Tag Archives: school

Why high school graduation is tough on parents

 

                                    Grad

 

The day you become a parent your life changes. Everyone warns you this will happen and it's true. This experience is emotional in a way that feels odd and exciting at the same time.

Eighteen years later, a parent feel as emotional on high school graduation day as we do the day our first child came into our life — maybe even more emotional. Regardless of how much we know it is coming, graduation day catches us off guard. Tonight, my oldest son, Jake, will walk across the stage and get his high school diploma and while he prepares for the pomp and circumstance with excitement, I face it with a strange, difficult to explain feeling.

I wonder if other parents feel as I do. I think part of it is bewilderment, the feeling that 18 years went by and I can't account for every day of those years. Part of it is fear, the feeling that I am getting older and entering a new phase in my life as my son is entering one in his and I don't know how it will play out. Part of it is excitement, the feeling that there is so much opportunity ahead for him, which I have learned from benefit of hindsight. Of course, part of it is pride, the feeling that I have shaped another human being and guided him to this day of accomplishment.

From having an older daughter, I know this life event is pivotal. Regardless of whether your son or daughter goes to college, high school graduation marks a change in the parent/child relationship. From this day on, you treat your teen differently,  You give him or her a little more independence and engage in conversations on a different level.

As a parent, there are so many adjustments as your children mature into adults and leaves home. It's not easy but you come to accept that you may not know where or how they are much of the time. They are out there living their own lives, and as a parent you can only sit back and hope for the best.

As I head into the auditorium tonight, I will look around the room and see the faces of little boys who played dodgeball in my backyard, now young men who shave, and drive, and like my son are leaving home to go make their way in the world.

Somehow, I feel as if watching them graduate will be happening in slow motion. I  honestly can't see the road ahead for any of us. But as strange as that is, it is also freeing. The responsibility for making sure my son's homework is done, he gets to his activities on time and he gets to bed at a decent hour is behind me. Tonight my son graduates, and in many ways, so do I. There's an interesting path ahead for both of us and tonight we are one step closer to taking it.

The Work/Life Balancing Act

Back to School: A teacher’s work life balance

As we struggle with work life balance and adjusting to new school routines, we think teachers have it easier than we do because they already are at school – and/or have school hours –  and can be involved in their kid's education.

 

 

Not so, says Kerri Medina, a former teacher turned college adviser who reached out to me. Below is her perspective as the new school year kicks in. I think you will find it insightful:

 

Kerri2 (1)

 I worked for the Miami-Dade County Public School System for 11 years and have a son who is 15 years old and starting his 10th grade year. In all of my time working for the school system, I was rarely able to attend his school events, shows, be a room parent, be active in the PTA, volunteer for school events, or anything else school-related because I worked the same hours the events were taking place.

I wasn't able to even do something as simple as dropping children off the first day of school, which for most parents is an exciting time with their children. Unfortunately, educators are unable to share in this experience. For me this was especially painful his first day of kindergarten. I always thought it sad and ironic that those involved in education in many cases can't be as active as they might like in their own child's school.

This past year I left the school system and became an independent college adviser at International College Counselors. This last year, for the first time, I was able to drop my son off the first day (and any day I needed, or wanted to), attend my son's school performances (he's a musician at New World School of Arts), go on any field trip I wanted to, serve on the board of the PTSA, and really feel like an involved parent at my son's school.

I am thrilled to still remain in education, but now have a better work/life balance through my company's flexibility. I noticed the same scenario of other parents who were involved in education, that although they were making a huge impact on other students' lives, they oftentimes couldn't be involved in their own child's school.  

For most part with my son, I still take a minimalist approach. I do what I need to do to make sure he’s on track. I have never rushed a project to school for the child who forgot it,because I couldn’t do it before. Now, I'm still letting my son take the lead when comes to school work.  

As a working, single mother, I am constantly balancing work and life in many ways. But now, as the new school year arrives, I can approach it differently and strike a better balance. 

