It’s summer again. My kids got out of school a week and a half ago and I’m already struggling. It is never so hard to be a working mom as in the summertime, leaving in the morning when the kids are still asleep or still in jammies. Not only do I hate having to tell my kids “I can’t, I have to go to work today” because of the looks of disappointment on their faces, but because in the summer, in all honesty, I’d like nothing more than to ditch work and hang out with them at the local swimming pool. My motivation to work just goes out the window and I contemplate – every year – whether I should just start my own part-time practice, force my husband to go back to work, and spend the summers with my kids.
The last time I had any ‘real’ summertime time with my kids, my son was 2 and my daughter was 6 months old. I took a month off between jobs. We went to the beach…the park…you name it, we did it! My son is 8 now. Now, I’m lucky if I get a good hour and a half at the swimming pool between ending the work day and bedtime. Unfortunately, as an attorney, I can’t just shut down my practice for a month, a week, or, unfortunately, even a day without a LOT of preplanning. When the Court calls, I have to answer. It is a constant balancing act between work obligations and family, which, in my life, creates a lot of guilt.
As I said before, May 24 was the kids’ last day of school. We had planned a few weeks in advance to go to the Henry Doorly Zoo the following day. It was a big deal and the kids were really excited to show me the animals. (My husband and the kids had been there three times last year without me). Blocked off on my calendar and everything! But then, as inevitably happens, I had two hearings scheduled – one in the morning and one in the afternoon. I had to be there, so there went my “best laid plans.” The worst part is that, despite all the excitement building up to the day, it was hardly a letdown for the kids. They just decided they would go without me.
This, of course, made me think that they must be so used to me bailing on things that this turn of events is no surprise to them. Mother’s guilt…it is alive and well. My feelings were hurt because anyone who knows me knows that I try to get to EVERYTHING – even the practices. And I’m ashamed to admit that I was just a little bit satisfied when the day turned out to be cold and rainy. On the other hand, maybe they weren’t broken up about my cancellation because spending ‘quality’ time with me is not so rare that they were devastated when our plans went astray. When they cut their zoo trip short because of the weather, I was able to go with them the next day.
As I sit in my office today, my thoughts wander from the Suppression Motion I am supposed to be working on to the pool – will it still be warm outside when I leave at 5? Can I get the kids fed, suited and to the pool on time to make the trip worthwhile? Are there any days next week that I could ‘play hooky’?
Truth be told, though, as much as I feel that I am missing out on summer, I know that I could not be a stay at home mom for any length of time. (More guilt!) I need my job. Maybe it is the joy of stolen hours spent well that keeps JD moms and their children close. It’s like a snow day…or an unexpectedly short afternoon meeting – you’re free to play…without the guilt!