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  • Kathryn R. Biel


When I try to describe my life, it often comes out something like this: I work part-time.  What that really translates to is:  I get paid to work 3 days each week, but I end up working 4 because I do a lot on my own time.  It also does not mention that, in addition to being a part-time school-based physical therapist, I am also a full time mother (and wife and housekeeper).

My husband often asks me when I am going to work full time.  I usually mumble some response, and then try to distract him by flashing my boobs or lighting something on fire.  Here's the thing.  I don't want to work full time. Because, as stated above, I cannot get my job done in my allotted time, and end up working from home.  If I am working 5 days, then I will have absolutely no time for my kids or my family (or myself).  I like being able to do my grocery shopping mid-morning with only the retirees to fight with.  I like that I can actually schedule a doctor's appointment and go by myself.  Sometimes, I even meet up with a friend for coffee or shopping.  But mostly, it's a morning where I can vacuum uninterrupted, or finish my school work without distractions.

Frankly, I chose my field based upon this whole premise.  I guess I always thought I would have kids.  I thought seriously about becoming a doctor, but did not feel that I could be the kind of mother I wanted to be while also being the kind of doctor I wanted to be.  There are times that I wish maybe I had pursued it (like when I have to deal with an especially crappy doctor), but I know in the long run, I made the right decision.

For me, working part time is the perfect balance for me. I know it means a lower salary, and that we are able to do less as a family.  But what I can give to my family by having a day or two off (and when I say "off," I mean as in "not receiving a paycheck"), is priceless.

Today, I am home.  I normally work on Wednesdays, but swapped days this week because I have annual review meetings on Friday.  It works out well, too, because Sophia is home sick.  

She has a small cold, but a horrible cough (thank you reactive airway disease).  She sounds like a 3 pack a day smoker.  There are times, I confess, that she has been equally or even more sick that I have still sent her to school or daycare because I did not have any other childcare options (like if she is still sick on Friday).  But I knew I could keep her home and let her rest up today.

Yesterday, I got to go into school and be the mystery reader for Jake's class.  Jake is approaching 8, so I know the day will soon come when it is not cool to like your mother.  But yesterday, he was so excited when he realized the reader was me.  To see the look on his face--it was worth whatever pay reduction I have to take.

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