Live
January 31, 2013 posted by Lindsay Ferrier

Lost Time

Lost Time

This is a post I’ve put off writing because honestly, it’s embarrassing and I’m not proud of what I’m about to tell you. But it’s a truth and it needs to be told, and besides, I’ve embarrassed myself on this blog so many times before.

Why stop now?

Last year, as many of you know, was a big one for me. I covered the presidential election for CafeMom, traveled to the White House, the political conventions and many other places across the country, reported and commentated on cable network news, and  got to develop and star in my own web series. Last year was a culmination of all I’ve been working toward my whole professional life, really. I was able to use all my past work experience as a news reporter and anchor, television writer and producer and blogger, and combine it into one job. And that was awesome.

Since then, I’ve gotten lots of affirmation from the people around me. My readers and social media followers have increased. My e-mail inbox is full. PEOPLE WANT TO TALK TO ME AT THE GYM. I’ve gotten the acknowledgement and admiration we all secretly dream of having. And now, everyone in my world is praising me and saying I’m on the right track. I’m doing great things. I’m getting what I deserve after years of hard work.

Everyone except my kids.

Things have slowed to a more reasonable pace since the election, and I’ve had time to think about what went right last year and what went wrong. As ashamed as I am to admit it, I can see very clearly now that my children have suffered over the last year. You might not notice that they’ve suffered, even if you see them every day. But I notice. I notice when my daughter sadly says, “It’s okay, Mommy. We can spend time together another day. I can see you’re really busy.” I notice by the dependency my son has formed on video and computer games, born from too much downtime when Mommy had to work. I did the best I could last year to be a good mom to my children, despite my workload and travel. I tried to make up for my time away from them with fabulous vacations and summer camps and presents.

But surprise! That’s not what they wanted. They wanted me. They wanted my time and my undivided attention. Those were the things I couldn’t freely give them. And after a year of this, they’re different.

I have had to come to terms with the fact that I can’t be a television and Internet “powerhouse” and raise my children the way they deserve to be raised. I have to choose what comes first.

I’m choosing my kids.

This seems like an easy and obvious choice on paper, but as many of you know, it’s far more difficult to live out– particularly when career opportunities open up and we see possibilities for ourselves and our families like private school and vacations. Parenting doesn’t earn you a paycheck, nor is it a job that receives acknowledgement or admiration. No one cheers or congratulates me when I help my daughter ace her seven times table. No one praises my talent for character voices when I read my son three of his favorite Star Wars books in a row. No one tells me I did an incredible thing by leaving my computer closed after the kids got home from school. My own children may never appreciate the effort I put into parenting them.

But I truly believe that the more time I invest now in my children and the harder I work to give them a stable environment, the more likely they are to be confident, compassionate, honorable adults. My effort is absolutely no guarantee of a positive outcome, but it does increase their odds. I know that for a fact.

This doesn’t mean that I won’t be writing anymore or making videos or taking on interesting new opportunities that come my way. I still have a job and I love it and I’m very grateful that I’m able to do the bulk of my work from home. But thanks to last year, I now have something I didn’t have before- perspective.

I am making an effort now to be done with my work by the time I pick up the kids each day, and when they’re here, I’m doing things with them– baking banana bread or working on an art project or reading or going to the library, or just listening. I’ve learned that my children seem to want my husband and I to really listen to them more than just about anything else.

That’s the easy part.

The hard part is drowning out that voice inside telling me that I have to achieve more, do more, earn more, be more, in order to be relevant and to please everyone else. I know myself well enough to realize that I’ll be struggling with this for the rest of my life.

I’m writing this now to hold myself accountable to you. If I seem to be getting off the rails again (and knowing me, I probably will), feel free to remind me of this post.

I’m also writing this to encourage anyone else who’s fallen into the trap of letting those around us define our success. No matter what the world says, I believe our jobs as parents really are the most important jobs we will ever have. I still have a chance to correct the mistakes I’ve made with my children. I still have time to be the mother they deserve.

