Sunday, September 30, 2007

No Teetering

In my two years at MATC, I worked hard. It was fulfilling and occasionally frustrating. Last year, I worked less hard. I had to or my husband or I or both of us would likely not be alive right now. It was a little disappointing to put some slack in the rope, but life is more important than perfect grades and perfect newspapers.

I wrote this last year:

LETTER FROM THE EDITOR
A quick word from Amy Knapp

“Kelsey wants you to say goodnight,” Eric said when I walked in the door.

“She’s still awake?” I asked. It was late.

I set my backpack on the kitchen floor and laid my coat on top of it.

“Welcome home, love.”

My husband held me a moment and sent me to our waiting 7-year-old. Her 12-year-old sister was already sleeping.

I made my way down the dark hall and slipped into my daughter’s room.

Sitting up in bed, she said, “Hi, Mom.”

“Hi, babe,” I answered. “How come you’re still awake?”

“Why did you get home so late?” she asked, blinking and wrapping her warm arms around my waist.

“I had a lot of work,” I said.

I took a deep breath, smelling her sleepy scent mingled with cheap shampoo.

She slid her hands into mine as I sat on the bed. “I wish you didn’t have to work so much,” she said, and I bowed my head in guilt. “I wish you were home like you used to be.”

I held her soft, sad face in my hands for a moment. She closed her eyes and reclined onto her pillow again.

“I know it’s hard,” I whispered. “I don’t like it, either, honey. But it won’t be like this for much longer.”

I kissed her forehead and rose from her bed.

“Mom?”

“Yeah?”

“I love you.”

“I love you, too, babe.”

I looked at this little child who needed her mom to give her a kiss before she could fall asleep and silently pleaded with myself to honor the sacrifices my family was making so I could finish school.

“Goodnight, hon,” I said.

“Goodnight,” Kelsey answered.

Here’s to all the moms and dads and everyone else striving to balance a family and school and work. It’s hard, but it’s worth the effort, and so are you.


I will be damned if I go through that shit again. Today, despite having hard-working, intelligent classmates at the U, I spent my time kicking a soccer ball around the back yard, holding our dying rat, pointing out weeds to Kelsey (where aren't there weeds?), searching for a penny made the year I was born, and doing some homework. I did not spend the day doing homework, more homework, further homework, writing stories for the paper, researching facts for those stories for the paper, or attending a church service to write a pseudo-news story (free ad disguised as a news story--unless I did that research to turn it into news). When the thunder started, I was lying in bed, holding my sleepy child, who turned toward me and found my head just to be sure I was there, keeping her safe from the thunder. I wasn't just getting home.

I would have gone to the church service, but Eric was so frazzled, I didn't even bring it up. He did wonder why I was so nicely dressed, however.

And now, I'm about to be nicely undressed. Goodnight.

7 comments:

The Rotten Correspondent said...

The two years of nursing school were just hell on my family and I don't think I've ever felt so guilty in my life.

But...you know it won't last forever and you know it's worth it.

Take a deep breath and hang in there. You can do it!

Crystal Jigsaw said...

Nice piece of writing, very true to life.

I have always been there at bedtime but that's simply my choice. I can imagine how hard it is for you and other parents in that position. Just bear with. Kids are so resilient and even though will miss you, they won't love you any less.

Crystal xx

laurie said...

work/life balance is very, very hard to achieve even for those of us who don't have kids. for those with kids, well, i tip my cap to you. i couldn't do it.

and frankly, the profession you're heading into isn't much good with the balance issue, you know. late-breaking stories....weekends and holidays....

it's tough. a lot of fun, but tough.

Amy said...

Hi.

I'm much calmer this semester. I don't have the editor job, and as a freelancer, I've been able to just say, sorry--no. I'm not planning on going to grad school, so whether I get a B or an A in my classes really doesn't matter very much to me.

I had a talk with Eric today about the goofy hours and leaving at a moment's notice to cover a story. He seems OK with it, so that makes me feel better. The kids are getting older, too, and probably won't mind much if I duck out on them. Heh.

Thanks for the kind words.

laurie said...

every year we are expected to work at least one major holiday. i always choose thanksgiving. then i don't have to cook.

Amy said...

My mom always volunteered to work the major holidays at the hospital because she got paid double time. If it was a Sunday, it was triple time. If she could really swing it, she'd work the midnight to 8 shift and be home all day anyway. Tired, but there.

I've toyed with the idea of PR, thinking the hours might be more normal. The money would be good, too. Then I sit and try to do my PR homework, and I really suck at it.

Mrs. STL Sarah said...

You've got your priorities straight. If there's one thing I am sure of, it's that family is always the most important thing. Love you.