Staying regular on the blog has been harder than I anticipated. Last week was a busy week at work. I’ve worked on weekends and weekday evenings, into the dark hours of the night. It gave me an insight into how my daughter would react if I chased a career. I got to see first-hand the impact on her when I tried to juggle a busy work schedule with caring for her.
On the first day, she was patient and didn’t disturb me too much. The next day, she approached me every now and then. I would respond to her and off she went. Between her dad and her, I had a very good support system while I had to take time off from being a mum and wife. By the evening of day 3, she began to feel very neglected. In spite of me participating in her activities at a superficial level, she wasn’t convinced I was there with her. Right after dinner on Tuesday evening, she brought me her book and insisted I read it. She burst into tears as soon as I said, “Dada will read with you today“. He took good care of her and she had no reason to be upset but she missed mama. So we cuddled and started to read. In the middle of the story, I had to look away to finish an email. She stopped reading and wailed loudly. She was sensitive to the slightest distraction. Eventually, I decided to give her my full attention and work later. She slept in my arms that night, while I worked on the laptop in an awkward sitting position.
I wonder how other mums who work from home manage it. How do they give their children the attention they need while getting big chunks of time in which to get work done? I know mums who make the odd business trip, leaving their children with their partners. I don’t think mine would handle that well at all. She misses me when I’m sitting right before her eyes responding to her cues, albeit distractedly.
This is a sensitive child I have here. Unknowingly my parenting style has been one that involves responding to her needs and following her lead. When I look back, I can’t see any other way having worked for us. She is very tuned in to my actions and attentions, noticing the slightest of slights. She understands when I just want to cuddle and not sing to her at bedtime. She knew when I had to work without interruptions. On the flip side, it also means that she notices the littlest of distractions. She knows when I am responding to her but mentally elsewhere. No pressure!
In my world where I continuously multi-task and distribute my focus across various activities simultaneously, it is not easy for me to stop and tune in completely to one thing. Before she was born, I didn’t think I could even do that. She makes me do it. She forces me to stop and smell the proverbial roses. Not once have I regretted having to do that. Yet, I have to be constantly reminded by her to not get carried away by the desire to juggle many things at once.
I need to let her take as long as she needs to enjoy the ignorance of the rat race we engage in everyday. To that end, I will put away my laptop, however important the work, and give her my undivided attention for full 30 minutes. Longer if she needs it. And I will try not to stress while I do it.
I have seen how it could affect her if I got carried away by ambitions in my career at this time. I recognize that she is my first priority today. On the flip side, I have also discovered that she will allow me the lenience of taking time off, to put in extra hours of work if I need to. My worries about not being able to manage additional work load and having to use ‘being mom’ as an excuse to pass it on to someone else have been allayed for now. I am grateful to my beautiful baby for showing me that. As long as I promise her the care she deserves, she will offer me the time-out that I need.