This One’s For All of You “Neglectful” Moms, Trying to Strike a Balance

Just when I thought that I’d probably found the right formula to work-life balance, I discovered that I’m really nothing more than a neglectful mom.  I spent much of yesterday pushing to prepare a motion already a few days overdue to the client because of more pressing deadlines earlier in the week.  Since my daughters have an afterschool activity on Friday, I could work a little bit past my usual 4:15 stopping point before picking them up.  Even so, I still couldn’t finish, so I stopped work and went tearing through rush hour traffic up to the school, about twenty minutes behind schedule.  When I arrived, the school’s security guard greeted me at the door and asked “Is there something wrong?  I see these poor girls left here all the time.”  As I opened my mouth to respond, all kinds of thoughts raced through my mind.  I thought of my messy house, the nights that I worked on my computer with my daughters working along side me, the school events that I couldn’t chaperone because I only have 6-7 real work hours to finish everything.  And my heart sank, because I felt that despite my best efforts to run a law firm and be home for my daughters after school, that I was failing, badly.

Before I could open my mouth however, my ten year old daughter responded for me.  “My mom’s not always late,” she said.  “She was supposed to be late on Tuesday because she had work but she came on time.  She was only really late once before, a few weeks ago.”  The parent part of me wanted to reprimand my daughter for speaking rudely to an adult (which I did, albeit gently), but inside, I felt so proud that my daughter had stood up for me.  And at that point I realized that maybe this work-life balance thing was working after all.

So this post is for all of you who are struggling to keep it together, for wondering whether what you’re doing even matters or whether you’re giving both work and your kids short shrift, for feeling embarrassed about a messy house or ten minute dinners.  Keep it up, it makes a difference.