My Many Hats

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A friend once asked, "How can you do that? How can you be a stay at home mom, get all of that writing done and not go crazy?" My reply was simple. "I don’t. I just go crazy in a different way."

I had been a stay at home mom for the first two years of my daughter’s life. I enjoyed it immensely. But, part of me yearned for more. I began to do some soul searching and decided that I wanted to work out of the house. After a discussion with my very supportive husband, I studied to obtain a paralegal certification and then landed a job. All went well for another two years. Everyone seemed happy with the situation.

Then I was dealt a blow to my ego. My boss decided that my position in the firm needed to be eliminated, which left me jobless. Shocked, I agonized about where I would go next. My daughter also began yearning for more "mom time". But I wasn’t ready to stay home again. So I became employed as a teacher’s assistant with the county school. The family thought it was a fabulous plan, where I could be with my daughter during breaks and summers and have the same schedule as her. She would start school the next year.

When it came time for my daughter to attend real school, things did not go as planned. They rarely do. I had always encouraged her to learn, so at the tender age of four, she had some beginning reading skills and knew some basic math facts. I contacted the public school asking her to be tested for the accelerated program. They refused, stating that she would need to have completed her kindergarten year before they would test her. A whole year in which my daughter would be bored and her love and eagerness to learn crushed. We needed another solution, and private school was the answer.

So our grand plan about vacations and same schedules was shot down. Her schedule was dramatically different than mine. Not to mention that I would be at work longer than she was in class, which meant after school care. My measly salary became even paltrier after shelling out for all the expenses of working.

While working the past two years, I had also been hosting my own written from scratch murder mystery parties for friends and family. They had grown so popular that with each one I would get a telephone call from a friend, "Can I bring so and so?" So the once intimate group grew to over thirty, and no longer could be accommodated in my home. Many friends commented, "You know you should do this for a living," and I just chuckled.

One day something strange happened; I don’t really even know what came over me. My normally shy demeanor had suddenly found a streak of "jump in with both feet, and just do it!"

I picked up my daughter from school and sat at the traffic light facing a newly opened restaurant.

I peered into the rear view mirror and said, "Honey, we have to stop here for a moment. Can I have your patience?" I begged of my daughter.

"Sure mommy. But where are we going and what for?"

With a slight quiver in my voice I said, "To talk to someone about hosting my murder mysteries."

I proudly trotted into the restaurant and spoke to the manager pitching my best unrehearsed sale.

 "Sure. Come on by with your calendar, and some sample stuff. We’d love to host them."

I left on cloud nine. I couldn’t believe it. I began hosting at one restaurant, then two. Word of mouth carried me all over and it was amazing. All the while, still working at the school and maintaining our home. I kept late hours, had a messy house, and was generally exhausted.

Then it came time to pose the ultimate question to our accountant. Was it worth for me to still be employed out of the house? After some number crunching and clicking of her calculator, she looked up and said flatly, "No." The decision had been made for me, and the die had been cast. I needed to run my business, and stay at home for my family.

My murder mystery business has been a roller coaster of a ride. From two restaurants, to none (they both closed), back to another restaurant and so forth. It is a challenge, but I enjoy both the ups and downs. Now time has come for me to hire someone to continue running the parties. While somewhat infrequent, we still have parties at least once a month.

I love to write and create, so I began writing short stories and a novel. While the publishing industry has presented a whole new challenge, I’ve enjoyed learning all the ins and outs of a writer’s world.

My mother-in-law recently asked me, "So how is the lady of luxury?" I knew she had to be joking. I had become the gardener, lawn woman, author, mother, wife, cook, cleaning lady, chauffer, teacher, sales woman, business owner, family schedule keeper and pet sitter. My day moves through so many hats I can’t keep track. But I enjoy my time and wouldn’t trade it for the world.