Thursday, April 16, 2009

Dropping the ball in my work-life-parenting juggle

Yesterday, for the first time ever, I was late picking up my youngest kids from preschool and day care.

I know it doesn't seem to be that big a deal, but it was, for me, for several reasons:

  • I've never been late before.
  • It kills me when the kids are the last two left.
  • I'm flying solo, and I was sure I could manage everything by myself.
  • There's a per minute, per kid charge if you show up late, as I mention over at The 36-Hour Day.
Every traffic light seemed to take longer than normal. As my clock clicked over to 5:59 p.m., it seemed to stop measuring time in minutes and start measuring time in dollars. “You know there’s a $5 per minute, per child, charge for picking up after 6 p.m., right?” the not-at-all-happy-to-still-be-at-work caregiver told me as I scribbled my name onto the billing form. I must have gasped, because she thought for a second and added, “Or $1 a minute. I don’t remember. Either way, it gets expensive.”

My little kids -- the last two there -- were happily playing with trucks and cars when I bolted into the building, and they looked up and greeted me with an enthusiastic "MAAAMAAAAAAA!" So I know they're no worse for wear. But I still feel horrible.

It’s not just the blow to my wallet (though I’m really, really hoping that it’s $1 per minute per kid, rather than $5. I can swallow having to shell out $20 extra for being 10 minutes late, but $100? Shoot me now). It’s a blow to my SuperMom status — or, really, the illusion of it. People still ask me “How do you do it all?” and days like this make me feel like a fraud, because the truth is that, some days, I can’t do it all — not even when I have to.

Read the rest at The 36-Hour Day, and commisserate -- have most working moms been there, done that before?

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