I was going to comment yesterday on Sheila’s post about the super-mommy discussion going on out there in the world, but I was too busy teaching my 9 month old daughter Latin so she can get accepted into a really GOOD preschool. She’s still having trouble with verbs, but she can say "ba" and "doot" and "yeah" like a – well, like a 9 month old.
No, really, I didn’t because I was at work and shouldn’t even have been reading her blog at the time, nor should I have been thinking about what I would like to say as a mommy who is far from Super, nor should I have composed most of this current post and emailed it to myself at home so I could post it without getting caught.
While I am NOT a Super Mommy, I hear the beckoning call at times…like when I have been up five or six times in one night with two sick children under the age of three, and the dishes aren’t done and the dishwasher is full and we are out of cat food and I have been teaching my two and a half year old son the alphabet in the dust that has accumulated on the floor along the edges of the rooms we don’t use much. (The rooms we use a lot not only have dust – they have a few crumbs, one of Julia’s socks, a shriveled up soybean, and a splatter of pureed chicken and rice as well, all of which make it a bit more difficult to form the letters.) It is usually when I am sleep deprived that my defenses and sensible thought patterns drop down and allow in that scary chorus of voices that try to tell me what ELSE I should be accomplishing in my day. For the betterment of my children, of course. And that’s just what kids need – crazy, frazzled, overstressed, emotional zombies to emulate.
You know what? I don’t want more time in my day. I don’t want more assistance – financial or otherwise. We are fine. Just fine. My kids are happy and basically healthy (though it seems their noses have been running for months now, but I blame all those OTHER kids at daycare for that.) and they are normal. My daughter, by virtue of her age, naturally requires a little more lugging around (since she can’t walk yet) and a little more attention (since she can’t feed herself very well yet or demand juice while holding out all three parts of her sippy cup to help me along) than my son, but both of them CAN and DO play by themselves in as age-appropriate a manner as possible.
And we read to them. For fun. I grew up having books read to me and then going on to read books for myself. I devoured books. And now it delights me no end to see my son "reading" his books to himself. He’s got the favorites memorized, and he’ll sit there, going through them, page by page, "reading" them aloud perfectly. I love this – because he loves the books, not because I think he’s got super memorizing capabilities and will somehow excel at something at an early age. I love the fact that he loves his books because it’s something we have in common. How cool is that? He’s my son! The same thing with blocks, and legos, and his stuffed animals – these are fun things for him. Who was it who said something like "Play is the work of children." ? That’s the thing – PLAY. Not work is the work of children.
As far as losing one’s identity after becoming a parent – I sometimes feel like that, but it’s ebbing. I think it’s perfectly normal to disappear into the background more so when the child is an infant and they need you because not too many of your friends would want to come to your house at night and get up to breastfeed your child so you can sleep. I have felt lost and like a kind of robot. Not even female – just a being placed here for the sole purpose of taking care of everyone else under the same roof FIRST, and then, eventually, when hell has frozen over and pigs are cruising at altitudes from two to five miles above us…then and only then will it be time to take care of me – i.e. get my eyebrows waxed. Finally.
It’s been like that. But still – my husband and I have tried to remember that we are husbandandwife, not just Mommy and Daddy. Five weeks after my son was born I spoke at a friend’s wedding. In another state. Attended the rehearsal dinner and the wedding. A lot of driving both of those days, but well worth it. It was important to us. And my son was fine. And I dressed like an adult in adult clothes and the only way anyone could have known that I was a new mother would have been to grab the painful ROCKS on my chest or note (on the way home from the wedding) that I’ll never wear THAT dress again because the proteins in breast milk make it really hard to get rid of the stain. At least the dress was on sale.
The point is – we went OUT. And we still go OUT. Not as much as we’d like, and not with any predetermined regularity, but we GO. We have PLANS. Just for US.
And that is what I wrote yesterday afternoon before I left work. Then I went to pick up the kids at daycare, come home, do some dishes, make part of dinner (Bill grilled the chicken, I did other stuff), clear the table, change a diaper, make a bottle, hug my son goodnight, convince my daughter that it would be a good idea to go to sleep too, and then finally it was just us again. And we were both too tired to do anything other than watch TV…which is how we are a lot of the time lately, but that’s okay right now.
You know what? I have no idea where I’m going with all this. Maybe that’s the point. I have no idea where I’m going. And that, too, is okay. I am doing my best (and trust me, I don’t do this well) to just focus on each day as it comes, and to try to get through it without too many tears or tantrums (Alex’s or my own) and to laugh as much as I can about things because I know that years from now I will look back on these years, when my children are so small and so dependent on me and my husband, and I will miss a lot of this stuff – I’ll miss my daughter and her only-two-teeth-so-far grin, and her spikey hair, and the way she looks like a character out of Chicken Run – her giant grin – and how she will fall asleep with her little head on my shoulder and she will look just SO unbelievably precious and sweet – and I KNOW how lucky I am to have that moment. I will miss my son demanding "a hug, a kiss, and a smooch" from me – several times – before I leave him at daycare.
And I want my kids to look back on their childhood one day and NOT remember me as overscheduled and frazzled and wild-eyed all the time.
My childhood was simple, I think. I remember playing with my friends…reading my books…going to school…having a healthy fear of my parents’ displeasure so that I tried most of the time to be good…I remember being outside a lot…I remember hanging out in the kitchen watching my mother make dinner…I remember hanging out in the darkroom in the basement watching my father print photographs…I remember all these things – and of course a ton more things that I don’t have time to type because the kitchen timer just went off and I need to go back to work – I remember all these things in a comfortable way…I don’t know how to explain what I’m trying to say…but in a comfortable kind of waking-up-in-a-warm-bed-and-realizing-it’s-the-weekend-and-I-don’t-have-to-get-up-yet-and-the-kids-are-still-asleep-too-so-I-can-just-doze-if-I-want-to kind of way.
That’s the kind of childhood I hope my kids have.
Gotta run…please forgive this definitely disorganized post….