Tag Archives: Work

Busy Busy Bee

I’ve written a little about my work before, to the extent that you know that I like it. No, I love it. It’s the most fun job I’ve ever had, I like to think that I’m good at it (and have been told so by less biased parties!), I don’t have to wear suits, and it offers a schedule fluidity that is essential to my parenting of James.

I won’t share exactly where I work here, but I am a teacher of a particular kind. I spend about half the semester teaching and half the semester grading papers. This is a “full-time job,” but it is infinitely more manageable for me as a working parent than my previous full-time job. This is not the salt mines, people.

So, I’m left with these weird chunks of the semester where I have work to do, but it’s all done on my own. The problem with this is that when I look at the calendar during these times, it appears blank.

And a blank calendar makes me twitch. I immediately think “I have so much free time to do whatever I want! Let’s sign up for some new activities! I am going to learn to play the guitar! I am going to paint our entire house myself! I am going to be the room mom! I am going to sing in the choir again! I am going to start an etsy shop! (Selling what, you ask? I have no idea. That’s not the point. Don’t be a cold shower.)”

You remember I have three kids? Because apparently, I don’t.

So, I find myself in the grading, faux-free-time part of my job and am busier than I am during the more heavily calendared parts of my job. None of the time commitments I have are bad things, but I feel scattered and unfocused in a way that I don’t when I’m busy doing one thing.

And, our house is still a wreck.

I want the same things I wanted in my more intense, time-consuming job, but I was sensible enough then to understand that with children and a job, there isn’t time for the extras. Feeling pulled in two directions was plenty.

Now, I don’t have that same sensible filter and my scattered attention is starting to feel unmanageable. I have a full-time job but feel like I have to cram in an extra life of stay-at-home-mom activities on the side, during these more fallow work periods. (Or rather, the activities I imagine my SAHM friends do, because I doubt most of them have time to do this stuff either.)

Why do we feel like a blank calendar is a bad thing? Why do we feel like we have to schedule every minute for ourselves and our children? What would happen if we did actually have free time?

If you find out, I’d like to know.

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Working Girl

Okay, cue the 80s career gal movie montage of flying money. (Baby Boom? Anyone?)

It’s time to talk about being a working mother mom who works outside the home.Image .  

There is so much to say here. Many more posts to come. Let’s just start with what happened last night. 

Big Boy goes to a Montessori school where they don’t really do a typical birthday party with cake. They do a ceremony where the child “goes around the sun” and the parents share photos while the child walks slowly around a lit candle. It’s all vaguely pagan. (This is a school where they celebrate the winter solstice, y’all). 

Because the parents are not supposed to bring cake (too messy and unhealthy), and because Big Boy’s birthday was a couple of weeks ago, I hadn’t thought much about his ceremony this morning. Last night, however, he asked me what treat we were bringing for the class. And to be clear, by treat, his school usually means carob squares with spinach hidden inside, or some other similar “dessert.” 

At 8 pm last night, I made a quick survey of the pantry and realized that the cupboard was pretty bare. I offered to go to the store in the morning and get stuff to make brownies, but Big Boy told me they were “too messy” for his class. I offered to make cupcakes, but these were “too unhealthy.” Then I offered to make rice crispie treats, but these were “too sticky.” Basically, no normal baked goods are acceptable for this kind of celebration. 

Big Boy then sighed and said, “Mom, just go to Whole Foods.” Yep. He saw straight through my denial into my true self, which is apparently a mom that brings store-bought baked goods to school for her son’s birthday. 

I never thought I would be that kind of mom. One of my favorite books (and a middling movie starring the winsome Sarah Jessica Parker) is I Don’t Know How She Does It, by Allison Pearson. It features a great scene in which the titular “she”– a working mother– “distresses” store-bought baked goods in the middle of the night so she can take them to her children’s school the next day and everyone will think she made them. 

I used to work at a law firm. The entire time I worked there, I took great pride in baking ridiculous things from scratch. Organic, whole wheat carrot cake! You can smell the virtuous motherhood reeking from those words. 

But throw in a third kid? Forget it. I’m going to Whole Foods, and my kids know it. The bakery jig is up. 

Thus, I found myself purchasing $35 worth of chocolate chip cookie icing sandwiches this morning and brought them to school in a pleasing brown paper box. Husband took one look at them and said “I thought this was more of a bran muffin kind of thing.”

Guess what? If I’m going to be the store-bought booked goods mom, I’m at least going to be the delicious store-bought baked goods mom. Life is too short for bran muffins on your birthday. No, let’s try that again. Life is too short for bran muffins. 

 

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