turn!

Paul Carey said...

Loved you in Brooklyn Castle. My son was so inspired. He's watched it about 10 times. He's 12 now and rated 1900 (Aidan Carey). Will you be at JHS nationals next week?

Unknown said...

Have you made a decision?

Unknown said...

I am a patent if a 9yro girl. I've lived my life in stages fully enjoying every stage. I wanted to work so we could pour into or daughter all the possible advantages. I seer her now ... super strong writer who lives cooking, writing stories, singing, skating, playing in mud and splashing in puddles. I've always chosen work that allows me to attend every school event ... totally flex. I spent the first two years working 2 days in the office and 3 days at home. I don't regret one thing. I hope you and the family have peace in every decision. BTW, I looked u up because of the book How Children Succeed ... you sound passionate and single minded ... I wish my daughter experienced teachers like you