Throughout my childhood, my father would leave for work even before I got up, and would return home promptly at 7pm for dinner. Then he would work on the computer for a while longer in the evenings. I don't know if that counts as bonafide workaholism (my mom would say it does) but I know my dad swells with pride whenever I display similar behaviors.
I don't work extra-long hours or anything, but I do fetishize productivity--my self-esteem rises and falls on it every day. I'll work from home in the evenings, sometimes, but I can't focus as well at home. When the "official" end of the workday rolls around (what my colleague and I call "yabba dabba doo time," after our boss commented on how so many people in the company are out of there right at quittin' time that "It's like the opening scene of the Flintstones!") I often wonder "where did the day go?" I worked all day and yet there are more things on my to-do list at the end of the day than there were at the beginning, and I barely made a dent. Still, I usually leave within 30 minutes after yabba dabba doo time because I want to get home to Kate.
I think about how, before she was born, I would stay late almost every day, and despite the hour-long commute, it didn't bother me. But now, that evening time is precious, and as the aphorism says, "at the end of one's life, no one says 'I wish I'd worked more.'"
Matt has been out of town the last few days, and my mom suggested that they take Kate back to Louisville with them after her b-day weekend for those few days. Now, I am more than capable of taking care of Kate without Daddy's help (as awesome as he is) but of course Mom, like all the grandparents, craves as much Kate-time as possible. I don't think she expected me to agree to this plan, but with the website launching in just a few weeks, it's an extra-busy time at work, and a few days of staying late to get more done at the office kind of appealed to me.
Monday morning, I bid farewell to Matt, my parents, and Kate with a very nervous stomach--a mixture of fear and guilt. Fear because even though the probability of accidents and other things is the same whether I'm with Kate or not, I still worry that something could happen to her when I'm not there to protect her with the tenacity of a mama bear. And guilt because I let someone else take care of my daughter when I could have had some nice one-on-one mommy-daughter time... especially since I let someone else take her in part because of work.
This is a working mom's dilemma.
So now it's Tuesday night and I've had two evenings of staying late at the office, running errands, and working more from the laptop or iPad at home.Now that I have Outlook on my phone (which initially I'd heard was not possible with Android, but now is) I even answered an email this morning while still laying in bed. Fortunately, I only sleep with my phone by the bed when Matt's away, so I won't make a habit of that, and soon I'll be back to leaving within a half hour of yabba dabba doo time, rushing home to my sweet girl, and working more only after bedtime, if I need to at all.
I miss Kate and Matt, of course, but it has also been nice to indulge my workaholic tendencies for a few days. I'm glad we'll all be back under one roof tomorrow night. I'm thankful to have a job I enjoy. I'm even more thankful to have a loving family to come home to at the end of a busy day. The word "balance" often comes to mind in discussions of working motherhood, but I think I prefer the word "full." Life is full--of joy, of challenges, of to-dos, of love. Life is good.
I'm Jessica Miller Kelley, a working mom, pastor's wife, and book editor in Nashville, Tennessee. I have two beautiful girls, Kate and Claire, and love scrapbooking, throwing parties, doing crafts with my kiddos, wine and cheese, theological discussion, and having fun as a family. We became a foster family in 2013 and enjoy welcoming our "guest kids" when they come!