Monday, April 11, 2011

Can You Put a Price Tag on Your Day Off?

I can. It's $250.

Let me explain. It all started on Friday afternoon when a friend at work called out an innocent “See you tomorrow!” as we were leaving for the day. Tomorrow? As in Saturday? What?! I quickly realized that I had accidentally deleted a VERY important email telling me I had been accepted to participate in a workshop at the community college which I had applied for weeks ago simply for the fact that it promised a very generous stipend. Oops. And Brent is now back to work at the market on Saturdays, so really, more than oops. More like Oh Sh*t!

I scrambled around and arranged childcare (thank you, Grandma!), breathed a sigh of relief, and then realized that I was a totally sellout who had just traded away precious and valuable time with my kids for some extra spending money. And then the working mom’s guilt arrived and refused to let me rest, keeping me awake by jabbing at my sides every time I rolled over and whispering in my ear as I tossed and turned that night. What kind of a mother chooses to work on her day off instead of spending time with her kids?

Then again, $250 is a lot of money for one day’s work. A lot. Keep in mind I am used to being paid peanuts for what I do. Peanuts I tell you!

And so, rather than spend a lazy Saturday morning at home making waffles for the kids and then venturing out to wander the farmers' market, off I went to learn about GIS in the classroom and evaluate lesson plans and eat a bunch of cookies, swipe hard candies, and steal legal pads. All of those guilty working mom feelings gave way to feelings more along the lines of "Why are they paying me so much money to do this?" And then those thoughts gave way to "Who the hell cares. More cookies!" And so on and so forth. Pretty soon they were calling it a day and letting us leave early and so I arrived home to sunshine and a kitchen full of groceries (again, thanks Grandma!) and two happy kids who seemed completely oblivious to the fact that I had even been gone in the first place.

And yet, I do struggle with the idea that I am trading away my kids' childhood for a paycheck. There just aren't enough hours in the week to do my job well and to parent my kids the way that I want to. I find myself wishing for more hours in the day, for the sunset to linger just a bit longer, for a later bedtime so that I can spend a few more minutes each day with these two little people before they become big people. So was my day off worth $250? I'm not sure that it was.

But I am a fixer and a doer and so I decided that I had to make the absolute most of my Sunday. It needed to be a $250 day, so to speak. And so...

10 minutes of snuggle time with Jack before Sawyer woke up. That's worth at least a dollar a minute. $10.

An easy breakfast of scrambled eggs with fresh spinach and muffins that Grandma made the day before. I drank an extra cup of coffee and nobody threw food. $15.

Sawyer escaped out the back door in his underwear and rain boots to be the first to feed the chickens. The value of uncontrollable laughter: $25.

(Are you wondering about the band aid? It seems to be a Ross family rite of passage to split your forehead open on the brick fireplace.)

Two perfect eggs: $2. None broken by clumsy little hands on the way from the chicken house to the refrigerator: at least another $5.

(What's that? Your kids have clean hands? Good for you.)

A stroll to Fred Meyer for a few things in which nobody whined for treats, no hailstorm assaulted us, and no potty accidents occurred: $25. Sawyer thinks he is potty trained, but I assure you he is not. I did, however, roll the dice and leave the house with him in underwear. 'Cause I eat danger like that for breakfast.

The sun broke through the clouds during naptime and I dug out the last batch of freezer pizza sauce to thaw for dinner. Remember Brent had predicted we'd make it to March? He was close. Homemade pizza sauce and sunshine: $20.

Sewing time is truly priceless, but if I had to put a dollar figure on finishing up an "easy" project that took me waaaaay too long to finish and involved the seam ripper, tears, and a few swear words, I'd say it's close to $50. But maybe that's just me.

Letting the kids delve into a painting project with absolutely no preconceived notions of damage control: at least $20.

Jack painted a turtle. Sawyer painted a... rainbow?

Occupied kids yielding time to plan and prepare a delectable Italian kale and ricotta pizza dinner while sipping a cold Ninkasi Total Domination IPA? I think $30 is a fair price.

Carting kids off to the park to enjoy the last few rays of sunshine while the dough rises: $20. The bike trailer NOT coming loose from my bike this time- at least $50. ALWAYS double check that bike/burley connection, FYI.

My kids playing together at the park. BROTHERLY LOVE! Running, giggling, hugging (!!) and just generally enjoying each others' company. Wow- I never thought I would see this day. $50, easy.

I'm not going to do the math on this one, because really, who cares? My whole point is that we all have to make choices and sometimes we do the right thing and sometimes we screw things up and I guess I am just one mom trying to do the best that I can for my kids with what I have.

Which is a lot. I have a lot. Whether or not somebody pays me $250, I have a lot.


  1. Loved this post. :) Loved. Also, made the Petit Pains au Lait rolls yesterday. Loved those as well. Hugs.

  2. Well done, you! The hands-holding-eggs pictures are BEAUTIFUL!