Yesterday, I was going back and forth planning a meeting over email, and I happened to mention that I needed to put off a particular project until the new year because I was swamped work-wise. Beyond the fact that I used the term swamped, I once again caught myself in my very own busy trap. Damn. The other person who I was going back and forth with (who is a dadpreneur of kids the same age as mine) replied that it was so great for me – that I was swamped. I quickly quipped back, Not if you ask my kids…To which, he replied, mine feel the same way. We both commiserated for a moment or two about our kids hedonistic tendencies and their disappointment when doing something FOR them has to be tabled for something work-related.
The scheduling madness continued throughout the day, but I got to thinking about what it really means for something family-related to be tabled and is it all that bad. I decided to leave my guilt at the door when I skipped basketball practice last night to tie up loose ends. I mean , I love my kids to pieces, but the reality is, I cannot stop, drop and make them happy at every whim. Pretty sure that somewhere along the way (years ago), I became convinced that being 100% available to my kids was the secret to success. I am pretty certain that is not the case anymore.
Just to clarify, I have older school age tweens who are relatively capable of handling most of their daily living functions on their own. They can dress themselves, shower on their own, and can even find their way to put a dirty dish into the dishwasher. Of course, they need a supervising eye from time to time and a voice of reason when it comes to sibling rivalry. Regardless, my sons are tinkering on the balance beam of independence.
I am also fairly certain that my entrepreneurial enterprises pushed my kids a little closer to the edge of becoming little men. When I was home full-time, I worried constantly that the socks were all in the right place and we should NEVER run out of organic strawberries. My sons grew comfortable with everything always being done right and available. Need fresh basketball socks: check. Want an apple sliced neatly spread with peanut butter: check. Oh you need your uniform cleaned for Tuesday: check. Of course, there are more honey flavored doo-dads in the pantry: check. I am not saying there is anything wrong with it, and don’t get me wrong – I still strive to keep my house running with relatively little chaos…BUT the little men and actually the Big guy understand way more about how it all comes together.
Team work is what makes it all work NOW. I do not have notions that it has to be done my way or the highway (except when it comes to homework). I needed to step back and allow there not to be fresh basketball socks in the drawer but clean ones in the dryer downstairs, so my son learned to run down and fetch his socks and stash them in his drawer any way he sees fit. My younger son had to learn to do for himself or ask his big bro for help because that is what big bros are for …. it made the boys closer. Last night before I chucked my guilt at the door during practice, I had already shoo-ed it away once before when I decided to run to the grocery store for organic strawberries (duh) and left my other half in charge of dinner prep. I had it all ready to go – just needed to be grilled and baked and served. It was not done how I would do it, but it still tasted great and so what?
Guilt and control go hand in hand, and in order to drop the guilt, one has to let go of the control. I mean what would be so bad if my oldest son pulled out a pair of dirty basketball socks (beside the smell)? I am sure he will do it when he goes away to college. And, if my little guy played football outside without gloves? He would come back in and get them if his hands got cold enough. Just like dinner does not have to be perfectly plated to be fun and lively for the 10 minutes that we actually have as a family. In fact, the chaos might have just made it better.
Which takes me full circle to my discussion of earlier in the day with a dad entrepreneur who was sharing a lot of my same sentiment, which is obviously not so unique to moms, work-outside or inside the home moms, mom entrepreneurs, or whatever we may call ourselves at various stages. We all walk the tightrope of being good busy at either work or something outside the house and wanting control within our homes. Some days, we can’t make all of our meetings and have our organic strawberries, too. Moms and Dads alike.
If we agree to work like a team? We really are much better – no? When you take a close look, we struggle with the same dilemmas? Why not work together?
(photo: AMC, Mad Men)