Saturday, September 29, 2018

The Long Summer

School opened 5 weeks ago and I had every intention of writing this as soon as he climbed that bus on day 1. My child is in the 4th grade. Yes, you read that right. I am o.l.d. And yes, I am making his joy of being an independent 9 year old into a story about me. What can I say beside it’s been a long long slow slow summer.

So 10 weeks - again, you read that right - that’s how long we had between grades. And while every. single. person I’ve met since we came back has told me how their summer in Hawaii/ Europe/ Wild West ranch was way too short, for us there were 2 not very long trips and both of those were filled with friends, family, shopping and eating. The rest of our time back here was s.l.o.w. to say the least. Lots of screen time, piles of books, sketchbooks of doodling, tense board games, marble runs, pretend maps, swims, pizza lunches and half heartedly trying to incorporate spelling and times tables into our daily lives. 

And then we jumped right back into elementary school like we had never been away. From day 1 of school it has been an absolute whirlwind. For him, homework, tests and growing into a new community of kids. For me, parent focussed activities and classroom/ library volunteering. He has a great teacher this year (again) and seems to be in a class of kind kids. Of all our years here this one looks to be shaping up best. 

I’ve been warned time and time again that he is 9 and if I don’t jump back in the job market soon I will be redundant and in the not far future he will have left home and I will have nothing to do except wallow in loneliness. I see only the flip side though: of him a.l.r.e.a.d.y being 9 (double digits next year mom) and such a (mostly) delightful age and how in no time at all he won’t want to have these conversations or teach me chess or snort-laugh milk out his nose while trying to explain a joke to me and will be gone from our nest. 

I guess the conundrum faces us all. What do we want for ourselves and what do we want our children to see? I hold every precious memory of my childhood right here in my heart. I wasn’t appreciative of it while I lived it (for who is?) but having my mom at home to chat with and oversee our daily lives is my most precious connection with her. That gift of time and being the centre of her universe gave me a core of stability and knowledge that nothing and no one else could have. It is helped by the fact that as soon as we were done with school my mom went to work and is now the coolest working grandma in town. There is, clearly, hope.

Similarly mums that work show their kids what it is to be a multi-tasker, what it looks like to be independent and in the work force. How balance between home and work priorities is often delicate. How perseverence and effort is everything. I strongly believe there is no singular answer and that one woman’s meat is another’s poison in this case. Personally, I love this gift of time and I’m grateful for the privilege to have it. I see the pitfalls and the unobtainable jobs on the road ahead but this job, this watching my 9 year old grow into the world, this gives me more than any job could at this point in my life. 

This opinion of who I am, who I want to be, what my child needs - it fluctuates daily in my mind - and I’m mostly held back by my own dwindling confidence of not having worked for 7 years. For now I have dusted off my CV and am contemplating a part time return to the working world. A balance between laughing over things Big Nate does and catching a shuttle to an office looms in my future. I’m using Fall break to contemplate this. 

1 comment:

  1. One of the fallacies of the SAHM/working mom is the idea that each side has to prove that they can and do have it all. In reality, I think whichever choice you make, you win some, you lose some. As someone who chose to work full-time outside the home, I do feel that my time with my kids on weekdays is not ideal. It is a choice I make for a complicated set of reasons.
    Having said that, as someone who took a career break to do a PhD - which worked out very nicely in terms of giving me flexibility to be there for more stuff for my kids - I did struggle to go back to my earlier career. So it is likely going to be hard to get back into the fulltime work track, but you have made your choice based on what works for you, and hey, when your child is grown up, it's not like the only way to find satisfaction in life is to get back into the rat race. If you are fortunate enough to be able to afford to pursue other interests, why not?
    Then again, there is something to be said for that rat race in terms of validation, challenges, etc.
    Either way, I think people have a very boring fixed idea of what every single person must do.
    Good luck on finding the balance that works for you.