One of the aspects I hadn’t really counted on of being a parent is this sort of cycle of guilt I’m currently feeling. Three months in and I’m still trying to find the happy/healthy middle of Work/Liam/Leah/Me. I suppose on one hand that three months isn’t really such a long time, but on the other, because I can no longer really imagine life without Liam, it feels like I’ve been doing this forever.
I suppose part of this stems from the fact that I’m still quite angry that I can’t simply be a stay-at-home dad. While I’d never really voiced in certain terms to anyone that I wanted to be, nor I am I actually certain that if I were, I’d be either good at it or enjoy it, but I do know that in my imaginings of early parenthood, I would have spent several months at least with my child, not having to work. I’d hoped that working for myself, I might have the freedom to take more time off than I would if I were working for someone else. In many ways, the opposite has happened: I took off the week that Liam was born, and worked 4 day weeks for the next 4 after that. Which was nothing. It was essentially just enough time for me to be sure that Leah was “ok” with Liam in the daytime, and then blammo! it was back into work.
Some things have changed, work-wise, since Liam was born: I used to quite regularly work late at least one evening, plus work at least one weekend day. This extra time has always been necessary to keep up with the amount of work that I’ve had. I’ve essentially completely stopped working extra time since Liam was born, which has meant some hard adjustments of expectations and timelines at work, that I think we all were quite surprised by.
So the other aspect in all of this is my own personality. I’m a fairly introverted, intensely private person. I need, for my own mental health, a certain amount of time every day that’s “me time” – time where I can sit and process what on earth has actually happened to me, in order to “recharge” and keep on doing whatever it is that I need to do. I don’t know if everyone’s like this, but I find if I go a few days without alone time, I start getting really cranky, and brain-dead so that my work suffers, and I’m probably not so much fun to be around.
But because I’m at work all day, often leaving before Leah & Liam get up, and I don’t get home until around 5:30-6, I barely see Liam during the week. If I toss in a solid hour or so of “me time” when I get home, which is generally when I do this, historically, it means I barely get to spend any time at all with Liam during the week when he’s awake and alert. So then I feel guilty for needing this alone time when I could be spending it with him. And I feel guilty for having been at work all day, rather than with him. And if I delay my “me time” until after Liam’s in bed, then I don’t really get any quality time with Leah, who also, quite understandably, wants some quality time with me, and I likewise, want quality time with her. And then, I also feel guilty for not working the evenings and weekends that I use to. I worry that this “lack of commitment” (I know crazy, but that’s sometimes how I feel) is costing my company too much.
Which means that basically, right now, I’m not happy. I’m resentful of my job, because it keeps me from Liam. I feel guilty whenever I don’t spend every available minute with Liam, because I’m selfish and want time for myself. I feel like I’m letting Leah down by not being around as much as I perceive her wanting me to be. And while I try out different levels of everything, I currently feel like I’m failing everyone. I suspect this is common for new parents who have to work, but it really, really sucks.