Mom on Sabbatical

I’m using this sabbatical to work on a longer, more complex novel than I’ve ever written before. Even though I’m giving my writing, and my child, more of myself than they’ve ever had before, they both cry out for more. “Mommy, I wish you were there when we sing “Come In, Grown-Ups,” my daughter says, referring to the fact that she goes to extended care after preschool, while some kids are picked up by their parents. Never mind that last year, she was both taken to preschool and picked up by the extended-care team.

Meanwhile, my book’s pull is fierce. I’ve never had time for perfectionism before, but now I find it hard to let go of any pages. The book’s demands sometimes out-shout my daughter’s none-too-quiet voice. “Go play,” I snapped at her this morning as I tried to finish a complicated scene, and then felt guilty when she melted into tears. —Lee Tobin McClainMom on Sabbatical (Chronicle)

Lee is my colleague down the hall.

After a faculty meeting ran a bit long yesterday, I dashed home, grabbed my seven-year-old son without giving him time to finish his daily root beer, and headed back out again for his piano lesson. We usually make it right on time, but the slightly late faculty meeting and a string of red lights meant that we were 20 minutes late to his half-hour lesson.

After the lesson, we came back to campus to help decorate the cafeteria for Christmas. While my son was worried that the event would cut into his computer game time, he had a grand time eating pizza and talking with our Spanish and French teachers. One of the Sisters of Charity handed him ornaments, one a time, bending the little metal hooks for him so he could hang them on the tree easily. Meanwhile, I strung Christmas tree lights. I dropped by The Setonian office just in time to watch the students resolve a photo caption crisis, and then went home.

When I woke up this morning, I realized I didn’t want to go to work. I could have used a full day as Dad. My wife had cleaned the rugs and put a lot of stuff away, making room for bringing out our Christmas tree. The sight of big empty stretches of carpets, with neat piles of toys and stacks of library books, just made me want to stay home and have adventures with my daughter’s ponies, teach my son’s home-school lessons, and read aloud the six or seven chapters we have left until we finish The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.

If I were working at a dot-com, or selling furniture, I wouldn’t at all feel comfortable admitting something like that.

There was nothing about today that I was particularly dreading. In fact, the semester is winding down fairly nicely for me.