May 08, 2015 Articles

It Goes by So Fast: Achieving Work-Life Balance Through Community Service

By Natalie Schaefer

"God could not be everywhere, and therefore he made mothers."— Rudyard Kipling

“It goes by so fast.” If I had a nickel for every time I heard that phrase from parents of older children, I would not have to work again. It has a way of breaking my heart every time I hear it, because I, too, suffer from the daily plague of “mommy guilt.” I should be the PTA President and at my children’s school every day. I should be at home when they get out of school so I can make them a snack. I should be able to get my daughter to her swim practice at the incredibly inconvenient time of 4:00 p.m. But I have a secret: I like to work. No, I LOVE to work. I love my job and cannot imagine doing anything else. I am lucky in that regard.

I am even luckier to have two amazing children, now ages eight and five, and a wonderfully supportive husband. He is a college professor and has the summers off. That’s right: the summers off. So in a reversal of clichéd roles, my husband takes our children to the pool every day in the summer. They have lunch that he packed at the pool. They splash and play with him all day in the cool water. I do not resent him. To the contrary, I am so thankful that he is able to provide that for our children. When I was growing up, my mother was a homemaker. She was always present. We never had name-brands, because they were too expensive. I still tell my kids that I never had a Capri Sun unless I visited a friend’s house. But I have always been fortunate. My brother and I got home right after school and played until dark. In the summers, we went to the pool or played outside until we could see the lightning bugs. My very normal middle-class background made me understand the significance of community service.

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