Weeks ago our 3-year-old woke with enough of a cough and runny nose to keep her home from nursery school, which led to our 5-year-old protesting going to kindergarten. It seemed a generic protest at first. Then I sat with it. I had worked late the night prior and arrived home long after my husband had tucked the girls in for the night. Our youngest was staying home, I had canceled clients to stay with her, and she was happy to be getting in some mommy time. Our oldest wanted the same. I swept our 5-year-old-daughter into my arms carried her into her room, helped her to get dressed and talked all the while about why she wanted to stay home. I helped her find words when she couldn't find them on her own. She told me she missed me. My first reaction was to feel a deep pang of guilt for expanding my practice and taking on more evening work hours. I missed her too.
We managed for me to be a part-time-working-mommy for much of their early childhoods. It's now time for me to be nurturing my career again, as well as my family. Finding balance is always a challenge, always a test, something somewhere always has to give. I resisted my impulse to apologize for working late as I realize this is our life. Instead, I guided her in a discussion of how she can get more of me. We brainstormed together. She asked me to curl up in her bed and cuddle her when I got home. Sounded good to me. And like that, the tears were done and she went happily off to school.
A week or so later, I had another late evening of sessions scheduled but managed to arrange for our awesome sitter to bring the girls by my office after school during a brief opening between clients. I had stopped at a local bookstore during lunch and picked up picture books for each. It was a short but meaningful moment for me as I again missed bedtime. I'm learning to be grateful for moments like these.
I'm learning too that this balance falls into place a heck of a lot easier when we approach all we have to juggle with a greater sense of ease, curiosity, gratitude and wonderment (and it's also the best cure for judgement, depression and anxiety).