Sunday, 16 June 2013


Since I have had the kiddlings, I have worked on a part-time basis after my 2 year stint as a Stay At Home Mom.  When the kids were little, my days off gave me a bit more time to get caught up with them.  I got to mother them a little more than usual.  I also got a chance to make a bed, wash a sink and get some food, when scurvy was about to set in. I have always felt fortunate to have had these days. I am not sure how well I would have fared otherwise.  I had periods when my work was much more like full time and during those times I often dropped the ball.  I missed snack day and Kevin is yet to forgive me.

 I have a very high regard for full time working parents.  The age old debate between working and stay at home mom's will not be easily resolved. Some call it a war.  This I find sad.  I have had a glimpse at both sides. We are all just doing our best.

For 10 years of my early mothering, I worked a 12hr midnight shift a few days per week in a Sleep Lab, conducting sleep studies on patients who might have sleep apnea.

 Night shifts had their allure when I was younger.  It was a night out, with Captain Fun at home doing the bath/bed routine.  I would head out to the car and I would hear "PARTY" yelled from somewhere in the house.  I was not hurt because  I have to admit that frankly, night shifts can be fun.  After midnight, all topics are fair game.  It is like the whole "what happens in Vegas" thing, but it is applied to conversations after midnight. Finances were discussed freely. "So,my house is worth $ and  my mortgage is $, and we earn $". There were moments when too much information took on a whole new meaning.  "There are blue dots on my calendar for the days we are going to ...".  When Bridget was a baby and I went back to work at night, what was for some "only a 6 hour sleep", from 9am-3pm became "OMG 6 hours of uninterrupted sleep!!"

However, as years passed though, these night shifts  became difficult as it was a challenge to stay awake for the home commute and more difficult to sleep during the day. There is
just a point when your body gets older, and maybe a bit smarter, and it just says "no".  It was always a source of unfortunate irony that sleep labs disrupt the sleep/wake cycle of staff who should really know better.  Shift work takes its toll on the body and on relationships.

Days off, when I worked nights, I fear I spent in a bit of a fog.  I tried to fake it, but I don't think I fooled anyone.  To be between night shifts, or worse, when trying to reset one's sleep cycle and rejoin the "day people", it often just feels like you have the flu.  

 I would make sure I was up to be at school to walk the kids home.  Kate, at an early age, learned to ask "did you sleep well today", before launching into her ever popular mantra "Me have idea".  That usually involved glue, glitter or baking.  Regardless, it meant a mess. Crafts were  something best pursued on a full night's sleep.  Mommy just can't cope with anything beyond play-doh between night shifts.
Derek traveled a good bit during these early years, but not to the extent he does now.  He would be gone for 2-3 days, usually to northern Ontario First Nation reserves.  This left me on my own with the kiddlings.  It was a bit of a challenge when there was a baby in the house (there was lots of cranking up of the swing).
When Derek  returned, I was off for my night shifts, with a High Five in the doorway.  When the turnaround was too tight, Bridget once asked "are you and Daddy separated and just not telling us?"

Traveling for work has been something Derek has been doing since we moved to Orangeville when Kate was 2 years old and Kevin was on the way.  It was difficult at first, as we  had just moved to town and I knew very few people.  As life became more settled, brief trips became commonplace.  There was a lot of shifting of work schedules and last minute babysitting arrangements made to accommodate travels that often happened without much notice.  Derek and I both became skilled at single-parenting.  I reluctantly shoveled snow and dealt with the garbage.  He learned to presoak pudding stains and pack lunches. It was just a way of life.  One might look at it as "absence makes the heart grow fonder".   This may be true to some degree, but too
much distance can also become "out of sight, out of mind".  We have worked hard to try to maintain the former, however, in retrospect, I would not recommend this lifestyle to young families.

At this time, with the kiddlings off on their own, it is easier to travel together, as I did this winter. I had a whole different perspective as a true lady of leisure.  I was a "housewife".   A kept woman, one might say.   I had somehow evolved into a Stay At Home Mom without any kids.  Shockingly I was still disorganized and messy.  Unmatched sandals lying around. My lone socks piled up, even though, confusingly, I was not wearing any socks. Laundry was still behind and it was only towels.  Dishes dried in the sink and I still left the garbage for Derek.  All this time I have been under the mistaken impression that my organizational skills were just taxed by my busy working mother schedule.  Turns out I am just a slob.  Who knew?

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