I pull in the driveway, grab the heavy bag, the empty water bottle, the almost-dead phone, and my keys, and before I can swing my legs around the side of the van, they are running, smiling, saying my name (“Mommy,” the best name), and waiting for hugs and greetings and compliments. It’s one of the most precious moments of the day, and sometimes the most taxing one, too. Time to make the switch.
“Mama, you know something? When you’re at work, I look at the clock every hour to see how long before you come home.” – Miranda, age 7
Before I ever got pregnant, Rod and I talked through options because it was just a given that I would go back to teaching after we had a baby.
THE DAY I found out I was pregnant with Miranda, I ended up in tears saying to him, “There is NO way!”
My husband was gracious (and making a doable income) and I got my wish. However, I spent very little time as a “stay-at-home mom” or whatever we are calling it these days. I was still traveling for, marketing, organizing his southern gospel singing ministry… before long, I was teaching a one-day, two-hour class at the local hospital, and then, we were planning our annual gospel convention (which, to this day, is still some of the hardest work I’ve ever done), and then, for fun, I began editing a magazine.
But three years ago this summer, I returned to the more traditional work force. For 2 years (with a depressing gap in the middle), I worked in theatre management. THAT was crazy hard work too… but thankfully, the second part of it meant I could have the girls with me.
When that part morphed into being on a church staff, it didn’t take long for me to know that this was the perfect-fitting job for me as a mommy. While I don’t prefer to have my kids in the office with me, it’s an option when it’s needed. And all the “after-hours” parts of it… meetings, events, the madness that sometimes is synonymous with Sunday mornings: they are part of it.
This summer, like the last, I re-arranged my hours to be there three days a week instead of four. And because the girls were away with their grandparents for several weeks – and their Daddy is working from home when he isn’t traveling – there hasn’t been a Childcare Issue (thank the Lord!)
I tend to fit my other part-time job, as an editor for TRU Teen Magazine, around everything else. The girls have seen the magazine, admired the clothes and faces, and know that I work for their friends’ mom, Ms. Deanna.
Occasionally, they express their frustration with me and my “distractions.” Sometimes, they would rather not go to both church services every Sunday (which, we’d probably do a lot whether I was working there or not). Sometimes, when I am in the throes of a deadline or a streak of inspiration, they’d rather I just put my computer away and watch Jessie with them. I continue to try to show them the positive aspects of Mommy Working (money for eating out and going to the movies, people we get to meet and help), but I understand. My personality lends itself to focused work, and it’s hard for me to make the switch from “doing” to “Disney” sometimes.
They don’t always get it. *I* don’t always get it. All moms have “distractions” – some of them are working much longer hours and have constant Childcare Issues, some of them are taking care of other family members who need extra help, some of them have health problems, and some, too many, of them are doing it on their own.
I remind myself when statements like Miranda’s pour on the Mom Guilt that my little ladies have a pretty awesome life. When we were traveling all the time, they got to see many places, ride planes, trains, and a bus, and were doted on and fed by people from all over the country. When we were working the theatre, they got to see shows they loved, meet people they adored, eat endless popcorn, and learn about the backstage workings of live shows. And now, again, they get to be part of whatever I do in some capacity – something that would not be true if I worked in a doctor’s office, a school, a bank…
What I must also remind myself of, though, when that newsletter just needs to be tweaked and sent, when we get out of the 90 minute movie and there are 4 voice mails waiting for me, when it’s been a manic Sunday and all I want is a nap, is that at this stage of their lives, when they innocently and sweetly live in a world of where they can be anything and want such simple things, the best thing I can give them is ME.