The worst day of the year for me is the first day of summer vacation. It’s not because I’m dreading having the kids home. But it’s because I have a job that takes me out of the home during the day Monday – Friday. And while my kids have been excitedly counting down to the first day of summer, it breaks my heart that I do not get to spend this time with them. This year my
kindergartener first grader (now) must have asked me 10 times “When is your last day mom?” and I choked back tears every time.
We all know that firefighters don’t do their job for the money. There’s a whole lot of love and passion that drives them to these careers with long hours and no juicy corporate bonuses. So many fire wives do work outside the home to supplement their income. I’m secretly jealous of all of you in the medical profession who have great options for going part time or contingent or working shifts that adapt more easily to your husband’s shift work. (Ok, the grass is always greener and I’m sure you all would highly debate me on that point…especially those working the night shift and on your feet the whole time!)
But my gifting is not in the medical field and the economy values my talents in corporate America. So off to work I go during my best, most alert and wide awake hours of the day for 5 days each week. I don’t hate it. It’s an amazing job with a great company, great people, enormous international exposure and travel opportunities and it matches with my brain and interpersonal skills. And let’s be grateful. There are many people out there who would LOVE to have my job. However, sometimes I feel like the best of me is given to my work and what’s left of me holds it together for my family every evening. And weekends are jam packed trying to make up for all the missed time in between. Give me a rainy weekend and a sunny Monday and it’s enough to send me swirling into the land of negativity.
Our culture was not always like this. It brings me comfort to hear the baby boomers acknowledge how expensive it is to raise a family these days requiring two incomes but also how difficult it is to have both parents working outside the home. And without my parents helping us with childcare on the times I need to travel for work, there is no way we could pull it off.
We constantly question “is it worth it?” Maybe we should just move into one of the $25,000, 1000 sq ft houses in the inner city where my husband works. Where my kids would not be safe playing in the yard. Where the 6 of us would be stacked on top of each other through the long Ohio winters. Where I’d be forced to home school my children for fear of their safety in the schools. Yeah. No. That’s not the answer.
But every year we do the Dave Ramsey snowball debt pay down math and we’re still waiting for that avalanche to attack our mortgage in a noticeable way, all the while closing in on the college years. Now here we are only 5 years from our oldest MOVING OUT OF OUR HOME and starting his own life in the (even more expensive) college season. And only 13 years away from potential retirement of my husband and realizing that is not really “the end” of our work life unless we plan to live in a cardboard box down by the river.
It could send me over the edge into a helpless depression if I let it. But I know that God’s got this. He’s providing every day. Our daily bread. One day at a time. And I need to trust Him with our future. My work is a blessing the enables so many wonderful things in our life. Our kids have access to so many schools and sports teams and cultural experiences because of it. And I have been so blessed in my corporate world with a company that has been flexible and accommodating through 4 pregnancies and the unpredictable world of sick children. I’ve been part time, full time, flex time, work from home time and everything in between. We are all being flexible to make it work. #sograteful
And it’s only because of my husband’s firefighter schedule that (we think) our kids are not seriously impacted by two working parents. They are not being raised in childcare and they get so much Daddy time during the weekdays and summertime when I’m working. And I am so proud when I hear my kids talk about the ways they want their careers to change the world (ok, let me pretend it’s because of my influence in global business that they’ve picked up on this. It makes me feel better). I’d be lying if I said my aching mothering instincts do not sometimes get jealous of the time Daddy gets with them. Especially when they are sick. Or have a special event. Or it’s the first day of summer break. Or they tell me I’m always on my iPhone. *sigh*
There is one major reason we can pull this off (better than we used to by the way). This is not an argument between myself and my husband. It’s a decision and trade off we made together (and constantly reassess in a healthy manner). My husband sacrificed advancements in the fire service to be home with the kids during the younger years. (Now that the youngest starts 1st grade he’s gearing up to get back into a 2nd job in the fire service). And I’ve sacrificed some Mommy time, especially these summer fun days, to help provide financially for our family. He supports my career. I don’t nitpick about tidy-ness and pinterest projects and the summer reading program I wished he’d do with the kids during the day. Our house is mostly a half decorated, cluttered disaster because we prioritize family over home improvement (but not over a sanitizing cleanse!). We have zero landscaping. That’s not where I want to spend my time at home. It’s incredibly freeing to let go of those standards of home decorating and organization that the world shows us today. And so far, our true friends have not abandoned us for these choices.
But sometimes, especially on the first day of summer, all that rationality goes out the window and I just want to cry and be home. Those are the moments reserved for a vacation day. A night where the smartphone stays in my purse and I pretend it doesn’t exist. A morning where I avoid planning an 8 am meeting so I can lounge a little longer in our PJs over breakfast before heading into the office.
Hats off to all the fire-wife-moms working outside the home this summer. Take it easy on yourself. Plan a lighter schedule (if possible) and come home to popsicle smiles and sticky kisses and make the most of it. Because they’ll be heading off to college before you know it!