It's only taken me TEN years to figure this out (and I can't believe that I never put forth the effort before): It is worth it to my general happiness and ability to tolerate others to have work time to myself on a consistent basis outside of the house. I dare say that I am less snappy and more happy. It can be a pain to try to coordinate everyone's schedules so that I don't feel skittish about disappearing for 3 or even 4 hours a day, but every day has been worth it. Every single day.
And proof positive that I'm not indispensable at home is how the girls have been dealing with my relatively large amount of absence. They haven't cared one bit.
Of course, the boy has been home with them when I've been gone, but regardless of whether it is during the day or when I am teaching in the evenings, they never care. My kids are healthy, the boy is healthy, and our family is healthier because I am not always home with them. Whether the boy is holding down the fort or we have a stand-in adult, the kids never care. We provide for them foremost by way of stability, and the rest just happens.
Tonight, he boy took the Elder to a pre-season Cross Country meet (for which the Elder has been wanting to pack her snacks and supplies since yesterday, which is to say she's been a wee bit excited and is a girl who likes to be prepared), which left the Younger and I to just doodle around the house for a few hours before bedtime. Friends...this kid. She certainly has her moments as we all do, but oh, the snuggles. She's an agreeable little one who loves her some tricycle action and a sneak attack hug.
We made brownies. She doodled with markers while wearing nothing but her elephant undies. She took charge of a new puzzle, carefully consulting the picture in order to figure out where pieces went. In other words, we had grand times. And I know that I wouldn't have been in the same frame of mind if I had not taken my me-time/work-time this afternoon.
Good things come from knowing what you need to thrive and taking care of yourself in order to make that happen. I've been smack dab on the slow end of this learning curve, but I get it now. Doing what makes me happy is worth it even if it's never "worth" a dime. I've been so bent out of sorts trying to solve the impossible conundrum of making all of the pieces fit in the puzzle all the while not realizing that one or eight of the pieces have been flat out missing.
But I think I found one of those elusive pieces these past few weeks. And that's enough of an incentive to keep at it and search out another. At times I will find myself caught up in trying to find the "complete picture" so I can consult it and find exactly where the next piece fits in to the incomplete mess that is laid out before me. But in watching the Younger give her all with a bunch of mixed up pieces scattered before her, she doesn't always see the need to check in. Sure, she does sometimes, but most of the time, I'm sure it's a gut feeling and a glimpse of a color or pattern that gives her a clue how everything might just well fit together. What a delightful way to solve a problem: trust yourself, try a different perspective now and again, figure it out as you go, and know...just know...that there's a complete picture that will all come together if you're just patient and persistent enough.
And if you happen to work at it in nothing but some elephant undies, that's not half bad either.