Tuesday, April 30, 2013

On Working and Homeschooling

Working is something I struggle with.  I was a stay-at-home mom from when Allie was born until a year after both of my girls were in full-day school.  I loved being home with them, going to the park and play dates and classes, doing projects and going on field trips, but when they both went to school for 6 hours a day I was very bored and didn't feel like I was contributing enough to our family.  I got a little part-time job at the library and for the next two years, while they were in school, it was perfect.  I worked three mornings a week and had two days to clean the house and run errands.

When we made the decision to homeschool, I actually told my boss I was quitting and she convinced me to stay and she would be flexible with my schedule. Over the last three years of homeschooling, I have really struggled with whether or not to quit my job.  I only work ten hours a week and I really don't make a lot of money at all, so we are not reliant on what I bring home.  Not working those hours would free us up for more playdates or field trips or outside classes.  But something always holds me back from actually making that move to quit.

I took last week off to be with Allie after she got her braces on.  When I wasn't cuddling with Allie on the couch or making smoothies or driving to the froyo place or the water ice place, I was cleaning.  I couldn't bear to stare at those dirty doorframes or windows anymore, I wanted the baseboards dusted, I wanted the threadbare pillows on the couch replaced, I couldn't bear to look at the dirty shelves in my refrigerator or the pile of winter shoes by the mudroom door.  By the end of last week, I was feeling stressed and frazzled and cranky.

This morning as I got dressed for work I was so excited to go back.  When I am at work I don't see all the little things that need to be done around the house.  I don't even think about those things.  When I am at work, I am not thinking about homeschooling or co-op or any of the other things that take up my time at home.  When I am at work I can have conversations with women I admire about all kinds of things, those conversations feed my soul and my mind.  When I am at work I use my mind in a different way than I do when I am homeschooling or when I am managing our household.  When I am at work I am respected, my opinion is sometimes sought, I discuss ideas and plan programs and I feel like more than a mother and wife.  I feel like Theresa.  No one is looking at me to solve their problems or take their shirt to the cleaners and I'm not staring at a the finger-print riddled wall thinking if I should re-paint it or try to scrub it.  Work is a break for me, it's a respite from the other part of my life that I do love so much.  Work makes me appreciate the rest of my life.