A few months ago my friend at work who is a former stay-at-home-mom (and in the process of becoming a single mom) asked me if I ever felt guilty about the time I spend at work away from my kids. It took me approximately .53 seconds to answer, “No.”
Having been through the stay-at-home mom (SAHM) routine longer than I originally intended made me 185% certain that I am not SAHM material. I refuse to feel guilty about saying that I don’t want to spend 24/7 with my children. I need another outlet. Some don’t. I do. It makes me a better mother. That, I know. To each their own.
It helps that I have a job that fulfills me, and that both of my children are in places that both Jeff and I feel at peace with in terms of knowing that it fulfills their needs. One day not too long ago I left work a little early and picked Ian up from after-school care. His greeting: “Mommy, why are you here early today? I didn’t get to finish playing…” And while Elena often greets us very enthusiastically, we don’t leave the building before she proactively hugs every teacher in sight who bid her farewell by name. She’s happy, and that makes us happy. However, had my friend asked me that same question earlier this evening, for the first time since I’ve been back to work, I may have hesitated with my answer.
A couple of months ago we signed up Ian for his first t-ball experience with our local volunteer little league. Being the fanatic that he is for anything physical, he has been beyond excited to start t-ball for several weeks now. Finally a couple of weeks ago the coach was announced and the team started to organize. Games would be every Saturday this spring (except when they are rained out which is like, um, at least every other Saturday). Practice would be “Thursdays from 4 to 5pm” with parent participation “highly encouraged.” Hmmm. No additional mention such as “we know that this time might be difficult for some of you – but do what you can” etc. More like a “well, why wouldn’t you be there?” type of feeling. As I mentioned in a Facebook update that evening, we (and thus Ian) might not be there because it so happens that our bosses also “highly encourage” our participation at work at that very same time. Go figure! Grrr.
The first Thursday practice was scheduled for last week when Jeff and I would both be off during Ian’s spring break, so at least we could all go to the first practice, right? Wrong. Turns out it was….I know you’ll all be shocked…monsooning at 4pm last Thursday, so practice was cancelled. (The three of us had a quite fun outing instead to Big Al’s for some bowling and skee ball, so all was not lost.) The email stated, “First practice will be next Thursday at 4pm instead, rain or shine. Make sure to be there because we’ll be handing out uniforms for our first game on Saturday!” Jeff, who had already committed to rearrange his work schedule when he could, already knew he would not be able to that day due to a meeting. Luckily we were able to make alternate arrangements to retrieve Ian’s uniform from the coach’s house over the weekend.
At some point during this, we broke the news to Ian that we wouldn’t be able to take him to a lot of the practices because they are at a time when we are at work. At the time he seemed to get it and be okay with it. Until tonight. He and Jeff were watching one of the opening day baseball games on TV. (Hello, but who authorized those new Miami uniforms?? Geez. Kind of fits in with the whole Miami vibe, I guess. I digress.) Ian was doing his usual pretending like our living room is a baseball field – pitching, running and then catching the ball (The kid’s like a one-man World Series. Unless it’s football season, in which case he’s like a one-man Super Bowl. And I don’t even want to think about the Olympics this summer…. But I digress again.) – when he says, “I’m so excited that I finally get to start doing t-ball practice tomorrow!” That’s when my heart sank a little. No, make that a lot. “Ian, remember, we told you that we’re not going to be able to take you to t-ball practice?” Disappointment was written all over his face. “Why not?” “Because we’ll be at work.” Of course, what’s even more of a bummer is that because the practices are on baseball fields at the elementary school, when the weather is nice it’s very likely that he’ll be outside at after-school care watching his team practice, but not able to participate. I thought of this at that moment. UGH.
As I said, it’s the first time in quite a while that I felt horrible that being a working parent would deprive my child of something he really wanted to do. Undoubtedly, it won’t be the last. As for Ian, there were a few tears but ultimately, he was understanding and we moved on fairly quickly. I’m grateful that he’s like that. (And not so sure we’ll experience the same drama-free behavior when it comes to his sister.) I still feel guilty, though.
On a positive note, I guess we’ll find out how Ian performs under pressure without ever practicing – a skill every 6-year-old should learn, right?