I really don’t want to mess this up.

  • http://www.facebook.com/jessicaturner Jessica Turner

    Thank you Lindsay for your words and candor. I admire your bravery.
     

  • http://twitter.com/babyrabies Jill Krause

    I needed this today in a bad way. I so admire you for writing about this, for recognizing this, for making changes. Thank you.

  • AmysAdventures

    Bravo!! As always, I tip my hat to you!

  • Knewman4

    This really speaks to my heart right now. I keep looking at my CV and thinking “why haven’t I done more”? But I know why. I’m with my kids every morning before school and I pick them up every day at 4:00. On snow days and in-service days I do sneak some work in, but mostly I’m about them. And I know I’m paying for it at work, where my raises and my promotions are not on pace. But no raise will ever snuggle with me in the morning or tell me I’m the “best mom ever” for making popcorn. My husband feels much the same way, and we are so fortunate to have such flexible jobs that allow us this much time with our kids. Sometimes I am so tired and frustrated and angry—-at myself, society, everyone. But mostly I am just grateful that I have a job and a life with my kids that (I hope) will help them to turn out OK, and, even more importantly, just allow us to be together and know each other right now. My own father died when I was 17 and though he spent more time with me than most 1970s days when I look back it was never NEVER enough. Anyway, I’m not religious, but Amen.

  • Ritajarens

    What a hard thing to do. I realized after Sleep Is for the Weak came out and I went on a book tour that book tours are not something I should do while my daughter is still at home. I’m not planning to leave town more than once for my young adult novel coming out next week. I get it, it sucks. But I get it. I don’t know if there’s a right choice or wrong choice, it’s just a you choice, and if it feels right to you, it’s right. My choices feel right to me, and I’m glad.

  • http://www.jackandmandy.com Mandy Hornbuckle

    I love this.

  • Bellasaid32

    What an amazing legacy you are leaving for your children- the fact that you chose them. Over any opportunities for yourself, over any career move. You chose to make your children the best that they could be. With time and love and care.

    That is the makings of a wonderful mother. You ARE a wonderful mother. God bless you.

  • Katie Lopez

    Mommy guilt is so evil. I’ve been processing similar thoughts to yours lately. I’m a single mom. Former SAHM, been working part time since my divorce about 2.5 years ago. My kids are in school and I work the same hours so they’re not missing that much of me. But the clincher – I’m also taking college courses. I’m on a mad dash to get the highest degree in the shortest amount of time so I can get a great job and provide for myself and my children. It is such a fine line between being a good mom, setting a good example, etc. I don’t want to lose this precious time with them or damage our relationship further. They are my greatest accomplishments and I treasure the bonds we have because of my SAHM years. I am terrified of breaking those bonds during these years (they’re currently 9 & 10) and then having nothing as they become teenagers. 

  • bereccah5

    I know this is hard and I’m proud of you for facing up to this very challenging decision. Don’t be embarassed – the people who love you, will love you for you, whatever your path is. Do what your heart says is right and the rest will follow. And read Daring Greatly by Brene Brown – she is wise. :-)

  • Kimberly

    It sounds like you are striving to lead a very balanced life which is awesome.  You are right that being a great parent is the most important thing and you will never get this time back.  But to maybe assuage your guilt about the previous year a little bit:  never underestimate the power of letting your children see you as an independent, smart woman who is also successful outside the home.  I especially believe it is important for a daughter to see that in her mother.  But it sounds like you will have a good balance of both.   

  • bereccah5

    I feel so much the same way. I have beaten myself up so badly for not having some fabulous career path, when truly, the reason it’s like this is so that I am totally accessible (sp?) to my children. I’m trying to see that for the very precious thing that is, rather than the other way. Amen from me too!

  • bereccah5

    That was supposed to be a response to Katie Lopez. Disqus is acting all cray cray.

