I really like our weeknight dinner routine. Most nights, I get home by 5:30, which gives me about half an hour to get dinner started before Margie and Will get home. Making dinner is grounding - a connection to the person I was before I was a mom. I'm lucky - I have a flexible enough work schedule that I can leave the office by 4:20, check in with work while on the bus home, and finish up a few loose ends after bedtime (or occasionally several hours' worth of loose ends, but not often). Before Margie, we ate most dinners on the floor, at the coffee table, in front of the TV. Since she's been old enough to sit with us, we eat every night around the dining room table that was once my grandparents'. The Marjorie for whom Margie was named would like that, I think.
It's really important to me to be able to spend those 2ish hours together as a family as many nights as possible - if I'm going to miss dinner and bedtime, there better be a damn good reason. I don't do nearly as many speaking engagements as I used to. I don't schedule meetings that end after 4:15pm. I don't hang around the office for a beer, or stick around the city for drinks with friends (though let's be honest, I never really did that before, either). Before Margie, I usually left work by 6pm, even if coworkers were staying later for game night or movie night...I'm just not really a "hang out at work after work" kind of person. I like to be home. But especially since Margie, all I want to do is get home and get the chores out of the way before she gets home so that in those precious few hours between work/school and bedtime, I can be all hers.
I am a busy lady, with a Very Important Career and a side hustle that's still a hustle. But I still fight for my family time. I fight for my nights and weekends. I've learned to say no and to be ok with what that means. I may not be as much of a "public figure" in my career as I used to be, whatever that means. I never want to look back at staying late at work as "time I won't get back" with my kid. That's not to say I never go out -- Will and I go on dates occasionally, and I do pick up the rare speaking gig when it's really important to me. I spent three days away from Margie running Camp OrgOrg. But these are the exception for me now; I'm extremely choosy about how I spend these special and few evening family time hours.
I realize the immense privilege in what I describe. It's an absolute luxury to be able to have such control over my schedule, my choices. And still, I wish I could work from home more of the time. I wish I could work four day weeks. There are days where I wish I could be a stay at home mom (albeit one with part time childcare so that I'd still get a break and have time to myself). There is no perfect solution, and I operate from a baseline that's already higher than so many parents I know (and many more that I don't, of course). These are the choices that make sense for me, and for my family. They're certainly not for everyone. I'm lucky that my workplace affords people the option to be somewhat flexible in the hours spent in the office, at our desks. Not everyone is so lucky, and moreso, not everyone would choose this balance if it was an option for them. Even amongst my circle, I know people who are quite happy trading off mornings and evenings with their spouse so that they can each work longer hours at jobs they love. I know people who regularly travel for work, and I see how much joy it brings them to be their full non-parent selves in their awesome careers. I also know people who've dropped out of the workforce to care for children full-time.
We all just do our best, I think. I am just now so extremely aware of the choices I make, of the things I fight for and the things I concede. Everything feels intentional; it doesn't feel like I have the option to just let things happen anymore.
And that's all. That's some things about parenting. Some things I think I know and will probably laugh about years form now. The end.