What Will Women Do? If kids are in school, women can go back to work. Will they go?

From the Newsletter

My beloved children are finally, FINALLY, back in school, and the world is good. They are happy and busy, which means that I’m not constantly worried. I’m also not frantically working to fill the gaping holes in their lives, I have time to myself. This Tuesday was actually the first day since March 2020 that I had a full day to get work done without driving Ian somewhere in the middle of the day. 

After I left academia ten years ago, I gradually transitioned to life as a freelance writer. I researched, pitched, interviewed, wrote, edited full time for many years now. The money sucked, but the job was very interesting and flexible; the flexible schedule meant that I could still do all the special ed mom chores. After the pandemic hit, I scaled back big time. I didn’t have the time or the brain space to do the job properly. I wrote an essay about how I couldn’t write — very meta, I know. 

I did get some work done. For example, I wrote a piece about boys and mental health and an essay about Ian going to the prom with brother. I started this newsletter. But I wasn’t popping out 1 to 4 articles per month like I had in the past. 

So, this week, for the first time in ages, I had blessed freedom. I sat back and wondered what I should do next. Will I go back to the freelance rat race? Or do I want to do something very different? 

I decided to sit on those decisions for a bit. Take my time to weigh my options. In the past, I have let fate steer my ship and just said “yes” to the first opportunity. Going forward, I want to be more intentional about my career and writing, so I’m not going to take the first bus out of the station. We’re heading down to the Jersey shore for a week, so I’ll be thinking these issues through in a beach chair with a frosty drink. 

And I imagine that the millions of other women, who had to put their careers on ice the past two years, are making similar decisions. Will they return to the office? Will they have to be still available if the kids are sent home with quarantines? Do they still have the energy for the nonsense that happens in any work place? Will a local, part time job pay enough? Our collective PTSD is going to shape decisions, for sure. 

The impact of school closures went far beyond students and teachers. The ripple effects of school closures hit parents, workers, the general economy. There is a growing acceptance that we can’t shut down schools and economy again to control COVID outbreaks. COVID is here to stay, and we’ll have to work around its inconveniences and tragedies. 

Where will I fit into this new reality? I’m not sure. But I am beyond blissful that I have new options in front of me.