I should know better than to get upset by what other people say on the Internet, but sometimes I can't help myself. Sometimes people say things that cut so deeply, that touch such a nerve, that I just can't let it go.
A friend of mine posted a rather humorous status message on Facebook musing about why an eleven year old would have a cell phone, and who could possibly be calling an eleven year old early in the morning. It was a lighthearted comment, but one of his relatives felt the need to respond thusly:
A parent who probably never saw her child get up this morning b/c they already left for work & most likely will only see their child for (maybe) 2-3 hrs before they go to bed. Sad how some parents only spend time with their children 15 hrs... out of 121 hrs in 5 days! Priorities! Money should never replace time with your children. Invest, rather, in your child's future. The other reason for a young child to have a cell phone.......broken homes. Helps the absentee parent keep in better touch (to help ease the conscience of that parent). I know......harsh examples, but unfortunally I koow of too many real life situations to back it up.
I realize she isn't talking about me. She doesn't even know me. But those words hurt. I work outside the home at least five days a week. I leave at 7 a.m. and don't return until after 6 p.m. because that's what my job demands. I cherish every minute with my son, every precious and all-to-rare minute. If there's a choice between sleeping in and spending time with Jack, I spend time with Jack every single time. If there's a choice between a babysitter or finding an activity I can do with Jack, I find something Jack and I can do together every single time. Maybe that isn't enough - God knows I struggle with that question every time I leave the house to go to work. Did I make Jack smile this morning? Was our time together quality time? Did I read to him enough, sing to him enough, hold him enough?
Am I wrong? Am I doing the wrong thing? No, I can't even question it. I'm confident that I'm doing the best that I can for my family. If I don't go to work, we don't have a roof over our heads, food in our refrigerator, health insurance. Absent winning the lottery or living on some kind of handout, I don't know any other way to do this. Money certainly does not replace time with my child, thank you very much, but it is a necessity, a fact of life.
My choice to work long hours is not born of a desire for things, for accumulation and status symbols. I do it out of the deep love I have for my family. That can't be the wrong things to do. And lest this post become any more melodramatic than I already has, I will end on a light note, with a nod to Bender: judgmental people like that broad on Facebook can bite my shiny metal ass.