I'm working too much, and my daughter, the emotional antenna, knows. And it's not like at age seven she can say, "Mom, you're working so much and your head is elsewhere and that scares me and I wish you would focus on me more and I don't like having to go to school early some days or having you pick me up late other days and I just want our normal life back."
But it's little things. She doesn't want to do the after school class anymore. Easily frustrated at home. Feels like everyone's "always" against her or making her do things or pulling her this way or that. She's emotionally peaking and valleying at varying times during the day, often one immediately after the next. Need I even say that it's never at a convenient time for me?
And on the inside, I'm so conflicted. For the first time since *before my oldest was born* (clock it - that was more than 9 years ago) I'm immersed in a work project that occupies my brain before, during, and after "work" (having a flexible schedule is both a blessing and an extremely bad curse.) My brain wants to solve my work issues 24/7 - yes even in the middle of the night. And my body is ready to give up on me. Woke up with a migraine this morning, which is my body's last salvo, last fire across the bow. "Yo, bitch. More rest. Less crazy."
And my little girl, how do I fix this? How do I help her know that changes are okay? That everything is temporary anyway (while simultaneously not freaking out about the fact that summer is 5 short weeks away and my project is due June 1. If it slips even a few days, I'm toast with no childcare.)? That mom working isn't stealing me away from her. Because in a way, that's a lie. It's true, my brain is tied up elsewhere much of the time. But is that really wrong? She's seven! She can cope. Can't she? Should she?
Why are all issues of working and balancing mothering such Solomon's choices? Why can't I figure out how to compartmentalize? Or the right things to say to my baby, who isn't actually saying, "I don't like it when you work"? (most of the time. She has actually said that. Rip my beating heart out and serve it on a platter, shall we?)
And am I upset because she's shining her white-hot light on the exact heart of the issue? The place where a big part of me *wants* this. Wants the full immersion. Misses the way solving work-related problems feeds a very malnourished part of my soul.
I never realized that having babies would cause this kind of existential discomfort. I don't want to have to face up to the reality that is cut back - do less - pull back. I want the damn cake, I want to eat it, too. But it turns out, I have to share.