It is close to 5:30 pm on a Friday, and I am still slogging through papers and grading and prepping. The janitors keep walking past my room, peaking in to see if I am still there so they can clean my room. I really want to go home but I have to finish these last minute items at school before I can appreciate the weekend.
It is hard not being home for them after their sports practice. To be the smile that greets them, the warm inviting presence that welcomes them home, as I’ve typically been in the past. It is difficult not seeing them off to their next activity.
On this particular evening, I wondered, how can I ensure they wait for me before they leave again?
Offer them my car to take to their event, of course. Sure beats the boat that doubles as a van that they often take when they drive places.
I texted my twins, offering my VW Jetta. That way, I reasoned to myself, they would have to wait for me.
I finished my work at school and dashed home. The twins were practically at the door drooling over the car keys and I was drooling with happiness at getting to see my boys before they left. This was a big deal for them, and I did not want to miss seeing them off. I wanted to give them a hug, to experience their excitement, to be in their presence, if only for a moment.
This was, just another day juggling home life and parenting as a working mom. I took on this position as long-term sixth grade substitute teacher at Athey Creek. I love it, impacting those sweet sixth graders, feeling like I am making a difference in their lives.
But, at other times, it kills me.
That my youngest son, age 11 and in fifth grade, gets off the bus and no one is there to greet him, to give him a hug, to wave the bus driver Lori on, as I ask my kid how his day was. To have cookies straight from the oven on a plate for him. To be there for him, just as I have been for most every day of his public schooling.
Yes, he is 11 and yes he is in fifth grade and yes he is old enough to get off the school bus alone. But, I still like to be there for him. I hate missing out on anything at home with my children.
But, I also love my temporary, full-time teaching position. Yes to that as well.
It’s hard being stretched, pulled, yo-yo-ing from one role to the next.
And, I wonder, how do full-time working mothers juggle it all?
How do you stay engaged and connected with your family when you are exhausted with a capital E after arriving home from being away for nine, 10, 11 hours?
How do we as moms and dads deal with the guilt and the worry and the feeling of never doing enough or being enough when we are pulled in so many different directions?
There is no easy answer. No neat bow to put on the top of this package. My kids say they are fine. It is just me that has issues.
I know my kids appreciate me being there for them, and in this season I am in, working full time, I think it is the wondering and the asking and the caring that matters. It is me being at peace with it and me talking to my kids about it and me making sure my kids know I am there for them still, just in a different, edited way.
As mothers, working outside the home full time or part time or not at all, we need to offer our lives. To our children, to those at our jobs. One situation, one moment, one minute at a time. Fully, completely, for as long as we have.