To my daughters,
You left a couple of days ago to spend a month with your grandparents. I’m happy for you that you get to have this experience, and I’m excited about spending the month with your dad, doing things that we’ve been doing less of since becoming parents, such as traveling, going to the movies and going out to eat.
But I am so sad!
It’s like in the song by Sinead O’Connor, “Nothing Compares To You.”
Since you’ve gone I can do whatever I want,
I can eat my dinner in a fancy restaurant
but nothing can take away these blues,
’cause nothing compares to you.
It’s strange, you know, because now that you’re not here, I can see how much of my life revolves around you, even when you’re not around. And I can also see how much guilt I’ve been carrying ever since I started this blogging business, which I am so very proud of, but we’ve paid a price over the past three years, haven’t we? I’ve been consumed with building this business, and even though I worked from home and was always here for you, emotionally I’ve been invested in the business in a way that made me less available to you than before.
I’ve been cutting back lately, focusing on my existing clients and being very careful about accepting new clients. I realize that I have so little time left to spend with you, now that you’re almost 10 and almost 12. Soon you’ll be drifting away, detaching yourselves from me emotionally and attaching yourselves to your friends, and that’s OK – it’s a normal process, even if a painful one.
But for now you’re still mine, and you had such a hard time saying goodbye on Sunday morning, coming back for another hug and then another, that I had tears in my eyes, tears of sadness and tears of gratefulness and tears of relief. You love me. And I love you, so much.
Sitting at my computer this morning, typing away, I realize that I am typing without guilt, without that familiar sense of urgency – how do I arrange my morning efficiently, so that when you’re back from school, I can spend some time with you? Over the past year or so I have learned to work around your schedules, waking up early to accomplish some writing while you’re still asleep, working feverishly so that afternoons can be spent together, making an effort to log off at 5pm, go make dinner and forget about work until the next day.
But it didn’t always work out this way, and as I was building my business, there were countless days when I spent 12 hours each day at my computer, writing blog posts, tweeting, posting on Facebook, and responding to clients’ emails.
“Silly mommy guilt,” says my husband, and adds that a dad – even the most devoted dad – would never feel this way unless he was truly never home and always traveling, which is obviously not the case here. But I’m a mom, and I do feel guilt. Actually, it’s not so much the guilt as being afraid of missing precious moments with you.
Now, don’t get me wrong – I love my work. I think it’s amazing that I was able to build my own business, completely on my own, and get to a place where I make a good living from it. I also believe it’s incredibly important for women (just as it is for men) to be financially self-sufficient and to realize their talents and abilities outside of home keeping and motherhood. I’m setting a great example for you. Plus, honestly? I couldn’t be a stay at home mom for longer than the five years I did it. It was great while you were very young, but by the time you had entered kindergarten, I’d had enough. I was getting bored!
So I am mostly at peace with my choices. But whatever choices we make in life, there’s always a price to pay. Sometimes I feel torn – almost physically torn, pulled in several different directions – between your needs, and your dad’s needs, and my own needs, and my work.
So here’s the plan. I will keep working, building this wonderful business that I am so proud of, doing work that I love. But I will continue to be *very* particular when it comes to accepting new clients, focusing on my existing clients, and keeping my workload at a level that enables me to work fewer hours each day, so that I can not only spend more time with you, but also be more available to you emotionally.
After all, money is nice, but you are the most important thing in my life.
My smart, funny, beautiful daughters. I love you.
See you in August.