It has been an extremely busy week at work, so I've picked the kids up later than usual every day (except Wednesday, music class day, I did manage to get out early that day). But for the rest of the week I have crawled up the peninsula in rush hour traffic, barely making it to daycare by 5.45 rather than my usual 5.00pm. They have not quite been the last kids there, at least. I know someone has to be last, but I always feel awful when it is my kids, particularly when they are some of the earliest to arrive, too. They are always playing happily when I finally rush in, but I think it worries Geekygirl, watching other parents come, other kids hug their parents, grab their lunchboxes and wave by bye, while the class shrinks, the sun sets, and she is still there. Even Geekybaby, at 8 months, starts to watch the gate hopefully if I'm later than usual, gets excited whenever a small blonde mummy comes in, then disappointed when it isn't his.
Last night Geekygirl asked me "are you happy when you are at work, mummy?". I wasn't sure what to say, but figured we are teaching her to be honest about feelings, so I answered honestly "Yes, I am happy at work, but what makes me most happy is to be with my Geekygirl". "Are you happy at School?" I asked. Her response was "I'm happy when I'm with my mummy".
Being tugged in all directions is just part and parcel of being a working mum, feeling guilty to be the first person to walk out of a meeting, then guilty for being the last mum to get the kids. The pressure to stay at work is not even coming from above; I'm fortunate to work with women and men who also juggle work and family, and understand the demands of small children. I put the pressure on myself, since I don't like to leave when I feel my contributions to a discussion are valuable. Its all internal. Where do I really want to be? Debating the finer points of a biological mechanism revealed by our latest experiments, or home with the kids, early enough to read some stories and play before dinner and bathtime? The answer is that I want to be in two places at once, of course. I guess human cloning is the only answer to my dilemma.
At least it is Friday, it's going to be a beautiful weekend in the city, so maybe between tackling the laundry overtaking the closets, assembling the new bookcase purchased to help us keep on top of book clutter, grocery shopping and picking out hardware for the new guest bathroom we may get to have a bit of fun family time.