  • Rae Ann

    Lovely post.  This was brave of you to discuss, but….  you should not feel accountable to US.  YOU have to look at yourself everyday.  YOU know what is best for yourself and your kiddos.  If you can see the consequences, accept accountability, and “work the problem” you are already the mother that they deserve.

    It might be complicated now, but as time goes on, you’ll surely get the peace you might need.  Also, rejoice in the fact that you are in the position to be able to do this! 

    YOU ARE VERY BLESSED.

  • Sstenner

    Parents shouldn’t feel compelled to apologize for doing the JOB required to be a parent.  It IS a job.  If you are fortunate enough to have the option to be home with your children, you should!  When your life is over, THEY will be what remains.  The people they become will be your legacy.  Not a blog, or a career.  Those things WILL fade away and be forgotten.  

    I feel certain that a very large majority of the problems in our society could be quelled if more parents took their JOBS as parents as seriously as they take their “career”.  Could you do an EXCELLENT job at your “career”, if you only devoted “part time” to it?  NO!  No one can.  ”Quality time” is not what our kids need.  They need QUANTITY.  They need mom (or dad) at home when they are hurt or scared or need to talk about their day at school.  How can we REALLY listen to them and EVERYTHING they have to say, when we’re rushing to get dinner on the table, homework finished, laundry done….all in a few hours after we get home from working all day?  I understand when the only way to feed your children and keep a roof over their heads is to work.  But, honestly, beyond that…cars, private schools, piano lessons, vacations…those THINGS are not what our children NEED!  They need to be raised by people who LOVE them, not “caregivers” who, no matter how much they “love” children, could not POSSIBLY love your child as much as you do.

    PLEASE!!!  Do not beat yourself up or feel guilty for taking on the MOST IMPORTANT JOB in the entire world!  Don’t let ANYONE make you feel you are not living up to your “potential”.  Our time with our children is SO brief, in the “big picture”.  

    I’m happy for you, that you have realized the importance of being a parent.  It WILL be worth every single minute (and, trust me when I tell you, those minutes pass by more quickly than you could ever imagine.)  All the best to you and your children!

  • http://www.thehomebasedmom.com/ Kimi Jo

    Very moving and inspiring post Lindsay, thanks for sharing.

  • eep86

    When I was in third grade, we were learning our times tables. I was struggling. My dad, who worked a lot and often past when we were in bed, would sit down with me every night and help me to learn my multiplication facts. I was the second girl in the class to master all 12 of the tests! Something I’m still proud of because it was all downhill in math for me after about fifth grade! 

    They will remember the things you do with them and the time you spend with them. They may not thank you outright, but they will be grateful… I’m going to go email my dad!

    Thanks for your post!

  • http://wellgroomedhippie.blogspot.com/ Deanna

    After working very hard to become an R.N. and only working 4 years (2 part-time, 2 full-time) I gave it all up to stay home and homeschool my kids who were going into 4th and 7th grades. I’ve never regretted that choice. Each family has to decide what’s right for them and I would never make the claim that everyone should do what I did. However, I just want to say that I applaud your decision. 

  • Michelle Grayum

    Wow. THANK YOU Lindsay!!! There’s so very much I could say, but it would redundant. You’ve said it so very well. So, really all I have to say here is… Amen.

  • meaganfrancis

    This post really spoke to me, Lindsey. I started writing a comment, but then it basically turned into a blog post, so, well, it’s a blog post. http://thehappiestmom.com/having-it-all-the-mom-blogger-edition/

  • NancyB

    I was climbing the ladder as a customer service representative for an insurance broker many years ago.  My son was about 7.  After being there a couple of years they wanted me to travel to the larger accounts that had numerous office around the country.  Boy was I excited!
    Until I realized as much as I loved to travel, I would be leaving my husband and son for days at a time and knew in my heart I couldn’t do it.
    I went back a few days later and told my bosses that they could hire someone else for the position and I was content right were I was.

