Posts Tagged kids

Single Parents Can’t Take Sabbaticals


Sabbatical buried under laundry

Sabbatical or a sabbatical (from Latin sabbaticus, from Greek sabbatikos, from Hebrew shabbat, i.e., Sabbath, literally a “ceasing”) is a rest from work, or a break, often lasting from two months to a year.

Sometime back in the dreary days of Portland in February I was sitting at my desk and wondering what it would be like to take the summer off. I mean really take the summer off. Go on runs whenever I felt like it, sleep in past 6am, get a new stamp in my passport. In general, answer to no one.

So I gave my notice. My last day in the office was a Friday, April 18th.

I was giddy with visions of all of the “Me” time I was going to have, until the alarm rang at 6am the following Monday morning, and again on Tuesday, and Wednesday, and you get the picture.

It was then I realized that single parents can’t take sabbaticals. There’s no such thing as a sabbatical from parenthood. The only difference between the working me and the sabbatical me was I had more time to do laundry. I was still spending my mornings getting kids to school, and my afternoons picking them up and shuttling them to their various after-school activities.

The fact that I couldn’t escape my environment was killing my sabbatical. My morning, afternoon and evening routines were exactly the same as they had been when I was working full time. The only difference? I was doing laundry and running errands on weekdays during the middle of the day instead of cramming everything into my Saturdays.

So what did I do? Went back to work, well, sort of. I accepted a part-time contract writing job so I could fill the middle of my days with putting words on paper instead of putting dishes in a dishwasher. The thought of spending my entire summer driving my kids back and forth to dance and soccer, doing chores, and hearing, “I’m bored. What can I do?” was enough to scare me out of the house.

My fantasy of taking a real sabbatical was a total fail. But there is a small light at the end of the tunnel. My kids will be going to Australia with their dad for three whole weeks to visit their relatives. The first time in over 23 years that I have had three consecutive weeks to myself.

How much adventure can you cram into three weeks? I don’t know, but I aim to find out.

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Letters to Myself, Age…

My dear friend over at The London Leprechaun once wrote a blog of letters to himself at various ages, so I thought I would do the same. If I could give myself advice…

PlutoDear Kelly (Age 3),

Yes, that toy Tonka Jeep is sturdy, but it’s not meant to be ridden down the driveway like a luge sled. Especially not face first. So now you’ve got this big scab on your face for your fourth birthday thanks to the small pebble halfway down the driveway that stopped that Tonka truck cold and launched you into the concrete like a missile. But don’t worry, there won’t be scar.

Dear Kelly (Age 4),

The Monkees are never going to drive up to your house just because you love their show so much, so stop staring out the window and watching for them. The show is taped Kelly. When you see them drive away at the end of the show they are not driving to your house. They are probably in some bar having a Scotch.

Dear Kelly (Age 5),

Uhm, you forgot to take your pajama shorts off before you left for Kindergarten this morning. They’re still there under your dress.
5thGradeDear Kelly (Age 12),

You’re lying there with your arm in a cast. It’s summer. I know it sucks. You’re lucky you didn’t land on your head when you fell into that empty swimming pool. And just so you know, your wrist is going to heal just fine and you’re going to be a fabulous volleyball player for the next 20 years. What? You’ve never tried volleyball? You will.

Dear Kelly (Age 13),

You and your best friend Cathy, whom you’ve known since you were 4 years old, have gone your separate ways. I know you are heartbroken, but let me tell you something. You two will reconcile and stay the best of friends until the day you die. Just give it some time.

Dear Kelly (Age 16),

I know that your original plan was to escape to a foreign country for a year just because you were sick of living at home. I know you’re homesick in Finland, but resist the urge to pack up and go home. Stick it out. This experience will shape the rest of your life. And that family you’re living with has a heart of gold, and you will keep in touch with them for the rest of your life.

Dear Kelly (Age 17),

When the guards at the Russian border tell you to stay in your seat on the bus and not take any pictures at the border crossing they mean it! Did you really think they wouldn’t see the camera flash as you took the picture while the bus was pulling away? Tsk tsk. You’re lucky that all they took was your film.

HomeComingDear Kelly (Age 18),

The fact that you were Homecoming Queen will have no value whatsoever later in life. No, I’m not kidding.  Sorry, but it’s not something you can put on your resume.

Dear Kelly (Age 21),

I know you went to San Diego State because you wanted to be a news reader and a reporter, but it’s going to take a while. You’ll graduate in a year and become a cocktail waitress because there are no jobs in 1980. Eventually you’ll decide enough is enough and you’ll get your first corporate job at Sun Microsystems. You will have this incredibly awesome boss who will push you into Engineering. I know it sounds really far fetched, but it’s true. You’ll love it. Don’t worry. Oh, and that news reader thing? You’ll eventually have your own political talk show. You’ll write it, co-produce it and host it. Yes, really.

Dear Kelly (Age 22),

For future reference, you’re not supposed to touch royalty. I’m sure Prince Andrew will get over it but the Mayor of San Diego will never forgive you.

Dear Kelly (Age 23),

Did you really think that buying a one-way ticket around the world and traveling by yourself was going to be without incident? You are too trusting. Leave Madrid as soon as you can and stay in India for a while. You’ll like the Shah family. Did you know that Mrs. Shah thinks you are her daughter from a past life? They will love you like a daughter. Go.

Dear Kelly (Age 29),

I know you’re wondering if you’ll ever get any sleep again. That little baby who’s waking you up at all hours will grow up to be a young man you can be proud of. He will have written two novels by the time he’s 20 years old. Oh, and he will stop spitting up eventually.

Dear Kelly (Age 41),

I know, I know, this is not where you thought you’d be at this age. Being a single mom with three kids is rough. No doubt about it. But Kelly, this time in your life is going to teach you so many good life lessons so make sure you pay attention.

SurvivorTrackDear Kelly (Age 42),

You are a Survivor. Remember that.

Dear Kelly (Age 47)

This too shall pass.

Dear Kelly (Age 48),

The teenage years don’t last forever. You’re not the first to have an angsty teenage daughter.

Dear Kelly (Age 50),

I warned you! Be careful what you wish for. You got it. Now what?

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