I was hired to work 20 hours/per week, but have now and then had to work a more full-time schedule to cover shortages, etc. This has never been as much a problem as it became in the past 6 weeks, since I now spend more time commuting and, hence, more time than I ever have away from my son. Even when I was working 20 hours/week, it was spread over 4 or 5 days, so I still spent a lot of time getting ready for work or driving to and from. It's been nothing short of painful to hear all the stories from my Mom and Dad about what I missed while I was away. It has finally become so clear to me why parents of grown children are always advising young parents to enjoy the time; it goes so quickly.
Twice I was close to just up and quitting, hoping I could find a part-time gig closer to home. But the thing is, there are certain things I really like about my job. The benefits are great, and I absolutely love having evenings and Sundays off. If I could just manage to do it only three days a week, things would be perfect. I'd have to cut corners and stay creative with money, but that would be well worth it for the chance to have so much time with Monkey. I've spent my whole life working full time and at various times working two jobs. And this time with him will be over before I know it. I have to do everything I can to guard it closely.
Today: a breakthrough.
The reason we were short staffed for so long is that a woman went on family medical leave and, with two weeks left before her return, somebody mysteriously disappeared one day. The woman on leave was asked to come back early to cover the shortage, but that still left us down one person. It's taken a month to get that position filled, but it finally happened today, and my heart leaped for joy when I saw the new schedule, which has me working--finally--21 hours/week, all squished into 3 days. Ahhhhhhhh.
Today's New Activity: Good News, Renewed Appreciation
What I loved about the feeling I had in response to today's news was that I know I would have never known how precious my time with Monkey is had it not been temporarily snatched from me. I feel like, having had that gaping hole there for a couple of months (or really what feel like the better part of the past year, off and on), I have a more profound appreciation for the fleeting nature of this period in a mother/child relationship. I'm hoping that having learned this lesson, I will live every day with more gratitude for the blessing I have in my son, and for the living situation I have with my parents, which allows me to work part time and spend as much time with him as possible.
I spent the day dreaming of all the places I can take him to now and all the things I won't have to hear about second hand.
And tonight, with all these thoughts swirling in my head, I had the hardest time saying goodnight to him. We did our nighttime reading and snuggling things, and at the point where I would normally put him into his crib for the night, I found myself gazing at him and thinking that the magnitude of joy he brings me will never be measurable and could never be overstated. And when I was finally ready to put him down for the night, and I picked him up and he leaned his head on my shoulder and patted my back, I allowed myself to imagine he knew what I knew in that moment--that these days are to be treated with the deepest regard.
I held him tight against my chest and gave thanks.
And then, cheesiest of cheese: the Kool and the Gang song "Cherish" popped into my head. That song about two lovers, but with a little bit of lyrical reimagining, I was able to appreciate it in a new light. The message is an important one: Cherish the love we have, for as long as we both shall live. Cherish the love, cherish the life, cherish the love. It's sweet, really.
I'm gonna take that advice.