Working forty hours a week is difficult, at best, when you don't have another adult in the household to share the responsibility of pick-ups, extra-curricular activities, making dinner, homework, baths, quality time, bed time, chores, etc. And those are just normal day-to-day activities. Taking time off work for doctor's appointments, field trips, parent-teacher conferences, early dismissals, late starts, President's Day, MLK Day, and such makes it near impossible unless you have a very understanding and cooperative boss. Remember this commercial? Doesn't single parenting sometimes, scratch that, most of the time feel this way?
I was a stay-at-home mom until my divorce in 1998, when I was shoved back into the professional world. My son was three and my daughter was just eight months old. It was devastating for me at the time. I couldn't imagine my kids in daycare 40+ hours a week. But you roll with the punches. And I did until 2003, when I was laid off from my job just a few days after I found out I was pregnant with my second daughter. As a single mom, being laid off is possibly one of the suckiest situations. One income to no income. But it ended up being a hidden blessing. I was able to drum up enough clients to freelance for the first two years of Blane's life. It wasn't a picnic, but we scraped by. In 2005, I went back to work full-time until two months ago, when I was laid off again. Are you kidding me?!?!
So, I'm on the hunt again for full-time work with a couple of freelance clients to tide me over. And, thankfully, I have enough savings to get me through the summer, if necessary. It stinks to be in this position again. But you know what I've learned? To treasure this time I have with my children. It's a gift that was given to me, for some reason, and I plan to take advantage of it. The things that were so difficult when I was working full-time - field trips, extra-curricular, early dismissals, cooking dinner and even homework - are now things I can't wait to experience each day because I have the time to enjoy them.
But you know what else I've discovered? That even when I go back to work, I have to find a way to make these times just as special as they are now. Because I want my kids to remember all of it, not just the fun they had when Mom was out of work.
I don't have any answers as to how to do that without feeling like Fred the Baker, but I'm searching. How do you all do it?