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About a million years ago, when my daughter was still a toddler, a wise and wonderful woman told me not to assume our relationship would fall apart when she became a teenager. Expectations. So powerful, aren’t they?
Over these years, when I feared that we were drifting apart, I would remember that advice and then think, “No, this can work, what do I have to do to get back where we want to be?” And daughter and I would go for a walk, or I would tell her I knew she needed her independence, she didn’t have to push, or my husband and I would explain why she was going to be disciplined and that we knew she could do better (that one not often, thank God.)
What do you expect from your life, working-mamma friend-of-mine? Expect it to work, girl, because it can.
The work-life balance is tricky, I don’t have to tell you. But it can be done. (Now, to give credit where credit is due, my husband stayed home for six years when ours were little, so we didn’t have to slog to find great baby daycare for our last two like we did for our oldest son. Is that part of why our kids are healthy and happy? We’ll never know, but it is how we balanced it then. We balance it differently now.)
How about my friends who work alternate shifts so that their kids are in daycare less hours per week? Or where she works from home? Or where they both mom and dad work off site and Grandma, daycare and auntie share the childcare?
Mothering is a million tiny things that add up to a life. The good news for all of us it that we get to pick our million things, most of them.
Do you look at them when they need you, or are you looking at your phone? Do you have meals together? I don’t care if the meal is rotisserie-chicken-on-a-paper-plate, or toast-at-breakfast or meet-them-at-school-between-business-trips (done all three of those)… do you eat together? Do you touch them and smile at them? If their kindergarten teacher asked them what they liked to do with you, would they have an answer? And can they believe you? Do you do what you say you’re going to do?
I look at this list, and I give myself, on balance, maybe a B+. I’m straight A’s in reading to them before bed, loving them like crazy, making it to their athletic events. I’m an A- on birthdays. And probably a solid C on avoiding my cell phone when they are trying to talk to me (ouch). Doing what I say I’m going to do… B+, maybe. And yet, they love me.
Life. Messy, isn’t it? But, you’ve got everything it takes to make this work. You do. Decide what matters, shuffle-adjust-manage, apologize as necessary.
And, thank God, life doesn’t have to be perfect to be wonderful.
Expect wonderful. Act accordingly.