By Jill Reinhart
I am one of hundreds of thousands of furloughed federal employees. I am a working mom.
Or at least I was, until last Tuesday. Then I became a stay-at-home mom against my will.
My 9-year-old son is ecstatic. My 13-year-old daughter is unfazed. The dog thinks she’s won the lottery. And I am angry, disappointed, and worried.
This unplanned time at home, however, has allowed me a few insights. One, I like to work. I thought I knew this, but now I am certain.
I like my full, busy days balancing a challenging, fulfilling job with an equally challenging, fulfilling role as Mother and Head of Household.
One without the other is like yin with no yang.
Now I am spending my days focused on one role. Mornings allow me more time to help with breakfast, homework, and I can put son on bus instead of my husband driving him to morning care. Once everyone is out of the house, I can exercise, take the dog for a walk, have my coffee, watch the news (here’s where the angry part comes in), then get dressed in time for lunch. A couple hours of errands and “to do” lists and everyone starts filtering home for dinner, homework, activities, and the normal business of evenings.
Life is slower and I have more time for me, but I am missing my job.
I miss my co-workers, my work, and the feeling of making a difference in the world outside my own every day.
I worry because the bills keep coming in but I don’t know how long savings will hold out to pay them. I am not happily enjoying furlough as a paid or unpaid vacation, depending on how this all turns out.
Instead, I am reflecting on my values and choices for my life, and gaining certainty that I have chosen the path I want.
And I would like it back now, thank you very much.
Jill Reinhart is a happily married mother of two working full time in the Indianapolis area. She enjoys the natural world, protecting it in her work and enjoying it with her family. Follow her on Twitter @jillmelrein.