July 15, 2009

Remember that one time at band camp?

No. I never went to band camp, or any other camp for that matter. Wait. I think I vaguely remember a Girl Scout camping thing once. Anyway. I spent my summers at a babysitter's house, usually a teenager. The sitter changed virtually every summer with mixed results. For whatever reason, the sitter always liked my sister or me. Never the both of us. When I turned 12 (the summer after 6th grade) we stayed home by ourselves.

And no, this is not some sort of indictment against my parents (Hi, Mom!) They were working and obviously, my sister and I had to be somewhere during the summer when school was out. After and before-school care was even more varied and wonky. Sometimes, I would go straight home to where my dad was sleeping since he worked nights. Other times, I would go a sitter's home - generally, a little old lady's house. For awhile, my mom dropped me off at a service station because that was where the bus driver worked. I would sit there for about an hour before the bus route began. No, no. I was not scared and the men who worked there were very kind to me, but I remember feeling very awkward, shy and miserable. And bored.

Folks often assume I will just "go back to work" when Anjali begins school full-time. Maybe I will. Maybe I will not. I do not really relish the idea of scrambling around, finding folks to watch my kids as their school schedules change. Furthermore, it seems that in these days, schools take into account parents' schedules even less than before. What the hell is an "in-service" day anyway? What the hell do parents do with their kids on those days?

X does not get it. He does not know how it is to spending hour after hour after hour in someone else's house. A house that sometimes that person does not even want you to be in but they have accepted you because they need the money. I remember one house in particular, we had to get up so early and it was clear that the girl watching us did not relish getting up so early either. Often, she would lay on the couch and fall back to sleep while we fended for ourselves.

So, yes. X has a hard time understanding how strongly I feel about this. His mom was always there. Always. Sure, that presented another completely new set of issues, with how his mother devoted her entire existence to her children and was left with nothing for herself. I am not going to wax maternal poetic on your asses. Her sacrifices were not without cost. And I am not even suggesting I would be willing to make the same sacrifice. I will not be the mommy waiting at the door with cookies when my kids come home from school. But I would like to be the mommy who is home.

But there has to be a middle ground. And I have to find it.


ML said...

Hey, if you find it, will you give me directions? I'm in the same spot. One more year until they're both in school and then people feel like I need to be doing something with my life (Like I've been on hold since the first one was born!!!). I don't want to just bake cookies, but how am I supposed to climb the corporate ladder when I've only got from 9-2 free from my real job???

Olivia said...

I wonder the same thing about school schedules. In service days? And in my town the schools cancel for snow all the damn time. What do parents do then?

Growing up my mother worked in the school kitchen. I was so lucky that I didn't have to go to after school care, and she had holidays and summers off with us. Her schedule also allowed her to go to ALL my sporting and band events.

My husband is going to be a teacher, so we won't have to worry about the extra care for our kids, but I also hope I can find part-time work, maybe at a school, so I can go to all the kids' events like my mom did.

jodifur said...

you know what's funny, people keep asking me when I'm going back to work full time. I'm like, why do I have to go back to work full time. Won't he be even more busy in grammar school? Why do people care?

Swistle said...

I know, I know! The only thing I can think of (so far) is going to work for the school system. That way at least I'd generally have the same days off as the kids. But the options for jobs in the school system are...uh...well, not dream jobs.

kristen said...

I had a WOHM melt down last night. The Husband had to remind me why I have to work. It was not pretty.

Cagey my childhood care situation sounds pretty similar to yours. My mom had to do what she had to do to make ends meet and I always understood that but I did sometimes feel like a burden (not to her but to some of the people who took care of me). It was particularly hard in a semi-affluent neighborhood where most of the moms staid home.

I am very fortunate to work with people who have kids and are very understanding about the school schedules. They are also very flexible with my schedule.

I hope you find the balance you are seeking.

flybunny said...

I could write lots about this but I wont as the end of the day collectively causes me more stress than I think any other aspect of working outside the home.

I will say that we are very very fortunate that where the girls go to school that they have a decent after school program. They call it study hall for the Middle Schooler but it really is just socializing with a little homework mixed in. In grade school they actually do have a quiet environment to foster getting the homework done. I do insist that they get as much homework as possible done during that time so they can have some stress free time once they get home and for one child it is important that she get it done while the meds are still working because all bets are off after 6:00.

You will find the right balance because you will do what feels right.

Christine said...

I've been struggling with this so much in the two weeks I've been covering the clinic. On one hand, I get to follow up with people and think about interesting cases. On the other hand, I'm wiped out by the time I come home and I have two beasties still wanting my attention. Max loved when I came to his school play, and I want to stay available for that. But two of the techs today told me how much they wished I worked every day.

I have no answers yet. Paul is putting zero pressure on me, and has gone from one extreme of telling me I never have to work again to saying that we can look into daycare for Julia. I'm sort of hoping some cushy university job with good hours will crash-land in my lap, but considering the hiring freeze, I don't think that's too likely.

Anonymous said...

This is what I love about my job, when faced with the pressure of finding a sitter for sick days, in service days or other surprises I laugh !! ahahhahahaha.

My job can be done on vacation, on box with a box in a house with a mouse. Anywhere there is internet connection.

I am so pleased with the way my situation has worked out. I feel good about my contribution to the family and to the community but at the same time am able to be there when my kids need me and more importantly have the peace of mind I need to balance my life...

You'll find your balance....I can't wait to hear about it

Melanie said...

my plan, like others, is to try my hand working for the school district..not exactly sure if it will work out, but thankfully I have a few more years til the kiddos are in school to re-invent myself!

CPA Mom said...

School breaks, in service days, 1/2 days, etc. - these are MUCH harder to cover than when the kids were younger and in daycare all day. Don't get me wrong, that was damn expensive but paying by the day to daycare is $99 a day. Per child. But if you have to work, there are very few options.