I'm in my eleventh year of working full time from home. Some days I'm like a drooling, pajama-wearing, housebound freakazoid who talks to herself and the dog—and swears the dog answers back. But I digress. I like working from home. I like my routine, and I love being here for my kids, who are now 10 and 13, and don't know it any other way. To them, Moms work at home, and that's just the way it is. I put my son on the bus at 8:30 every morning (right in front of my house so no need for real clothes) and get him off the bus at 3:30. Another important aspect of the daily pick up and drop off are the biscuits the monitor gives Consuela. To her, yellow school bus = biscuit wagon.
Since Jake called me out one day to the monitor for still being in my PJs at 3:30 (this was when he was in 1st grade), I make a point of being properly attired before Emily gets home from middle school at 3. Usually, the proper attire happens MUCH earlier than that. Some days, when work is nuts, it happens five minutes before she gets home, which is my own little secret. Well, after all these years of greeting school buses, you wonder if your presence is any more significant to them than say, the sofa or the fridge or the TV. Actually, I think the fridge and TV come in well ahead of me on their significant household item lists, but they would probably say otherwise to spare my feelings. Today, I had to take my daughter somewhere right after school, so Cliff Claven came home early to get Jake (now in 4th grade) off the bus. When I got home, I asked Jake how Dad did on bus duty. "Well," he said, "he didn't hold the door open for me."
I stopped what I was doing and turned to him. "What?"
"The door," he said, exasperated to be interrupted in the middle of a pressing video game. "He didn't hold the door open for me."
I thought about it for a minute and realized that every day, almost without fail, I lean out the front door to thank the monitor for Consuela's biscuit and then hold the door open for Jake. And he notices. I gotta tell you, that struck me right where I live as the mom who is just HERE every day. I mean, who cares? Who notices? Apparently, Jake does, and with that one little comment, he made my day, my month, my life as a work-at-home mom. It matters that I'm here. It matters to him.
Last week, I had a similar moment with Emily. She is dropped off one house up the street. As I've mentioned before, the high school is at the top of our hill, and the high school teams run wind sprints up and down our street after school. So Emily is coming down the hill from the bus stop just as a pack of high school boys come running down the hill. She knew they were there but never turned to take a look. Instead, when she saw me watching for her, she sashayed down the street, playing it up for me. If you'd caught the scene on TV, it would've looked like a pack of boys was chasing my girl. As she approaches the door, she sends me a knowing grin.
"Friends of yours?" I ask.
"Just some people I brought home with me," she replies with nonchalance.
Never once did she look at the boys. Instead, she kept her eyes firmly on me and shared the small, magical moment of total unity and humor at a time when we struggle to see eye-to-eye on anything. It helped me to remember that underneath all the teenaged angst and attitude, there's a girl I adore in there.
They tell me she'll be back some day. I'll be here waiting, and I'll hold the door open for her.