21-year-old Backus woman killed in crash in Pine River

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Goodbye ... for now

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After 14-1/2 years as a staff writer at the Brainerd Dispatch, today is my last day.

I think I’ve packed up most of the stuff in my desk, and even threw away all the sugar and ketchup packets that were probably here just as long as I was.

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For three years, my husband was a stay-at-home dad and now, it is my turn. We decided that the best plan for our family was to have me stay home with our youngest daughters, Madeline, 3, and Beatrice, 8 months. Juggling his new job, my own, with its irregular hours, and two little girls shuttled between daycare, their grandparents’ house and preschool, something had to give.

Being a stay-at-home mom has always been a dream of mine. When I’ve done stories involving stay-at-home moms, I usually left feeling deeply envious of their lives. Still, it was a tough decision to make. I will miss my work family, too, along with the many people I’ve written stories about and have worked with each day.

My 3-year-old has been counting down the days until my job ends: “Mommy, you have two days left. Two days until you stay home with me!,” holding up two fingers on Thursday morning. She has created a daily schedule for us already — playing dolls in the morning and going on walks in the afternoon. If we’d ever get enough snow, she wants us to build a snowman, too. Oh, and snow angels for everyone, including the baby.

I’ve made plans, too. We’re all signed up for several Early Childhood Family Education classes and unlike this fall, we might actually make it to the classes. I’m excited to take the kids to Storytime at the library and other family-type events that I would try to make but never could.

The other day I caught myself telling someone, after being asked what I was going to do now that I quit my job, that I was going to be “just staying home with my kids.” I regretted it the moment it came out of my mouth. I do recognize this is going to be my most challenging job ever and I’ve found myself wondering if I’ve got what it takes to meet the challenges of full-time parenting.

I love that my husband stayed home with Madeline for the first three years of her life, but honestly, there were many things he did that drove me absolutely crazy and I knew I could do better if given the opportunity. I would roll my eyes when he would bring my daughter to visit me at work with her pants on backwards, not once but twice. Most of the time her clothes did not match. When he figured out he could “run” her in the tennis courts near our house, by throwing balls and having her fetch them, much like a dog, to get her worn out so she’d take a long nap, I did think that was pretty ingenious. He sometimes wouldn’t have anything to throw to her so he improvised by throwing a hockey puck and let her chase after it as it rolled through the courts. Seriously. But she loved it.

When Madeline gets unruly, he gently reminds her that he’s the boss. I think she’s recited that since she could talk: “Daddy, you’re the boss. You’re the boss!”

I decided this week as I was getting ready for work that he can still be called the boss, I want the title of Supreme Leader. The indoctrination begins next week.

I plan to do some freelance writing so you may not have heard the last of me just yet. I’m also in the process of developing a blog, to document the crazy that is about to go down in our household.

Thank you so much to those of you who invited me into your homes and allowed me to share your stories with our readers. I have learned much from you, about compassion, humility and above all, the importance of being a good listener. I hope I will pass those traits on to my little girls.

JODIE TWEED may be reached at jodie.tweed@brainerddispatch.com or 855-5858, but only until 5 p.m. today.

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