Home for the Holidays


The kids and I are in Pittsburgh. We got here the Tuesday before Thanksgiving and plan to be here through December. That's a long time to be living with my parents and siblings. What made me think this was a good idea?

My dad is sick. He's doing OK, considering. There have been no dramatic changes — for the better or for the worse. Still, I found myself wishing I was here rather than back in Philly.

I would talk to my mom on the phone and I could hear that she was feeling overwhelmed. I'd talk to my dad and I'd spend half the conversation trying to keep the kids quiet in the background.

I'd ask my mom if I should come home — she'd assure me that I didn't need to. I realized that I didn't want to wait until I "needed" to come home. I wanted to be here. I wanted to spend time with my family. If our time left together is short, I'll always wish I'd made the time to come home. If our time extends on indefinitely, I'll never regret prioritizing my family.

Even though I was wanting to be in Pittsburgh, I felt like I couldn't because of commitments in Philly. It's where our life is, so of course the calendar kept filling up and I take my responsibilities (including volunteer ones) seriously. But I'm in a unique position at this point in my life. I don't have an out-of-the-home job. The kids aren't in school. My existing commitments are flexible and very accommodating. Why not go home? Stay a while. Sit on the couch and chat with my dad. So I cleared my calendar.

I realize that we aren't exactly a big help. I bring two rowdy kids with me. We displace my brother from his room. We take up space and resources. I can't be all that helpful because I'm usually wrangling the kids and I can't drive. Soooooo . . . I'm not here because I think I'm needed. I just want to be here.

My goals are to help when I can (I can feed my dad, keep him company and do a few things around the house), spend time with my dad and the rest of the family, and try to make the holiday season bright for the kids. Simple. Important. The whole point of the holidays.

Sandra Telep is a West Philadelphia mom of two. This post is adapted from her blog, West Philly Mama.


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