Working builds character
Aug 5, 2009
By Shoshana Hebshi
Shoshana Hebshi with her bicycle and baby carriage. Photo © 2009 Stan Brewer
Column by Shoshana Hebshi
This week I re-entered the working world. My first day on the job was Monday, and I have to say, it was an interesting turn in my established routine.
For the past three years I have been predominantly a stay-at-home mom to my twin boys, who just turned four this past weekend. I took some time for myself to advance my education and earned a master’s degree in journalism from Iowa State University, but I have not known full-time anything since we moved to Iowa three years ago and I gave up my full-time career in California.
Now I am not only working full time, I am a working mother with a husband in medical school in a land far away from home. It’s a lot more than I thought I would ever juggle, but like millions of others before me who have juggled far more, I think this will—like Iowa weather—build character.
I’m all about character-building opportunities.
First there was the college experience, when I learned to live on my own and be self-sufficient. Next came my first post-college job, a real job with benefits and paid time off. Then there was the dropping of my career for the love of a man (good thing he turned out to be my husband). And then came the revamping of my career on a gradual climb in both status and pay. Then the character-building curve took a steep turn northward, and I got pregnant.
The pregnancy was difficult—fetal surgery, bed rest, premature delivery and then nine weeks in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. At the same time my dad was dying of cancer on the East Coast. It was during this time when I began to think there needed to be more balance between work and family.
So when my husband began medical school in Des Moines, I decided to stay home with the twin boys and be a homemaker.
I remember telling my husband one day in a fit of generosity: “Don’t worry about anything. You just take care of studying and doing well. I will cook, clean, take care of the children. You won’t have to worry about any of that.”
As it turned out, my plan was more ambitious than I originally intended. I tired quickly of the midwestern housewife role. I had been so accustomed to not being domestic that when faced with the constant diaper changing, feeding, cleaning, cooking, bill paying, lawn mowing, bathroom cleaning of my new life it became too much to handle. I needed an out.
I applied and was accepted to ISU’s Greenlee School of Journalism and Mass Communication, and my first semester began just after my husband started his second year of med school. I had a half-time load, and went just two days a week. The boys attended a day care during those two days, and I became extremely efficient with my time.
All of a sudden, every second of the day was accounted for. I somehow managed to fit it all in—the homework, the reading, the papers, and more reading, plus the home duties of cooking, cleaning and childcare. I look back and realize that this was nothing compared to the shock of returning to the workforce after such a long hiatus.
For one, I am exhausted. Waking up early has never been my forte. It seems no matter how early I go to bed, if I wake up before 7:30 a.m. I am a zombie for the rest of the day. Now I am waking up at 6 a.m. to make sure to get the boys and myself ready for our days. (They started full-time pre-school on Monday, as well.)
I am sure we will all get used to this new routine, and it will become exactly that—a routine. In the meantime, we will all be working on building our characters, and by the time this is all over, we will be very interesting people.
New bedtimes, curfews and packed lunches, in business attire and under fluorescent lights, Shoshana Hebshi can be further examined at http://shebshi.wordpress.com