 

The Work/Life Balancing Act

A working mom’s thoughts at her daughter’s high school graduation

Last night was my daughter's high school graduation. It was surreal sitting in the auditorium watching her walk across the stage. The weeks leading up to last night have been emotional for me. Peers have told me that the years go by fast but you get so caught up in the moment it doesn't feel possible. Then, you find yourself in an auditorium wondering how graduation day came so quickly.

Here's a column I wrote for today's Miami Herald about on thoughts as a working mother who has sought work life balance and realized I did okay as my daughter leaves the nest…

 

Carly and cindy

Years ago, I was driving home from work late at night and tears came to my eyes. A late-breaking news story had kept me in the office and I had missed the entire day with my baby daughter. As the sitter filled me in by phone on my baby’s day, I was overcome with guilt.

Eighteen years later: My daughter, wearing a cap and gown, enters the auditorium to the strains ofPomp and Circumstance to say goodbye to high school. That one day I missed with my baby long ago has become far less important, overtaken by a series of bigger moments that became the basis of our close relationship.

Around me, other parents also silently marvel at the swiftness of time and wonder if we have properly prepared our kids for their journey into the real world.

As mothers, our parenting “jobs’’ perhaps have been more complicated than those of generations past. Today, 68 percent of married mothers work outside the home (and among single, divorced or separated moms, it’s 75 percent). In a recent article, Carol Evans of Working Mother Media. said, “We have taken responsibility for our children to new heights of parenting, even as we have conquered every type of career known to men.”

Almost all working mothers and fathers, including myself, harbor some regret with our kids — a recital or tournament we missed, a day we sent our child to school with sniffles, that time we lost our temper after a difficult day at work. I regret field trips I couldn’t chaperone because of deadlines and car rides I spent on my cellphone with work instead of talking with my children.

As I surveyed fellow parents of graduates, I found that I wasn’t alone. The biggest regrets came from those who felt they shortchanged themselves by working too many hours, or sharing too little down time with their kids. Yet those at the other end of the spectrum who had devoted most of their time to kids also expressed angst; what will they do now?

If we have been good role-models, our success at combining work and family will inspire our children.

Fighting back tears, Donna Milfort told me that when her daughter gets her diploma this week, she will be especially proud that she has encouraged her to be independent and focused. Her daughter, Ashley, hasn’t had it easy. Milfort, a single mom, worked odd shifts at Wendy’s when her daughter was younger; now she works the night shift for the Transportation Security Administration at Miami International Airport. Ashley will be the first in her family to go to college; her older brother is a part-time security guard, while her older sister works as a hotel clerk.

Milfort says she tried to make herself available to her kids, but Ashley, in particular, was always self directed. “I wish I had taken time to do more things with her, to travel to another city or take more family outings to the park or museums,” Milfort said. “But that part of our life is over. I can’t change that. This is the hard part … I’m going to miss her.”

Last week, Randee Godofsky Breiter watched her daughter receive her diploma and wondered, “How did we get here so quickly?” It was in that moment that Breiter made a vow. “I decided to soak in the moment. I don’t often do that often because I’m usually scattered between work and kids, and it’s hard to give all my energy to one thing, to one child. But I did my best to focus just on her.”

Over the past 18 years, Breiter, assistant director at FIU law school’s career planning and placement center, has gone from full time to part time. Now, she works both full-time with the university and as a part-time Kaplan University instructor, simply because she loves it. Her two children have become their own chauffeurs and rise for school to their own alarm clocks. While Breiter was never class mom, she believes her work ethic set a good example. “My daughter realizes that you spend more time with the people you work with than your family, so you have to like what you do,” she said

Dads like my husband, who balance work and coaching their children's sports teams, face their teens’ graduation day with similar introspection. More fathers today want to be more involved with their children than in past generations, but they struggle to break free of the constant electronic communication that keeps them tied to their work. On this day, they tuck away their devices to relish the seemingly-fleeting time with their children.

