Hello, most recent Snowstorm.
You have met your match.
I watched my Facebook newsfeed nervously today, and when that dreaded announcement came, I had the most surprising feeling. Instead of the sinking depression, hopelessness and overwhelming anxiety that I was expecting to feel, I felt angry. And then something miraculous happened. Snowstorm, you have awakened the guerrilla mom within. The mom who is not going to be shamed from voicing her frustration by people who are not in her shoes. The mom who refuses to be painted as an employee on the “mommy track” who does not prioritize her career. The mom who is tired of resorting to yelling, time outs and threats to keep the kids quiet while she’s on conference calls. After all, this is the same woman who landed a career-defining job before college graduation, managed to pass the bar on the first try, and successfully reinvented her career three times. In other words…you are screwed.
Being a working parent is hard. Really hard. It is an art that is practiced over many years, but never quite perfected. It is a constant balancing act, carefully patching together child care, coordinating drop off and pick up times, remembering homework, school projects, parent council meetings and responsibilities, snack donations and backup clothes, all while building credibility and proving yourself every day at work. It means doing housework at night or early in the mornings (or not at all) so you can spend your precious few hours outside of work with the kids. This is NOT to suggest that being a stay at home parent is easy. It’s just that there is a vast difference in the consequences of not doing housework during one snow day, and missing important deliverables and calls at work. Schedule and routine are critical to the working parent’s success, and any anomaly, such as a business trip, must be carefully orchestrated as to not disrupt the balance. Anyone can manage one snow day, or even two or three. Facing eight snow days since the beginning of January, however, proves to be a special challenge. I wish that I had the luxury of spending this stolen time with my littles. I want nothing more than to do all the activities and crafts that I see on Pinterest with them. The worst is that the kids don’t get it. They don’t understand that I really am working, at a job that requires concentration and conference calls. They want to spend time with me, too, and I realize what a special (and fleeting) gift that is. I can’t describe how low I felt last week when Bree told me that she and Emma were wishing for “a big sister” so that I’d have someone to help me on snow days.
I work from home the majority of the time, and am so grateful for this. Not having to commute, or get myself gussied up for the office, saves me so much time and helps me be more productive at work. I do not want this privilege taken away. So while the one or two snow days would likely not put this at risk, eight snow days within five weeks is extremely problematic. Social media and online news resources are overflowing with people who are actually excited about missing school. It shouldn’t be a surprise that many of these people do not seem to be working parents. What is happening in Boston right now is unprecedented. It’s not just that we have a lot of snow and have missed a lot of school days. On the days when we do have school, it is virtually impossible to get around the city right now. The MBTA is not running consistently and is overcrowded (and not usual overcrowding – I’m talking crushing small children crowded) and many of the roads are narrow and clogged. Although some sidewalks are cleared, others only have a small path created by people walking – not wide enough for two people to stand side by side and certainly not wide enough to walk multiple children safely. If you’ve ever been in Back Bay or the Financial District during rush hour, you can appreciate what that does to the foot traffic. While I was away last week, it took Patrick two hours to pick up all three kids. And they are all the SAME city!!! It took Patrick several calls to our City Councilor to get the sidewalks and streets cleared around Bree and Owen’s school, because as the City Councilor stated, the CITY WASN’T PRIORITIZING THE SCHOOLS. Apparently, City resources were focused on prepping for the Patriots Championship Parade. Priorities.
Feeling that I have been whining too much on Facebook, I was so happy to FINALLY talk to other working mom friends who shared my same level of stress and frustration. One admitting to having to do her conference calls in a closet last week. A few others set up a “child caravan” of sorts, carting a small group of kids from house to house for a few hours at a time while parents took turns attending critical meetings. Sadly, with three, my options are very limited – very few people offer to do “tradesies” with Traveling Chaos – and my youngest is too little for the usual backup care. But, as I’ve said Snowstorm, you’ve awoken the Winter Warrior Woman within, and I am not one to be messed with.
I plan to get through this winter with my job and work arrangement intact, no matter how many snow days you throw at me. And here’s how I’m going to do it:
1. Plan the day’s schedule, down to planned meal times, snack times, rest times, and activity blocks (both planned and “choice” time). This will also include a couple of times for me to do something with the kids when I am able to take a quick break.
2. Set ground rules for the day. Such as, when I am on a call or in the middle of an important project, you must keep voices down. I will come out to check on you periodically, but do not disturb me unless it’s an emergency.
3. Gather materials for activities to include art and craft supplies, etc. in advance.
4. Have a morning meeting with the kids. During this meeting, we will go over the day’s schedule and ground rules. I will welcome input and ideas from all at the meeting.
5. Clean up as I go, and expect the kids to do the same. We’ll see how this one goes.
6. Designate authority in the form of a mother’s helper. Emma Sullivan, your day to be the boss has come. Make me proud.
So take that, Snowstorm. You’ve thrown me a challenge and awakened my fiercely competitive spirit. You may get the best of me in the end, but I will not go down without a fight.
Winter Warrior Woman