Reading this might change your parenting. I had a similar epiphany about 5 years ago.
I ended up working away from home Mon-Fri every week for 3 years straight and my relationship with Jadzia suffered badly. I recall vividly coming home one day, laden down with briefcase and suitcase and brollie and overcoat etc, struggling to get in the door, and seeing my 7 year old Jadzia walk into the hallway to see who was making the noise.
Instead of the anticipated shout of “Daddy!” and her running to hug me, the blank look of indifference on her face as she turned and walked back into the living room left me stunned and has haunted me ever since. I resolved on that day to fix that.
5 years on, I earn about half what I could have if I just chased the money, but I work from home 5 weeks out of 6. I cook my daughter breakfast and eat it with her every day, during which we watch and laugh at crazy videos on the net together, or solve puzzles posted in the Engineering magazine I get, or as it is at the moment make paper aeroplanes from a kit I got for Christmas. And we talk about her life and her friendships and occasionally even boys (oh the horror)!
I’m here waiting every day she comes home from school to hear about her day. I sit and eat tea with her every day. And as happened yesterday, I’m on hand to rush to school and take her to the hospital when she falls and hurts herself, of course administering much needed daddy cuddles along the way. 🙂
My relationship with my daughter means the world to me, and now is the most important time. It’s alarming to realise but by 12 I’ve already had two thirds of her time at home. All too soon she’ll be off living her life, at Uni or working away or moving in with *shudder* a boy(!), and carving her own niche in this world.
I hope that her poor old Dad will get a look in occasionally, but I accept that it will always be less than I’d want. The time I spend with her now is the most important, as she grows into a woman, and it will set the tone for our relationship for the rest of my life. I wouldn’t miss it for the world… and I won’t miss it for work.