“Dinner’s ready, come to the table, please!” I holler to my family who is scattered throughout the house. I’m pretty impressed with myself today; I finished work early enough to get home and cook a healthy balanced meal for my family, and now we are about to sit down, together, and enjoy it, and each other’s company. Except we didn’t. Our 4-year-old, Kyle made every attempt to avoid eating the same way our 11-year-old, Lucas avoided our questions and basic eye contact. My husband and I spent more of the meal discussing whether Kyle should be allowed to leave the table until he was finished than we did eating the over cooked pork. It wasn’t always like this though.
Once upon a time, before kids, I had a job and friends and engaging dinner conversation. Since children entered our lives, not only did our dinner routine change, but so did my priorities. It started with my job. After maternity leave, I returned to the job I’d held for 4 years, which was fine. But that’s it. Fine was fine, before I had a baby, but now I wanted more. I figured that if I had to be away from my son then I had better enjoy what I was doing. Soon after, I accepted a role at a new company that would be more challenging and rewarding for me, not to mention more comfortable financially. Life was great. Until it wasn’t. I was suddenly feeling inspired and motivated at work but that came at the cost of a longer commute, longer days and longer time away from my son. Many days I was gone before he woke up and home maybe an hour before bedtime. I seemed to ‘have it all’ but wasn’t able to actually ‘do it all’.
I struggled with setting my priorities in life. How could I possibly decide what was more important between time with the kids, a career, a relationship, and friendships? I want, and believe I deserve, to have it all, but instead I felt like I was failing at it all. And on top of that, was feeling immense guilt about those I was letting down, personally and professionally.
So, I stopped worrying so much about the big picture and started setting my priorities on a day by day basis. It is much more manageable and way more rewarding to do one or two things really well each day. There are days when I have to really work to finish a project and my son is one of the last ones picked up from daycare. Instead of feeling like a failure as a Mom that day, I focus on the fact that I rocked it at work. Likewise, when I can’t make it into work because my son is sick and I spend the day taking temperatures, cleaning up puke and cuddling on the couch, I try not to focus on those work obligations piling up and remember, that today is about my little guy.
There are days when I am a really great friend, and have time for a glass of wine (or three) and a good catch up. There are other times when it takes me two days to reply to a text. Likewise, some nights after the kids are in bed I still have energy to actually talk to my husband, and other nights, I only have energy for Netflix.
Just recently, I was watching Kyle eat his frozen pizza in front of the tv and feeling like a mom failure when he suddenly turned his attention to me and said “You make really good pizza, Mommy’. My mom fail turned out to be a win for him, and so I’ll take that as a win for me too. I definitely don’t check all the boxes every day, but if I look back over the last month I know that I was a good mom, partner, employee and friend, overall.
Sue Drummond is a Customer Success Manager at Harness, an app focused on helping contractors better manage their health and safety program. She is also a mom, blogger, and past roofing small business owner. www.harnessup.com.