Two weeks ago I sat at a restaurant table with my family. I’d been gone from home for 11 hours working and picked them up from the end of the driveway on the way home to meet a couple for dinner. I was tired and stressed and I’d missed them. I always do when I have to work at the office. Especially when traffic is bad and draws out my already long commute.
One of my girls had a bad attitude and I was embarrassed in front of the couple that sat across the table from us. They have grown children now, all of whom had been home-schooled the majority of their school years. On the missionary field no less.
The internal dialogue started. The bad attitude is all my fault. If I were just a stay at home mom I’d have more time with them and she wouldn’t have this bad attitude. I’m a horrible mother for working. I need to quit so I can be home more. In fact, I’ll home-school too.
Later that night I laid in bed with the girls for our nighttime ritual. I cringed when one of the girls said she had her end of year award ceremony at the exact time I had carefully scheduled a meeting at work. I apologized and told her I’d have to miss it and just daddy would have to go.
I hate you! I hate your job!
It’s the first time either of those phrases had been uttered and it was my breaking point. I threw the covers over my head and burst into tears.
She threw herself on top of me and told me of course she didn’t hate me, she just didn’t like my job.
She didn’t realize that of course I knew she didn’t hate me (although the words still stung) but the problem was that at the moment, I hated that I worked too. It made me cry harder thinking that after 10 years of me working her whole life and never complaining that it had built up and come out.
I left their room and went to the back yard and cried some more, mentally running numbers to see if I really did need to work.
That Monday she had her awards ceremony and Scott took video and I was able to watch it and I celebrated when she got home that afternoon.
We’re just a few days into summer now and while I’m thankful to be able to work many of the days from home, I still feel chained to my desk. Scott has plans to take them to the lake and I won’t be able to go to take pictures. The girls are spending lots of their time in the pool and I can’t be there to help them do flips and handstands. Other families are writing bucket lists of things to do this summer and the truth is we can only do a fraction of them on my off hours.
I’m so thankful for my job and really, it’s about as supportive of my family that it can get but there’s still moments, you know? At the end of the day, I still have responsibilities that leave me wishing for more. But my job is paying the bills and as far as we’ve been able to tell to date, financially speaking, I need to work and God hasn’t called me home quite yet.
I don’t have a nice bow to tie on this or to give you three steps to enjoying your summer with your kids while you work. I’m just a mom who wants other working moms to hear you’re not alone. I missed ceremonies too and we aren’t at the pool together every day either. Summer is the hardest time of the year as a working mom and the guilt abounds. I get that. We’ll limp through summer like we always do and just be thankful for the other people in our kids’ lives that fill in the gaps we wish we could.
Disclaimer: I realize there are stay at home moms going crazy because they don’t know how to keep their kids busy this summer and already want to check out. I realize, too, there are some working moms that are happy at work and are settled there. This post is for those of us that work and sometimes wish they didn’t.