thankful for family


A Work at Home Mom Gives Thanks
by Donna Schwartz Mills
The ParentPreneur Club

It was the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. Like many modern moms, I was still employed full-time outside my home, trying to juggle the demands of a high-stress job with the needs of my family, which now included an 18-month old daughter, and I was dropping the balls over all the place. Fortunately, I was caught up for the week and when it was announced at 3:00 that we could leave early, I didn't hesitate. For once, I might be able to beat the traffic and pick Megan up from daycare on time.

I worked closely with a woman named April, who had been doing the working mom thing a lot longer than I. April gave birth to Andrew when she was just 19, and for the first nine years of his life, she raised him as a single mom. She had done a good job. Now 11, he was the kind of kid people enjoyed having around. This was no small accomplishment. In the last year, Andrew's life had changed drastically: he had a new step dad and stepsiblings, the family had moved to a home in a new neighborhood and he was in his first year of middle school. And from all accounts, he was thriving.

April still had some work to do that afternoon, so I wished her a happy Thanksgiving and rushed home. The holiday traffic made the drive longer than usual -- I did get to the daycare early, but not *that* early. 

April's commute each day was even worse than mine, but she figured it was a small price to pay to live in a community with a good school system, far away from the gangs that hung out in her old neighborhood. She compensated for the distance by taking the train, which was how she got to the office that day.

Shortly after I left, April got the call that every parent dreads. There had been an accident. Andrew was in the hospital. The driver of the car had not seen him crossing the street to catch the school bus.

By the time April got to the hospital, it was too late. He was gone.

Each life touches another, and those of us who had been touched by Andrew were changed by his loss. 

April coped admirably. She found herself a grief counselor and became active in Compassionate Friends 
( ), a support group for parents who lose their children. Her life was sort of on autopilot; for a while, she continued to work. I think she found some comfort in the normality of the day-to-day routine. Eleven months passed before she left that job and resumed a college education that had ended when she found herself pregnant at so young an age.

Her experience touched me greatly. I couldn't help but ask myself "What if?" What if she hadn't been so far away? What if she had been available to drive him home that day instead of trusting that he would make it home safely on the bus, as he did every day?

Of course, we can't be with our children 24 hours a day, especially as they mature into independent individuals. But there is a lot of anxiety inherent in geographic distance. If anything happened to my daughter, I would want to be with her in minutes, not hours.

A few months after April left our company, I also tendered my resignation with the goal of becoming a work-at-home mom. I have not looked back -- except each Thanksgiving, when I pause to remember a child who should not have left us at so young an age. And give thanks that I am now able to spend so much time with my own daughter, for as long as God gives us.

A couple of years ago, April and her husband became parents of a child of their own. After the baby was born, April told me she could feel Andrew's presence and she could tell he was happy for her. She and I have lost touch recently, but from all accounts, she and her family are all doing well.


Donna Schwartz Mills writes about the specific needs of work at home parents at her website, The ParentPreneur Club, "For Parents Who Want Choices, Not Office Politics." Tools, tips and advice you need to help grow your home based business while raising a family. . She also owns and operates, the web's largest resource devoted to family-oriented website content.

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"Shortly after I left, April got the call that every parent dreads."

thankful for family

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thankful for family