I think about the candy sales, the mad dash to sports practice and the parent-teacher conferences that have been so much a part of my life in years past. As some of those activities fall off my calendar, I realize that my daughter and I are both moving on to new adventures and adjustments.

As she flips her tassel and heads off to college, I hope she remembers not to accept what other people expect of her, to explore all options and do what she finds fulfilling. I’ve impressed upon her that hard work will beat out talent, that life never goes exactly as planned, and that it’s okay to make unpopular choices if she thinks they are right for her.

We all walk away from graduation with something. For some, it’s the lessons learned from juggling parenthood and careers. For me, it is motivation to appreciate the career and life choices I made and look ahead. The ultimate reward of working motherhood will be to watch my daughter pursue her passions — as I have mine — and to marvel at where the journey takes her.

 

The Work/Life Balancing Act

A working parent’s nightmare: When the school bus doesn’t show up

 

This morning, I was out walking my dog when I saw a school bus approach the bus stop in my neighborhood. It was 15 minutes after the time school had started. A father waiting at the bus stop was livid. He was late to work and his kid was late to school.

The bus driver told him that her route had been changed and she had five stops in the morning for high school. She informed the father she likely would never make it to the elementary school bus stop in our neighborhood before the school bell rang.

Of course, the bus was now completely empty and was about to make a trip to school without any students. Parents in the the neighborhood had given up on the morning bus showing up. What a waste of gas!

For working parents who rely on school buses, the situation is unacceptable. It's a week after school has started and some buses still have never made it on time to the bus stops to get kids to school or home from school. And, it looks like they never will because the current bus routes don't make sense. 

For the last week, what's gone on in Broward County with school bus transportation has been disgusting. Many students never received bus information before the start of school, creating chaos on the first day when the school bell rang and students had no idea which bus to ride home. Even worse, buses were late or didn't show up at all, forcing working parents to leave their offices and pick kids up at school, hours after buses were supposed to arrive. Now, it's a week later and the situation hasn't improved.

Even worse, some parents are still complaining about children having to get on a bus during pre-dawn hours (4:30 a.m.) and then arriving an hour or more before school starts.
That's a downright safety concern.

Whoever is in charge, know this: you are putting kids and jobs in jeopardy. I feel for parents struggling with work life balance who now are at work worrying about whether their kids have made it to school and home safely. Some parents are on standby every day, waiting to see if the bus shows up to take their kid home from school or whether they need to leave work early to pick there kid up from school, hours after the school day ended. My son's bus home has been at least an hour late every day since school started.

Bus drivers apparently are fed up too. Linda Lewis, who represents bus drivers through the Federation of Public Employees union, said some bus drivers quit after they were involuntarily given bus assignments far from home or with too few hours to make ends meet.

Someone must be held responsible for this mess!

Broward Schools Superindent Robert Runcie has said the the district made changes to bus routes in an effort to make them more efficient. Do you see any efficiency in having buses make so many morning stops that they can't possibly get kids to school on time? I have spoken with principals who are completely frustrated by the school bus mess as students still try to figure out what bus they're supposed to be riding home on.

Michael Mayo, a columnist at the Sun-Sentinel, says tomorrow could be a watershed day for Runcie as he faces concerned school board members at a workshop that was supposed to be about school boundaries. I sure hope my livid neighbor shows up.

 

The Work/Life Balancing Act

High school reunions: the ultimate work life balance reality check

Hsreunion

Last weekend, I mingled with people I hadn't seen in 30 years at my high school reunion. One of the first questions we asked: "What have you been up to for the last 30 years?" 

Just spitting out an answer to that question made me realize this was one of those milestones that encourages you to take inventory of your life and search for clarity. What have I been doing? Am I happy?

I've kept in touch with many of my high school friends and seeing them again made me go back to my roots and think about what I was like as a teen and whether I had followed the path I set out on decades ago. I am in a happy place, but I can tell you I never intended on having children. Somewhere along the way, I re-shifted my priorities. I'm glad I did. 

