Day #3 Lenten Reflections
As I thought about the great divide between being a stay at home parent to working full time, all I could see was a chasm with “DO NOT ENTER” and “WRONG WAY” signs obstructing the path. Even though there’s a good chance I posted those signs, this jump seemed impossible to land.
I started asking myself and others how one knows when it’s the perfect time as a stay at home mom to catapult back into the full-time working world? It’s tricky.
Sure, we sacrificed financially over the years, but honestly, who would have documented our children’s lives with 44,317 photos and 3,224 videos mainly with my finger blocking the lens? When would I dive head first into the pool of the “outside world” walk away from the PTA Board, Sock Hop committee and click “LEAVE MEETING” on the HOA Zoom?
I thought…maybe it’s kind of like when you take your elderly, ailing dog to the vet and they give you the “you’ll know when it’s the right time” line with the side head tilt. So you leave with IV bags and needles to ensure your best friend will have enough fluids. Because she’s been right there from your first real job in a cubicle to working 12-hour days in a bar and kindly catching the falls of your toddling kids as they learned to walk.
You just don’t know and you won’t know. Until it happens.
But here’s what we do know:
Whether your a full-time stay- at-home mom, work part-time, work full-time, work at home, or commute an hour both ways, it’s all hard. Throw a pandemic in the mix and the arduous moments multiply.
When you’re home, there is always something to do…Rewashing the laundry that spun endlessly with an escaped Sharpie or finding one more dinner recipe for your Costco rotisserie chicken. There is always someone to help…like trying to solve for x in a liner equation or simply figuring out what a linear equation is – or showing your son the printer will only work if you press the “OK” button 7 times. And bar none, there is always the chance to listen to our kids. Stories about how they built the bike ramp, stole the base or how a sly student hacked your daughter’s class on Zoom successfully kicking off the teacher.
Over the years, there have always been critics of stay-at-home parents. In fact, I’m sure most of the outside world peeking in thought all I really did was go to the gym and maybe one other thing. Years back, I remember walking my son to his kindergarten class one morning (I’m that mom) and the principal passed by saying, “Oh how nice, to have the rest of the day to yourself…that will be me in eight years.”
Yup, I was living the “Life of Reilly” as my mom says. The simple squeeze-in-a-bonbon-between-spa-treatments-life. That was me.
The principal (not so much of a “pal”) comment weighed on me.
I’m not sure why we do that to each other. Why we bring each other down when all we need is to build that village and grab the other end of the sheet and fold it together.
When I started working part-time, I could not figure out how working parents did it. How were dishwashers emptied or bills paid? How were homes refinanced and WHO sat on the phone with Xfinity for four hours trying to cancel their service after a 12-month contract just ended and the bill doubled?
Then I did it. I started working full-time. Now.
During this horrific Global Pandemic.
Luckily my kids are older, responsible and willing to take care of each other or at least keep each other alive while my husband and I work. Clearly, they are still mercurial teenagers wading through their world of virtual school, showing up to sports practice every day, and preparing their mostly-snack lunches…maybe even eating a piece of fruit.
When I started teaching full-time again, my loving, supportive family has been a blessing and has made my transition so much easier than I ever dreamed. This was my right time to switch from home to work, and although I stumbled at least 17 times on the landing over the chasm, I made it.
Just recently, my kind-hearted, astute principal who has paved such a welcoming path for me told me, “I am so glad you joined us this year. It was just what we needed when we needed it.”
Now she puts the “pal” in principal.
“Love actually is a great act of the will. It’s when I say, “I desire your good, not for my sake but for yours”. To love is to break out of the black hole of the ego and say, “My life is about you”.”
― Bishop Robert Barron
Walk or run for 20 minutes, do 20 sit-ups, 20 push-ups, 20-second plank hold. Sit quietly for 20 seconds.