April 20, 2009

The Homestretch

I am under absolutely no illusions that this week will be any different - any less stressful or exhausting - than last week. Last week when I worked about a billion hours, ate pizza three times, drank more coffee than I thought possible and was home for my kids' bedtime about twice. So, yeah, I'm really looking forward to this week.

I love my job. I enjoy what I do and I think I'm relatively good at it. But this constant work thing - which I fully admit is a fluke, happens infrequently and is in no way a reflection on my own desire for a work-life balance - is rough. All this has brought me to the conclusion that I have absolutely no idea how some parents doing. Specifically couples in which both parents work. Or single parents.

I want to be clear, I'm not judging at all. People do what they have to do and what they think is best. I respect that. But the only thing that comforts me while I'm at work, sometimes until all hours lately, is the fact that I know Beth is home with them, taking care of them, watching them grow, walk, laugh, cry, fall down, sleep, tell jokes, draw pictures and just be kids in my absence.

My kids are a whopping one and three years old. Yet, I have a very close relationship with them. I can only hope its indicative of what our relationships will look like in five or ten or twenty years. The hardest parenting-related thing I've faced lately, as a result, isn't a temper tantrum, hours of reading Amelia Bedalia books, trying to get my daughter to eat a decent meal or poop without whining about it. No, it's telling Mia that I won't be home for dinner and seeing the sad look in her eyes when she realizes I won't be home to kiss her before bed.

So for the next five days, I'm planning to work my ass off and find my happy place. Which at this precise moment is in bed, with a cup of coffee and kids crawling all over me. Unfortunately, I'm at work, behind my desk, with a lukewarm cup of joe. It might take me a little more time to reach my happy place than I'd like.

Five days...five days...five days...

Where's you happy place?

Posted by Chris at April 20, 2009 6:55 AM
Comments

I think for kids, its all about what your expectations are. Both my parents worked my entire life, and they often had to work late. When we were really little, we had babysitters that we adored who would put us to bed. That was normal to us, so we never really felt any loss over not having our mom and dad put us to bed.

As for a happy place, on a Monday morning that's back in bed sleeping. God, I wish I was there.

Posted by: tutugirl1345 at April 20, 2009 7:22 AM

I'm just about 5 days away from "PUPPIES"! So right now my happy place is sitting next to a whelping box with new babies!

Posted by: Maribeth at April 20, 2009 7:29 AM

Well, I'm glad to see from your Haiku that there is light at the end of the tunnel (and it's not a train)!
It's Quality not Quantity in raising children and I think they remember the fun and adventurous times more than the times you weren't home for dinner.
Don't beat yourself up over it (coming from the Queen of Mother's Guilt) because you know you're a great father.

Posted by: NancyJak at April 20, 2009 7:32 AM

Lately my happy place has been stretched out on the couch watching Buffy on the laptop, drinking hot chocolate (winter's on its way here) while the kids sleep upstairs. Yes, I have progressed to that level of slackerdom where getting up to change the DVD in the player is just more than I'm prepared to do.

It never lasts long before someone appears at the top step, but it's great while it does : )

Posted by: Jo MacD at April 20, 2009 7:33 AM

Frankly, I don't know many fathers who feel even the slightest bit guilty when they have to be away from their children more than usual. I think that right there says a lot about who you are as a dad and the fact that you were really busy one month is way less important than the fact that they know you don't want to be that busy and would rather spend time with them.

Posted by: NG at April 20, 2009 7:48 AM

The Gym is my happy place. I do kickboxing and boxing and nothing is better for me to get out my frustrations or stress.

Posted by: Deirdre at April 20, 2009 7:57 AM

I've been all work and little play since I was fifteen. I don't wish it on anyone. Unfortunately, there is no end it sight for me. I'm just thankful that I was smart enough not to have children because it wouldn't be fair to them.

At 41, I think I'm going through a mid-life crisis because I'm still looking for my happy place.

