She Wins

I started leaving the house at 6:15am this summer to start my work day a little earlier. At the time, I didn’t give much thought to when I would be both going to and coming home from work in the dark. I just wanted to be done work at 4pm so I was able to pick up my kid and be home before 6:30pm. That part works well, but now that it’s dark in the morning and at night, those early mornings can be a little rough. See this tweet from last week:

Sean and Flora are usually still asleep while I get ready. I usually poke Sean awake enough to tell him I’m leaving, Flora’s lunch is packed, to drive safe and that I love him before I kiss him goodbye. Sometimes I even get a response beyond “mmrphh”. I then go into Flora’s room, kiss her on the cheek, whisper my I love you and leave the room quietly. I go downstairs, grab my bags, turn out the lights I turned on and off I go.

Now that we’re no longer on Daylight Savings Time, we’re all a bit screwed up. Flora is zonked by bedtime and I’ve spent the last couple of days both not wanting to get up, and not wanting to go to bed, so I’m fighting it on both ends. The nights feel so late now that it’s pitch black so much earlier than usual.

Not sure why this extra hour screws us up so much – it’s not like this time change business is a new thing.

This morning I got up and got ready as usual. I was running a little late, but nothing awful. As I was saying goodbye to Sean I heard little feet and told him “we have a friend coming in”. Soon a little girl in a Hello Kitty nightgown came in to use our bathroom. I told Flora I was leaving and that I was late.

She looked at me and asked, “Am *I* late?”

“No baby, you’re fine. Come down with me and you can get a cereal bar and I’ll give you a hug before I go.”

Flora held my hand as we walked down the stairs together. I opened her cereal bar and got my hug. She went back upstairs to talk Sean into some early-morning cartoons. I was doing a couple of last-minute chores before I could finally leave when I heard her yelling something unintelligible at me. On the third time I asked her to repeat myself, she finally said it clearly.

“One more hug mama.”

Like most working parents (edit – like *all* parents), I hold on to oodles of guilt surrounding how I balance my family, my marriage, my work, my life, and myself. We have an okay system, but it doesn’t take much for that system to unravel. I don’t always make the right decision at the right moment. I do what I can to keep as many people at least a little bit happy all of the time. Most of the time, I do okay, but I wish it wasn’t always so hard.

It wasn’t a hard choice to give my daughter one more hug. I need those hugs as much as she does. Those extra moments remind me that Sean and I are Flora’s advocates. No one else will have her back like we do. She will learn – is learning – so much from her teachers and other adults in her life, but she needs to learn how a family treats each other from us. How to form healthy relationships. How to be thoughtful and kind.

And, like it or not, teaching my daughter those things are more important to me than catching the 6:39 train into Union Station.

She wins. She has to.


#reverb10 – Day 1: One Word

December 1 Prompt
Author: Gwen Bell

Prompt: One Word. Encapsulate the year 2010 in one word. Explain why you’re choosing that word. Now, imagine it’s one year from today, what would you like the word to be that captures 2011 for you?

So it’s Day One of #reverb10. I thought the first one would be easy. And it is, sort of. Come up with two words, one to describe 2010, and one to describe 2011.

I’m not a one-word thinker. I think in paragraphs, not bullet points. I’m a bit of a talker, and it sometimes takes time for me to get to the point. This one word thing seems to be following me. I came up with my one word from the conversation about it at Blissdom Canada earlier this year. It only took me nearly two weeks to come up with it. And I’m supposed to come up with two “one words” tonight?

Can I use the same word? I don’t think so, they don’t seem to match.

2010 was an interesting year. We saw lots of milestones in the Mitchell household. Flora moved further away from babyhood and into toddlerhood by learning to walk and talk, having her one-year anniversary at daycare and having her second birthday. Of course lots of other things happened to her this year, but these are the big ones.

But this isn’t about my daughter’s year, it’s about my year.

I’m having trouble separating them though. I’ve written and erased several sentences of clichés about my life as a working mum of a toddler. It pisses me off that I’ve become that clichéd image of a working mum. I’m not high in the office pecking order, so it’s not like balancing these two parts is any more difficult than it is for most parents.

But it is really hard sometimes.

So I guess my one word to describe 2010 is “blended”. I’m certainly not balanced. The scale tips this way and that depending on who needs me more when. Sometimes it’s Flora. Sometimes it’s work. Sometimes it’s Sean. Sometimes it’s family.

Sometimes – and not nearly often enough – it’s me.

No one is balanced. I’ve learned that no matter what I’m doing, I’ll always feel guilty I’m not doing something else, everything else, all at the same time and to as close to perfection as I can get. So, everything gets blended into one big thing. I’m lucky that my job doesn’t require lot of take-home work. I don’t travel anywhere and I like the people I work with.

Still, it takes a lot of energy to keep the machine running sometimes.

I don’t expect 2011 to be much different. I’ll still have a toddler (an older toddler, but she won’t be three until September) and I’ll still be trying to manage everything all at the same time.

To be clear, I don’t manage everything on my own. Sean is a great dad and a hard worker and I know he feels as pulled in as many different directions as I do. I’m grateful that we’re in this together.

I try to remember that you can’t make everyone happy at the same time, so you need to make yourself happy first. I don’t always succeed in living by that motto, but remembering it is a good start.

So my ideal 2011 could be summed up as “prioritized”. I’ll do better with picking my battles – I can’t pick all of them at the same time. I’ll try and make the right choices that best take care of my family, and of myself. I will make Sean and my marriage a priority. I will make myself a priority. We can’t all be Priority One all the time, but we can’t all be left off the list either.

Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.5 Canada
This work by Melissa Price-Mitchell is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.5 Canada.
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