I was conflicted over whether to share this story. It’s not to guilt-trip full-time working moms or to flaunt my superior mothering skills. I wanted to write about this share one of those rare moments in parenting when all the laundry, car pools, last minute dioramas and class volunteering actually seem APPRECIATED. So here goes…
In the afternoons, I often sit on the side of the school playground with some other moms while the boys run climb around the jungle gym with their friends. Sharing the blacktop with us are the day care kids, watched over by child care workers in bright blue t-shirts. Some of my children’s friends go to after-school care, and they sometimes can sneak in a little bit of playtime with their buddies — until the blue shirts blow their whistles and pull them away.
I’ve been watching the day care program with more interest than usual lately. Because I sometimes think about returning to work full-time, or about my freelance dance card getting filled to the point where it would pencil out to put the kids in after-school care so I could squeeze in a full day’s work. I have to admit that as I work more, I realize how much I missed this part of my life. I look back at the tedious years of sitting in sandboxes and volunteering in class and look at the big gaping hole on my resume (not to mention my bank account), and wonder — was it worth it? There are times when I feel like I sacrificed too much.
What would it be like to wear grown-up clothes and shoes everyday? To work in an office and not at my dining room table? Or, even to work at my dining room table and have more hours in the day to pursue those ideas that I never seem to have enough time to follow through on, even if I forgo sleep and exercise? Sometimes I feel out the possibility with the kids, casually sprinkling in questions such as, “What do you think about day care? Does it look fun?”
Usually, the answer is a vehement, “Nooo!” followed by regressive behavior.
Then, last week, without any prompting from me, Little Brother started talking about one of his friends who goes to after-school care. “I sort of feel sorry for him, because he hardly gets any care from his parents,” he lamented.
I took the bait and steered the discussion into dangerous territory. “Do you feel like that sometimes because Mommy is always working on the computer?”
“No,” he answered, “Because you pick us up from school and take us places, and help us with our homework…”
Then, Big Brother looked up from his math worksheet and chimed in, “Yeah, Mommy, you do a LOT for us!”
I wondered if my husband had fed them that line, or whether they had watched too many after school specials. Then, I realized: they actually notice what I do for them. Maybe it actually makes an impact on them.