My office trip down memory lane

I’m reorganizing my home office.  It’s quite an undertaking.  I’ve got filing cabinets filled with papers, bookshelves filled with books, papers and photos.  I’ve got a few boxes that are hanging out in the corner with various items we’ve been storing.  Over the next month, I’m sorting through every single item, purging and organizing.  By the beginning of next year when the new baby arrives, my office will look like a different place than it has for the last nine years.  It won’t become the nursery, but it will get a few new additions so we can clean out the extra bedroom in our house to make room for our baby boy.

I started this project the end of last week.  My daughter had been asking to spend the night with her Nana and Papaw, so I figured letting her do so would give me two solid days to hang out in my office alone and get going on the project.  Two days is a good start, but there’s still a lot to do.  The first day I started with sorting through papers in a large filing cabinets that was once a repository for all sorts of things, including old issues of magazines, but lately it’s been too full to add any more to.  It definitely needed a good cleaning.

I got to the bottom drawer and found a bunch of memoribillia.  I found stories I had written in high school.  I found church youth group newsletters I’d put together and Christmas plays I’d written and directed.  I found articles I’d written for college journalism classes.  I found notes my husband and I had exchanged when we were dating in high school.  I found ribbons and medals from music competitions.

This photo from a few years ago shows me with our dog, Buckles, who was my sole co-worker for many years. He was helping me prepare for a class I was teaching at the time. My office holds lots of memories.

Progressing around my office throughout last Thursday and Friday, I found memories from my adult life as well — both good and bad ones.  There was paperwork from selling our house that didn’t go through because of a crazy buyer.  There was paperwork from the year my husband spent without a job.  There were notes from numerous articles.  There were tax papers reminding me of the living I used to fully earn as a freelancer.  There were old photos I’d scanned for a project I’d put together for my parents.  There were notecards from praying women at church who cared enough to take time and send us a card.

I found lots of things.  It was a sort of bittersweet couple of days getting started on this project.  I’m excited because this has to be done in order for us to get started on putting together the baby’s nursery.  However, I also recognize that this means I’m entering another phase of life for the time being.  While I’ve been more of a part-time freelancer since my daughter was born, I know I’m going into a period where I may not be able to freelance at all.  I love what I do.  Writing has always been a part of my life since writing my first story on my own back in third grade.  So, it’s bittersweet.

I will fully admit that I shed a few tears at certain points while beginning to sort through things.  It was a bit like sorting through my life.  I remembered the Stacey I was as a student, the Stacey I was a young married adult, the Stacey I was as a full-time, successful freelancer and the Stacey I became as a mother.  All these Staceys are melded into my office, which is mostly just a good representation of who I am as a person.  I have characteristics from each of those Staceys with me at all times.  They are all me.  Right now I am more Stacey as a mother than any other Stacey, but those other parts of myself are still there.

I’ve been beating myself up a bit by cutting back on my workload.  In my head, I’ve been subconsciously telling myself that I’m a failure.  But, going through all of these things in my office has shown me I’m not a failure.  I’ve set goals and accomplished them.  I’ve lived my dream of freelancing full-time and loved it.  I will return to it full-time one of these days.  But for now, I’m fulfilling another dream of being a mother.  It doesn’t mean I haven’t been successful in my writing career.  I found loads of clips, article notes and check stubs to remind me that I was successful.  I found things I’d completely forgotten about writing.  I found clients I’d worked with that had slipped my mind.  I found notes from clients and editors thanking me for my work that reminded me they were pleased with what I’d done for them.

All the while as I was remembering these things and realizing that I wasn’t a failure, I’d feel random kicks from the baby that are getting stronger everyday.  And I’d think of all that is to come.  I’m not far enough into my motherhood journey to call it a success just yet, other than the fact that my child is alive and healthy on the outside and the other one is happily kicking around on the inside.  But, I think I’m on my way.   I know I’m trying.  I’m putting as much, well actually more, into my motherhood career, as I did into my freelance one.  Having a perfect balance between the two isn’t really possible right now.  I can’t put myself fully into motherhood and fully into freelancing.  So, for now, I’m picking the fleeting responsibility of caring for young children.  It won’t be long before that shifts and I can put more into freelancing again while the kiddos are in school and such.

I also realized that I won’t ever stop writing.  This blog helps me.  I’ll happily take on a few limited assignments for publications I really care about and work I really enjoy as I’m able.  Being a writer is as much a part of me as being a mother is.  Maybe it’s more a part of me because it’s been around for decades while I’m newer to motherhood.  I can’t stop writing completely and still be me.  Just as I also can’t take being a mother away and be me.  It’s become me.  Even when I’m away from my child working in my office to organize it, I still think about her and wonder what fun thing she’s doing with her grandparents (and trying very hard not to constantly text or call to check in on her).

My trip down memory lane has been bittersweet.  Organizing and purging things in my office has ended up being more emotional than I thought it’d be.  I’m not good with change and this means some change is coming.  But, I’ve been around myself long enough to know that I need to feel the sadness of letting go of some old things before I can fully feel the happiness of the new, good things headed my way.  And that’s just what I’m on my way to doing.  In the meantime, don’t be surprised to find me sitting in the midst of a pile of papers crying.  It’s just what I need to do.  I can’t wait to get through to the other side and enjoy the all the goodness of a new baby in our family and embrace my role as a mother to two!

(Note: Just had to add that as I edited this to post, I did so on my laptop, on my dining room couch while my dog sat on my belly between the laptop and me thanks to thundering weather and the kiddo played with toys on my legs while perching a small pink shoe on my laptop.  Life has definitely changed these last three years!)

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