Sunday, August 10, 2014

Reflections on Summer at Home & Why I'm Ready for Back-to-school

Some 11-12 weeks ago, I left the agency world to set out on my own as an independent contractor in the field of marketing and public relations. This change solved an immediate family challenge regarding childcare for the summer and revealed a greater need than I had thought for my presence to be more fully, and more often, at home.

As I reflect on these past weeks, I have come to realize that this transition has been more radical for me than I thought it would be. 

My oldest will soon be 13. Since she was born, I have worked outside the home full time. I handled the morning duties and returned for dinner and bedtime. Weekends were sacred, but in which I squeezed quality time, cleaning, errands and activities. 

I would get the kids off to school and turn off the mom switch and turn on the professional switch as I drove to work. 

Focused on the day ahead, I would walk into my office high rise, take the elevator to the tenth floor and enter my clean, orderly, mostly quiet and serene office space. I would then spend 8-10 hours in my private, even quieter office where everything was in it's place. 

Neatness and order we're highly valued at my place of work. So much so that we once were given a keynote presentation on expectations for the cleanliness of the break room sink with photographic examples of what was and was not acceptable (not kidding). Colleagues were called back via loudspeaker, to our casual conference room if they had forgotten to fluff the pillows upon exiting.

In the evenings, I would have time to transition between professional and mom/wife on my drive home. Once home, I would have family dinner and put the kids to bed. 

Now, not so much. My work space is opposite land. Here, instead of fluffed pillows, we have pillows strewn all over the living room floor. A perfectly clean sink is a significant, and short-lasting, accomplishment. Dishes pile up as soon as I can clear them. I manage a team of demanding little people who often resort to bribery, whining, tears and total meltdowns to try to get their way. A closed door or a phone to my ear has no meaning whatsoever. Interruptions are constant. My private office is my bedroom. There is no transition time. Multi-tasking takes on new meaning.

Over these past weeks, there have been numerous times I thanked God for the blessing of being home with my kids, out of the rat race of agency life, still contributing to my family finances and enjoying the challenge of launching my new business. We have had nature walks, days at the pool, food truck Thursdays, some craft projects, and plenty of cuddles. I have gotten to know my children much better and see issues confronting them I would otherwise not have had the time to discover. I feel truly best to be where I am, doing what I am doing now.

But I also have to admit, all this change and togetherness has brought me to the point of anxiously looking forward to the kids heading back to school.

You see, as a working out-of-the-home mom, I never understood the memes highlighting the happiness mothers feel at the end of summer and the prospect of sending kids off to school again. I mean, when I was working in the office and consequently saw my kids so few hours a day, the idea of twelve whole weeks together doing fun things, going to the pool, doing cute craft projects, visiting local attractions and endless cuddles, was very attractive. I couldn't understand why any mom would be excited for it to end.

Now, I do.

Ten Things I'll be Happy There Is Less Of When The kids Go Back to School

  1. Endless questions all day long
  2. "Mom, I'm hungry"
  3. Never-ending dishes
  4. Constantly being on alert to be sure my little escape artist hasn't gotten out
  5. Cleaning a room, only to return to a mess minutes later
  6. The rise in grocery and water bills
  7. Sibling bickering!!!
  8. An audience every time I go to the bathroom (including "yea! Mommy, did it")
  9. "That's so unfair!"
  10. The Disney Channel, PBS and NickJr shows
The summer overall has been good and I am thankful that this new gig seems to be working. I'm glad we are entering a more structured (and yet even more hectic) part of the year.