Thursday, October 13, 2011

Parenting Two-Step: Work and Children

Tomorrow, my son will go to the office with me. I hope the good Lord smiles upon us as I bring Tiny into the building and try to pass him off as my newly hired assistant. As a working mom, I do the best I can.

Trying to keep the flow of family while working has been a challenge despite the pleasant benefits of being fully employed. Kids get sick, they have ballgames, they have projects, their schools have meetings, schools close for professional development days. Working those needs around the full-time schedule has been a dance of meeting kids' needs and losing pay for doing so, and making up that lost income with a second job that I can squeeze in during slow shifts at work, before weekday dinners, and on the weekends.

While my initial pattern was to come home after work and walk the dog, chase the kids around the block when they ride their bikes, or throw the ball outside, I haven't quite been able to work that back into the schedule. Instead, that time has become filled with other needs: stops to refuel the tank of my car, errands at FedEx Kinko's, emergency trips to the urgent care clinic, tweaking edits on a paper, meetings with a realtor over the fate of this house we rent, and last minute school supply shopping. It's a little crazy.

This week, when my children's step-mother politely complained about what she perceived as my inadequate packing for recent visitation, I reflected on why the packing had been so haphazardly done. I had worked all day each day and had plans every evening that week. The last evening before we left town, my son had fallen asleep in my lap at a school rezoning meeting (exhausted from his earlier soccer game) and was put to bed early, therefore making it impossible to check the length of the pants I had packed for him (oops--I sent high-waters for him to wear). I was up until midnight cleaning, readying the house for a house sitter, readying the house sitter for the dog. I had sworn off working through that weekend when I got a last minute assignment from my second job, which meant additional preparations to pack my work. My husband, who had been travelling out of state for the second time this month, arrived home shortly after midnight with only a few hours of sleep to grab before he got up to work. I put the bags in the car before I went to sleep that night. After work, I picked up kids, waited briefly for my husband to finish his packing, and hit the road exhausted. Sometimes, we just do the best we can, and this was one of those times. At least, when the kids arrived at their final destination, they were clean (the packed clothes were clean, even if a shirt had stains), fed, entertained with activity bags and movies for the drive, hugged, kissed, and sent off knowing that they were cared for. I could have spent extra time digging for perfect outfits and multiple pairs of coordinating shoes, but instead, I rocked my son in my lap the night before and managed a cup of tea with my daughter before bed.

Those moments are the ones that matter, and make me so eager to come home each day despite the frantic pace we run from dawn till dusk and all over again each night. I think the "best I can" is working for my little family and I, and lucky for me, I work for a company that, so far, has been awfully supportive of this. It's all hard though, and by Friday, we are all exhausted, which makes weekends with the kids even sweeter than ever.


  1. That saying about resisting the urge to choke to death the wicked step-mother quickly comes to mind here!

  2. Well, Shane, it's not that she's wicked in regard to this. And I can see many of her view points. But I don't understand why she cannot keep a stash of toothbrushes there, but I am going to send some. I got over it ok.


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