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I’m no longer the stay-at-home mom/freelance writer I was for almost 15 years. Two months ago, I accepted a full-time position at Ronnie’s elementary school, which means life will never be the same in the Zich household.

Glory is way ahead of Ron and the boys when it comes to making adjustments to the changes in our lives brought on by my new schedule.

Before I brag on her too much, I should probably point out that she doesn’t have to make as many changes to her daily routine as the rest of the family. But still, it is a pretty big job to go seven hours without a potty break.

Day after day, my beloved Border Collie waits until Tommy gets off the school bus and lets her out. Then, she waits a little longer for me to walk through the door and give her a reward for a job well done.

From the moment I step through the door and find that the house passes the "smell test," I begin to unload praise upon my pooch, such as, "Where is my good doggie?" and "You’re such a good girl for holding it in all day!"

Glory’s response is to dance around in front of me and then bounce over to the big jar where her treats are kept. One Milk Bone a day and a little bit of bragging is all it takes to keep her in line.

If only it were that easy to train the rest of the family!

The boys and Ron are slowly realizing they need to do a bit more around here to keep our household running smoothly.

For example, Jimmy discovered that if he leaves his socks on the living room floor and his dirty jeans in front of the shower, they won’t magically show up clean in his room the next day.

And Ron, who has been accusing me of losing his socks for 18 years now, finally decided to do something about it.

Before heading out the door this morning, he eyed me suspiciously and said, "I don’t know what happened to all my socks, but I’m going to buy new ones today."

I resisted the urge to say, "Good husband!" and toss him a Milk Bone.

Maybe if I do come up with a reward system, the Zich men will be motivated to help out even more.

I could use their competitiveness in my favor, promising a big prize to whomever does the most work. Tommy would be the winner because he already helps me out the most.

If I decided to use cash as a motivator, the rest of the guys would never catch up with him.

One final result of my new status as a working mom should come as no surprise.

Ron and the boys now use my cell phone as a tracking device to determine where I am and when I will be returning home to feed them.

So far, Ron’s timing has been less than ideal. Yesterday, he called during a meeting with the school principal.

"I can’t find that sweatshirt you bought me last winter," he began. "Do you know what happened to it?"

Before I could answer, the inevitable "What’s for dinner?" question was issued.

I told him it was his night to cook before adding, "And by the way, your sweatshirt ran away with those socks!"

A mother of three boys, Pam Zich has been married to a Marine for 18 years and currently lives in Springfield, Va. You may e-mail her at homefront@stripes.osd.mil or visit her Web site at www.lifeonthehomefront.com.

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