As a stay-at-home mom the entire focus of my life is family - spending time together as a family, making memories as a family, being an active, involved, hands-on mom for my kids while they are still kids. I'm lucky enough that I get to spend a lot of time with my kids and enjoy a lot of special moments.
However, like most families these days, we simply can't afford to live on one income and have the kind of lifestyle we'd like so I am also a work-at-home mom. I make an effort to do my work at night, after the kids are in bed and my husband and I spend a couple of hours' quality time together so I don't lose any precious time with the people I love - but this means very little sleep for me and very few hours to squeeze in a day's work.
As a result, I find myself constantly trying to just squeeze in five minutes here and five minutes there, returning a couple of quick emails on my phone when we're at the park, opening the laptop to whip up a quick spreadsheet while Bubble Guppies is on, jotting down a couple of notes on a scrap of paper in the kitchen while making dinner. Between my job, writing gigs, and volunteering with the soccer teams and school I end up feeling like I'm literally working all the time, and I sometimes wonder how much value my time with the kids actually has when I'm only giving them part of my attention. It's a tricky balance. There are times when I almost wish I did work eight hours a day outside the house - and then not at all for sixteen hours of free time for myself and my family.
But then I'd miss all those precious moment with my boys that I live for, that we've planned our lives around, those moments that will slip away before we know it when our little boys are suddenly grown men with their own lives filling up their days.
I'd miss the mornings hanging out at home with my youngest and our afternoons at the park. I'd miss the heart-to-hearts with my boys while we walk to and from school every day. I'd miss those after-school hours of homework and snack and telling each other about our days; playdates with friends and playing in the backyard; bike rides and board games and cozy hours curled up watching a favourite movie. I'd miss those long, lazy summer days, months and months of making memories together every day. I'd miss out on those bonus days, school holidays and snow days and days home sick-but-not-really-sick. I'd miss out on volunteering in the kids' classrooms and helping out on field trips and getting to know their teachers and friends. I can't even imagine how much of my children's lives I'd miss out on if I didn't see them until six o'clock every evening.
These last few months have been even more hectic than usual and I've found myself working literally around the clock. With the outdoor soccer season finally well underway my volunteer commitment to the club dropped almost in half last week (down to only two or three hours a day...plus practices and games...[sigh]...) and I was looking forward to finally getting all up-to-date with work and begin sleeping again instead of working until the wee hours every night.
Then Middle Child's class asked for parent volunteers for a read-a-thon. I couldn't miss that - my sweet little boy was so excited when he asked if I could come and help and he was so happy when his younger brother and I showed up with a bundle of blankets and a stack of books to read and share. It was only a few hours out of my morning and there were lots of days and nights left in the week to get my work done. Those special moments together are moments we'll never forget.
Then my older son's class asked for parent volunteers for a field trip. I couldn't miss that - my oldest angel's getting older every day and one of these days he won't want Mom on a field trip, he won't want to hang out with me when he's with his friends. Work could wait until that night; sleep could wait until - sometime. It was just one day. I went on the field trip and had an amazing day out at the aquarium with my oldest boy and his best friends and made a whole day's worth of memories.
Then there was the track and field meet. Oldest Son was old enough to compete for the first time and had been looking forward to it all year. Youngest Son and I walked over to the school that morning to bring him an extra bottle of water and watch an event or two and found him feeling all dejected because he'd place seventh in both of the events he'd already competed in - one place outside of the ribbon standings. He slipped his hand in mine and asked if I'd stay. So I did. The whole day. I followed him around from event to event. I cheered him on as he ran and jumped his way around the school yard and track. I took him out for lunch for a little treat and spent the entire day at school with my boy, just because he wanted me to.
The week drew to a close. I was hours behind on work. I had hundreds of things to do for the soccer club before our games and tournament on the weekend. I had two urgent deadlines looming and no drafts, no notes, no ideas. There was no way I was going to get any sleep if I was going to get any of it finished.
There was also no way missing out my little boys' lives, sharing moments and making memories would have been worth a catching up on work or a few extra hours' sleep. I know these special days together are the days they'll remember when they grow up. These are the moments. These are the memories they'll look back on when they're grown adults starting their own families. These are the memories I'll cherish when I'm old and no longer the centre of their lives.
I can work anytime - even in the middle of the night. These are the days my kids and I won't ever forget and the moments I wouldn't give up for anything.