Work Life Balance

I’m Prioritizing My Work Over My Daughter Lately, And It’s Showing

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working momMy daughter just started pre-k this year. It’s the big kid, everyday kind of school and it’s a huge adjustment from her comfy existence at an at-home daycare. I knew that the transition would be rough for her, and I honestly planned on spending more time than ever before concentrating on our evenings and volunteering in her classroom. Unfortunately, my daughter’s neediest time came at the same moment as an extremely hectic couple of work weeks. My focus hasn’t been what I wanted it to be, and I feel like it’s my daughter that’s suffering the most.

Let me first say that I work for an extremely supportive and accommodating company. This website and it’s owners are wonderful when it comes to giving me a flexible schedule and a lot of leeway. My issue is not bosses who don’t understand or company policies that restrict my time, it’s a personal struggle with my own priorities. Of course, that just adds to the immense guilt I feel when I know that my work is taking the priority.

You might not have noticed, but I recently took on a more active role here at Mommyish. It’s been exciting, a huge honor, and it’s also reignited a little of that professional ambition that seems to settle down as time goes on in your job. Even when I’m not working, I’m planning for work. As a writer, I feel like part of my job includes keeping up to date on pop culture, news, and politics. I don’t feel like I can skip political conventions or boring awards shows, because I’ll probably need to cover them the following morning. I enjoy all of these things and I’m not complaining, but I think it’s okay to admit that they’re time -consuming.

No matter what type of job you have though, the time you put in at work takes away from your time at home. Focusing on your job feels like being distracted from your family. When my daughter is sick, I don’t take the day off. Since I work from home, I let her cuddle up beside me and my computer, instead of missing a day and letting her sit in my lap. When my work runs over for the day or there’s an interview to do, I let my parents or my husband step in, taking my little girl to the zoo or to go hiking. But every mom knows that all the activities in the world don’t make up for time that kids really just want to spend with their parents. It’s not the entertainment, it’s the attention.

My daughter, who attends the school that her grandmother works at, is suddenly crying as we wait in the morning car line. After school, she doesn’t want to go to the park, she just wants me to build LEGOs with her. At night, she says that she’s scared of the dark and needs to sleep in my bed. Meanwhile, with each issue, my heart is breaking into tinier and tinier pieces.

My brave and independent little girl is clingy and emotional. It would be easy to shrug it off as a phase that children go through, but I know that it’s a result of my distraction and my stress. The timing is not a coincidence.

So what am I doing about this issue? Well, I’m feeling horrible. I’m tense when I’m working, hoping that I can get everything done as quickly as possible. I’m guilty approximately 20 hours out of the day. The other four hours I spend unconscious. It’s awful because we all know this guilt exists. We all know that this balance is a tough one. And yet, that acknowledgement doesn’t make it feel any better. It doesn’t make the road any easier or the answer any clearer.

Obviously, I’m going to try to correct my mistake. I’m going to attempt to swing the pendulum back in the other direction. I’ll say no to a couple of weekend assignments. I’ll take a vacation. And I’ll hope that I can rectify the situation with a little TLC. (Tender love and care, not trashy reality television.)

I wonder if a time will come when I’ll stop feeling like I’m disappointing one side or the other. Of course I love my job. Of course I love my daughter. And I know in my heart that I’m capable of handling both aspects of my life well, taking care of my little one and still succeeding in the work place. At least that’s what I’m going to keep telling myself. That’s the metaphorical message on my mirror. And hopefully, I’ll prove it true one of these days.

(Photo: Konstantin Yolshin/Shutterstock)