Resolution: Work Life Balance, Reality: More Working Mommy Guilt
After a week of working in the new year, Iâ€™m sorry to report that work life balance seems to be the same illusion in 2012 as it was in 2011. Iâ€™m not quite sure why I expected this year to be any different. I didnâ€™t change my schedule. I didnâ€™t dial down my hours at work. I havenâ€™t found any magic time-turner to lengthen my days or allow me to spend quality time with my daughter and get my job done. â€œTry to find more work life balance,â€ seems like such a great New Year’s Resolution. Unfortunately, that little gem didnâ€™t come with a plan of action and itâ€™s not easy to change simply by wishing that things would be easier.
This morning, as I was pulling out my laptop and settling down to report on the celebrity parent antics of the weekend, my daughter stared angrily at my computer. â€œWhat are you doing Momma?â€ she asked me, eying my pretty Mac with disdain. â€œI have a little work to do babe,â€ I said, after settling her down with some breakfast and Mickey Mouse Clubhouse on Demand. After about a half hour of checking email and reading news, my daughter was done with screen time. In a trait that I know I should be eternally thankful for, Brenna isnâ€™t a â€œsit and watchâ€ kind of girl. Sheâ€™s a mover and a shaker. And she was ready to start doing something.
Even if I tried to set up her art supplies, she wanted me to watch her while she painted. If I got out her new â€œDrill And Fillâ€ Play-Doh set, she wanted help making the braces for the teeth. (Iâ€™m not joking, thatâ€™s a present she got for Christmas! Play-Doh dentistry.) If we pulled out the Barbie mansion, she would need someone to play Ken. Sheâ€™s a toddler and she wants interaction, so much more than she wants anything else.
After trying to get her to play and finally capturing her attention with an elaborate set-up of armored dinosaurs and superheroes, I returned to my computer. After about fifteen minutes of uninterrupted work, my daughter turned around and said, â€œMomma, I miss you when youâ€™re working.â€ And my heart melted into an uncomfortable pile of mush in my chest.
Weekends in my house are a horrible amalgamation of work and family time. My husband works on weekends. I have a small amount of work to complete. And we have a beautiful little girl just begging for our sole attention. Then, of course, thereâ€™s the multitude of social and family obligations that pull us away from the house before weâ€™ve even gotten a chance to create some lasting family memories.
This is our problem. And itâ€™s an issue that no resolution is going to take care of for me. No matter how many times I hope that Iâ€™ll find a quick fix for our hectic schedule, itâ€™s just not that simple. Iâ€™m never going to get away from those heartbreaking, â€œI miss you when youâ€™re gone,â€ moments.
Sure, the longer my husband and I work in our respective fields, the more flexible our schedules will hopefully become. And as my daughter gets older, she wonâ€™t require quite as much attention. (Maybe.) But my home life will always have a stronger draw on my heartstrings than my work, no matter how much I enjoy my job. And unless my husband or I win the lottery some time in the future, work is going to be a necessity to help us provide for all these lasting family memories.
My New Years Resolution centered around creating a better balance for my profession and my family. Unfortunately, that type of plan requires real change and itâ€™s not easy to implement. Itâ€™s an attractive goal, but itâ€™s going to take a lot more than hoping and wishing to rid my weekends of work and get more time to concentrate on my beautiful little girl who needs help making Play-Doh braces. Instead of a New Year’s Resolution, this really needs to be a process of rearranging and prioritizing. I’ll have to sit down and make of a plan of action later though, Ken and Barbie are supposed to be having a pool party this evening and I would hate to be late.