This morning, I made lasagna for dinner, as my two furry companions waited eagerly to lick the bowl. Due to my involvement in an extensive regulatory proceeding, once again this week, I won’t be home until 8 p.m. and since my husband has a meeting, he’ll be back even later. My daughters are now 12 and 15; they’re old enough to walk home and cook dinner and responsible enough to start their homework if not first thing, then at least by seven. Still, I want to make sure that they can enjoy at least some evidence of parental involvement on a night when both parents are absent.
Even though my daughters are nearly grown, I still want to be around, simply present even if not fully engaged. I often wish that I wasn’t built this way. That I could travel out of town for weeks at a time or come home every night after dark with 12 hours of billable time under my belt. That I could turn myself into a money machine and take my daughters on lavish trips or move to a fancier house instead of trying to cram my law practice and my blogs and books and other stuff that I do into the margins.
When I’m on break at the hearings, I eavesdrop on other parents – mostly men, mostly from big or mid-sized law – chatting about their kids, the Halloween that they’ll miss, the antics that they never see, the fake-complaints about “this will keep me up till 11 pm” (to which I think, why not try getting by on 4 hours of sleep, like I do but would never admit). These are choices that they make, just as I make mine. None are ever perfect, are they?