Since my children were able to talk, they have asked me when I was coming home from work. It used to be over the phone, their sweet little girl voices asking me to tell them exactly when I might walk in the door. With my older daughter. I used to sometimes narrate my drive home to her over the phone because she was so anxious about when I would arrive. Now I get the same question through a text message.
When they were young, the second the front door opened, my daughters would run and greet me with an excited yell and a hug. Sometimes they would leap into my arms and almost knock me over.
These are the moments when the mommy guilt really sets in because its not just about being home, it's about being present when you are home. And when you have a job that is mentally, emotionally and physically draining, it's hard to be present for your family at the end of the day.
Take this past weekend for example, two early morning weather coverage shifts messed up my body clock to the point where I was of little use to anyone, especially my daughters, even when I was home. It was a lot easier when I was younger to jump from one thing to the other with vigor, but now I realize it takes more energy to do what I did 20 years ago, and it takes more time to replenish that energy.
All I can hope is that I have been a good example to my daughters of a strong, working woman who helps provide for her family. I hope that they will remember the moments where we do engage, and there are many, even when I am tired and drained at the end of a long day. I hope they will remember me attending volleyball games, helping backstage at dance competitions, planning birthday surprises and sharing a pizza, a movie or a yoga class with them. Most of all, I hope they know that even at 4 in the morning when I am driving along icy roads and reporting on the conditions, that I love them, am here for them, and am always available by phone or by text to listen and to help.
And someday, someday not too far away, I will be an empty nester and I will text them: "When are you coming home" (because I'm old school and can't stand text shortcuts).
Just like them, I will wait, anticipating the sound of the front door opening...
Amanda is the mom of two, a reporter for WRAL-TV and the author of several books including some on motherhood. Find her here on Mondays.