"Making Time for My Daughter...and Myself"

One mother's struggle to find the right work-life balance that meets her and her daughter's needs.

Adoptive Motherhood

July 1st

Today I’m planning to resign from my job. I do not have another one lined up. I haven’t had time to update my resume. I’ll take the rest of the summer off to spend time with my daughter and to catch up on everything: correspondence, cleaning, organizing.  I am flying on a trapeze without a safety net.

I have never experienced such sustained pressure professionally as I have in the last months. I work hours of overtime, which, as a professional are unpaid, but I have no leeway at my job to arrive even a few minutes late. Most days, the most I can manage is to leave my desk just to grab a sandwich.  Not only have I been working more hours than expected, but I’ve been told that my days will become even longer.

I have thought about quitting almost ever day since I began. I think about a career change–teachers get summers off, don’t they? I consider interviewing for lesser jobs so that there might be fewer demands. The local job market is robust. Can I pull this off financially?

I have been doing poorly at the job that’s the most important in the world to me–being a good mother to my daughter. I accepted my current position in part so I could afford things for her, such as private school. Now I find myself robbing her of the things that mean the most: my time and attention and patience. Last week I snapped at my daughter. She responded tearfully, “I just a little girl!” I recently received an “overdue notice” from our adoption agency for my daughter’s progress report. Although not quite the same as forgetting to pay the cable bill, it felt like a failing grade on my parenting report card. A few days ago, I got a phone call at work from a friend who had been in town but was flying home early–his friends’ small child had died of a brain tumor.

“Do right, fear not” proclaims a sampler hanging in the bedroom of my cousins’ country home. I know what is right for my family.

“…You have made your expectations for my position very clear and I find myself unable to meet them. Therefore, I cannot in good conscience continue in my current position…”

One Year Later

I tried to quit, I really did. My boss was astonished when I gave her my resignation letter. She exclaimed that I didn’t have to quit–I could work  fewer hours or I could work a day from home. Although I had secretly hoped to continue as a consultant with abbreviated hours, I never dreamed that I’d be offered a part-time position.

We settled on a four-day workweek with the same number of hours per day (and a proportional cut in salary). I agreed to take off Thursdays because this worked well with the department schedule. I have been asked why I didn’t request Monday or Friday as my day off. My answer is consistent–I don’t need a longer weekend, I need time during the week to do an extra load of laundry, go to the grocery store (or hear myself think).

At first I felt selfish. When people ask if I spend my day off with my daughter, I reply that this is my time. I didn’t know how much I needed time to myself until I got some. By giving myself time, I am much better able to give my daughter my attention and patience when I’m with her. I remind myself that I have a life and–while my daughter is the most important person in it–I, too, need care.

I love Thursday. It is the day I do not have to rush my daughter to school and then race to the office. I schedule doctors’ appointments, have lunch with friends, read the newspaper cover-to-cover. I often swim, an activity I always enjoyed but gave up when my daughter arrived. I spent many recent Thursdays earlier this year assembling the paperwork to adopt a second child.

One year later, I am not as organized as I expected to be. My apartment is not as neat as I would like. I don’t cook dinner as often as I had hoped. However, I feel less harried and more focused.

Making the decision to leave my job was the most difficult thing I have ever done yet it was also the most liberating. I know that I chose the path that was right for my family.


Copyright © 1999-2024 Adoptive Families Magazine®. All rights reserved. For personal use only. Reproduction in whole or in part without permission is prohibited.

More articles like this