A few of my friends who attended the reunion admitted to me they are not happy with their work life balance — they work too much, have neglected their health or want to relocate closer to family. I urged them to make a change. The experience inspired my Miami Herald column this week.

 

The Miami Herald

Don’t wait for a reunion to do a life priority check

By Cindy Krischer Goodman

There are about 70 of us crowding onto the dance floor, trying to squeeze together for a group photo. It seems almost as quickly as the flash that follows that 30 years have gone by. High school reunions are one of those milestones in life that cause you to take stock of who you have become and what you’ve done with your life.

Are you happy? Have you taken care of yourself? Did you make the most out of your career opportunities? It is the ultimate work-life balance reality check.

My Miami Coral Park Senior High graduating class of more than 700 has had its fair share of success stories — big name baseball players, top surgeons, corporate executives, grade school principals. We’ve seen our share of deaths, sickness and divorce. Many of us, from humble upbringings and immigrant parents, have gone on to seek higher education or made our way through the school of hard knocks to earn a good living and raise families.

We have gone from high school grads to mid-career professionals. Talking to my former classmates made me reflect on my changing priorities over three decades. Heading to college and into my career, I had no intention of having a family and considered being a writer my top priority. I had done that, until I realized I wanted more in my life.

I wonder how many times in my former classmates’ lives they have taken stock at work and home and hit the refresh button. Until a crisis hits, many of us never really confront the critical issues of life. We get too busy to ask ourselves if we’re fulfilled and balanced. What I realized from this opportunity to reflect is that all of us should regularly evaluate. We all feel challenged day to day about the best use of our time. But are the things that matter most getting the time you want to give them? If not, do something about it.

Coincidentally, just days before the reunion, I was discussing Stephen Covey’s book First Things First with several dozen female professionals at a book club meeting of Women Executive Leadership. Covey, an organizational guru who recently died at age 79, was a big believer that everyone should craft a personal mission statement to guide them through life. To make it empowering, the statement should encompass a lifetime balance of personal, family, work and community. The mission statement, he says in his book, becomes the primary factor that influences every moment of choice.

When discussing First Things First, we debated whether a mission statement needs to be updated throughout life. One woman felt strongly that it should. The 40-something staffing professional shared that she recently hit the refresh button on her priorities. She loves her job but it requires long hours. She has become painfully aware that her days with her teenage son at home are dwindling. But her focus on those roles had been preventing her from giving attention to her health and she had gained weight over many years. Recently, she began to wake up at 5 a.m. and exercise before the start of the day. She is losing weight and has more energy.

At the reunion, I heard lots of talk about making it a new priority to look and feel good. One friend told me he began seeing a company-sponsored nutritionist six months ago and already had lost 40 pounds. Another told me he had refocused on his health and changed jobs after suffering heart concerns from work-related stress.

Along with encouraging balance and priorities, Covey believes in leaving a legacy. Of course, each of us has a personal interpretation of what that means.

Thirty years after high school, many in my class, including myself, are beginning to ponder whether we’ve made the contribution we want to make at home, work and in our community. We are beginning to figure out that legacy is what gives meaning to what we do every day and energizes us. It’s what we might want to consider when we’re caught up in our Inbox at all hours doing the urgent but not necessarily the important.

As a mother of teenagers, I now know my legacy isn’t only my contribution, it’s about rising above my daily to-do list and influencing my children to create their legacy, too.

It’s the personal aspect of our lives that really struck me in the conversations with my former classmates. While the career paths they took hold some interest, the conversation almost always centers on where we live, who we keep in touch with, and what kind of person we’ve become.

When the flashes stopped and the group photo was captured for posterity, the 70 of us rather reluctantly walked away from the dance floor, back to the smaller gatherings around the room, and eventually back to our harried lives. I wonder how our priorities will have reshuffled when we all meet again.

 


 

The Work/Life Balancing Act