I have a bad commute. For anyone familiar with the Seattle area, know this: I live on the east side of Lake Washington and my office is near downtown Seattle in Interbay. Yeah. Between the bridge, I-5, Mercer, and Westlake Ave, it's like the perfect storm of suck.
Moving closer to my office isn't really an option, and neither is telecommuting — so for now, it is what is is. A twice-daily battle that I try and make a little more tolerable with audiobooks or vivid fantasies of Godzilla emerging from the Sound and trampling every vehicle in my path.
What was slowly becoming intolerable, however, was consistently getting home well after my kids had dinner. Every day my husband was taking the kids to and from school, every day he was getting them fed, every day I was straggling through the front door feeling like ... I don't know, like I was arriving late to a party. Everything just felt too rushed and off-balance; every time I was staring at a sea of red lights instead of the faces of my kids I felt more miserable and guilty and trapped.
So I made some changes. It requires setting my alarm for a painfully early hour and the boys go to school earlier than they used to, but it means I can leave the office by 4-4:30. I get home and get everyone's dinner ready and hopefully even have time to pick up the house a bit before everyone arrives, and I can greet them at the door.
The traffic, sadly, is worse than ever on this adjusted schedule. My commute now takes an even bigger bite out of my day than it used to. Sometimes it is so maddening I think it's not worth it, that I've robbed Peter to pay Paul and Paul turned out to be an asshole.
But the bottom line is that I'm home for dinner now, and that's what I wanted to happen.
The name of the game has been and likely always will be compromise. I think it's true we really can have it all — the career, the family, the personal interests — it's just that we probably won't be able to have it in quite the exact way we'd like. In a perfect world ... but there is no perfect world, right? There's only this world, imperfect and beautiful, and it's filled with crappy things like traffic and wonderful things like the light that floods my boys' faces when I open the door and shout hello and they run inside.