This Month's Topic: Focus on Finance

A Lesson from Candy Land

Recently, I’ve taken on a little more freelance work. Nothing crazy, but enough to keep me busy at nap time every day and on Monday and Thursday mornings when I use a babysitter. I’ve enjoyed the work, honestly; I’ve enjoyed having some time to myself each week to use my brain, instead of just my grilled cheese-making skills, which, if you know me, you know to be subpar.IMG_4640

Last week, however, I had a pretty big freelance project on my plate. Trying to plan ahead and prepare, I’d asked my mother-in-law to pick up the kids from the babysitter’s Thursday afternoon and watch them the rest of the day, and I’d asked my mother-in-law and my mom to split up the day watching the kids on Friday. I’m glad I set it up that way. If I hadn’t, I probably would’ve had to pull a few all-nighters. And I’m incredibly grateful to my mother-in-law and mom for helping out.

What was interesting about the arrangement, though, was that it was the first time I’d worked two days straight since I quit working full time two-and-a-half years ago. And what was really interesting, for me, was that as much as I do miss working sometimes and toy with the idea of eventually working two or three full days a week on a part-time basis, I found I missed my kids. I even wrapped up the day early on Friday, just because I realized suddenly, as I sat there on my laptop at the library, that all I really wanted to do right then was go home and play Candy Land with them.

It’s a good eyeopener for me. It’s a good reminder that I stopped working full time for a reason and that, even though I might work part time in the future when the kids are in school most of the day, right now, I’m right where I need to be.

It’s hard to be a stay-at-home mom. Most days, you want to pull your hair out and try to keep yourself from shouting at your kids because it can be just so darn frustrating trying to reason with toddlers who don’t know how to reason yet. But it’s hard to be a working mom, too. While you get to interact with grown-ups who are pros at reasoning, you also are in charge of making sure your responsibilities at both home and the office are running smoothly. And that’s no small feat.

IMG_4641And yet, maybe it’s even harder to find that elusive, perfect balance of stay-at-home mom and working mom that I know I’ve blogged about before and that I do often fantasize about. It may be elusive and too-good-to-be-true, but I still think it’s an aspirational dream worth striving for. I want to work. I want to use my brain and think about things that aren’t related to diapers or preschool or cleaning up messes or “Dora the Explorer.” But I don’t want to miss a thing with my kids either. I don’t want to have whole days where I don’t see them, where I don’t hear Anna telling me that I’m her best friend (something she’s telling anyone who’s close to her a lot lately, for whatever reason), where Brayden’s not asking me to play Angry Birds on the iPad for the tenth time that day.

It’s a personal choice for everyone, and not one choice works for everyone. I know that. I’m just glad that last week, I was reminded that the choice I made two-and-a-half years ago was the right choice for me. It will help me the next time I’m trying not to pull my hair out and dreaming of a quiet office somewhere far, far away. It will help me take a deep breath, remember why I’m doing what I’m doing, and ask my kids if they want to play a game of Candy Land.



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