As a professional who must leave home every morning while the kids are still waking, wiping the crust out of their eyes, getting breakfast, my heart breaks as I say goodbye and close the door behind me.
I’m grateful that I have a very patient and supportive wife who guides the kids daily to get dressed, eat, brush their teeth, collect their homework, do their hair, put on shoes and jackets while managing the complaints, the concerns, and the daily protests. “I don’t want to go to school! I can’t find my homework! I don’t like this shirt. Where are my shoes? I want to take this toy to school! I can’t find my mittens.”
Despite the stress of getting them to school on time, my wife motors through it daily, and I can’t help but feel guilty. However, we chose our roles. I go to an office and she manages the home front. I’m blessed with her support, patience and perseverance with the kids.
Yet, I still feel this angst every morning juggling my own stresses to get out the door on time while trying to do whatever I can to help. Empty the dishwasher, get the bowls out for breakfast, wake the kids up from their deep sleeps, and help them find their clothes. I want to help as much as I can. To show I’m involved, but also because I get more joy out of being a team player. It’s also important to show my kids how to juggle household chores while still rising to the call of a professional career.
As I close the door behind me, I take a deep breath and let the early morning adrenaline calm as I walk down the steps and start my rapid pace to the metro. Quickly, my thoughts wonder into the meetings, the deal reviews, the sales calls, the customer presentations, and the roadblocks we’ll need to tackle.
Once I’m on the metro bumping shoulders or siting hip to hip with strangers all around me, often my thoughts wonder back to my home. I think about the kids being silly and talking non-stop about their school events, expressing their excitement and anxieties. I miss them, long for them. I think of the silly things they said to me at breakfast or the night before. I wonder about their lessons, their school events. What are they learning?
However, the moment I get into the office or the smartphone chimes with a new email my thoughts fade into the background and work absorbs me into a dark tunnel. I embrace the challenge and go hard all day.
At the end of the day I need to shake myself out of my work brain and decompress before I can give of myself or receive. It’s hard, as my mind is still calculating all the complexities and nuances of work challenges… “I haven’t quite figured out how to solve problem x yet.” Luckily the kids generally pull me right out of my work brain as they share their daily stories, ask me to help them with their projects, or simply ask me to play with them.