By Becky Blalock
One of the toughest decisions I have ever had to make was should I return to work after my daughter was born.
I loved my daughter, but I had worked three jobs to put myself through college and I had a very successful career that I loved. It wasn’t easy but I made the decision to return to work. I look back on that decision and it was the right one for me and my family.
Sure, I missed out on a lot of things in my daughter’s life. You can’t have it all–no one can. Life is all about the choices we make and the priorities we choose. For me, I was happier at work and the income I earned made for a better and more comfortable life for my family.
It was hard at times because I was the only working mother in the neighborhood and I felt at times that others looked down on me. But I also knew that my family was happier when I was, too.
My daughter is now 23 and in her second year of pharmacy school. We’ve had lots of conversations about the fact that I was not present at everything in her life.
She says she doesn’t remember me not being there.
She says she remembers that I was always there if she really needed me.
My daughter grew up fixing her own lunch for the next day and taking personal responsibility for school activities. She seems to believe this great sense of responsibility is because I did not do every little thing for her. Today she is one of the most dependable, independent and thoughtful people I know.
One great tip I was given when she was little was to not try (page 135) to guess what was important to her but rather to have a conversation and “interview” her to set the priorities. It proved to be a simple but great lesson.
Early on, I felt very guilty that I was unable to take my daughter to and from school each day. I talked to her about it, and I asked her what really mattered to her.
As it turned out, she really didn’t care about my not being able to drive her. What was important to her was for me to be there when it was time to read to her class. You can bet this became a top priority to me. It was the most important task I had, and I put lots of effort into the book I selected and how I interacted with her class.
You may be surprised if you interview your child and ask what is important to them.
This knowledge can be a great tool in helping to prioritize where you spend you time and how you support your child. Knowing you are there for the really important things is what is most memorable and important to your child. Make sure you know what those things are. Quality time is better than quantity of time any day.
Becky Blalock is the author of the new book, Dare: Straight Talk on Confidence, Courage, and Career for Women in Charge. You can take a free quiz to measure your current confidence level at her website, BeckyBlalock.com.