Thursday, August 24, 2006

Things I'll Miss When School Starts Next Week

I find myself in a weird position, halfway between two factions who often stare at each other across a chasm of guilt: stay-at-home moms and working moms.

When my kids were born, they came to work with me until they were nine months old. Then I took breaks to go to the day care center to nurse them twice a day, then once a day, until they pushed away from me to go play with the kids. I was incredibly lucky to have a job that allowed me that flexibility, and also allowed me to take time off when needed for school events and the like. I did as much as I could for them within the confines of my need to work, both personally and financially. And I was aware of a huge portion of society that looked at me as a poor mother, who wasn't at home for her kids' every need.

Now, for the first time in eighteen years, I had a summer "off." (I was writing all summer, but in a very flexible fashion--and not exactly getting up at six thirty to do it.) The guilt has been much stronger this summer than ever before, because I'm the primary spender now, with income only coming in four times a year, and that negligible when compared to my day job income. I was home for my kids for the first time in their lives, and they were loving it, yet I feel just as guilty as I did when I was working, guilt that sharpened every time I had to say no to spending money on something.

The thing is, it doesn't matter what other people think is the right way--it only matters what your family needs. And I know I did/am doing the right thing, in both cases.

So next week, on Monday, I become a hybrid. I'll be home for my kids when they get off the bus in the afternoon, but after they leave in the morning, I'll be Full-Time Writer.

So what will I miss?

1. Sleeping in.
I'm most definitely, no matter what I do, a night owl. I thought I'd go to bed earlier since I don't have to work at night anymore. HA! It takes more effort than I'm willing to expend to change your biorhythms that much.

2. The kids helping me clean.
For most of the summer, we cleaned bedrooms on Monday, living and dining rooms Tuesday, kitchen on Thursday, and the family room on Friday. They did most of the work (I did the bathrooms, too, though). They empty the dishwasher every day, and I load it. It's a good system that has kept things manageable and maintained my sanity. It remains to be seen how much they'll have time to do in the afternoon, between homework and soccer/dance/cello practice, etc.

3. Library runs
We've been going to the library several days a week, because inevitably, something one of the kids put on hold comes in the day after we were there. And every time we go, they put more things on hold.

4. The pool
I got a lot of writing done at the pool this summer, 'cause there are no distractions there. No bills to pay, cat pee to try to find (still failing at that), air conditioning filters to change, newspapers to gather, letters to write, magazines to read, etc. Also, during the hottest days, it was nice to jump in and cool off. Five minutes in the water lasts a few hours out. I also bought disposable contacts in June, so I have been swimming underwater for the first time in years.

5. No pressure
Specifically, I don't feel pressure to make every minute quality time with my kids. I'm with them all the time, so if they're watching TV or building an obstacle course and I'm refusing to play with them because I need to write, it's okay.

I feel like there should be more things I'll miss, but to be honest...there are more things I WON'T miss. I'll list those tomorrow.


Lexi said...

As a teacher, sleeping in is the thing I miss the most. We've been in classes for 2 weeks and I'm still having trouble getting to sleep before 1 and up at 6!

Natalie J. Damschroder said...

Ugh! That sounds horrid, but I have to admit, I used to REGULARLY do the same thing when I had the day job. In fact, at my worst, I stayed out with a friend once every few months, getting home at 2 or 3 in the morning on a work night. (No, we don't bar-hop. We hang out in the movie theater parking lot talking. :)