I read her e-mail just after walking in the door last night with Maddie and Riley. They were all bundled up and high on the joy of a fun day at school and a stop at the bakery for a cookie on the way home. They can take their own coats and hats and boots off now, which they do with pride. I read the message from Madame President and CEO (MP) as Maddie and Riley set off for the kitchen to drop off their backpacks before hitting the playroom for some quality time. I had a visceral reaction to MP's palpable disappointment. I actually started to cry. I went straight to some not-so-buried part of me that hates to do what people don't want me to do. I don't want to be a disappointment.
Then I thought, yet again, about why I'd made my decision. I'd made my decision for my family. I read that message at 5:00 p.m. If I'd taken that job, I wouldn't even be picking the kids up from school until 5:30 every day. Instead, I get to walk in the door with them well before that hour, and that's after spending some time chit-chatting at daycare and then fawning over cookies at the bakery. If I'd taken that job, I would have to leave the house at 7:45 every morning and the twins would eat breakfast at school. Instead, we sit down for breakfast together at 7:45, and I get to hear Riley make "jokes," such as his mischevious query this morning of, "Mama, can I eat the stove?"
This work/life balance thing is no joke. It was a tough to weigh a more challenging, intellectually stimulating job at a thriving company against two fewer hours per day with my kids and a dull job on a sinking ship. Would the mental health benefits of a job I truly loved make me a better parent, and thus make up for the time away from Maddie and Riley? Ultimately, I didn't think so. Not right now. And that line of thinking assumes that I would have loved the job. It's possible that I would have hated it, and then I really would have been in a pickle.
I've actually never felt more like a grown-up than I did when I realized that I'd just had to make a choice between my career and my family. Granted, it was a small-scale choice, much smaller than the choice between staying home and working at all, or totally changing careers to accommodate spending more time with kids or having to take a second job to make ends meet. But my little choice made me think about just how hard it is for parents at all levels to balance work and family life. So many people who want to stay home can't, or who want to work can't find a situation that will fit their family situation. This is nothing new, of course, but last night it felt very acute, and I was grateful that I'm in a situation where my job might not be all I want it to be, but it gives me a good balance.
I can't figure out how to end this post gracefully, but I have to end it now because it's time for me to go get those kids. We're off to my beloved Chipotle for dinner. Oooooh, yeah. Have a great weekend.