Posted by: MariaV at April 20, 2009 8:10 AM

Is it lame that my happy place is when I am reading comics? Once my son goes to bed - and on particularly rough nights - I like to get in bed and read graphic novels (pref. Batman) until I have forgotten about all my other stress.

Posted by: Claire at April 20, 2009 8:29 AM

My happy place is with my husband on a cruise...and if we're lucky, our daughter and her husband could join us. We have a lot of fun with them. But definitely with my husband.

Posted by: daisy at April 20, 2009 8:32 AM

My happy place is every weekend. Playing with the kids and laughing at my son's bad jokes. Giving my girl a big hug after her amoeba-like soccer game. Eating pancakes in the morning.

I make a fair salary, but if Jen didn't work, it would put our long term goals out of reach. Fortune has smiled on us in the form of Jen having a lot of time off (teacher) and having the kids home each day by 4:00. I'm now working from home, which is a great head start on our evening. Still, if our daycare situation wasn't fantastic, we'd give it all up for them. We've been lucky there and I'm very glad we gave it a chance.

Posted by: Brad at April 20, 2009 8:47 AM

My happy place will be after all my exams and papers are done, but I just can't seem to work up the motivation to study or write so that's not particularly helpful. And as soon as I'm done these, I have a couple classes for summer semester too. So I guess my happy place is when I graduate next May!
And then...more school. But I'm not going to think about that just yet if you don't mind :P

Posted by: Heather at April 20, 2009 8:49 AM

This too shall pass...and the kids will remember the good times when you were there, not the couple of dinners you weren't there for. My dad worked shifts when we were little and I remember the fun things we did, not the nights he didn't tuck me in.

As for my happy place...in bed with D and Soxy for some QPT (quality puppy time). It's the only time we are all focused on our little family and nothing else.

Posted by: Krush at April 20, 2009 8:50 AM

My happy place involves Beniccio Del Toro and a swing set. You don't want to hear about that.

Trust me.

Posted by: Rebecca at April 20, 2009 9:17 AM

I have thanked my lucky stars more than once that I've been able to work from home - especially when my husband's career involves 70 hour work weeks for a third of the year. There is no way I could put in 8 hours in an office and come home to a second shift as mom if I worked outside the home. (Frankly, it's still pretty damn hard, even though I *DO* work from home).

My happy place is the end of the day, tucking in my children and laying down with them talking about their day...

Posted by: Sarah at April 20, 2009 9:24 AM

Good luck with the next five days!

Today my happy place would be at home in bed too. The rainy, trafficky drive to work just about did me in this morning.

Posted by: bad penguin at April 20, 2009 10:27 AM

I'm glad to see you're on the home stretch...

Me? My happy place is also at home with my kids. However, they're all grown now, so it is more of a sitting around the table laughing and talking thing than a tumbling around on the bed one. :)

Posted by: sue at April 20, 2009 10:54 AM

ugh! don't remind me. I am at the office too, and hubby is in Canada working. Not exactly ideal by any means. Buttt I have to say, I was lucky that I was able to stay at home for the early years. My kids are 8 and 5 now, both in school, and that's why I feel ok about working now but at the beginning I really felt it was important to stay at home.

Posted by: La Petite Belle at April 20, 2009 10:59 AM

wow. this is a tough one. i am happy though to hear that these long hours is temporary. i too don't understand how single people do it and still work long hours but then again, you do what you need to do, as you say. i too am fortunate that i have a husband at home that can put my girls to bed - but even that is not ideal but then .... again, you do what you need to do. having a job, especially in todays enviornment, is much better than the alternative.

my happy place (most of the time) is in bed, in the middle, with my girls on either side of me, telling them a story before bed. even at 11 years of age, they still love stories....

take care, don't work yourself too hard and make the most of the time you DO have at home.

Posted by: raino at April 20, 2009 11:17 AM

My happy place is in the hot tub with the pool boy and a mai tai. ;-)

Posted by: Brooke Habecker at April 20, 2009 12:32 PM

My husband sees our kids exactly one day a week. It KILLS him. They hate it. But he does it FOR them, and they know that, and they love him for it. That one day a week is like Disneyland. It all works out.

