Wednesday, March 27, 2013
Tonight, We Spun Tupperware
I wage a near-daily battle with mommy guilt.
I have to work to support us and I'm glad to do it. I'm also grateful that I have skills that someone is willing to pay me to use. A lot of people can't say that these days. But even considering that, it bugs me that I don't get much quality time with my boy during the week and that our weekends are swallowed up with errands and chores I couldn't accomplish during the week. And the time we do have (about 3 hrs a night between pickup and bedtime) is fraught with land mines.
Both of us hand it all out during the day--him with play and me with work--so by the time we're together, neither of us is at our best, to say the least. He's tired and crabby, I'm tired and crabby. And, I'm in a hurry (Ever tried to rush a toddler? How 'bout a crabby one? Yeah. Super fun). Because it takes the better part of an hour to get home at night and I KNOW he's going to whine and crab for his dinner until it's served, I get it started right away, leaving him to entertain himself as well as he can. I won't mention his hunger is because of his stubborn refusal to eat anything all day but crackers and Nilla Wafers at daycare. That's how generous a mother I am.
Anyway, we sit down to eat. Well, I eat. He makes a mess with some chewing and interjections of "nummy!" or, "no!" thrown in there. Then there's time for a bit of rough housing, a bath depending on the day of the week, a book, a prayer and bed. This is the Cliff's Notes version of the story. The unabridged version also describes tantrums, head bumps, diaper wars, messes and broken stuff (always mine). In my effort to take care of him, I might only make eye contact with him 4 or 5 times before I put him to bed. Even typing that crushes me.
I walk a fine line. On one side, keeping to a rigid schedule with him because every parent I meet, parenting book I read and motherly instinct I have tells me that structure and consistency give a child a feeling of safety and security, two things I desperately want to provide for him. Possibly because they're the only things I can afford. On the other side, giving in to the urge to let it all go, either from exhaustion or a simple desire not to plan every, blessed thing. I'm sure neither of those is good for us, nor are they sustainable over the long haul, so I'm working on finding some semblance of a middle ground.
Sometimes, though, through the white noise of all my struggles with balancing work and parenthood, there are moments of clarity. Moments where it feels like the stars align and I get it right. Like tonight, for example. Most of the time when I'm making dinner, Miles plays around my feet. He doesn't mind independent play as long as we're in the same room. I kind of like it, too. He mills around the room, moving all the kitchen-y things he's allowed to play with from place to place. He babbles, sings the ABC song, jumps in circles, dances and occasionally wraps his arms around my knees for a cuddle and a smile. He also empties the Tupperware cabinet. Nobody says Tupperware, anymore, they use Rubbermaid, you say? I say, get your own blog post. Tupperware is like Kleenex to me. It covers all plastic storage containers and also has the added benefit of dating me. But I digress. Tonight, I made a casserole, so after dinner prep, I had 15 minutes of oven time to kill. I looked down to find Miles spinning plastic bowls on the floor. With a flip of the wrist, he gets upwards of 30 minutes of cheap entertainment. He loves spinning things; especially circular things--bowls, lids, coasters--he's spun 'em all. I decided to join him. I didn't think he'd pay me much attention since he can be so focused on the task, but it turns out he was thrilled to have me--as a jungle gym, as an obstacle to dance around, a fellow bowl spinner and best of all, a lap to crawl into for a cuddle. He put down those bowls to snuggle and to play Name-That-Feature on mama's face. When we got to cheeks, he cupped mine with his chubby little paws, looked closely into my eyes, babbled something I couldn't understand and planted two, sweet kisses on my mouth.
I swear to God, that kid knows how hard I'm trying.