Friday, August 3, 2012
My other full-time job
When I accepted my calling to Hollins University, we knew things would have to change. My schedule would be full and erratic. While our childcare burden would be somewhat lighter with both kids in school all day, someone would need to be there to pick them up or get them off the bus. There were holidays and sick days and summer to consider. After talking it through, John decided to try being a stay-at-home dad while getting his coin business off the ground. It was a gift to me and to the kids, and he has handled it all beautifully. Through hard work, he has built a thriving business that helps to supplement our income (and provide for our daughter's private school tuition and our vacations). He has also developed a deeper relationship with our children (it's a bittersweet twist that they often ask for him more than me now). He cooks and cleans and does most all of what needs to be done for our house and for our kids. This summer, he's been chief entertainer, taxi driver, teacher, enrichment planner, creative genius, fight referee, housekeeper, lifeguard, disciplinarian, artistic coordinator, chef, and more. He is truly a superhero and I know everyday how very lucky I am (and some days I remember to tell him, too).
I still struggle with letting go of control and not being here more, at least in my heart where my guilt resides. But I will also admit that I'm usually eager to get out the door and off to work, as it is a retreat of sorts from all the mess and noise and demands. I am more in control at work, and generally my work has predictable results. Kids are anything but predictable. This morning, we woke to the sound that we fear most: the cries of a sick child. I stayed at home from work to help out, and I was reminded again of all the work it takes to keep the household going. In addition to the extra loads of laundry that a sick child generates (thank you, John, for the laundry), there's the delicate balance of keeping the kids separated ("quarantined") to prevent the spread of germs, and to entertain one while soothing another. There is feeding one while explaining to the other why she cannot eat (and reprimanding the first when he rubs it in her face that he gets to enjoy ice cream). There is the constant cleaning and manic spraying of Lysol that becomes pointless after the sick child spits in the well child's face. There is the worry that things will get worse, the helpless feeling of not being able to make your child better, and the fear that the germs will spread and take out the entire family (especially as John is preaching and I'm leading worship on Sunday as our pastor will be out of town). Plans are cancelled or tentatively put on hold ("let's wait and see") and now not only is the child feeling terrible, but may have to miss the birthday party she's been anticipating (and reminding you of daily) for two weeks.
After a day like this, I'm feeling like I've been hit by a train. How's the sick one doing? Bouncing off the wall, pulling me by the arm to come upstairs and play (again), begging for a brownie, running up and down the stairs, and dreaming about all the fun she will have tomorrow. She's the queen of the 2-hour viruses (thanks be to God for quick healing and literally "bouncing back"). There go my hopes of sleeping in (like that's been an option since pregnancy).
Ahh...the resiliency and energy of children. Now I wish THOSE were contagious.