In fact, I'd say that realizing that my needs and issues were taking away from theirs was one of the many reasons I left my job. All I could focus on at the end of the day were the bad things that had happened to me at work. Rather than giving my kids the opportunity to process their days, I needed to process mine first. And that seemed really unfair to me.
It's dramatically different now. I can actually have conversations with my kids, not just at dinner time, but after school and on car rides to various activities and in that space between school and dinner. But, the daily grind (outside of those conversations) does get wearing. Though I spend about half of every day doing my own stuff, a good chunk of my day is spent doing laundry, grocery shopping, meal planning, cleaning, coordinating drop-offs and pick ups, counseling on proper time management (aka homework issues), and negotiating proper leisure activities. The laundry, especially, seems never ending. Just when I think I'm going to have a few days' break, more piles seem to appear from nowhere.
Jody's kids are eight, and many of her commenters kids are around the same age. I'd say that having kids that are 10 and 14 is easier and harder.
- They do their chores properly about 90% of the time. I do usually have to remind them, but other than that, I am assured that the work will get done.
- They can function properly and behave properly under most conditions. Even if they're tired, they can be counted on to behave properly at a family function or other event. I don't have to worry about some kind of breakdown.
- They can go places on their own. They're old enough now to walk over to the ice cream place, the library or the game store. (Though Geeky Girl must be accompanied by Geeky Boy).
- School work. Especially for Geeky Boy, grades matter. For both of them, I still have to pay particular attention to their getting their work done, practicing instruments, etc. They would much rather watch tv or play video games.
- Psychological issues such as body image, intimacy, etc. Geeky Girl is not that far away from going through puberty and already, there's been discussion of what girls wear, etc. Geeky Boy is old enough to be exposed to drinking, drugs, and sex. We are constantly having discussions about these things and also trying to assess their friends and relationships. It's quite difficult.
- General negotiation of boundaries. When kids are younger, it's clear what they're allowed to do or not. As they get older, sometimes it's hard to decide. If one parent allows their kid to go to a movie unattended, should you let your kid do the same? And then there's just the general concept of what they should be able to do on their own versus what you're still having to help them with. I'm still helping Geeky Boy with time management, but I don't have to help him get dressed or clean up the kitchen.