with Karli Larson
The transition from stay-at-home mom to divorced-and-working-full-time mom can be challenging, and sometimes very lonely. Throw in a few cats, an ancient dog and one very brave boyfriend, and life gets downright crazy. Join me as I talk through my thoughts and struggles, my miscalculations and my triumphs. We're in this together, you and I.
When I'm not writing here you can find me over at work on the TisBest Philanthropy blog.
Some of my happiest childhood memories come from those long, languid summer days spent hunting for tiny shells along the beach or planting marigolds in my grandmother’s garden. My sister and I would run wild, our hair tangled and gritty, our filthy bare feet toughened by gravel driveways and the rough bark of the cherry tree. We’d sway side by side on the backyard swings, one hand gripping the sun-warmed metal chains and the other holding a gooey tunafish and pickle sandwich. I love these memories almost as much as I loved the days themselves. They were such a relief from the constant structure and social pressure of the school year. During the summer, I was free to explore and read and daydream as much as I wanted. I could just be me.
I was reminded of those precious summer days as I emailed back and forth with my ex-husband last week, planning our daughters’ summer schedule. Every moment is accounted for. Every day has an elaborate plan attached with transportation, childcare and even meals already figured out. Although living in two households certainly complicates the matter somewhat, the fact is times are just different. When I was little, neither one of my grandmothers worked. My summers were split between their two nearby houses. All of the grandparent figures in my children’s lives (meaning their actual grandparents or the parents of our new partners) either work full time or live out of state. We don’t have the luxury of dropping the girls off at a relative’s house while we work during the summer, so the girls go to camps. They’ve never had a summer like the ones their dad and I knew growing up, and they most likely never will.
This, I think, is very sad. I find myself compensating for this lack of a carefree summer by inserting chunks of “free time” into our weekend schedules, days where we have nothing planned and nowhere to be. I firmly believe they need this time desperately. I just wish I could give them more of it. How do other mothers do this? Is a summer without schedules simply the luxury of the married, non-working housewife? If so, what does this mean for the millions of children whose parents and, increasingly, all members of extended family, must work full time in order to stay afloat? What will this do to their imaginations, their creativity? What will happen to our artists and dancers and explorers and scientists?
I fear that in trying to make sure my kids are safe and cared for while the grown-ups in their lives work, we’re effectively scheduling them right out of a childhood. Tell me it isn’t so. Tell me there is hope. Tell me there’s a TED talk out there for working mothers whose relatives can’t step in to help.
There must be a different way to do this.
Subscribe to blog via RSS