As a working mother, I have a definite “love-hate” relationship with summer. I really love the idea of summer…longer days, slow mornings, basking in the warm sun, lazing away as I read a book in a hammock, time in the cool water of the neighborhood pool…whatever imagery comes up as you think about your seemingly endless summer days as a kid. The reality of summer as a working parent, as you embark upon the ultimate “multitask,” can look considerably different.
I was especially thinking about the frantic pace this week, as I looked at the clock, realizing I had exactly ten minutes before my next virtual meeting. Ten minutes to get one kid fed and off to swim team, provide advice to my teenage son about girlfriend drama, deal with the large mournful eyes on display from my dog/”soul mate” to feed him his breakfast, and at least be looking presentable from the waist up, so not to scare my co-workers on Microsoft Teams. I jumped onto the call on time, only to see my cell phone ringing. It is my 20-something daughter, calling from halfway across the country and because I have the reputation of a “super mom” to uphold, of course I answer, only to have her ask me “how do you cook a chicken medium rare?” And where is my husband during this chaos? He has retired to his man cave to work and has the door shut. Shocker! I stop to wonder…is this what Beyonce’s days look like as a working mother with three children in the summer? I am thinking “no.”
Despite how hectic this all may seem…I would not trade it for anything! Especially in the “new normal” post-pandemic, I find myself appreciating that even though it is challenging at times to keep all the balls in the air, working from home has allowed me to have more flexibility than previous summers. It may not be completely tidy, as I do find myself needing to catch up early in the morning or late at night at times to keep up with email. When I think back to the summers when I had to ensure my children had somewhere to be all day, every day, I am grateful for more time together. This comes with challenges, as well.
In the “old days,” I just would not be home during the day. I had the car ride to re-center myself and would be ready to start my second job as a mother the minute my feet hit the threshold of my house. Today, it takes good communication with my children. When I was first working from home, they would frequently pop in and interrupt me while I was in a meeting. Now they understand that a shut door means I am busy but will emerge when I can to touch base on anything they need. Who knows? Maybe this practice of sharing their mother’s attention with other competing priorities might prove to be a good thing. I am not able to drop everything the second they are bored this summer and that might be one positive from this “new world” for their development as humans.
Only time will tell, but for now, I continue to try to do my best every day and to give myself some grace and patience. I seek out and savor those precious few moments of alone time. Perhaps summer is not the time that a working parent completely knocks it out of the park in their career. When fall hits (which will happen before we know it), maybe that will be the time to refocus on ourselves and have more time to dedicate to our professional development. In the meantime, I have appreciation for Colorado Access and my leaders here for allowing me a few months of my attention being spread a bit thinner than usual (I write this as I listen to someone screaming into a microphone in a gym full of kids at basketball camp). Thank goodness for the free Wi-Fi!