    Who ever said “they’re only young once, was so so right”.  You will find (all of you with young children), that as they get older, you will have  a lot more time on your hands to do whatever it is you put aside while they were young.  Whether it’s working outside the home, crafts, whatever.  Take it from this wise old 53 year old woman with a 22 year old son!

  • Diva

    I was a stay at home mom for almost 10 years. Part of that time I worked from home part-time. I am now full-time, at a job I love.

    My children, ages 17 and 19, love seeing me work now. But I don’t regret one minute spent making memories with them when they were young. I can never, ever get those years back.

    We had snow play days, pajama party days and Mom’s cooking and art classes. Art museums, science experiments and library visits all filled my life.

    Could I entice my 19 year old son to spend an entire day with me? Nope. And it would be weird if he wanted to hang out with me over his friends at this point. But my memory bank is full of days spent with him that I treasure.

    Now is the time I can work without one smidge of guilt. And I do.

    You will never regret the time spent with your children.

    Your career will still be around when they are older. 

    Enjoy!

     

    • suburbanturmoil

      This is what I like to hear. :)

  • Marie

    Good for you, Lindsay. Sometimes, I look at other families & wonder how they “do it all.”  When I try to imagine me/us “doing it all” in my family, I picture the disaster that would be! It is that vision that keeps me from applying for certain sweet positions that I hear about and see posted. I pick & choose the projects that will fit with my family life, because I have decided that it’s my A1 priority, too. I don’t think you’ll regret your decision, Lindsay… Bravo to you!

    • suburbanturmoil

       I need to get better at picturing that disaster, that’s for sure!

  • http://www.callherhappy.com/ Jenna @ Call Her Happy

    Beautiful! It is such an easy thing to do on any scale. And, the good part about it? Your kids are learning that people might make mistakes, might have to make difficult decisions, might have to do other things, but there is always the next day to change it if you don’t like what’s happening. A good lesson.

  • http://www.three-peas-in-a-pod.blogspot.com/ Jennifer

    When I was in graduate school, I had a professor who was an amazing journalist and author. He had won all sorts of Big Awards, yet he lived alone and was estranged from his grown child. I decided right then and there that I didn’t want to singlemindedly pursue a career at the expense of my family. I would find a way to have both. 

    And it is a challenge. I love the work that I do. I love my family. I love that I can work from home and still do things like meet my older son at the bus stop or take my younger son to story time at the library. But yeah, sometimes, I still hear that voice whispering in my ear that I should be doing more, that I could really accomplish something big if I did things differently. On the other hand, there are also times when I have a massive project to complete when I’d really rather be taking my kids to the park. It’s sort of a win-win or a lose-lose, depending on how you look at it. I get to do some of it, just not all of it. But it took me a long time to get to that realization. 

    So that is my longwinded way of saying you are not alone! 

    • suburbanturmoil

       Balance is SO hard, and the issue never goes away for parents.

  • Julia Chapman

    im betting you can do both.  Best of luck to you.

    • suburbanturmoil

       Thank you! I’m just glad my priorities are now in order. That will make it a LOT easier to decide what to pursue and what to let go of.

  • Anna

    As someone who quit a very well paying job that I really liked to stay home with my kids, I completely hear you on this one.  It is so hard to pass up the career opportunities and the jobs that look so fun and exciting (and probably are!) to stay at home with your kids, which a lot of the time is really a thank-less job.  I soooo heard you on that part of your post!  I don’t get any progress reports or annual reviews here where someone tells me I am awesome at what I do!!  For the record, Lindsay, I would say the fact that you have thought so hard about what is right for you and your family (and that kept your computer closed when the kids got home from school too) means that you are doing great as a mom!  Thanks for inspiring the rest of us who are in this same struggle.

