This week is spring break and I am not home. Each morning one or both of us have dropped the girls off at Nana and Jeannie’s. It’s a luxury.

It’s also a sacrifice.

I find myself feeling like a sham at work and at home as I take this week that so many parents are spending with their kids, and I work. We started this business when my belly was just beginning to grow with Briar inside of me. Our family grew along with our business. I have spent late nights, endless weekends and white-knuckle days building this business, and then a second. I have also spent afternoons I might otherwise have missed, playing with my girls and enjoying swaths of sunlight. Even as I have cut back some time, I struggle with whether I work too much. I am needed here at work and I am making the most of my time. I also want to be here.

Monday the girls went shopping, Tuesday they went horseback riding. Wednesday they went bowling. Today they were planning Between each activity I have no doubt that I suppose I am not really needed, yet I struggle to shake the feeling that this isn’t just unloading my kids. They are having the time of their lives, all five of them. Yet a part of me feels furtive, waiting, tensed, for some sort of strike. A look? An aside? From strangers or the girls, I’m not even sure. My idea of succeeding as a mom is certainly different from theirs. I need to stop focusing so much on how I am doing compared to how I thought I would do or how I think people think I should do.

I try not to get in the middle of political disputes, but I think in the same way that the media has adopted a very voyeuristic and accusatory bent, people have become cruelly uncensored in their non-stop judging of one another and themselves. Our appetite to measure success and failure as well as the relentless comparison of one way of doing things to another, is bottomless. Except that I have hit bottom.

I don’t want to parent as if I am in a contest. I don’t want to rationalize what I do as if I am on trial. I cannot continue to second guess and falter because I worry that things might not be just right.

I want to parent remembering to be flexible and forgiving. And when I fail at the former, lean on the latter. I wish for all parents and all children this same license to live your life without worrying about the naysayers and the strength to not be one yourself.