Today I took my kids to the park; Wednesday is my day off from work. Alice, Sam, and I met their friend Karlee and her babysitter at Douglas Park. Karlee's mom had called that morning to ask if we could meet Karlee at the park because this was a brand-new babysitter. Karlee's mom was in a pinch at work; preschool is closed and her work was unexpectedly busy, so she had to track down a sitter at the last minute.
I'm going to be in the same pinch on Friday. Ryan was suppsed to stay home with the kids because their school is closed but today he called me on my cell and said, "I have to work on Friday. There's a storm coming through!" He's on a project that requires collecting data on a river when it's raining and "the storm of the season" is hitting in the next few days. I'm on deadline at work so I can't stay home on Friday, but I think we've tracked down Sam's former nanny, maybe, possibly. Errr! Work!
Back to Douglas Park: When Karlee's mom left us all and the unfamiliar babysitter at the park, Karlee grasped onto her mom's leg. And when mom departed, Karlee burst into tears. Within five minutes she was fine, and she played with Alice while Sam made friends with another little boy in the sand box. But the "mom at work" idea didn't entirely disappear.
Alice and Karlee didn't play princess. They didn't play kitties. They didn't swing on the swings or slide down the slides. Rather, they played "work." Alice's office was in one part of the play structure, and Karlee's another. They each picked areas of the playground for their homes. And they traveled back and forth between their offices, where they pretended to work at computers, and home, where they made dinner and went to bed. It wasn't cute. It was pathetic. What have I created? I thought.
When Alice was three months old, I returned to work full-time. For the most part, I enjoy my job and what I do as an editor. I'm the working sort of mom who needs time away from her kids. It's not so much about the adult interaction for me; it's about the solitary time in front of the computer. I need alone time when I'm focused on something, ideally words, or else I get really grumpy. Plus, our family depends on my income. My salary pays for preschool and food while Ryan takes care of our mortgage and other home expenses.
About a year and a half ago, I was able to switch from five to four days a week. Alice was 3 years old and Sam was about 2 years old, and one day I just realized that my kids were irresistably cute and fun and I needed to spend more time with them. And that's when "Mommy Wednesdays" started. I love my Wednesdays at home. The kids and I go to the park, Coyote Point, the Randall Museum, the Musem of Modern Art. We bake cakes, paint pictures, pull weeds in the backyard. While Sam naps, I often take a nap, which annoys Alice who has never been much of a napper. They're fun, relaxed days that I cherish and adore.
If Alice goes to private school, I'll probably have to switch my 75 percent schedule back to full-time to help make ends meet. But if Alice gets into public school, I can keep my reduced hours and a part of me even daydreams of a part-time schedule. I would love to pick Alice up from school every day, especially for the first year and especially if she's in an immersion program. If Alice is in Chinese or Spanish immersion, I think she'd appreciate me picking her up in the afternoon. I imagine that she'll be exhausted, and probably quite irritated the first few weeks.
If Alice goes to public school and I'm working less, I'll also have more time to volunteer at the school. I'll have more time to clean the house. And more time to balance my checkbook. I'll have more time to cook fabulous family dinners. And I'll be available for my kids over the school holidays. And I might even have a little time for me. Imagine that?