with Mir Kamin
I'm a freelance writer and mother of two working from home, which theoretically means I can set my own schedule so as to best accommodate my family. In reality, "flexible hours" often equals "working too much." Yes, I'm my own boss; no, that doesn't mean life is easy. It's hard to leave the office when you live there. But I love what I do and feel very lucky. And not just because I get paid to work in my pajamas.
To learn more about Mir, check out her profile on Work It, Mom! or visit her blog at http://www.wouldashoulda.com/
You know that old routine with the damsel and the villain where he says, “You must pay the rent!” and she says, “I can’t pay the rent!” and they go back and forth until the swarthy hero appears and says, “I’ll pay the rent!”? That’s sort of the conversation that goes on in my head about volunteering at my kids’ schools. Except that I’m both the villain and the damsel, and no one ever swoops in and offers to pay my rent.
Okay, maybe it’s a lousy metaphor.
Except that it’s not, because I’ve always said that one of the biggest perks of working from home is that I’m free to be really involved in my kids’ activities and to pitch in where I’m needed. When we moved to Georgia two years ago I dove in head-first: PTA, other parent committees, classroom volunteer, event staff for various school functions, etc. I was happy to be able to do it.
Until I started resenting it all.
By the time school finished up last Spring, I felt pulled in a million different directions. Moreso than usual, even. I’d served on a special committee that routinely had marathon-length meetings at the most inconvenient times, and despite our supposed task-force status, we’d not accomplished nearly as much as we’d hoped. I’d given my all to the elementary school my kids had been at for the past two years, and rezoning in our district meant that we were now assigned to (yet another) new school. I’d spent many a night doing bookkeeping or cleaning up after events, and I was just plain tired.
“I’m taking next year off!” I announced to my family, when Summer rolled around. They all looked at me like I’d lost my marbles. “No special committees. No officer position with the PTA. No running events. Next year I’m relaxing for a bit.” No one argued. My husband seemed pleased, actually. This is the first year the kids are in two different schools; he offered to take over attending PTA meetings for one of their schools, even, leaving me with the school where the PTA only meets four times a year. Easy.
School started and sure, yes, a little trickle of guilt may have found its way into my consciousness. Whatever. Paperwork came home for the first fundraiser and I gleefully checked the opt-out box and sent in a donation, instead. Easy! But then it turned out that one of my friends was running the event. And they needed some people to help a few days a week at the school, keeping things organized, and could I just come in for half an hour…?
Down the slippery slope I went. The first shift turned into two, and last night if you’d peeked into my living room you would’ve seen me sitting there with my friend, surrounded by envelopes, checking off students and counting money. Because I want to help.
This morning I ran into one of my son’s teachers and idle conversation led to discussion of their current unit in class, all about storytelling, and before I knew it was reminding her that I’m a writer and volunteering to come in and do a workshop with the kids, if she’d like, because I’m happy to volunteer.
So much for my year off. Eh, I can stop any time I want to. No, really. Stop looking at me like that.
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