I have begun to notice that in ways far beyond "how was your day?" at dinner, my work has become a more central presence in my household than I remember it being before. While I have had a career for my whole adult life, it has often been just a piece of the puzzle, a place where I am during the day, a source of a few tales at supper time.
These last few years, alternating between looking for work and managing a
schedule that requires transportation planning, daytime sleeping, and
strict attention to stamina management, I sometimes feel as though I
have made myself the center of attention. One could argue that I should
enjoy being in that spot. After all, we moms spend all sorts of time
focusing on our children--shouldn't we have some moments to focus, and
have others focus, on us? Yet, it is a position that does not come
naturally for me. I have a hard time sleeping in preparation for a night
shift when there are homework assignments to help with, costumes and
hairdos to advise on, games to play, and treats to make. I am
self-conscious when too much conversation revolves around if and when
I'll be working and the logistics surrounding that work or lack of work.
I suppose that in a family, the center of attention changes on a fairly
regular basis. There will be days when a middle school social studies
test is the most important thing, and days when a head cold grabs
everyone's attention. There will be days when it's all about college
applications, and days when, yes, it's about when Mommy's gonna take a
nap. Unemployed or working, I won't always be the center of
attention--there are far too many people and things to take on that role
most days. And that's really okay. I'll get that nap when I need to,
and still be around to focus on a whole bunch of other centers of
attention. Because what kind of life would it be if we were always looking
in the same direction?