A month and a half ago my office moved locations, and since then I’ve been commuting with M, by motorcycle usually, or when it rains by car, during which rides we can have nice adult conversations or long moments of blissful silence while listening to NPR. The down point is that now LP spends an extra hour a day at daycare, and it’s crazy how that’s just enough to tip your work/life balance isn’t? We’re managing and adjusting, and I know a lot of people have it much worse, but I really feel I have a lot less time to spend with him. The working mother’s guilt is incredibly quick to plague me in these times, especially since I’ve also been a little upset lately after a recent family discussion about my sister’s decision to delay her own return to work resulted in a mess of misunderstandings, things being said all wrong, raw sensitivities being hurt, and ultimately a complete failure to get points across.
So, my ground has been shaken a little, even though I know in my heart that me working is the right decision for us, that LP going to daycare (this daycare anyway!) is actually the opposite of a negative thing, and I could go on and on about how fantastic it is and how it did wonders for him. But it doesn’t mean I don’t wish I would work just some fewer hours and he wouldn’t have extra long days there, especially after this new schedule we’re dealing with.
I feel bad because this summer he’s only had a few days of break from daycare with us (plus a week off with his grandparents). I feel we need to reconnect as a family, and I think he does, too. Last week there was something at work that prevented me from having lunch there, so I decided to leave and spend the afternoon with him instead. I wanted us to really bond in a setting he would choose. “What do you want to do?”, I asked. “Go to
He had already eaten so I picked up some lunch for myself and we headed home. But he decided that the (appealing) takeout was for him, not me, and wouldn’t let me have it, only giving in after many senseless tears. Then, I wanted us to go pick our tomatoes, but instead all he wanted to do what to knock on everything with his toy hammer really loudly and annoyingly, shouting: “J’ai le droit!” (I have a right to!) whenever I asked him to stop.
A nap will do him good, I thought. So we lay together in the big bed, I only too happy to cuddle, but him, restless, constantly getting up, shouting, goofing around. I tried calming him down for 40 minutes, then grew impatient and gave up. We went to the kitchen to get a head start on dinner for 15 minutes, made play dough shapes in his room for 25, and made a run to the produce store to buy what was missing for that night. There was our afternoon, the special one I wanted to give to him. Quite a failure.
That night, he even woke up crying, confusedly and frighteningly talking about “a big shark.” This was the first time he expressed having a nightmare to us, and I felt terrible because two days before he presented me with a stuffed dolphin saying: “This is a shark!” and I had replied: “No, that’s a dolphin, sharks are not nice!” And the next morning, when his dad had wanted him to wear a polo shirt with a cartoon shark on it, he had categorically refused. We’ll have to be really careful and remember that things that are completely meaningless to us can appear hugely upsetting to his young mind…
Thus is our life. It doesn’t always turn out as expected. But we’ll be alright. The next day even though we spent less time together I felt we had a nice, long bonding moment that took me right back to the secure/happy place again.