Work-Life Balance: Home for Dinner

Cathy, a Grown and Flown friend, writes her story about work-life balance: That little face. My daughter had a face like a kitten. Being an only, she had developed the ability to amuse herself on her own, just like a cat! To me, the middle child in a big family, this was a marvel. I was always in the fray. Unlike my child, I could not amuse myself and I never had the time or opportunity to try.

 

work-life balance, working mom, stay at home mom

When my daughter was born, I negotiated six weeks of leave with an extra two if I had a C-section.  I didn’t have the section but I took the two weeks anyway. When I went back, I pushed for a four-day week and got it. I became sort of a champion of “working moms” in a tough fast-paced ad agency. Herein lies the rub we all know. In those four days, I worked longer and harder than I ever had. When I got home, most often quite late, there was my little kitten, padding around our kitchen in pj’s with Dad or our live-out sitter Michelle. She would run to me with her sparkly eyes and her Mamie (a fuzzled lamb she usually had pressed to her face.) I would put her to bed and sing to her—she loved my versions of old Broadway tunes.

Working late was my norm, and an unspoken requirement in management. When I left the corporate world, my homecoming was sweet. My daughter made me a drawing to welcome me home, and it brought me to tears. “Hello…Hi..Hello…welcome home…I missed you”…those words still bring tears to my eyes.  She drew a picture of me with my fur-trimmed coat, earrings, a hairdo and lipstick.

What I never got was how she missed me so much in the evening, when the day winds down and families eat dinner and hang out. I talked to her about it as a teenager. Her response to my query was quick and poignant. “I was so proud of you, Mom…. but I missed you, I really missed you. But I know you were busy in your job.”…she let me off the hook. I feel I shortchanged her. I can’t take the time back and the larger notion of my career was positive. But I wish I had been home for dinner more in those days. She would have liked her spaghetti with Mom at the table too.



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Comments

  1. One of my strongest and most heartbreaking memories as a mom is of my first baby, my little girl. I only worked three days a week when she was a baby. I remember coming home once, when she was about 2. She immediately had a huge tantrum, screaming and crying until she fell asleep at last in my arms. I held her while she slept, and after about a half hour, she lifted her head and said, “I don’t like when you go to work.”
    She’s twenty five now, and I can still bring myself to tears remembering her face as she said those words.

  2. I’m so grateful that my work schedule allows me to be home for the afternoons and the evenings. I think kids just want that down time, where we’re home and we’re not always rushing to cook, eat dinner, take a bath and go to bed right away.
    Nina recently posted..Get cooking at home! 7 ideas that really workMy Profile

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