By now the glow of the kids’ first day back to school is slowly wearing off. It was indeed a good day. The kids came home exhausted yet happy. SMILING. Even Ben. Binders and backpacks are sprawled across my dining room table, while they chatter about teachers and classmates and first-day homework. They’re eagerly completing the get-to-know-you questionnaires and explaining to us what to look for in their folders each night. (Funny how quickly this optimism fades.) So begins the balance of a full day of school and evening football and basketball practice…a season I excitedly anticipate yet am always so thrilled to see end by the time October rolls around.
Full steam ahead.
I say that I’m ready for them to head back to school…and while that is true, it is somewhat tongue-in-cheek. It’s bittersweet, really. When they are home my house is an absolute wreck, as I adequately explained in Part I. They’re loud. They fight. They eat SO damn much. They hog the television. They need even more physical outlet at night and in the evenings from being cooped up during the day.
Having said that…
It’s not all bad. You see, this whole dynamic…me working from home…is quite new. For me…for all of us. When Libby and Timmy were little, I was a stay at home momma…until they were about 3yrs and 18 months old. It was time. I realized soon that staying at home was not my strength. In my heart I was certain I would be a better mother if I could get back out there in the workforce during the day and be able to focus and appreciate my time with them more in the evenings and on the weekends. It’s what was best for all involved at the time. I spent nearly seven years leaving my children with a sitter or at a preschool while I drove into downtown for work every day. I enjoyed it…but I won’t lie. It wasn’t all butterflies and rainbows.
When you’re a working mom, oftentimes sick babies completely consume your paid time off. If you don’t face corrective action or termination for unplanned absences, that is. There were many years when not a single day was taken off for anything other than croup, pukes, ear infections and the like. No complaints, as I was thankful just to get the time…not all mommies are that lucky and I realize that whole-heartedly. Having children in sports or any after-school activities for that matter always makes commuting a challenge. “If I work a shift starting at 7am, I could JUST get home in time to get Timmy to practice by 5pm. Of course that means you (the Gentleman) will need to get all three kids to school by yourself every single morning.” And you know what…there were several years where he did that very thing. I couldn’t have made it through those years of commuting for work without the Gentleman.
Two years ago I worked for a utility company that operated on a 24/7 basis in times of weather crises. When the power goes out because of a storm, we open our call center in the middle of the night if necessary. And sometimes…it was necessary. To this day I still cringe when I hear a clap of thunder. I endured an ice storm that required me to remain downtown overnight, with the threat of a second night. I realize there are people who work in industries that require this kind of work on a regular basis…but what I quickly learned was that I missed my family. I was missing out on doctor appointments and sports practices and games. I was missing out on homework and knowing what they were eating for lunch every day. And with all of that came the overload on the Gentleman. For a long time he picked up the slack I was unable to carry at home. Until…I just couldn’t do it anymore.
A year ago I took a job with an entirely different company. One that has the flexibility to allow me to put more focus on my family and encourages me to do so. One that values autonomous work. One that allows me to now work from my home. Every day. For a year I’ve been waking up, logging on to work, taking breaks long enough to get the kids to school and back. Logging out in plenty of time to fix dinner and get the kiddos to their after-school activities without concern. I am undoubtedly one lucky momma. Opportunities like this don’t come around every day nor for everyone. I realize that…and because of the last decade of commuting I am ridiculously grateful. Even in…the summer.
While it’s challenging to conduct meetings via conference call while Ben barges through my office door just to cut the top off of his Pop-Ice…or Timmy screams through the door that Ben has once again stolen is favorite Beyblade…or Libby needs me RIGHT THIS SECOND because of a cramp…when it’s all said and done, I’m thankful to be here for these babies. That’s what the “mute” button is for…right?
I left you with the images of my wrecked home in Part I…because I knew you’d get it. I knew many of you were feeling my pain on getting these kids back in a routine, away from the TV and out of the refrigerator. But I gotta say…despite my gratitude for the first day of school, I couldn’t help but wonder:
Does Libby like her new teacher?
How many people did Timmy make laugh today?
Dear God, did Ben make ANY friends? Please at least one? (okay crying now)
Did they get enough time to finish their lunch?
Will they remember they are walkers by the end of the day?
I should email the teachers to see how they’re doing.
Were they too hot at recess?
And then…I thought about all of the things that I loved about having them home this summer. And I had to share these just as I shared my wrecked home. THESE sweet babies of mine may have done some mild damage and created extra work…but look what I got to see on a regular basis:
We took lunch-break trips to the park.
I caught a little sun-room dancin' when he didn't know anyone was watching.
I actually witnessed some sibling cooperation, dare I say FRIENDSHIP, from time to time.
And then there were the Gameboy breaks in Mommy's office.
I was able to witness creations in progress. Those LEGOs aren't ALL bad.
A little water play on a hot day. (Don't get your panties in a wad...this was pre-drought.)
Stealing sweet defenseless kisses during impromptu naps.
The best part about my summer with the kids? Getting to use my time off for an ACTUAL vacation. Priceless.
Until next June...