Mark, Presley, Owen, and Linda Quon.

I am the proud mama of two kind, thoughtful, caring, funny and smart adults (says mom). Owen is 27 and Presley is 24. I didn’t raise them alone. I had a village. We lived in the suburbs of Los Angeles and I worked 40-60 hours a week from the time they were 8-weeks-old, until they were 10 and 13. Getting them back to school in the fall always left me with a mix of relief and guilt. Summers were hectic, juggling work, summer camp and play dates. My kids went to camp almost every summer day. My daughter still teases me about never having a summer “off” growing up. By the time we moved to Bend in 2005, both kids swore they’d never go to summer camp again. I still argue (aka rationalize) that they gained so many great memories, friends, experiences and songs from those summer camp days. We also had several wonderful women who became part of our family as caregivers for our kids. Julianna, Rosario and Elaina will always have a special place in my heart. I also had some rockstar mamma and grandma friends — Robin, Beth, Marge, Lucy — who were part of my village.

Mark, my amazing husband, had a more flexible work schedule and spent a lot of time playing with and parenting our kids. Still, we lived in Los Angeles and we spent a decent amount of time on freeways commuting to our respective offices. Unfortunately, I lived with a lot of mom guilt. Financially, it wasn’t an option for me to stay home with the kids. But if I’m being perfectly honest…I loved my career. I worked for Kaiser Permanente’s Public Affairs team and it shaped who I am today. My job was challenging, interesting and meaningful to me. It gave me a strong sense of self and a confidence I had never experienced before in my life.

My mom didn’t work, but because of her schizophrenia and bi-polar disorder she was often not able to be a good mom. She spent most of her days sleeping and/or self-medicating and most of her nights clanging about the kitchen at 2 am. Because of her, I was determined to have a career AND be a better mom. I was away from home a lot, so I tried to make every minute with my kids count. We played handball after work in the driveway. We climbed up in our tree house before dinner and talked about our day. I got up at 5 am to run in the dark so I could be showered and ready to sit at the breakfast table with my kids by 7 am. Still, I had that mom guilt. Thinking back, I believe I was a better mom because of my career and the person it helped me become. I felt my time with my kids was quality vs. quantity. Maybe that’s rationalization.

My daughter just started her first full-time job with Boys and Girls Clubs of Bend. It has made me think a lot about how important after school programs are for working families. In Oregon, I’ve worked with a number of school districts and learned about many after school programs in Central Oregon. As we settle into the new school year, I want to give a shout out to our community agencies who support families as part of our village.

If your family or a family you care about needs after school help, here are just a few of the many Central Oregon programs available. There may also be volunteer opportunities if you’d like to be part of our Central Oregon village.

Also, check out Children’s Forest of Central Oregon and our local parks and recs to explore ideas for kids and for families wanting to spend more quality time together:

Linda Quon is Vice President and Director of Communication at Quon Design and Communication. Linda is working to promote everyday mental health awareness in partnership with Deschutes County Health Services and Central Oregon Health Council — which includes providers and health advocates from Crook, Jefferson, and Deschutes Counties. Linda was born and raised in Southern California and moved to Central Oregon with her husband and two children in 2005. Her mother lived with Schizophrenia and bi-polar disorder and her oldest brother also experienced bi-polar disorder. With support from family, friends, therapists and primary care providers, Linda has been navigating the world of mental illness most of her life — including her own struggles with mild anxiety and depression. Linda is proud to work as an advocate for mental health and a  blogger for Mind Your Mind Central Oregon.