For the past few months, I've worked far more than my "reduced-schedule" commitment, but the last month took it to entirely new proportions as I was in pre-trial mode. (Any illusion that making partner means less work can be thrown out the window).
Anyway, I'm an adult, and I've done this all before -- I know the slammed times always pass and give way to some amazing days/weeks at home with the work/life balance swinging in the other direction -- so while being away from my family so much stank, I knew it was "just for a season." But Sammie really, really struggled with it. One day, she started crying at school (a first) and said it was because she "missed her mommy." (My heart broke upon hearing that, though I felt a little better that night when she told me it was just a rough day because (1) she missed me and (2) I sent a hot dog for lunch when she really wanted a waffle.).
But, when Sammie hits phases where she's whinier than normal, misbehaving more than her normal (which is hardly at all), I know that it's because something is bothering her, and it never, ever fails that instituting some "special time" with just her and I always seems to really help. We've done this since Mia was born -- a date out for Sammie with me while B has a date with Mia, or vice versa, and we label it as our date/special time. And somehow, at the end, we all feel magically refreshed. I knew this was all just a season, and she just needed us to "love her through it" and we are doing just that.
Sammie has also pretty much stopped napping so I've used Mia's naptime as a way to squeeze in some time with my big girl, and lo and behold, she's rebounding.
Today, when asked "where do you want to go during our special time?" she picked, of all places, my office. So off we went. I think it helps her to see what I do there, and for "mama is at work" to not just be some abstract idea. We've talked about how I work hard all week, she works hard at school and in her therapies, and on the weekends, we get to relax and be together (which is of course, complicated when I have to work weekends, but I've managed lately to work minimally during the girls' awake time on the weekends by just never sleeping myself but it's a sacrifice that is well worth it).
Anyway, she had a blast at my work. She loves to type and tell me what letters she's typing and then have me print it so she can bring it home to show B.
When I took the middle picture, she said, "I'm pretending I'm a lawyer."
I hope she always sees my office as an exciting place and not one that she resents. I so want her to come to understand, appreciate and respect that I work so hard . . . and not to resent my work as a reason why I'm not always home when she gets home, why I don't send the home-baked cupcakes to school, etc. (hey, I do buy from a fantastic bakery!).
I hope she knows if given a choice, I'd pick being with her (and her sister) every.single.time while at the same time understands that my work has tons of value, and brings tons of value and enjoyment and satisfaction to me. (and pays the bills so brings value to our family!!) Just not as much as she and her sister bring!
Being a working mom, particularly the higher-earning spouse/mom and working in a demanding career that sometimes feels like I'm on call 24/7 is no easy balance. It is not. But it does bring value, and allows us to do so much extra stuff for the girls that we otherwise couldn't, and well, it is what it is, and I love it (most of the time). I am just not sure I know how to instill in my girls that mama's work is not something to resent . . . I know I all too often use language like "mama has to go to work, I'm so sorry," and I'm trying to turn those statements around into "mama has a challenging and fun project to finish at work, but I'll go work hard and then we can have some special time later -- let's both work hard today, okay?" But the messaging is not easy . . .
I hope, hope, hope I'm getting this part of the journey right, and doing right by my girls in this regard.
I miss them when I'm not with them. Heart-aching, longing to be home with them, miss them. But I'm also blessed to have a career I find exciting and one that brings so much value to me and us. Oh how I wish I didn't feel like the two are so often at odds.
Work-life balance-schmalance. Sometimes you just do what you gotta do. And take the slow-times and seize them with all that I am. Which is exactly my plan for this week.