I made the decision to be a working mother long before I started working. Almost two decades before I became a mother.
I had no clue what being a working mother really meant, but I drove forward in my career with that goal in mind. I thought that if I built my experience and reputation, I would be in a position to create a good balance between work and home when the time came.
While I was generally correct in my thinking, I had no idea what any of it would really mean upon becoming a parent.
Like many working parents, I worry that I do not spend enough time with my son. Six years in, I know now that no matter how much time I spent with him, it will never be enough.
I can never drink in enough of the moments that pass by so quickly. This moment will never come again. And there are only so many others before he’s completely independent and out of the house.
It may sound extreme given that he’s just six, but thinking back to how fleeting those first few years were…I know it will be over in an instant.
While I would love to reach out and grab every moment, that does not prepare him for eventual adulthood. He must spend days at school without me. Develop friendships. Go on adventures. Fall and pick himself back up.
Quantity, therefore, is out. But what about quality?
Here, there is a choice. Every parent has to make their own decisions about what time to spend with their children and how to spend that time. What works for one parent may not work for another, even in the same house.
My husband and son both enjoy skiing. They can race down double black diamond trails as I struggle with blues. After a bad spill last year, I no longer try to keep up. Now they ski without me, along with enjoying other outdoor activities I’m not very good at.
Instead, I look for things my son enjoys that we can do together. Things that don’t involve speed.
I have not written in a few weeks. When I’m not spending time on my day job, I have been spending focused time with my son. Two weekends ago, we went to Acadia National Park. It was a long road trip filled with 80’s music, imaginative stories and silly adventures.
At one point, after seeing a woman searching for sea glass at the beach, my son decided he wanted to find his own treasure. Now we are planning other road trips to add to his budding collection.
While I have a level of parental guilt at the time I’m away from home, I love what I do for a living. Just because I made my choices and am generally happy with them, it doesn’t mean I don’t wonder if it’s the right thing.
So I make sure weekends include time with mom, time with dad and time with the family. There are also long road trips, just the two of us, with hours of talking, listening to a mix of our musical tastes and making questionable food choices.
He’s growing so fast. Already so independent at such a young age. I started getting eye rolls and that “Mooooooooooommmmmm” that turns three letters into ten syllables, long before I expected.
But I also had him turn and find me as he was climbing on rocks at the beach. He put his hand in mine and said “Mama, I don’t like it when you’re far from me. Let’s go climb together.”
I’ll take every beautiful moment as it comes.
Do you find it difficult to balance home and work time? If you have figured out an approach that works for you, what tips might you share with others? I’d love if you could share your experience in the comments and keep the conversation going.