I'm a part-time Mom, full-time employee. It's sad really. The hours I spend in front of a computer clearly outnumber the hours I spend with my kids. I'm a forty-plus-hours a week worker and some of that is by design, simply because I have access to work all the time since I do it from home. It doesn't really turn off.
At night, once the kids are tucked away in bed, I can return to the glow of the computer monitor and check emails, respond to inquiries and update anything that needs updating. I can wake up and log on before I've even put in my contact lenses or changed out of my PJs. And when I travel to the office for visits, I'm gone before the kids are dressed and I rush back to pick them up, only to spend a few hours with them until their bed time.
In reality, we wouldn't be spending 10 hours a day together anyway, I mean they are in school and that takes up 6 hours of their day - but unlike the other kids that walk off the bus at 2:00 into the arms of their Mom or Dad, mine are kept at the daycare program so I can get a couple of more hours into my work schedule.
And yet, even though I have all this "alone" time while I work - no co-workers knocking at my office door or clients clamoring on the phone - I still have to get out by myself. Away from the home office. Away from the hum of my laptop. I don't feel like I spend enough time with my kids, yet I also feel like I don't spend enough time with Me. It's a weird struggle because while I'm not being a Mom during the day, I'm also not being an individual. I'm being an employee and that's not my time - it's the company's time.
So, every few weeks I take myself out to lunch. Just me. I don't tell anyone at work. I don't invite anyone to join me. I usually go to a local restaurant and sit at the bar, watch ESPN on their TV, and eat alone. With my thoughts. And my guilt. And french fries with a side of ranch dressing to dip.
I can't do it all and I hope my kids know that the hours we spend apart aren't a reflection of my love, just of a choice. A choice I hope I don't regret and that I hope they understand.