The voice on the other end of the phone line was plaintive. “I’m stuck at work, my husband is in the City – can you PLEASE pick up my kids from school? I wouldn’t ask, but I’m desperate.” The friend, who had gone back to work full-time a few months ago, was still trickily navigating the waters of being a working mom and it was proving much harder than her family had anticipated. The decision to resume her career had not been easy nor had it been made freely. The family needed the money and health care benefits.
Picking up my friend’s children was no problem. They’re great, well-mannered kids who get along with my own urchins well. They’d been over here a lot before their mom went back to work and were always welcome. They’d felt at home here, playing video games or amicably listening as my 6-year old barked out orders on how to play; they knew how to let my Diva’s bossiness blow by without any resulting turmoil. Now, while my own kids were giddy with delight at these unexpected playdates, my friend’s children were happy to be with their friends, but were also noticeably sad.
At various times during the playdate, they clung to each other, something I’d never seen them do before. At dinnertime, when neither parent had called or come to pick them up, the kids stared at me with uncertain, fearful puppy dog eyes. “Are we going to eat dinner here?” asked the little boy. “Of course,” I matter-of-factly replied. When they’re here, they’re mine and I’m ready with the standard menu of chicken nuggets, pizza, and mac and cheese. The boy ran to his tween-age sister for a reassuring hug before going off to resume play. “I just feel like I need to take care of Michael more now that Mom’s working,” explained the girl. “We don’t see much of her anymore.” [Read more...]