My new job is shaking things up a bit in our household. Working from home has been a godsend to me these past several years for the obvious reason: flexibility and control over my schedule. As a single mom until recently, it meant the world to my children (and me) that I was there to pick them up from school and volunteer in their classrooms mid-day. My twins have wanted to sit alongside me while doing homework and to be able to hear and watch and help me cook dinner. And I’ve loved these rituals, too. The safety of their world fell apart after their dad died in 2004 but my steady presence bolstered their security, confidence and sense of belonging.
I still want to do all that I used to, but I can’t since now I have to be elsewhere. Because I remarried a year ago and have a willing partner, Steve picks the kids up from school on my work days. Last week my son, Casey, accidentally tripped over the garbage can and dropped part of his lunch inside (don’t ask) and the teacher called Steve not me. This is a first. It’s also a first to have a partner stock up on groceries and make dinner twice weekly. I should clarify that Steve’s current job is getting a job, so that’s why he’s around to make dinner and for school emergencies like spilt lunches.
All this, of course, is good news, particularly the part about my having a steady, long-term assignment. And yet, it’s been surprisingly hard for me to give up the old ways. When I see Steve in the kitchen, there’s a part of me that feels he’s “invading my turf.” No, he’s not pining to replace the marvelous Ina Garten and her Barefoot Contessa empire, and no, I don’t feel displaced. It’s just that letting go of these roles that framed my identity for eight years is taking some getting used to.
But I’m learning. I’m learning that I can still be a steady presence for my twins without needing to be physically present all the time. I’m learning that I really like working offsite even if my daughter, Rebecca, self-combusts because I can’t attend her school picnic. She’s a survivor and it’s actually essential for her to see her mother meeting other responsibilities. I’m learning to trust that my twins are in a fantastic place: they’re happy and well-adjusted and for the first time in their young lives they actually have a dad to “show off” at school. Speaking of my new hubby, I’m learning that it’s really okay if he buys tomatoes that aren’t quite ripe. I’m learning that marriage is a partnership in every way.
What new waters are you dipping your toes into?