Standing in my living room the other day, Ginny walked up to me with my keys. She handed them to me and said, "Bye bye, Mommy!" She thought I was leaving. In reality, I had gotten home about an hour earlier and was only getting up to help Charlie with something, not leave. She had a point though; I haven't been home much lately. Late meetings, late events, weekends traveling for work or something going on. It needs to be done, but the guilt. Oh, the guilt!
I'm away right now actually, at a conference for work. Jeff can't get FaceTime to work, so I'm left with a text letting me know that the kids have been asking for me all day. Crushed.
It comes and goes, the guilt. The guilt, knowing that I love my job and the people I work with and would do anything if it meant their success.....balanced with the fact that I should probably be home once in a freaking while to put my kids to bed, help with dinner, or play outside before it gets dark. As the busy times at work come and go, proportionally, so does the amount of time I am at home (and the time I have to blog - sorry, friends). I've been doing what I'm doing for several years now and the ebb and flow of chaos isn't new to me. I don't know what it is, but the past few months have been rougher than the typical schedule predicted. Maybe it's stress about Jeff's job search, maybe it's stress about Charlie's still mysterious immune system problem, maybe it's 100 other things. Maybe it's that every time I come home, the kids run to me screaming my name like it's been a year since they've seen me. Maybe it's how they cry and ask why I'm "leaving again" when I eat a quick dinner then head back out to a meeting.
I've read enough HuffPo Parenting articles to know that it's not the end of the world, my kids still love me, and that I'm not the only working parent out there who deals with this. I also recognize that at least I get to GO home in between (hey all you deployed military parents out there doing the real hard work). It still sucks. Not the most poetic word to describe it, but it's the best one I can muster at the moment. It sucks. I feel guilty when I'm at work, I feel guilty when I'm at home. I want to be in two places at once, fulfilling two identities; two pieces of myself.
I keep waiting for the magical time when I have it all figured out, but I know it's not as easy as that. It is what it is and I just need to make the best of it. For now, I'm bringing home a big stuffed (Finding) Nemo that I got from the conference as a peace offering to my children. They'll love it, hug me, and life will go on. We'll play all day, then Monday I'm back to work. It's getting to the time of year where things will slow down for a while, meaning fewer events and more time at home. They don't care either way - they're happy for the time we have together, miss me when I'm gone, and celebrate when I return. I just wish I could keep things that simple. It's amazing how wise even the littlest ones are about life and how to live it.