As mom to a teenager, I sometimes feel like my job is over. My daughter spends her afternoons and evenings doing homework. Weekends she’s sleeping in and spending time with her friends. And then she also spends a day or two a week at her dad’s house.
The more time that goes by, and the closer she gets to college, the more I feel that tug of my heart. I’m not ready.
As a single parent, it was up to me to make sure there was food on the table every night. It was up to me to bring home the bacon. So until my daughter was going into sixth grade, I spent all day teaching 30-something third graders, then came home to grow my copywriting business (my side hustle so I could make ends meet).
Looking back, I don’t know what else I could have done. But looking back, I also know I wasn’t as present in my daughter’s life as I should have been or wanted to be. Sure, I was there. I was there more than her dad, for sure.
My divorce wasn’t pleasant. There was a lot of fighting over silly things that didn’t even matter–like whether it was okay for my ex’s new girlfriend to take our daughter to get her nails done, and whether our daughter should have been allowed to stay up until 11 p.m. on a school night. And there was a lot of fighting over big things–holidays, safety issues, money, childcare.
I internalized a lot of it, and it made me less effective at work and emotionally absent at home. And when my daughter was with her dad? Well, let’s just say I found ways to forget my heartache in those early years. It wasn’t pretty.
Now that I feel like I have my life stitched back together, I feel like I missed something. I showed my daughter that work was more important than just vegging on the couch with her. I spent too much time glued to my phone and not enough time just being with her.
At 15, my daughter is not your typical teenage girl, and for that I am eternally grateful. I tell her that every day. She’s fun to be around, motivated to do well in school, and I have yet to hear the dreaded “I HATE YOU” shouted from across the house. (I mean, I must have done something right!)
I routinely took on too much extra work and spent holidays, weekends and summer breaks working away. I mean, we usually couldn’t afford a vacation anyway.
As the next two years fly by and my daughter leaves home for college, I’ve made it a priority to drag her away from her homework a few times a week so we can spend quality time together. A day trip up north. A session at the climbing gym. An evening walk with the dogs. Anywhere that we can put away our technology and just focus on fun and time together.
I’m not ready for my daughter to leave home, but I know that day is coming–sooner than I’d like. So before that day comes, I’m all about being present. Better late than never? I certainly hope so!
MotherHustle panelist Abby Herman is a content strategist and content coach for small business owners, helping to get her clients’ written message out to their audience, in their own voice and on their own terms. She specializes in working with female-owned, service-based businesses to generate ideas and strategies that help to move their businesses forward with content that attracts the perfect clients. Abby firmly believes in the power of educating and empowering business owners so they can grow their businesses without breaking the bank. Community over competition is truly her jam!
When she’s not crafting words or coaching her clients through their own writing roadblocks, you can find her exploring the mountains near her home in Phoenix or finding new ways to get her teenaged daughter to take a break from the school books and technology. You can follow her on Instagram, YouTube and Facebook.
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