It is nearly 9.00 pm EST which means that I can finally see Megan; she gets her real break of the day when her kids are in bed. It’s hectic for her, working long hours and raising two kids which includes weekend tasks like cobbling fancy costumes, baking pepperoni pizza and driving kids to soccer games. Her husband has to travel frequently for work so she has to manage it all.
“Hey Bob!” She was exhausted as I walked in with my tax papers. She is my advisor and my childhood buddy. Before I could say something she started, “parenting is tough these days, it’s definitely not what they prepped me for at business school. It’s like you strive for two separate personalities living within yourself. One wants to gratify the dreamer-self while the other wants to satisfy the nurturing-self. I’ll be honest Bob I feel torn from within. Even though I claim up to 35% of my childcare expenses and my babysitter is nice, I feel something is amiss whenever I leave them to her.
The other day my elder daughter was sulking that no one at school likes her. I was so worried I wanted to counsel her out of this self-pity mode but I had this huge project to submit at work and I postponed the conversation. Over the weekend, when I walked up to her, she had somehow dealt with it. I want her to be happy always but somehow I’ve let her down in her emotional battle. I am living in this constant guilt of absenteeism.
What family values am I projecting to my kids? I know my income is paying for their camps, sports and rehearsals. Probably, I will amass savings by the time they grow up and walk out in the world but will they have a memory of those loving-mommy-moments to carry with them? Will they be prepared enough to face the challenges of life with courage?”
I queried again, “do you talk about your work and challenges with them?” She said, “Yeah! In fact, I feel very excited when I am sharing my office stories, be it bagging an award or dealing with adversities. They often come up with bright ideas. My younger one was devastated, when she learnt that I sell insurance and not really fly jets.” We both laughed.
I picked up two paper-napkins. I asked her to play along with me wherein she will do as I say for ten seconds. She made a weird expression but nodded as she knew I was trying to drive home a point.
I crushed the paper into a ball, she repeated. We both were enjoying the drill. I declared, “At the count of 5 throw the piece of paper as far as you can.” She laughed and I counted, “1… 2…” positioning my wrist so I could throw my paper ball in the farthest corner of the room, she was mirroring me. I continued, “3… 4…” I threw the paper and she did the same, hers landed far ahead of mine and she literally jumped with joy of winning when I reminded her that she threw it at 4 when she was supposed to throw the ball at the count of 5.” She gave me a sheepish look of realization. “Likewise, children do as you do and not as you say.” That is the reason her elder daughter could walk out of her challenges with ease. She has absorbed her mother’s strength. To live beyond the margins and believe in dreams is the best legacy of love to pass on to our children. Share a smile, but don’t hide your tear. Share your grit but let them also see your fear.