OK, I admit it. I miss my paycheck the most.
It would be much more professionally savvy, I know, to talk about how much I miss working. (I can feel you cringing from here, mom.) The intellectual stimulation. The adult companionship. Career advancement and feelings of accomplishment. All good stuff.
I don't miss any of that. Not yet, anyway. And since I didn't take this time off so I could mindlessly follow my children around and catch up on what's been happening with Oprah these days, I don't imagine I will for a while. I have eight years of unread books and journals, unwritten poems, and unthunk thoughts to catch up on.
What I don't have ... is direct deposit. And I am of two minds about it.
It's like this. Every year at Christmas, I start off the season with the noblest of intentions. I wax poetic about family, the true spirit of the season. I expound the virtues of simplicity and generosity. Our family is so blessed, I lovingly note with tears of gratitude, we don't need anything more than each other.
Then, because I do not learn, I walk into Toys R Us.
I don't know what happens in there, people. I have my suspicions that they somehow erase your memory with that scanner thing at checkout, while distracting you with a mind-boggling number of requests for personal information and credit card offers.
The next thing I know, I am standing at the exit. Two hours have passed, I am holding a receipt totaling twice the gross national product of a small country, and I am weeping inconsolably because unless my children get a full-size walking, talking robotic dinosaur baby for Christmas, they will be social outcasts forever.
In a similar vein, I can tell you at length (and likely have) why this sabbatical is worth any amount of lost income. No amount of personal sacrifice is too great for what I will gain in sanity.
But when it comes to the kids making sacrifices? That's tougher. I have, with much effort, finally reached the point where I can justify doing things for myself. But I am not yet in a place where I think it's OK for my kids to suffer in the least in order to do so.
As a result, my ability to say no to "extras" like gymnastics, karate, piano lessons, and the occasional cheerleading clinic (please note that if you do not have an 8-year-old girl who has just been offered the opportunity to have lunch with a CHEERLEADER! In her UNIFORM! you are forbidden to judge me for this) has not yet caught up with the reality of our steadily-dwindling savings account.
On the other hand, money can't buy quality parenting, right? You can't overestimate the value of your kids waking up in the morning to a home-cooked breakfast, a stimulating family discussion, and creative lunches complete with love-notes on hand-stamped stationery.
Or ... what I do. Set out cereal, point the kids to the spoon drawer, throw a PB&J in a paper sack, and wait for them to go to school so I can write about them. Priceless, right?
Hey -- it's a sabbatical, not a personality transplant.