Monday, October 02, 2006

A New Appreciation for Working Mothers

Note: I wrote this on September 12, 2006 but was unable to post it then due to computer problems.

For a week and a half I found out what it’s like to work full time outside the home. And I must say that I have a whole new appreciation for working mothers. But the best part is my family has a whole new appreciation for me!

A couple weeks ago my friend Linda and I started working at our local university’s bookstore during the first week and a half of the new semester. They call it Rush. I call it insanity!

For the first three days I was on my feet from 8 A.M. until 5 P.M. except for a half hour lunch break. And in the first day I helped over 2,000 customers. By the end of the day I was bushed, beat, exhausted.

After the second day I was ready to call it quits, but I’d made a commitment. I decided to stick it out. Meanwhile, my girls were getting themselves off to school, and everyone in our family arrived home before I did. (Mind you, this has advantages. I figured that with my husband getting home first, that meant he was in charge of dinner. It worked about 50% of the time.)

After my second day of full time employment, we were sitting as a family around the dinner table. Bug, my 12-year-old, was complaining about my not being home for homework questions after school. Loula Belle, age 10, and Beans, age 7, both piped up that getting out the door on their own pretty much stunk. Curious as to how much they were really missing me, I asked, "But what if I got a job like this one? We could go to Disneyland again."

"No!" they all shouted in unison.

Wow. They like me more than Disneyland. I never would have guessed.

Now that Rush is over, I’ve been home full time for a week. Yes, I miss greeting and talking with customers. (It’s a little lonely to have an empty house to myself all day.) I miss having supervisors praise and compliment my work. (Alas, once I started resuming my usual jobs, my kids went back to not noticing what’s getting done.) I suppose I even miss getting a paycheck, but not enough to go back.

I am grateful, however, that I had a brief employment opportunity. I learned that my family really does appreciate what I do as a stay-at-home mom. I learned that working eight hours a day and then coming home to the ususal list of home jobs zapped all my energy. Sometimes I’d come home from work and just collapse on the couch for a snooze. Who knew working full time was so exhausting?

I also learned that I’m blessed. Blessed to have the freedom and flexibility to stay home. Blessed to have a husband who works his tail end off to provide for our family. Blessed, spoiled, and utterly thankful to have learned that the grass isn’t always greener on the other side of the employment equation.

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