As my children and I sit around ‘gourmet’ cereal bowls, sweeping sleep from our eyes, I think about how thankful I am for my full-time work that allows me to be a full time Mom. Not so long ago, working full time and remaining a quality full time mother seemed something of a dream. Incomprehensible. How one would get it all done? Yet still to this day, many choose to not ‘see’ the possibility of this working well. Instead, many look down on the mother who chooses to work, especially those of us who have no ‘other half’ to match equal parenting roles. Though some days it is not ‘easy’; making it all happen has rewards beyond explanation. But as I hope to give you full disclosure as well as credit those with their efforts 100% into one task, I do have to admit that those of us who are the ‘jack of all trades’ may not be the master of one; but we sure do seem to make it all happen in our own ways.
As a performing arts director, my studio functions in the afternoon, evening, and weekend leisure hours of the week. I leave or once left my children to begin working for other people’s children as soon as my own left school. I began to feel the guilt of missing my own children’s after school activities, lifestyles, homework, and conversation and bitterness began to manifest towards the job I had once loved so much. They’d go to school all day, and I’d piddle around on my next project... then by pick up it was time to say hi to Mom, grab a quick treat, and head out with the nanny. Though this is a survival method for working single moms; acceptable through routines of ‘stability’ (as determined via state legal systems), we’ll say ‘the social norm’, it wasn’t the survival method for me.
We made the choice to convert to a guided homeschooling method fitting our scheduled ‘home’ time in the mornings and early afternoons. We held strong to our rules of getting dressed, fed, and ready for the days before 8:30 AM. By 8:30, we were and are diligently working through the day’s academics. By 10, the children are tuned into an online live classroom for guided instruction and I snag my break to do laundry, clean floors, wipe counters, etc.
Once we dove into our morning study/housekeeping habits and began to normalize homeschool into our routines, we then decided to add activities. Things like, pottery sessions, ridding sessions, violin sessions and French sessions. Or finding time for walks in our backyard (aka.... the beach). We began heading to these activities to learn TOGETHER. This unified family time seemed absolutely impossible to fit into our schedules previously, but our happiness grew ten-fold in our little trio as we allowed ourselves to be taught together. Mom’s flaws their flaws all flaws and growths happening together under the guidance of another expert. Sacrificing a little sum of money for ‘lessons’ gained us an overflow of strength and appreciation in our bonding.
This transition took sacrifice of course. I was faced with the decision to work more and make ends meet easier by sending them to school during the day to free my own schedule up, or, accept the finances as is through my ‘half day’ of work but continue growing as a family. Well, the money sounds nice when you have a mountain of financials to climb, dream vacations to take, and a new car to buy... but this time with my children who will someday be adults is just too valuable to put a dollar amount on.
The legal social normality standards still felt this wasn’t a ‘healthy’ situation. Bringing the kids to a studio filled with more than 120 other students each evening wasn’t considered acceptable (despite the socialization and structured class aspects), because our bedtimes changed per night. Bedtimes. See, at least here in the South, there is a huge amount of weight (for some judges) placed on a mothers’ ability to keep a regular routine with her children including specific bedtimes and church routines. Understandable of course, but what they were missing was how much WE as a FAMILY were accomplishing together each day. The only way to show someone your method works is through an unquestionable amount of ‘confidence’.
So, as I have shared with my evaluators, I will share with you. Those of you questioning your abilities of managing work and a HAPPY family... you absolutely CAN do this. Your methods will work as long as you have these 3 things in your formula. Work, appropriate schooling, and most importantly, structured family time. You may trade a small sum of money for a few extra hours a day with the family either thru reduced working hours, hired help (for non-children related tasks), or structured lesson/family times. But that trade comes with a respect and appreciate from your children that builds in time astronomically. The trade comes with the almost guarantee that your own children will grow to see the importance in that time together and base their own families off of the same parenting scheme. In my opinion, the biggest success will be to see my children grow into successful, calm, confident, patient, and kind individuals with overall life management skills. To see them appreciate what I’ve done for them is an added chocolate mousse with two cherries on top. I know that despite my own flaws, I’ll see both. Because at 10 and 4, they’re already showing me that my self-worth is far more than I’d ever grow to appreciate thru my own self-evaluation.
And that, my friends, is my success.