Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Parenting and the Full-Time Job

I'll start by saying that on most days, I love my job. That doesn't mean I love ALL the people I work with, but it does mean that I stand behind OTC and our mission. I truly believe that what we do is amazing and that we provide opportunities to such a wide range of individuals. We have an opportunity to change lives for the better and help guide students to their end goals. It's amazing to be part of something so great. Now if I could just get in the right seat....but that's not what today's post is about. Just needed to add a disclaimer to what this post IS about.

We all know that parenting alone is a full-time job, so essentially, I carry two full-time jobs. There are days when I wonder how I do it. There are days when I slightly envy colleagues that get to go home to relax and grab something quick out of the fridge or simply make a sandwich for themselves without thinking about what's for dinner or how much has to be done. I'm not oblivious. I know these people have things to do as well. They have other responsibilities outside of work. However, after a particularly trying day at work, they can decide to do nothing. I don't have that luxury.

It doesn't matter my mood, my exhaustion, my anything. When I leave this place, I step into an entirely different role. I shift into Mommy mode, which is often much more exhausting than anything I encounter at work. I pick up the kids, checking the color card for Ethan. The green days mean no discussion on behavior. The yellow and red days mean discussion. After they're both in the car, we begin our 10 minute ride home, filled with disgruntled screams from the little one and a million questions from my oldest. So begins the next step in my day. When we enter the house, I don't get to sit down for a few minutes. I quickly change and begin dinner, usually with a little one tugging and whining as I try to throw our nutritious, well-balanced meal together. When dad walks in, I feel relief. I have help. He can entertain the boys while I finish up dinner. A dinner that will be interrupted 15 times as the oldest asks for more milk, asks for more food. While the youngest throws his food to the floor, screams across the table at his bubby, finishes eating before I've had even a few bites.

I no longer eat peacefully. I eat like a barbarian. I shovel the food in because I know that if I don't, my food will grow cold because once the little is done, all bets are off. Sure, I can ignore his late-evening fussiness after a full day, but chances are he's going to climb into the recliner, stand and bounce, posing a real risk to his little head should he fall on the wood floor.

This is a typical evening. And the weekends? Well, in my house, the kids rise early. There is never a Saturday sleep-in. There isn't time to drink a simple cup of coffee before the day begins. The questions begin before my feet ever touch the floor. Whereas there was a time when I simply grabbed a piece of toast or skipped breakfast altogether, I now have to think about breakfast, think about lunch, think about dinners for the weekend and the week.

And I have a full-time job. I know many women who find their full-time job to be a necessary part of fulfillment. I always thought I'd be this woman, too. And when it was just Ethan. When Ethan needed less (if that's possible), I believed that. But with two and with one that needs so much in the way of guidance and engagement, I find it harder to believe. I struggle to balance it all, and I'm scared. The solution seems easy. Stay home. But I live in a two-income home and it HAS to be a two-income home. We cannot sustain ourselves without both incomes. That's simply a fact. But I am scared of what's the come.

I have a friend that tells me often not to borrow trouble. And I get that. Ethan isn't in school yet. I don't actually know what's going to happen. But here's the thing. Back before I tested my oldest, I discussed my thoughts about his intelligence with a friend. A friend that has a gifted child. She said that parents are the best indicators. Parents know before anyone else. And she was right. I knew. I just knew. Even with limited exposure to other children his age, I knew. And so began the desire to have all the facts in order to ensure I am ready and armed with the right information. Because just as I knew Ethan was above the bar, I also know my son on other levels. I know how different he is when he's engaged and when he's not. I know what happens when he's bored. I know how quick he is to get in trouble just because he's bored. Just because he can. Just because he knows the consequence but has decided the consequence is worth it.

And I know what can happen. I have a wildly smart brother. That brother sits in prison not for the first time. He's on his second round. Most of his life, he's been bored. And he did what he did because he could. I know what can happen. And it scares me. I don't think Ethan's bound for prison and I don't think he's going to get in that kind of trouble, but I do know that it's my job as his parent to play an active role in his education, in his social growth, in his engagement. Because I can love him to the moon and back, but that's not enough. He is slathered with love and encouragement and acceptance; however, I know that parenting is more than just loving my children.

So maybe my worries are borrowing trouble, but as I look to the near future, I see a child that is going to be bored out of his mind in kindergarten. I see parent/teacher conferences wherein they inform me that they believe my son needs medication. I see these discussions fraught with misunderstanding and tug of war antics as I express his need for engagement and they express their need for a docile, well-behaved child that can sit for long periods of time without disruptive questions or explanations.

And that scares me.

Because I also know that in the right environment, my oldest can thrive. And yes, there are private schools. But being "private" doesn't mean "better." The schools that would provide him with opportunities for growth are expensive. Way beyond our means. But isn't it my job as his parent to provide these things for him? Should the responsibility be placed on public education?

In some ways, yes. Because it is their job to teach those across the spectrum. As a teacher, I know it's hard to meet the wide range of learning needs, but it can be done. And so I will likely have to find the right teachers because those expensive schools are out of reach. And because I work full-time, so is the option of home school, which I believe would meet his needs well.

This post has gotten away from me, but these are the things that have been plaguing me. I have a very challenging child who is also quite amazing. I have a young child that seems to be following in his brother's foot steps, yet in a calmer way. Meeting the needs of my two children stand at the top of my priority list. Learning how to balance both full-time jobs is a struggle and one I'm far from mastering.

I suppose it's just a good thing that I at least LOVE where I work.


  1. Hopefully you'll get a position soon that allows you to do the work you love but also be home a few days a week with your men. I love you friend keep you head up… I know I couldn't work and keep it together I'm already wowed by you. XO.

  2. I wish I had some awesome advice to help you out. I do know that your a excellent mother and you will do everything you can for your children.