For the first time in my 20-year professional working career, I took an unpaid week off so I could stay home with my children during their final days before school starts. With a blended family of five, a house that is always in need of projects and never-ending bills for this-and-that, my husband and I both need to work to support our family and life on Long Island. I don’t say that in a “woe-is-me” tone; it’s just the way it is. That said, taking an unpaid week off wasn’t what was best for our budget, but it was best for me and my family.
For one full week, I would not check my work email (OK, I did check it but didn’t answer any messages). Instead, I would be home to feed my children all of their meals (yes, including Bagel Bites!), bring them to play dates, shop for school supplies, do the laundry – and actually put it away (well, most of it!), make popcorn and watch Teen Beach 2 (it wasn’t bad, really!), listen to their stories, hear about Minecraft (aghhhhh!!!), answer countless questions (they never stop!), enjoy a few days at the beach with our five children, referee arguments (of course!), and JUST BE T(HERE).
For the first time – other than my brief maternity leaves following the births of my children – I would be home, during the week, with my family. Not for a day here and there. Not on a busy vacation. A full week to … JUST BE T(HERE).
Last night when I was tucking in my 10-year-old for bed, I reminded him that I had to go back to work in the morning. He hugged me and said: “I wish you could be here with us all the time.” And T(HERE) it was … my heart broke a little bit.
This parenting gig is tough … and the pay stinks … but the rewards are priceless!