The Return: After 15 Years at Home, a Mother Goes Back to Work

Written by New York Family on . Posted in Family.


By Mary DiPalermo

After having three kids and a sporadic (but mostly quiet) freelance existence at home for fifteen years, I went back to work last fall. Back to the grind. Up and at it. Forty hours a week.

I didn’t plan to return to office life but we really needed the health insurance. And like most of my major life decisions, I stumbled into this one. It was a three-week writing gig that kept up. I’m reviewing children’s books—a nice fit for a mom who’s been buying them for nearly seventeen years—and the job is now considered semi-permanent (just like my hair color).

My most frequently used phrase these days is: the balls are dropping. Curiously, all the work balls seem to be airborne—it’s the home balls that are crashing down. Maybe crashing is too strong of a word. Perhaps plopping is better.

Permission slips aren’t getting signed. Backpacks aren’t getting checked. My youngest son had a record number of tardys on his latest report card. And the house looks worn—dust bunnies are gathering at a rapid pace and the clutter is multiplying. And those little things that need to be done? Read: laundry, laundry and laundry—aren’t getting done either.

My kids greet me at the door every night like a pack of crazed wolf pups—each one more hungry than the last for fresh bits of undivided attention. And with my eyes crossed from hours of computer gazing and wordsmith-ing, I’m not always undivided.

I have a recurring wakeful nightmare where or steps out of my disastrous front hall closet and urges me to live my best life. “Pay attention!” “When you know better, you do better!” “Your child is speaking to you, stop thinking about your dang Fresh Direct order!”

Having three kids is like having three pans of risotto cooking on the stove simultaneously. You’ve got to keep your eye on each one—stirring and tending—while watching them as a whole. Returning to work at this stage of the game has turned up the heat on every burner.

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