Saturday, December 20, 2008

A Parent's Confession - The Best Holiday Present...Our Presence in Our Children's Lives

After "staying home" with the kids for 16 years of mommyhood, I had to go back to work outside the house. Working out of the house has really brought home the meaning and importance of OUR PRESENCE in OUR CHILDRENS lives. The suction cup of time at work is very sneaky. At first it's only because of a "big project." Then, word gets out, you get "projects" done! Then it's a compliment, wow, they are asking me to be a part of this big initiative, how cool is that. Of course you are very protective of your family time, and vow the first time your late to a game not to let that happen again! That first time, you just couldn't help it - you never planned to miss a game, hey you've been to 254 of them, missing one isn't too bad right? That first weekend you went into work on the weekend, just to wrap up a few things so it wouldn't be so crazy during the week and that way you'll be home everynight on time - well that made sense, right? This is a heart wrenching post for me to write. Because the trap described above - it snarred me, and had me captive for almost a year. In a way, beginning this blog was the first step towards seeing the trap and working towards breaking free. I mean, good gosh, this was me we're talking about! For years I had been: the mom who was car-pool queen, staff appreciation, team mom, the mom the other kids could talk to, who always had a cooler full of water, gatorade, snacks, extra t-shirts, shorts, soccer socks, etc., The mom who made goofy fun little gifts for sports dinners, volunteered to be the driver on the soccer/lax/basketball road trip (hey you learn a lot about your kid's lives in the car), the mom who kids on other teams from other states and schools knew as oh yea, thats, ______'s mom. (I've promised to never use actual names of family members to protect both the guilty and the innocent!). Trust me, I'm not trying to blow my own horn. Truth be told, I'm blowing the whistle on myself. Because last night as I left my office at 11:45 pm, I violently woke up from a corporate, bleary eyed, hangover of a nightmare and realized I'd lost myself in all this hustle to impress, earn the bucks and feel good about myself, that I still had "it." As I thought how did this happen I looked back... It began with a noble cause; making sure no matter what college accepted my kids we would have the back up income to make it happen. Plus, when I had worked before, I had done some really cool things. Never though, was my mission to be able to finance stuff, good gosh we've got too much stuff -- all of us, I believe carry that extra weight. At first the kids enjoyed the little extra 'freedom' they found themselves with. 2 out of 3 were in their teens, and the 3rd was about to be. We checked in daily at first on the phone and I'd hear all about their day, and encourage the homework, etc., I'd hear them say, you should see where my mom works - it's so cool there! I was on top of the world, Gloria Steinham would be so proud of me! We women, we CAN have it all! HA - thats a bad joke on me, at my kids expense. We can strive for it all, we can want it all, but I don't think, no - change that I know FOR ME, I'm talented enough to really BALANCE it all. Luckily for me, they had just said at our staff meeting a lot of find the balance talk, so it was my perfect opportunity. And so, last night at 11:45 ish, I powered back up and wrote something to this effect to my boss(es): Dear ____: I simply can't continue to do this, nor will I continue to work at this pace. I know our industry is experiencing the toughest year probably in history since the depression. And I know we all are expected to do our part. But this can't continue. I can't and I won't keep going at this pace, it's not good for my family, for me, or in the end for work. No one stretched this thin is going to be able to continue to keep the output at our required level of quality. It seems that for the last 3-4 months I have been directly involved in every "firestorm" that has hit our firm. Each of you are supportive and wonderful at listening, but for the most part, your in the same boat, and nothing changes. If I weren't going on two weeks of vacation tonight, I would be putting in for mental health days. I'm am fried, stretched thin and burned out. I took these two weeks off to re-introduce myself to my family, I'm not sure they remember who I am.
Because I AM, first and foremost a mother to my children and wife to my husband. Bein a great wife and mother makes me a better person, and eventually a better staff member, because being this, makes me a happier person.
Happy people work better than anyone. We just heard a "find the balance speech" and I am using this time off to clear the air at my desk from the old me, old schedule, old expectations. I will need to say "no" more, I may have to push back on deadlines more. Perhaps, ultimately this will show those above, that perhaps our staffing does need to be re-visited. The way we are working, we are enablers. We are giving the impression that it's working out this way, and it's not. I promise to come back re-freshed, re-energized and re-committed to my family's goals and values, please don't expect a comprimise when it comes to this. If you feel this is unacceptable, than perhaps we need to have a discussion when I get back. I think you will quickly see it's the better way to work. At least I hope I do. Happy Holidays, Me The first to return the email - one of the "high up guys." Thanks for all your hard work. Go home, have a great vacation, have fun with your kids. See you in the new year. Phew! that felt good. So, dear readers, it seems I'm slowly gathering a few of you who do read this. Today it seems, you have become my confessional; so I ask you, please forgive me, don't judge me; as we all fall down and pick ourselves up again. Maybe hearing this will wake someone elses bad dream and help them. Perhaps it will make others of you all the more grateful for what you have. I've apologized to my family, I think they understood how it kind of snuck up on me, and that I was never trying to stay away from them. I thought I was keeping my eye on the ball - helping to support my family, but man did I get tackled and trashed big time by a linebacker of a job! (Okay we are a sportsy family). Admitting this was hard. I needed to be accountable. I needed my children to see that sometimes the best of intentions can be pushed off course.
We all need our children to know that we mess up too.
This is the way the learn how to be accountable,
how to pick themselves up, how to apologize and how to ask forgiveness.
There is no Accountability 101 class at school. These are the lessons of life, lessons that are our responsiblity to teach them. Our actions do speak louder than words. Our actions are long remembered after the talks. For Christmas this year, we had to cut back on the stuff (isn't everyone). Aside from finance, heck - do we really need the stuff - nah. Decrease our footprint and all that.... This year my best present is my presence. Ten un-interrupted days of family time. No crackberry, no email, no nuthin! We're hanging out together (whether they want to or not!) SMILES. I know this is a very long post, but from my perspective it was too important to skimp on. If anything, I needed to do it to un-burden my heart, ease the load, pick myself up and go be a better mom, wife and person. Thank you for reading. Go hug someone you love. They probably need it, and so do you. We all do.

1 comment:

johnsheridan said...

Fantastic. From one workaholic to another, it's easy to get trapped.

I forgive you. Please forgive me.