No one said parenting was easy. No one said having a career was either. Being both a parent and a professional creates a constant battle between your head and heart leaving your emotions as the unintended victim.
I recently read a friend’s Facebook confession of how they were feeling guilty for being away from their newborn to see family because they already traveled so frequently with work.
While I respect everyone’s desire to vent without receiving unsolicited advice, I thought I might share my personal experience dealing with career-inducing parental guilt.
I’m mid-way through the parenting tunnel with kids who are now teenagers. I can remember this conversation from about a decade ago when I was picking my kids up from elementary school. I mentioned that I was going to Washington DC the next day for work. From the backseat, I heard, “Again?”
The overwhelming knee-jerk guilt rushed forward and overwhelmed me. “Again? Yes, I’m so sorry. I know I am on the road a lot. But I have a client who needs me to be there. Do you think I travel too much? Am I away too much? I’m away too much.”
From the back seat, I heard:
Thing One: “No Mom, it’s just that I thought you were just in DC last week.”
Thing Two: “You know, we have a really full life and lots of people who take care of us, so we don’t really miss you that much when you are away.”
(As if that wasn’t insulting enough)…
Thing One: “It’s pretty cool when you go away because you go to neat places and if you like them, then you take us. So, we get to go to cool places too.”
While I understand our children are only young for a short period and as parents, it’s our wish to spend as much time growing their little minds as we possibly can. But that’s the thing – we are. Now that they are older, they tell me often how proud they are about how hard I work, and how much I have succeeded at the things that matter to me. They see me having a good relationship with my spouse and healthy active friendships. This role modeling has helped them to do hard things and create strong relationships in their own lives.
Of course, I prioritize my kids. But prioritizing them also means me being happy and showing them the way to get there for themselves, too.
Every decision you make for parenting and your career, work together for a common cause. One benefits the other. Instead of agonizing over the guilt of work, travel, and long hours consider how you are inspiring them to put others first. Remember you are teaching them to aspire to something greater. You’re influencing them to pursue balance and stand for those things in which they believe.
And when you need advice, I’m the Jewish-Mother-At-Your-Service