    • suburbanturmoil

      I felt like I really needed to share this, because I would have liked to hear this myself three or four years ago. I do feel fortunate that I’ve now done pretty much everything I could have hoped for career-wise, and realized that as wonderful and fulfilling as the last year has been, it has NOTHING on the feeling I get from being a good mother. It makes prioritizing a lot easier for me.

  • http://supermom04.blogspot.com/ Jaime aka SoCalled Supermom

    I have come to realize in the past year or so, that I CAN have it all — just not at the same time.  I love my career and my kids are my world.  Right now, I see my friends getting the jobs I want.  And seeing them travel like I used to — oh, how I do miss those site visits being waited on by hotel staff.  But, seeing my daughter get off the bus each day and being able to take my son on a walk when its light outside on a weekday — that is even better.  I am working hard to find the balance and like you — I think I am finding it but my kids are my #1 before any job or any new client. 

    You can quiet that voice in your head — just look at your two ADORABLE kiddos and that should make that voice stop. :)

    • suburbanturmoil

       Another mom told me that over the summer and it really resonated with me– Moms CAN have it all, just not at the same time. I’ve tried to keep that in mind ever since.

  • Grace

    This hits close to home for me — we lead parallel lives. I started thinking about this over the holidays when everyone was talking about resolutions, and realized that while I was proud of what I’d accomplished over the past year, I wasn’t proud of other aspects of my life. Inside, you know what balance is right for you and your family, trust your heart!

    • suburbanturmoil

       I wish more women who seem to “have it all” would be honest about how hard it really is to maintain a career AND be a good mom. Just from the comments this post is getting here and on Facebook, it’s obvious that we all want to talk about it, and it would have helped me a few years back when I thought that having a fabulous, busy work-at-home career AND being a great mom would be easy, based on what I was seeing around me. Now I think much of what I saw was a facade.

  • Melissa

    I faced the same question last year. I’d like to go back to school and earn my degree and I thought I was going to be able to do it right after I had my second baby. WRONG. Not only was having two kids much harder than I thought it would be, but I developed Post-Partum Depression which made it even harder. As I got treatment and the fog kind of cleared, I had to come to terms with the fact that right now, I need to be fully present for my kids. If I were to put more on my plate I would lose my mind (again) and that’s not a place I want to go. I can go back to school later. My kids need me now. And I’m totally secure with that. :-) People can judge. I don’t care. They don’t live inside my head. 

    • suburbanturmoil

       It’s sad that our society doesn’t put a premium on mothering– great mothering, not just “mailing it in” mothering– the way they do on education and career. I wish that women were praised for making the decision to choose their kids over their career opportunities, IF they choose to do that. Because we get plenty of praise for taking those career and education opportunities when we get them…

      • fotini901

        People.  I wish that PEOPLE were praised for such. Not just mothers.  (Just had to throw it out there.)  

        • suburbanturmoil

           I think it’s okay to talk about mothers sometimes and fathers sometimes and parents sometimes. :)

  • Gertie

    I cut back on work.  For me, I figured that at some point, once their needs are met, it would just be more money.  And how much am I willing to sell my time with my kids for… a few hundred bucks?  thousand?  How much is that time worth?

    I figured it was worth more than any employer could hope to pay. 

  • lenette

    Thank you Lindsay.  I know every mom sure could benefit from reading this.  I know I did.

  • Bonnie

    Let me tell you when the payoff of admiration & acknowledgement comes…when your 18 year old  son graduates Air Force basic training & writes you a letter that says he thanks you for always being there for him.  He says you were the best mom anyone could ever ask for & he is sorry for everything he ever did to hurt you.  Yeah – I got that a few months ago and believe me, whatever you perceive you gave up for your kids?  Totally worth it.

    • suburbanturmoil

       That’s awesome!

  • Cathy Burke

    Don’t be so hard on yourself-even though they missed you they did learn a little independence and they got to see you working at what you enjoy.  Now you can step back and be picky about the projects that you choose. And even when they can’t be with you the second they want to, you are setting a good example for them. Good luck-I can’t wait to see what you do next!

