Monday, February 20, 2017

Parenthood: Week 192 – The ThIrd Shift

There’s always work I could be doing when I’m home with Ollie. I’m not talking about chores around the house, I’m talking about actually work, teacher stuff.

I have it pretty good with my teacher load and prep time, but it’s still a little crazy. Before Ollie was born, I would typically get to school an hour before class started and stay an hour after. So that’s 7am to 4pm. Again, this really isn’t too bad for teachers. Most of the time there would be at least half a dozen hours some time in the weeknight evenings or weekend when I would need to do more work to prep.

When Ollie entered the picture, I committed to getting home earlier so I could spend more time with him. The idea is that I would displace that after school time in the evening. First shift is school, second shift is housework and the third shift, and evening time doing schoolwork became the third shift.

There have been times that this worked out great. Ollie goes to bed right at 7:30, that leaves me an hour or two to do work, but some nights he doesn’t go to sleep on time or he needs extra cuddles.

It’s really depressing sometimes on long days to think about how little time I get with my boy. In the morning, it’s like ten minutes, sometimes less and on long days when I get home at six after meetings, I got like maybe hours with him. This is part of the reason I don’t get super-annoyed with him when he climbs into bed at 4:45am to cuddle.

I try to tell myself that my work at school benefits Ollie and that is for him. Every parent tries to rationalize the time they spend away from their kids, but sometimes, it just doesn’t all balance out and it can be hard to deal with this fact. Sometimes life is about fulfilling obligations that takes us away from our kids. And that sucks.

It’s a tough balancing act, wanting to do the best you can in your job and wanting to spend time with your kids. Now that Ollie is older and he is down to one nap, which sometimes he skips, that third shift is becoming more and more a deliberate choice to prioritize work over my son. This doesn’t ever feel good.

Most of the time however I’m prioritizing Ollie over work as often the third shift disappears into extra bedtime stories or extended cuddles. Most of the time this feels pretty great and even though I’m left with a pile of work and some added work stress, I never regret the time I spent with my little one. Because while not everything I do at work benefits Ollie, every moment I spend with Ollie makes me a better teacher.

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