Work Doesn’t Always Work

What a pathetic system we’ve got here.

Seems the last year has been particularly too real for Kalista, with evening questions about whether I have to go to work in the morning becoming all too regular. We’re up to it happening once a day, at least.

Five nights a week, I tell her I do. Five nights a week, she’s heartbroken. How do I make it “better?” I explain that in a few months, she’s going to be going to school five days a week.

“Welcome to the world, little girl,” I might as well be saying. “When we said good things will happen if you work hard, we never promised the time to use the fruits of your labor.”

For me, it was another dumbass day at work. Got in at noon, broke for an hour at dinner, then went off to Abbeville for a budget workshop. I didn’t walk in the door until 10 p.m.

Kalista sprinted out of bed, wrapped her arms around my legs and looked up, saying, “Daddy,” with eyes glistening in the lamplight. We sat in the chair a few minutes, but 10 p.m.’s far too late for 4-year-old to be up. In to bed I took her.

“Will you read me a book?” she asked.

Of course.

Ten minutes and a bedtime prayer later, she was laying on my chest, drifting to sleep.

“Do I have to go to school in the morning?”

“No.”

“Do you have to work in the morning?”

“Yes.”

Then a pause from Kalista. “Why do you always have to go to work?”

“That’s the way it is, Love.”

“You don’t have to go to work when we’re at camp.”

“I know. But we go to camp on the weekends. I go to work during the week, and you go to school.”

How do you translate and ultimately justify something you don’t even believe in? How can the system – our traditional way of doing things – have it exactly wrong?

Has anyone told our traditions they’ve been wrong all along?

Has anyone mentioned the number of childhoods spoiled by this?

Would it matter?

The effects of our own inability to prioritize suitably are irreversible. I can never have the child I watch in videos from a year ago back. Hell, I can’t have the girl from yesterday. I can’t slow it down, can’t speed it up and I can’t even observe from afar.

It goes at its own pace, whether I want it to or not. All I have to clutch are the memories of times I did not know while they were happening I’d ever wish for so badly.

I have bosses now who cannot grasp what I am going through. “There’s a difference between wanting something and actually being able to do it,” I had a supervisor relay to me from everyone’s boss.

Really? I always thought – gee, silly me – that doing “idealistic” things like eating dinner with a 4-year-old to whom you are the only parent were the reason why we go to work, not mere desires.

This environment makes things tough, too, because while I see the point being made, I also see I am in the wrong line of work – and this line of work is one I am passionate about.

“Daddy, do you have to work tomorrow?”

There will come a time when it’s not such a dreaded thing.

I hope, anyway

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