    • suburbanturmoil

       Thank you Cathy- I definitely believe that a little time away is good for all of us. A lot? Not so much! :)

  • http://angiemizzell.com/ Angie Mizzell

    Lindsay, this has been my story, and my struggle, since I left TV. It’s taken me this long (and I’m still working on it, daily) to embrace my desire to a writer and a mom. Like, those two things, and not 15 other things. Like you, I know myself well enough to know that I’ll always struggle with a tug to be “more”. I’ve recently gone through an experience with work that gave me perspective, too. This year, I know I really want to spend the time being a mom, a blogger, and rewriting a book that may never be traditionally published. I believe in those jobs enough to give it my best try, and deep down, I know those jobs are “enough.” I know it, not because of a sense of obligation or guilt, but because of how I feel. 

    You really are amazing. I like when people remind me of that important truth, “wherever you go, you take yourself with you.” 

    • suburbanturmoil

       Thanks, Angie, and good luck on that book. :)

  • Sandi

    This is awesome. You are 100% correct& not enough of us can & do make this choice. I applaud you.

  • http://www.mamaworkinprogress.com/ Courtney Buxton

    Wow. This is brave and you are inspiring. Thank you for writing this!! 

  • http://www.three-peas-in-a-pod.blogspot.com/ Jennifer

    Lindsay, have you ever read the Momastery blog? She’s got a great post on the issue of working moms vs. SAHM moms today: http://momastery.com/blog/2013/02/04/friendly-fire-3/ I mean, I know it’s not the same issue but it’s sort of related…

    • suburbanturmoil

       Thanks, Jennifer!

  • Jen

    I have dealt with this as well – I was one year into my first year as an assistant professor of early childhood development after spending years in school when I became pregnant with twins. I found it impossible to be the mother I wanted to be for my children while working full-time-plus. You can’t be a full-time professor so I am making plans to leave academia for part-time research/nonprofit work. I’m not making a vow of poverty – it’s important for me to keep some financial independence and to be able to give my kids some extras. I’m not choosing to leave my career – I will still be working in my field. However, I had a coveted tenure-track position that offered stimulation, stability and a measure of prestige (within the PhD world). It has been much more challenging than I expected to give that up. However, with two very small boys (1 year old) I don’t expect to be at full force work-wise for years and years. It’s the best thing for our family – best for me, for my boys, for my husband – but it has NOT been easy and has taken me a full year to come to terms with. I was not prepared for how my ambition and love of work did not decrease when I had my children – that I would be REALLY giving something important up. But we chose to have these children, adore them, and see how they thrive with more attention from a much-less-stressed mom. My husband’s field does not allow part-time work so I’ll be doing the part-time piece. I feel very fortunate.

  • http://www.40somethingfiles.blogspot.com/ Stephanie D.

    I missed this post somehow and I’m glad I just saw it in my reader. I truly get this. I marveled at your election coverage and thought…how does she do it? If I remember right, I’m a tad older than you. I have to say, in the past 5 years, or maybe coming through a divorce and how having half the time with my kids, I have come to the same place that you are in now. I was that Mom trying to do it all while I stayed home too. Juggling a technical writing consulting career while managing a magazine/later moms’ website, and trying to be a blogger. I work fulltime now and barely blog. When I do, my posts are far from the stellar entertainment that they used to be. I’ve lost blogging mojo! But, I do spend my evenings and weekends focusing on my kids now. I miss writing and trying to do it all, but it was exhausting me as well. SO, hang in there and know that you’re doing right by your kids. We can take the world by storm when they’re grown and gone, can’t we? This time is just flying by too fast. 

  • Judy

    This is interesting because as I was reading your posts during the past year I found myself wondering what effect all of your traveling was having on your children.  I’m not surprised to read about how they reacted, and I’m glad you have decided to give them  more of yourself. 

  • Katie Workman

    Perfectly said, I’m with you.