Posted by: Mr Lady at April 20, 2009 12:49 PM

My happy place is anywhere that is foreign and at the local pool with my family. I know, weird contradictions.

When I am on vacation in a different city/country/continent...I feel as though my husband and I are really and truly "in in together"...yea, we're good at home most of the time too...but when we go away....we truly work "together" and are "together". There's no better feeling than strolling hand in hand with your lover and best friend, eating delicious food, discovering great beauty and not knowing a single other soul.

And when it comes to my whole family (felix included)....we are at our ABSOLUTE best at the pool. Felix and I both LOVE water...of all kinds...he's SO happy at the pool and hearing him squeal and thrash around...well...no sound will ever make me smile half as wide. We try to go every weekend!

wow, those two descriptions made me smile! thanks!

Posted by: wn at April 20, 2009 12:57 PM

Weekend mornings, my bed, the girls crawling in with books and stuffed animals. Reading (Leah reading Lemony Snicket to herself and me reading Junie B. Jones to Rachel), talking about what we're going to have for breakfast, what we're going to do during the day, watching Arthur on TVO or sliding Star Wars or Willow into the VHS player. This is my happy place, and these are the memories I'll treasure when they're grown and gone.

Posted by: alison at April 20, 2009 1:25 PM

My happy place is walking or hiking. I discovered 5 months ago just how much I enjoy walking. Mostly, it is a solo activity and time for myself.

When the weather is cooperative, we hike as a family together on the weekends. Our life is quite and relaxing lately.

Reconnecting with my guys on the weekends. Simple things like watching movies together, popcorn and family time. I realize at some point probably soon--our teenage son won't happily hang out with us. I need to appreciate this while it lasts.

Posted by: One Mom's Opinion at April 20, 2009 1:29 PM

I think I like your happy place (But me in MY bed, with MY kids, just to be clear).

I think it runs neck-and-neck with being in my bed (early), by myself (or not) with my kids just off to sleep, having just spent a bunch of time reading & talking to them, pre-bedtime. I don't tend to get them off to bed early very often.

Posted by: harmzie at April 20, 2009 1:31 PM

you do what you can and you make it work. we are two working parents. we are not as lucky as some who don't have to work. so, we take pleasure in the time that we do have and we make the most of it. AND i KNOW that even though I'm not home with them during the day all day every day that they are still going to turn out to be awesome people. and they know i'd much rather be at home with them.

i know you weren't judging at all...it's just, obviously, this always strikes a nerve with us working moms.

Posted by: ali at April 20, 2009 1:58 PM

The one big, important thing I know about myself is that I couldn't handle a crazy work schedule like some people have. So I embrace that fact on the days where I'm really bored with my job. :)

Posted by: Zandria at April 20, 2009 4:01 PM

My hubby and I both work, though I make sure I'm not in a job that requires business trips or overtime. I miss my son everyday, and the hardest part is tearing him from my arms every morning with him crying for me. Never mind at the end of the day he doesn't want to go home. At 2 1/2 he is still my baby. I was lucky enough to have a year maternity leave, but it is still hard when I know both of us would be happier with me home more.
My happy place? Sitting in front of a movie with my boy snuggled onto my lap in pure contentment, leaning up against my hubby.

Posted by: Lindsay at April 20, 2009 5:21 PM

My hubby and I both work, though I make sure I'm not in a job that requires business trips or overtime. I miss my son everyday, and the hardest part is tearing him from my arms every morning with him crying for me. Never mind at the end of the day he doesn't want to go home. At 2 1/2 he is still my baby. I was lucky enough to have a year maternity leave, but it is still hard when I know both of us would be happier with me home more.
My happy place? Sitting in front of a movie with my boy snuggled onto my lap in pure contentment, leaning up against my hubby.

