The phone call came at 12:15 p.m., probably because she knew I’d be at lunch and able to have a somewhat focused conversation. “She” being the director at my daughter’s school. Nothing was wrong, she said, but if I had some time to chat, she’d appreciate it. Of course, I replied, heart beating just a little bit faster. What’s up? Well, she said, at the field trip today, “Susie” was extra clingy. Nothing out of the ordinary, but different for her. When we got back to school, she said she had a headache. I asked if she’d had her lunch, and she said yes but that she was still hungry. I brought her to the kitchen and got her an apple, and she started talking, word vomit style. She said that you’ve been working a lot lately, she doesn’t get to see you that often, and that she misses you. I thought maybe I could bring her by work on Friday for lunch, if you have some time?
Me. Jaw. On the floor.
What?! I replied. Now, granted I *do* tend to have a couple late nights at work each week due to the nature of my job, but nothing crazy lately. Plus, Monday was a holiday, and my husband brought both kids to work for lunch, so actually, I’ve spent more time with her this week than usual. I’m so confused. And, I never, ever miss ballet, but will tell you that I’ll be missing basketball tomorrow because of a late dinner, but that rarely happens. As I rambled, inside I was cringing, trying to explain to this well-intentioned teacher that I am an active presence in my kids’ lives, but I have to admit that yes, it’s probably not as much as I’d like, especially during the week when work requirements come first. Our routine is: I get the kids up, get them dressed, fed breakfast, and shuttle them out the door no later than 7:12 a.m. It’s hectic, and lacking in personalized one-on-one attention, I’ll admit, but then again, what working mom EVER has time to engage in meaningful togetherness when trying to get out the door in the morning? If that’s you, tell me your ways, wise one!
Talk about a wake-up call. Now, with every fiber of my being, I LOVE my job. During my interview years ago, they asked me to describe my perfect job, and I told them it was the one I was being interviewed for, and I still stand by that statement. It suits my personality, highlights my strengths, challenges me, and is just *my* job, if that makes sense. I love it. But do I love it more than my kids? Some days, probably. They can be terrors, as most kids are, and work is my escape from the crazy sometimes. But that doesn’t (and never will) mean that I love my job more than my kids. They’ll always and forever be my number one priority. Maybe I haven’t been as balanced as I’d like with that whole work/life thing. Maybe my home time has been a little too much screen time on my part, and not enough engagement with the family. Maybe I need to refocus on the important things in life, and see what I can balance out a bit more. Maybe I just need to reset.
My daughter is getting older, and I never, ever want her to think I prioritized work over her. As a working mom, I tell myself that I’m teaching my kids that women can do whatever they want. They can be and are strong, independent, the boss. But maybe in trying to prove that, I have put a shadow on my #1 job – being a mom. It’s time to refocus.
If you have a demanding 24/7ish job, how do you handle work/life balance?