There's a place here in Minnesota called The Loft. I've tried to explain it to people out of state, but they usually don't understand what it is because it really doesn't exist anywhere else that I know of. Basically, it's an organization that funds, sponsors, teaches, and collaborates with local artists, specifically writers. It's kind of paradise, at least to me.
Last year I applied to teach there in the summer, and my application was accepted. My class was a Young Writers Workshop, where for two weeks, two hours a day, I worked with kids to create, outline, and draft short stories. Then they read their work, and we had fancy snacks. I had been looking forward to teaching this class for a long time, and it didn't disappoint. It was awesome, professionally speaking.
Most of my class- I loved them all.
Personally speaking, it was eye opening. I've 'worked' plenty in my time home with my kids, but most of that has been in my own 'free' time, at my own discretion. This was downtown, a place I had to commute to, and I had a whole lot of people counting on me to make the class successful. And it's summer, and so much going on, and yeah, I had two little kids to figure out in order to make it happen.
Here are the things I took away from my two weeks as a 'working' mom:
1. Reliable childcare is the most important thing in the whole world
This was a two week class, people. TWO WEEKS! And I had it set and planned down to the minute, months in advance. But then you know what happened? Life. Cancellations. Frantic calls to my mother-in-law to pretty please come over for a couple hours, because I'd been let down. I can't tell you how many times over the last two weeks that I prayed that my kids would stay healthy, because I had no idea how I'd figure out a sub. God bless our teachers who are parents, as I can only imagine this is a daily occurrence in their homes.
2. Traffic will turn even Mother Teresa into a fire breathing monster
My commute was into downtown Minneapolis, a drive that can take me 10-15 min. Some days it took me that long. And some days it took me 3x that. Know what I did on those days? I said some really horrible things to myself, about the people around me. Namaste my butt-- MOVE IT PEOPLE!!! MY KIDS ARE WAITING FOR ME!
3. I'm really good at teaching
It has been a long time since I've been in a formal classroom setting, with Powerpoints and new students and the bit. I'm really good at that stuff. And it was so great to feel really good at what I do, because, let's face it, as a mom I often feel sub-par.
I know I shouldn't. But I do.
4. Paychecks are awesome
I was paid for this job. It's that amazing? I went to work, worked, and THEN GOT PAID. I love my work as a mom, obviously, and there are certain things you can't put a price tag on....
But did I mention I got PAID? For working? That feels pretty good. I'd forgotten.
5. Mom guilt: It's a thing
I'm sure this was magnified because my kids have never known a life where their mom goes to work every day. But pretty much every day after the first, when we sat at the breakfast table, Anna asked, 'Mom? Why do you have to go be a teacher today?' And then I answered, in my head, 'Bubbie, why do you have to stab me in the heart?'
6. If something can go wrong, it will
Guess what happened on the second day of my class? My computer broke. Of all weeks, of all days, my computer crapped out on me when I actually needed it for work. Thank you Jesus, for creating the iPad. And thank you, brother, for helping me figure out how to use it in my classroom.
And thank you, good old fashioned white board. You've never let me down.
In the last four and a half years at home, there have been plenty of days when I've fantasized about going back to work, for all different kinds of reasons. Some of those fantasies have been warranted-- there are some AWESOME things about working outside the home.
And yet, of course, there are wonderful things about staying home, too. So I guess my biggest lesson over the last two weeks is that there's no easy way to have a family. Being a parent-- specifically a mom-- means sacrifice and choice and acceptance of life, as it is. A woman in her thirties does that, and no matter how many hours a day she spends with her kids, makes time to teach them to accept life as it is, too.