Posted by: Lindsay at April 20, 2009 5:21 PM

My hubby and I both work, though I make sure I'm not in a job that requires business trips or overtime. I miss my son everyday, and the hardest part is tearing him from my arms every morning with him crying for me. Never mind at the end of the day he doesn't want to go home. At 2 1/2 he is still my baby. I was lucky enough to have a year maternity leave, but it is still hard when I know both of us would be happier with me home more.
My happy place? Sitting in front of a movie with my boy snuggled onto my lap in pure contentment, leaning up against my hubby.

Posted by: Lindsay at April 20, 2009 5:21 PM

My hubby and I both work, though I make sure I'm not in a job that requires business trips or overtime. I miss my son everyday, and the hardest part is tearing him from my arms every morning with him crying for me. Never mind at the end of the day he doesn't want to go home. At 2 1/2 he is still my baby. I was lucky enough to have a year maternity leave, but it is still hard when I know both of us would be happier with me home more.
My happy place? Sitting in front of a movie with my boy snuggled onto my lap in pure contentment, leaning up against my hubby.

Posted by: Lindsay at April 20, 2009 5:40 PM

I love my job too, but my happy place is at home with Nordic Boy, for damn sure.

The way I look at it is that we are people who love what they come home to. There are people that hide at work because they don't want to go face what is waiting at home. As much as working a lot sucks, hating your home life would suck much, much harder. Words can't really describe how happy I am when I get to go be at home for a bit, and that's kind of a lovely thing.

Posted by: Librarian Girl at April 20, 2009 7:28 PM

I hate to be the grim reaper but...there are so many people right now who wish they had a job, and many more that wish they were working more than 30 hours a week. Kids or no kids. This is not to say I think you're not grateful, because you are. It's just hard to realize that when you see the harmful impact of working too too many hours with a young family at home.

However, I DO say this to point out that this is a good time to explain to Mia that some people can't work and some people are having difficulties but Daddy is working hard so Mia can eat dinner at home with her Mommy and brother.

Ok ok..now that I've said it..perhaps I'm just an asshat. It's highly likely. ha! I still think kids need to understand why mom or dad is gone and that life is not always popsicles and clowns.

Posted by: Kristy at April 20, 2009 7:29 PM

My happy place is either a warm, sunny beach with a beautiful breeze blowing or poolside at a Vegas hotel. I don't need a fancy drink -- water will do. And good music.

However, right now? I'll take my bed. Hang in there, my friend!

Posted by: ironic1 at April 20, 2009 8:01 PM

My happy place is in my bed, with a cat at the foot of it, a good book in my hand, and a day off the next day. I rarely get that :(

Posted by: Stephanie at April 20, 2009 10:18 PM

I'm a work-out-of-the-home mom (because, let's face it - parenting itself is a full-time gig pro bono). And my husband works. And adapting to not 2 kids and our jobs has been a major challenge. It is our daily mountain. And when work sucks, not being with them sucks even more. But, I get my comfort from thinking about what a great time they are having establishing relationships and having experiences outside our little family.
Plus it helps having caregivers who don't try to usurp your role as mom/dad, who still treat you as your kids' expert.

Posted by: kate at April 21, 2009 1:35 PM

I'm a work-out-of-the-home mom (because, let's face it - parenting itself is a full-time gig pro bono). And my husband works. And adapting to not 2 kids and our jobs has been a major challenge. It is our daily mountain. And when work sucks, not being with them sucks even more. But, I get my comfort from thinking about what a great time they are having establishing relationships and having experiences outside our little family.
Plus it helps having caregivers who don't try to usurp your role as mom/dad, who still treat you as your kids' expert.

Posted by: kate at April 21, 2009 1:35 PM

My husband and I run an IT company (well, he runs it, I work at it and offer *un*solicited opinions). Sometimes we have to ask people to put in marathon efforts, but generally it is only for a week or so at most. And we try to reward with time in lieu. So people can recharge and find their happy place.

My happy place? Weekends in the sun with the kids and our dog... the beach, the playpark, the pool. Usually there's a glass of wine involved. Somehow.

Hope your week is bearable. Or at least over sooner than expected.

Posted by: Mandy at April 21, 2009 3:29 PM


DEC08_RECENT.jpg


DEC08_ARCHIVE.jpg