Killed by Guilt (again)

April 26, 2006

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I have a wonderful job. And I work for (one) wonderful boss. My work and home life have balance and grace and my whole family is the happier for it.

But, every now and then, the universe reminds me that I’m still part of The Working Mother’s Conundrum.

On May 18th, the hospital will have its first ever, newly formed, Development Council meeting. After months of meeting with key community leaders and influencers, we formed an amazing council who will work with us both on the strategy and philanthropic efforts for the hospital. It’s a big milestone for the hospital.

Also on May 18th The Swimmy will have a Pre-K graduation ceremony at her little school. They’ve been practicing for weeks on a song and a poem. They will dress up, complete with little caps and gowns and a processional, and beam with pride about their accomplishments as their families smile and cry a little.

And I will miss it completely. Guess where I’ll be.

All over the Internet there have been blog entries about the heartaches of working mothers, and all over the Internet there are also comments that support both sides. I can tell you that I’ve read many of them, but it’s what I’ve lived that makes me believe thusly: Moms should not work.

There, I said it.

I am part of a generation of women that were brought up under the misguided wings of “feminism”. We were taught (endlessly) that we should go to college, we should work, men are inconsequential, men hold us back, the family takes second fiddle to “our time to shine”.

What a crock of shit.

Don’t get me wrong, I lived that for 10 years. I had the job, the title, the travel, the P & L responsibility and, most importantly, the money. (Okay, I do miss the money.)

And it just about killed me. When The Swimmy was born, I worked for a huge IT company and was required to go to their headquarters (out of town) for a two week training course. Mandatory. No options. I had to leave her with Husband for two weeks when she was about 4 weeks old. It was right about then I realized what it felt like to die a little inside.

Actually, I had felt that feeling once before. When Husband and I got married, ArtsyDaughter was about 9 years old. She was in an afterschool care program at the local YMCA. Something inside of me said, “This is so wrong. She should come home after school.” I talked with Husband about it, but he convinced me she was fine. Besides, I was making huge money at that time and I really liked that. But I never got over the feeling that I was doing something wrong.

Which I was.

My current job is much different. I work out of my house for the most part. I take The Swimmy to school and pick her up afterwards. The boss I work most closely with (I have several), has a tremendous grasp on what is Important In Life. He’s a good guy. And I suspect he’s a good dad, too. It’s the best possible working situation I could ever have asked for.

But, as great as all this is, I will again die a little at 7pm on May 18th when I miss The Swimmy’s graduation. So, if any of you guys know of a groovy way for me to quickly create a parallel universe whereby I can be in two places at one time, I’d sure appreciate it. ‘Cause I don’t think a weepy Development Director at the Council meeting would go over so well.

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6 Responses to “Killed by Guilt (again)”

  1. Diana Says:

    If I were you, I would have hubby camcorder the entire event for you and then make a huge deal out of watching it together with the Swimmy – i.e., popcorn and blankets and cuddles, etc. For her, that will mean just as much – it is only you that will know you are missing the “real” event.
    It still sucks though, doesn’t it.

  2. n Says:

    what about dads? if you say moms should not work are you creating or endorsing a world where moms do all the parenting and dads do all the earning? we don’t have this figured out by a long shot, but one of our starting points was that if we could both be in the “middle lane” for work while the kids were little (not one in the fast lane and one completely off the road) then we might have a chance to be there for most things. It is not a perfect system. But I also know that me dropping out of the workforce for ten years would not be an option, not financially and not emotionally. Hang in there. I love your site and I think you will figure this out with aplomb.

  3. Em Says:

    I KNEW I loved you!! I think you are totally correct in your thoughts about women and working. However, I also agree that your current situation is so perfect! SOOO perfect. How the hell did you land such a great set up? Is anything going to change when Wiggly comes along?
    I think Diana was right also when stating that The Swimmy will absolutely love the full attention of watching the entire ceremony with you one-on-one. Of course she will miss you the night of, but it will melt away when she’s munching on ice cream and popcorn with her mama. It will be a great bonding moment, especially so close to the arrival of her new little nemesis.
    Or, you can always hope for another circumstance that will cause a re-schedule of either your meeting or the graduation?! One can hope, right?
    Have a great day!

  4. jen Says:

    I am lucky in that I don’t work. I did, until last year. Job burn-out and a very understanding hubby who makes enough that I don’t HAVE to work enabled me to quit my job. We had been trying to get pregnant for two years, 6 months after I quit I got pregnant.
    My Mom stayed home until I was in school full time. My Dad worked. On Saturdays though, that was my time with my Daddy. He would take me to feed the ducks, or we would go fishing or go for long walks in the woods where we would look for wild life and interesting plants and flowers. Some days we would just hang out in the backyard or stay in bed late and talk about stuff like God and the clouds…So even though he worked, I never ever for a second considered him less important in my life. Every day after school he would take time to talk to me about my day..and I looked forward to that time.
    I really strive for the same kind of environment for my daughter.

  5. Tina Says:

    What a very brave post.

  6. Pammer Says:

    To answer N’s question… My opinion is as follows:
    The best situation is for one parent to be at home full-time. It would be preferable for it to be “Mom” (’cause we’re designed for the “nurturer” — not that Dads aren’t — but they have a dominant role of their own). But I’ve known dads who do that part well, too.
    Everyone makes their own choices and, as adults, lives with their own consequences (good and bad). What I’ve come to believe is that kids often times reap the effects of adult consequences in ways I wish they didn’t.
    My own situation is still not where I’d like it (full-time SAHM), but I’m doing the best I can with what I’ve got right now. But, as you can see in this post, The Swimmy still comes up short in this model and for that, I feel badly.
    Perhaps the next iteration of our situation will be better as Husband and I work towards our shared goals. Until then, I recognize The Swimmy and I have to suck up some unfortunate consequences from time to time. I’m just thankful those times are fewer and farther between.