Missing My Son

It’s 8:35 p.m. and I just put my son to bed. That’s not surprising, since I’ve done that almost every night since he was born. But usually when I put him to bed I’ve already spent four hours with him, fed him dinner, played games, given him a bath and read books. And that doesn’t even count our morning routine during which I get him dressed and take him to school.

But that was before I started my new job.

Now I’m awake before 6 a.m. and out the door by 6:30. Usually Will isn’t even up yet. After commuting two hours to my new office I work a full day and then make the two-hour trek back home. Almost the whole trip—71 miles each way—is in gridlock. It’s after 7 p.m. when I finally get home. I’ve missed dinner, which is sad because I know sitting down to a meal together is MJ’s favorite part of the day. No TV, no laptop, no cell phone…just the three of us talking and eating. Together.

By the time I get settled and scarf down leftovers, it’s time for Will’s bath. And 30 minutes later it’s bedtime. Lights out. That’s it.I went from being my son’s primary caregiver to spending two hours a day with him. And not much longer with my wife.

It’s been really tough.

Don’t get me wrong, I really like my new job and all of my co-workers. The commute sucks but I’ve got my podcasts and I’m adjusting to it. But I’m not sure I’ll ever adjust to being a part-time parent. To hearing my 3-year-old ask why I don’t bring him to school anymore and why I can’t come home earlier to see him. It’s disconcerting I’m no longer the one getting daily updates from his preschool teachers, hearing about who he played with or playing his favorite music on the way to and from school.

It got so bad that this morning, while I was getting ready, I kept hoping Will would wake up. And when he didn’t wake up on his own, I “accidentally” made some noise in his room. Just so I could have 15 extra minutes with him.

Making more money is a great thing and I’m proud to provide for my family. But I miss them. Terribly.

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12 thoughts on “Missing My Son

  1. This is the real test of parenting. It’s very tough, and the guilt can be awful. And if you really like your job, the guilt gets worse. But there are ways to make it work, and I know you will. You two are both great parents, and your son loves you both so much. You are two of the luckiest people in the world – the vast array of physical evidence of the last few years notwithstanding. This is where you learn just how tough parenting really is, and just how valuable the years and the moments really are. And your best ones are still ahead of you.

  2. Hi Aaron,

    My name is Crystal, this is my first time commenting, but i have been reading your blog and following you on twitter now for a few yrs.(not sure how i found you, but, I’m glad i did) First let me say that i admire you for your honesty, i have seen a few negative comments on your launguage and honesty, and you just let them roll off your shoulder, and keep posting. I hope to someday blog with your guts.

    But onto this post, my heart breaks for you. I’m a stay at home mom to 4 children, my husband is the “breadwinner”, and i honestly wouldn’t want it anyother way. There have been several times that i thought i would have to find a job, and the mere thought of it killed me. My only advice to you is that, it has got to get easier. Im sure after a few weeks or months, your family will be on a schedual, and it will be normal for you.. I’m sorry i blabbed a whole page long, but i just wanted to let you know, that you are a great husband and father and i hope to one day be half as good of a blogger as you. :) good luck Aaron!

  3. Thanks for being so honest. It must be a tough situation. I hope Will adjusts OK. I hope YOU adjust OK. I used to have a 1 hr 10 minute drive each way to work and hated it with a passion. Luckily I was able to move a bit closer to work… I so couldn’t spend 4 hours a day in traffic, it would do my head in!

  4. It’s hard to look at the bright side but you’ll enjoy the weekends with your family without having to go to work on Saturday nights or being called out for a story at random times. You’ll be bringing home more money – which will relieve a lot of stress in your life. Maybe try to look at this as a short term thing? Say to yourself “I’ll do this for a year to get us back on our feet, just a year.” I don’t know if these tricks will work for you but when I’m feeling really crappy and tired and miserable I try to step outside of that and find the good reasons why I’m doing what I’m doing.

    Good luck :)

  5. Man, that’s tough. I’m looking at a similar possible situation, and very wary of exactly the kind of stresses you’re talking about… weighing the tradeoffs of good job/salary vs. potential logistical impact on my family.

    Gah. It’s never easy, is it?

  6. I use to have a 1 hr each way to work through traffic, and it sucked. Fortunately I am closer to work now, and even now I hate the drive, its such a waste of time. I am trying to do some work from home days, although my boss hasn’t quite warmed to the idea yet. Not sure if that is possible for you.

    My wife is a stay at home mom, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. i’ve read the posts about the costs of childcare vs one parent staying home, and its a hard decision. Myself, i would take 2 jobs to keep my wife at home, and she feels the same. I have concerns about having my kids spend more time outside of our family unit than inside. Especially when they are young. But I know that’s not for everyone. There has to be a limit. You love your new job now, and time will tell if you keep loving it at the expense of spending (alot) less time with your family. I like the comment about saying you’ll do it for a certain period of time, and dig yourself out of any hole you are in. Having the thought of changing or quitting your job in your head will make it easier to think about and consider when you really start to get bitter about your commute and the job that is taking you away from your family.

    Jobs are hard to come by these days, and I am very thankful that I have a job that can support a family of 6 (!!!) and still give me some time with the fam. At least you are talking about it. That’s the first step. I’m probably the last guy to be giving out advice, but when you start really getting angry at the commute, or thinking up reasons to not go to work, I would suggest really doing a side by side analysis of pros/cons of trying to change the situation.

    My dad gave me this advice. He was always sneaking out of work early to catch my ball game, or do something with my sister. He probably missed out on promotions, and other opportunities because of it. He is now 64, and looking to retire. Just last week he said to me when I was talking about having to stay late at work to get some small projects done at the office that would impress my boss- “I never wished I spent more time at work, and I don’t remember the times that I did. But I do remember the times I didn’t.” A man of few words, and those gave me lots to think about. That’s not saying I’m advocating skimping on my responsibilities of my job. But when I have the chance to either go home a little early or clear up some paperwork that’s been staring me in the face, I think it will be easier for me to prioritize. Oh, and full disclosure- I get to work at 6:30am, and leave at 5. So I put in more than my 8 hours a day. I’d rather work early when my kids are sleeping and get home on time when they are awake.

    Cheers!

    Matt

  7. I’m in the opposite position. I got laid-off yesterday. We took huge hits, lost 15 positions. So for the first time ever I’ll be home with my kids for the summer.

  8. After being here for 8 years it was a huge shock. It works out well for me though. I hit a wall for classes I could take. I took all the online and night classes available. The rest that I need are all during working hours. Plus the boys weren’t going to be able to play football this year because I wasn’t getting out of work in time to bring them. All in all, it solves more problems than it creates.

  9. About five years ago I went through something similar. I would often leave before dark and return after the kids were in bed. It was a six day a week position that left me feeling like some sort of single father who didn’t have custody of the kids. There were days when I slept on the floor next to the crib because it was the only way that I got to see my daughter and that was only if she woke up.

    But I am sure you’ll find a way to adjust and make it work for you. I would be far more concerned if you didn’t miss Will and MJ. Hang in there.

  10. Aaron, I know how you feel… It’s almost 50 miles to Worcester each way, but at least it’s not gridlock. The adjustment from maternity leave, and seeing my daughter ALL the time, to seeing her about 2 hours a day (if I’m lucky) has been very hard for me. I’m still not used to it. But, I try to make up for it on weekends – that’s the best I can do. I’m hoping, in time, I will win the lottery, and not have to worry about it! :) Good luck!

  11. Being the bread winner can stink at times. My husband did it for years, always having to have the leftovers; with dinner and with the kids. But, he made the sacrifice, just like you’re doing. There aren’t enough hours in the day!

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