School started last week, on Thursday, but it snowed Friday so school was cancelled. At least we got a one-day reprieve. My husband and I don’t have any alone time these days unless both the kids are at school during the day. Since we moved, the kids won’t go to sleep in the new house without a parent in the room (See “Home Strange Home” below), so we rarely see each other at night.
We were luckier than some parents. Our son’s preschool is also a daycare so it was open most of the break. Only our six-year-old daughter was home with us for all of that time. She takes up a lot of our energy. She bores easily and then she starts trouble or she whines. It’s not like we don’t give her attention. We do. We play with her. My husband taught her checkers and chess. I bake with her. We made peanut butter cookies. We take her to the supermarket – she likes anyplace that sells stuff. We even had a girls’ day. I took her swimming and to lunch and to fro-yo, but we can’t compete with the entertainment that school offers.
We’d hoped that in the two weeks that she attended school before the break, she’d make some friends and get some numbers for playdates. And she did. She got numbers, but they were written in crayon and some were backwards and I couldn’t tell what numbers she meant to write and they all ran together so I could hardly make them out in the first place. From what I could see, she also got maybe five-digit-phone numbers from each friend so even if I could have read them, we couldn’t have made any calls anyway. Without playmates, she got lonely. And then she whined. Or she started trouble.
Those two weeks were so excruciating that I began to question my motherhood. I know some moms who cannot wait until the kids are out of school so they can stay home with them. They mystify me. I have never been that mom. Does that mean that I love my kids less than those women who revel in family time? I don’t know. I love them more than anything, I just don’t want to spend every waking (and lately sleeping), moment with them. I feel the same way about my husband, and I don’t question my spousehood.
Parenting and marriage both require a lot of work, and I guess it depends who you marry but to me, parenting is harder. Our spouses don’t require constant attention and they can get their own juice boxes. They don’t have to be supervised when they play outside and they can drive themselves wherever they need to go. Kids require a lot more energy. We wait on them hand and foot, wipe their asses, play with them and give them love and they still spend a good amount of their time crying or throwing tantrums. Maybe that’s why we don’t want to spend every waking moment with them. Most of us, at least.
I am not the mom that revels in school vacations and I doubt that will be until they go to college, maybe. But there are lots of different kinds of moms. There are many ways to be a bad mom, but there’s no one right way to be a good mom. A wise and fantastic mom once told me that I have to be true to myself to be the best mom that I can be. And if I can teach my children by example, then I know I did at least one thing right.