Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Work-Home Balance

I know this post isn't really going to say anything that hasn't been said--either by me on this blog or by dozens of other folks in the blogosphere--but today proved to me, more than ever, that the conflict of the working parent is eternal.  The primary thought that popped into my head, was, simply:

There is no way that a working parent can have true balance.  Each will always suffer at the hand of the other. 

There is no getting around it.  No matter how careful you are, no matter how hard you try, it's going to happen.  Work will suffer because of your home life, and your home life will suffer because of work.  Just by virtue of being at work the home life takes a little hit...I mean, the long-held ideal is to raise your child in your home, so being a working mom means that I'm not getting nearly as much time with Jacob as would be ideal.  I've said before that I wouldn't be a great stay-at-home mom, but if I could have more of a balance--working part-time--I'd feel like I'd be a better person and a better mom.  I'd have more home time which would hopefully mean less stress about getting things done there.  However, working part-time means that I'd get less work done, so maybe my stress would be higher there.  Again, can't win.

I feel like I'm in a tough spot in my job because I'm the only one in my department who has a child.  No matter how everyone might think they understand, I don't think they truly do.  I can't stay late at work, nor is it easy to come in early.  Most of the time I need to leave work in time to get Jacob at daycare by closing time.  I don't want to leave extra early in the morning because that means I need to wake Jacob up extra early so he's ready on time.  I could enlist Craig to get up earlier or pick Jacob up more, but he's got his own commitments and it's not necessarily fair to "punish" either of them because of my issues.  Maybe I need to stand up more, but it's not easy.

This week Jacob has been sick.  This is one of the busiest weeks of Craig's season--the week before the first game of the season.  He had a meeting yesterday and a press conference today.  I had a doctor's appointment first thing yesterday, but came home to take over Jacob's care right after so Craig could make his meeting.  Even though I was planning on coming in later, my boss told me to stay home--probably to make sure I wasn't spreading germs either.  Craig took the morning shift at home today, but I had to take over for the afternoon...which means that in the last two days, I've been in the office for less than four hours.  That, on top of a four-day week last week, and a week off before that, and an inconsistent schedule for a few weeks before that.  I'm way behind on everything, and it's driving me nuts.  Today I wasn't able to get something done that my boss needed, and she sent me a rather unhappy email about it, basically wanting to know why I didn't get it done even though it was communicated to be a high priority.  It's hard to explain why, I suppose, but a couple other projects also noted to be "ASAP" took a while, and then the little things--responding to emails, moving projects forward, etc.--just took long enough that the other thing couldn't get done.  And I simply couldn't stay to do it.  Oh, and my work laptop simply will NOT work at my house. 

I don't think people fully understand how limited your schedule can be once you have a child, and having a spouse with an unconventional schedule isn't easy either.  The road trips start this weekend, so that's even less often that I can alter my schedule.  When you have a child, you can't just do things for yourself.  It's one thing to impact your spouse, a grown adult who could fend for himself if needed.  It's another to mess with the schedule of a child who craves structure and routine, and who only gets a limited amount of time with you as it is.  And when they're sick?  Yeah, all bets are off.  We can't send him to daycare with a fever, let alone as the sad, whimpering boy he's been the last couple days.  Ultimately, we both need to sacrifice, and as it worked out, I've had to do more time-wise this week.  But considering the week it is, Craig's time is probably more valuable.  How can you choose?

Tomorrow I get to work all day, I think.  We're hoping Jacob's fever breaks overnight, though I reluctantly gave him medicine tonight because the fever really seemed to be bugging him.  I wanted to let the fever do its thing, but a good night's sleep and his general comfort seemed more important this time around.  If the fever doesn't break, Craig will be staying home.  Let's hope it doesn't come to that, though.  Even if it does break, I'm not sure his energy level will be quite where it needs to be, but it'll be worth a try.  It has to be.

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