Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Why I'm not the only thing my child needs...

I wear a lot of hats. At any given moment, I can be simultaneously responsible for the health and well-being of a two-year-old and a fortune-500 company. (Okay, probably not the health and well-being of the company, per se, but at least the company's assertion of its intellectual property.) Many days are a hazy jumble of bath time and conference calls and contemplating whether string cheese and freeze-dried strawberries counts as a healthy meal for a toddler. (For the record, I say it does.)

I'm trying to do it all. And, as any mother—working or not—knows, that's totally and completely impossible. Because if I'm doing ALL.THE.THINGS, I'm probably failing miserably at at least one of them. (Or, more likely, most of them.) Stretching yourself thin only works for so long because, eventually, cracks gaping holes begin to form, and your ish starts falling apart.

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So I'm left in this difficult place. This place where I crawl into bed at the end of every day and wonder how I'm going to keep doing this. I literally laugh out loud when people tell me that I've got a great work-life balance because, when I'm in the throes of a busy spell at work, I feel like the world's most mediocre mom. I carry so much guilt around because I'm not with Grace every single moment of every single day, and I can't stand the idea that I'm missing important moments with her because the Court set a midnight deadline on a Friday night, and I need every spare second to finish my brief.

As I look back over the last two years, I absolutely see periods of time that were fraught with late nights and missed bedtimes. Grace spent a good chunk of her second birthday at school because I had an expert report that was due that day. And I will never forget the day that I was working late and called Micah so that I could tell Grace good night. I heard her crying for me in the background, and it crushed me. To my very core.

BUT.

There have also been so many magical moments. I'm fortunate to have a job where I can simply choose to stay home on days when I don't have any work to do. (It's rare, but it happens.) So there have been many instances where we both played hooky so that we could read books and eat cookies and watch Frozen all day long.

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I also happen to be married to a man who adores spending time with his daughter. He picks up all my slack with her (and then some), does more than his fair share of the dishes and house work, and still manages to work his own full-time job. Plus, he's not bad to look at, either. (He's basically a unicorn.)

So while I may not manage to find balance on any given day or week or month, I do look back over the last two years and see that it all really does seem to even itself out. Some days I'm an amazing attorney but a crappy wife. And other days, I kick butt at being a mom but drop the ball with my friends. That's just the way it goes, and all I can do is try and give my best without giving up my sanity.

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And something that's also been really resonating with me is the idea that I am not the only good thing for my child.

I am absolutely not saying I don't want to have or don't plan on having a deep and meaningful relationship with my child or that I don't want to be an engaged and involved mother. In fact, if you know me at all, you know that's the opposite of what I want.

But I am saying that the one-on-one time she gets with her daddy on nights that I have to work late is good for her.

The afternoons spent with grandparents who pitch in when Micah and I are overloaded are good for her.

The hours she spends at school each day with other kids her age and teachers who love her and are committed to teaching her things I never dreamed of are good for her.

I am not the only influence she needs.

And so I reject the notion that I am failing my child by allowing others to pour their hearts into her while I spend my days doing a job that I love and am good at. After all, it has been established that it's the quality of the time you spend with your kids, not the quantity, that predicts how bright their future will be.

I also recognize that my job in raising Grace is not simply to ensure that she and I are close. My job is to equip her to face the world. In this quest, she and I will inevitably (hopefully) create and maintain a wonderful and rewarding relationship, but that cannot be the end game for me. If it is, I will have missed the point entirely.

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When I allow the stress of trying to juggle it all overwhelm me, that stress becomes significantly more harmful to her than the time away from her could ever be.

So I'm working on letting the guilt go, friends. I'm doing my best to remember that I can be a wonderful mother to her while also thriving in a career that fits me well and pays the bills. I don't have to choose.

17 comments:

Kristin said...

Think of what a role model you are.
Going by what I see everyday, our kids really need role models as parents. (Not that SAHM or SAHD is a bad thing...)
My mom always worked full-time and I think we became better kids and more independent because of it.
And I think Grace will appreciate the special moments with you that much more :) Like a mom who stays home to watch Frozen all day is a pretty awesome mom.

Emily said...

Mommy guilt sucks, doesn't it? You are an incedible Mommy and Grace is so precious. I am loving her blazer in that one phone!!! So adorable!

Laura said...

Wow! This post really spoke to me this morning Ryan. Obviously I'm coming from a different point of view since I do stay home but you just can't do it all. Or at least not well. I struggle so much with guilt over needing time off. Why can't I manage to cook healthy meals, keep and neat and clean house, play with my kids and come up with fun educational activities, not to mention workout?? I can't do it all. And I keep telling myself that dropping the kids at the gym child center really is the best thing for all of us. It makes me a better mom.

Joey said...

What a raw post, friend. And you're so right. It's so important for Grace to be exposed to and cultivating those other relationships. It's also important for Grace to see the many facets of YOUR life. You are more than just "mom" and that's amazing.

Megan said...

Longtime reader of your blog and I feel the need to chime in on this post! You said exactly what I needed to hear this morning. I have a full time job as a high school counselor and this time of year is super busy and filled with late nights. I choose to work. I don't need to, but I enjoy it. However, at times I feel that I am spending more time with other people's kids than my own 2 year old twin girls. Almost all of my friends are stay at home moms and I seem to get a lot of unintentional guilt at times for not being with my girls 24/7. However, I tell myself the same thing you do. This is good for them. It is helping them develop their wings to fly when the time is right. Thank you so much for posting this. It is nice to know that sometimes, others are walking the same walk as you. :)

Kathryn said...

Thank you so much for sharing this. I feel the same way all the time. It helps to know I'm not alone.

Kathryn said...

Thank you so much for sharing this. I feel the same way all the time. It helps to know I'm not alone.

Niki Lankford said...

Perfectly said!❤

The Tale of Three Ps said...

Loved this post! I think the Mommy guilt is so hard to handle. I feel horrible when I can't go to "Muffins with Mom" or be the class mom. But, Annie is so lucky to have a dad and a grandmother that can go to all of that stuff.

I just love your attitude towards this topic! Thanks again!

The Tale of Three Ps said...

Loved this post! I think the Mommy guilt is so hard to handle. I feel horrible when I can't go to "Muffins with Mom" or be the class mom. But, Annie is so lucky to have a dad and a grandmother that can go to all of that stuff.

I just love your attitude towards this topic! Thanks again!

Isabella Kissoon said...

You are such a great role model! It's also amazing that you have this kind of perspective as a parent. Your sweet, baby girl will be very grateful to know how much you love and care about her in the future! You're an incredible mother and she's so very lucky to have you. :)

Isabella Kissoon said...

You are such a great role model! It's also amazing that you have this kind of perspective as a parent. Your sweet, baby girl will be very grateful to know how much you love and care about her in the future! You're an incredible mother and she's so very lucky to have you. :)

Courtney said...

This was such a beautifully written post! Thank you for sharing. You are a wonderful mother.

Sarita @ it's my girls' world said...

Love this! I'm at home with my kids but I definitely don't think that I'm the only thing they need. They thrive on interaction with their dad, neighbours, family and friends as well. So important for their socialisation and confidence levels.


<3 Sarita it's my girls' world

Britany Ashmore said...

I love this post!!! What a fantastic mommy you are! You both are beautiful!

Heather Sander said...

Mommy guilt. It is hard to deal with.. You're a good mom though!

Lisa Serrano said...

You have such a beautiful family. I enjoyed this post & thank you for sharing your personal story.

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