My average day: I wake up, get myself ready for the day, creep into my daughter's room to sneak a kiss before heading out the door to the office. When the phone rings about 7:30 am, I know its my baby girl and her daddy calling to tell me good morning on their way to day care. As soon as the clock hits 4:00 pm, my computer is turned off and in the car I go so that I can get through the traffic and to my daughter by the 5:30 pm pickup time. 8:00 pm is bedtime so there are a few precious hours each day to spend with Grace. During that time, the dog needs to be fed, dinner must be made, errands run, and all the other household duties that come with being an adult.
Yesterday, I stayed home with Grace. Day care is on vacation and Hubby and I are trading days off through the week. I get Monday and Thursday at home and we are splitting the day today. Hubby gets Wednesday and Friday with her. While I do still have to work when I am at home (there are only 12 weeks until the biggest conference I have ever planned!), I like to pretend (at least for a day here and there) that I am the perfect SAHM for Grace. We met Daddy for lunch at his office followed by Grace's naptime, when I picked up the house, did 2 loads of laundry, worked on the computer for a little while, and actually read 3 chapters of Gone With The Wind. We went to the playground and bookstore in the afternoon before Daddy got home and I made dinner for the family. I managed to do it all and I loved it.
Today I am in the office. I feel charged when I am working, making decisions, and seeing the conference come together. The feeling I get when I am standing in front of my co-workers making a presentation, reviewing proposals, and planning a once-in-a-lifetime event gets me so excited. I feel like I am accomplishing something important. I know---I am not balancing the national budget or bringing the troops home from the war or even making the streets safer but to 1500 people out there, I am the one who is planning the largest conference in their industry; the person who is planning the educational sessions that will lead to their certifications; the person who is making sure that their trip to Nashville in October is worth their $1000 expense to attend. That, my friends, makes me tick. It doesnt matter at the office if I made those muffins from scratch or bought them at Safeway. It doesnt matter if my child is wearing brand name diapers or if I bought the Costco brand again. None of that matters. The only thing that matters to the people I work with is the success of the conference.
I got lucky with my new job. My boss is flexible, understanding, and sees the struggle I go through each day when it is time to leave. I cant wait to run out the door to see my Grace but at the same time, I know that there are contracts to read, speakers to email, and catering menus to order. This week, she is letting my set my own office schedule to accommodate day care's vacation. As she says all the time: "Family will be there long after this job is gone. Take care of them first and us second. Work from home if you need to and take time off if you need to. Just make sure that baby girl is happy, safe, and loved". (I know---I am extremely lucky when it comes to bosses!).
My life isny balanced. Sometimes, work gets neglected for the sake of my family. Sometimes, I miss bedtimes because I am traveling for work. There are morning that I cry on my way to work because I dont want to leave Grace behind but there are also days that the empty car is just what I need. I never know which day it will be until I pull up to day care. I know my family needs me to work and I know that Grace is well taken care of, loved, and happy--sometimes its me who gives that to her and sometimes it day care. She has so many people, beyond her Daddy and me, that love her and I am at peace knowing that if she ever needs someone to talk to, there are so many people who will be there to hug her and kiss her and help her.
Did I choose this crazy, time-starved life? I guess so. I dont know. Some days, I know that I made the right decision; to return to work after a 3 month maternity leave. Other days I hate myself for leaving my baby girl at day care and driving off to work in an empty car. Other times I realize that there really isnt much of a choice to be made; that my family needs me to work and that I am doing the best I can with what I have. Mostly, I just go back and forth, questioning myself, my decision, and, most of all, I question whether it is okay for me to love my career as well as my family.