My new work arrangement makes it possible for me to spend more time than ever before with my daughter. Three days a week—four every now and then—she’s at the sitter’s for a full day. The rest of the time, she’s home with me, and I fit work in during the evenings and nap time. It’s wonderful—everything I’ve been wanting, actually. But lately, I find myself feeling guilty.
Because lately, that extra time feels like a blessing and a curse. My 3-year-old is cute, sweet and smart. She’s the love of my life, and I mean that.
But she’s also three. She’s not old enough to go off by herself outside the house, so she needs supervision pretty much all the time. She’s got that selective 3-year-old hearing. I find myself repeating the same simple requests over and over until she rouses out of lala land and decides to go along with my program. And then there are tantrums. Not all the time—thank God we seem to have avoided the terrible twos for the most part, but when the fireworks hit, wow are they a pleasure to experience.
Mornings usually are the best times for me and Little One. When she’s home, we always get out of the house. We go to the library or the park or out shopping. We get home in time for lunch, then she goes down for her nap and I get on the phone and computer to focus on work for a couple of hours.
When she wakes up, that’s when the drudgery sets in. It’s usually too late to go anywhere – Dad’s coming home soon, and I need to start dinner. But the minutes and hours until he walks through the door really drag. This is when Little One decides it’s time to empty a box of rice all over the kitchen floor or demand to dress up in footie jammies, even though it’s 90 degrees out, and play “baby,” which entails me giving her a bottle and feeding her applesauce waaaaay after the charm of the role play has worn off.
Sometimes I feel like a babysitter whose job never ends — and then I feel guilty, because that’s part of the basic definition of being a parent, isn’t it?
And then I feel guilty because I know others would kill to be in my position. I also feel guilty because I know these days are fleeting. Most of the time, when I’m starting to feel really weary, she will do something so funny or amazing or endearing that it will jolt me out of my ennui and remind me to enjoy all of this while it lasts. Still, I have to admit there are times when I just want to run away and leave the responsibility to somebody else. On my “office hours” days, that’s what I do. And then, I can’t wait to go pick her up at 5 p.m.
I guess finding a balance can be a challenge no matter what your arrangement, huh?