Tuesday, September 02, 2014

CHICKEN SOUP FOR THE SOUL: A parent’s truth: Staying home with the kids

By AMY NEWMARK, Chicken Soup for the Soul | 11/22/2013

I was lucky to have a job that allowed me to work from home for all but two of my child-rearing years, a privilege I wish all working moms could have. So I was thrilled when famous writer Jodi Picoult shared her own work-from-home experience with us in her story “The Second Shift,” which she wrote early in her career. We published her story in our book for stay-at-home moms, and it was inspirational to see how a bestselling novelist got her start working from home.

Jodi and her husband had let their nanny go when they made a big financial decision — building their own house. Jodi would care for the kids during the day, and in the evening her husband would take over so she could write.

I was lucky to have a job that allowed me to work from home for all but two of my child-rearing years, a privilege I wish all working moms could have. So I was thrilled when famous writer Jodi Picoult shared her own work-from-home experience with us in her story “The Second Shift,” which she wrote early in her career. We published her story in our book for stay-at-home moms, and it was inspirational to see how a bestselling novelist got her start working from home.

Jodi and her husband had let their nanny go when they made a big financial decision — building their own house. Jodi would care for the kids during the day, and in the evening her husband would take over so she could write.

“My first week on the job was a sobering one,” she wrote. Full-time child care brought new revelations. “I’m stunned by how much damage a few very small people can do in 15 minutes,” she observed. She felt socially isolated: “I’m starved for conversation, dying to hear sentences that contain multisyllabic words.”

 But she also discovered new delights, simply by being present all the time. She was able to watch her son Kyle “chivalrously share his sandbox bucket with the preschool love of his life.”

“It was into my arms that Kyle sprang when he got off the kindergarten school bus for the first time.” On another occasion, “I got to see my boys push their little sister in her stroller, leaning down to call her ‘sweetie pie,’ like I do.”

She also noted a change in her relationship with her children. “I’ve come to know my kids with a thoroughness I did not possess before.” Her kids’ view of her changed as well. “We see each other as complex individuals, and we’ve learned what makes each other laugh, hurt and heal.” As she worked at night, shaping new characters for a novel, her mind was on her children, “characters who have taken the story of my own life and have given it twists stranger and far sweeter than in any fiction.”

•••

Roy A. Barnes stood frozen at the top of the stairs leading into a London Underground station. He wanted to board a train and explore the city, but because of his Asperger’s syndrome, he was overwhelmed by the noise, the activity and the unfamiliarity of the station. It was his first day ever in a foreign country. In his story “World Travel With Asperger’s,” from our book about thinking positively, Roy wrote about how he overcame the challenges of traveling with Asperger’s and discovered a new passion.

He had traveled to London with an organized tour group, thinking the structure of the group would make the trip less daunting. However, soon after arrival, he discovered that much of every day was reserved for unplanned, individual exploring. Because of his sensitivity to busy places like the underground station and his poor sense of direction, Roy found himself limited to exploring only within a few blocks of his hotel.

After that trip, he was determined to travel abroad again. “I knew deep down,” he wrote, “that my love for traveling and exploring was stronger than the handicaps of my condition.” He returned to London the following year with a friend who let him ask for directions and navigate on his own, only intervening if he made a wrong turn. After several days, his friend returned home. Roy remained in London and managed just fine on his own. One year later, he returned to London for a third time with another friend. This time he acted as the guide. His sense of direction caused some “minor inconveniences, but the end result was a trip full of sightseeing successes.”

Roy has been on the move ever since and now writes professionally about his travels. “The key to overcoming obstacles,” Roy concludes, “is having a desire that is stronger than the reality of the obstacles.”

I know that I’m usually a little nervous when I try something new or visit a foreign country. I’m thankful to Roy for this inspiration for all of us, whatever our challenges or fears, about trying new things and realizing our full potential.

Syndicated by Chicken Soup for the Soul Publishing, online at www.chickensoup.com

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