Wednesday, September 8, 2010

OMG - This May Be Forever...

As of last Thursday, I wrapped my toughest two weeks of the year up by submitting my Final Preliminary Budget - I know, "Final-Preliminary" doesn't make sense to me either. Now, I sit and wait until the FP comes back so I can revise to get a Final-Final Budget. The whole process is brain bending and ridiculously time consuming.

There is never a dull moment (unfortunately) in our camp. If it's not work, it's home that is upside down. Today, my son started his first day of his last year of preschool. I would have been more sad about it if he didn't look like he was having so much fun with his new teacher and classmates. I can't believe next year I'll have two in grammar school. Thank goodness I still have baby who seems to be growing so much faster than the other two.

September 23rd, just a few days shy of my 34th birthday, marks my third year back to work. This past weekend and for the first time in three years I think I came to grips with the fact that I may be a "working mom" forever. For the last three years, I've thought about each of those days being the last day I drive in the bumper to bumper commute I've come to loathe so much. I've had to admit to myself that while I make these "3 Year Plans" and periodically box my desk up like I'm not going back, the truth of it is I know I am going back. When you hold your breath, close your eyes and pray near tears before checking your lottery ticket, you have issues. And, right now that is the most viable option out there on the table.

There are a lot of things I can't control but, I do believe in working hard to get the most from what I can control. Everyday I look for different jobs for either myself or my husband. I have a teaching credential and have been certified by the State of California to teach high school English (a little scary). If I have to work, this is the best option since it would mirror the kids' schedules so closely. The problem is I can't afford the massive pay cut I would need to take in order for this to be enough. When I find a job opportunity for my husband, I go so far as to fill out all the paperwork, request the school transcripts and even copy and mail the stupid thing. On one of these occasions he said, "It's like YOU are applying for the job." Well, just so we're clear, it's because I AM applying for the job in some respects. If I ever want to get out of here, my he and I need to trade salaries.

People always say that it doesn't matter if you work or if you stay home, you're kids will be fine and they probably will be. For me, I notice a difference in my kids from when I'm the constant and when someone else is in raising them. They seem to listen differently and act out more when I am home - maybe to hold my attention? Nothing solidifies that more for me than when we have a long four day weekend. Here is my favorite line taken from my husband: "I don't know why they act like that with you. They never do that we me." Yeah, that one stings...I know why they do it and it's because when I'm there I throw off their routine by just being present. I don't know that every morning when they kids walk to school they take turns putting a the paper on a neighbor's porch. I also didn't know who did it the day before in order to make sure the right person gets their turn. This goes back to a point I've made over and over. It's the detail in everyday life I so clearly miss. By the time everyone is back on board with minding themselves and the time out bench is beginning to cool, I go back to work and the ugly cycle starts all over.

My first priority is and will continue to be taking care of my family. I have sacrificed a lot to live in a community nicer than I can afford so that my children are surrounded by good schools, nice families and are safe. As each year of their childhood passes, I console myself by revisiting these reasons I go to work in the first place. Yeah, I'll keep going to work and like I tell my kids, life isn't always fair.

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