I sat in a meeting discussing a product that needs to be finalized. The product is now in my hands meaning that I need to ensure that it receives the attention it requires.
The phone rang.
I didn’t answer as I was in a meeting.
My phone rang again.
Again, I let it roll to voice mail.
My mobile phone rang.
The meeting ended quickly due to the apparent need of this person to contact me.
It was the school. The Diva had a headache and a low grade fever. Could I come and get her. The call didn’t surprise me as much as it might. Already this fall she has experienced a low grade fever at the beginning of a head cold, I assumed that she had contracted something similar. I explained that it would take me a bit to get there, but I would get there as soon as I could.
I packed up my bag and left ever so thankful that this had happened after my meeting rather than before as has happened in the past.
When the Diva was 2 and 3, I spent about once a day a month at home during the autumn with her due to head colds. I never realized that some colds come with fevers, but they do. The fevers are not high, more the healing fevers that we commonly experience when we are fighting off a bug. That said, the fevers were high enough to send her home from child care; high enough to have me home with her.
I remember an occasion, years ago, when I received a phone call from her center asking me to come and get her. Even though the doctor knew she experienced these fevers with colds and I knew she experienced them with colds, the center had to send her home. At the time I was working a high profile project. My back-up was a politically savvy, single, young, attractive, and ambitious 26 year old woman known for her desire to take projects from others in order to move forward. And that day, following that phone call, it was my project she took.
I remember sitting at home with my active but feverish child beyond frustrated. My project, my job, my career…and my conflicted emotions spinning through my head. Did I want that project, yes? Did I want to be at work, yes? Was it more important than the welfare of my child, no? I wanted to cry with all that I was feeling.
This experience was not the first nor was it the last; it was just the most high profile example, the one that had the greatest impact on my career, and perhaps the one that symbolizes the struggle of a parent more than any other. The struggle to balance work and parenthood. The struggle to do it all to the best of your ability without another parent around.
My career took a back seat when I got pregnant. This was a conscious choice. I didn’t, however, realize just what that looked like until I experienced situations like the one mentioned above. Never had I felt anything like that – the full knowledge that I had to choose. The realization that my desire to be there for my daughter would prevent me from doing my job. Although I have come to terms with this, my career and my mental approach to my profession have changed. I no longer have the ambitions I once enjoyed. They are more long term than short term and possibly more realistic.
Along with the ambitions and my career path went my anger. If I try hard enough, I can catch a glimpse of the anger and hurt feelings I had that day as well. Why was I doing this alone? Where was my “partner” her father? Why was his career more important than mine? While I sat at home and threw an angry pity party, he continued living the life he planed, pursued, and loved. His career continued without road bumps as did his steady move up the ladder. He did not offer to help because he had meetings and “couldn’t” My ideal image of parenting being a partnership cracked little more. The thought that my job, my career, my dreams were equally as important as his deteriorated. My daughter, my dreams, and I were on our own.
Ah, so much water under the bridge. *sigh*
Yesterday I picked the Diva up from school and went home. She read and watched TV while I did some things at the computer and felt a bit ill myself. By 7:30 we were both tucked into my bed listening to an audio book ready for a good nights sleep.
I didn’t feel anger or frustration. I didn’t feel torn about my daughter needing me to be there for her, at home. I felt content in some ways. This is where I was needed; this is the place I am at the moment.