Monday, June 22, 2009

On Working Motherhood

Lucas has started going to a babysitter a few days a week. The Rev. has his hands full with visits and planning. I have my hands full with shuttling back and forth between the store and school. We finally had to buckle and arrange for someone to watch him so we can get stuff done. I admit: I can't do it all. My apologies to those who thought I could. A definition of working motherhood: consciously deciding not to do the dishes so that you can play with your son. The dishes will be in the sink tomorrow. Lucas pushing a pink carpet sweeper around while holding a cookie and wearing a diaper is temporal.


Working motherhood. Sigh. I ask Lucas, "Where's Mommy?" He points to The Rev. and says, "Daddy!" Thanks, kid, why don't you twist that knife a little deeper into my chest? He is in good hands with Aunty Treva, someone with whom he is familiar, and she loves him like her own, but I still feel the guilt, the nagging voice that I am not doing enough. It gets worse at night, when I am trying to put him down, and he fights sleep until The Rev. can come home and say prayers with him and sing "Now Rest Beneath Night's Shadows." For those of you who don't recognizie the title, it is a hymn, not a vampire melody. And I think it is a lovely sight to see daddy and son cuddled together in the chair, a sippy cup in the crook of Lucas's arm, as he drifts off to sleep.

My mother was here recently, and she noticed I let Lucas do something that seemed out of character for me. I can't recall what it was, maybe it was giving him some jellybeans after he had brushed his teeth, or something insignificant, and she asked me why I let him do that. "Working mother guilt," was my pat answer. She really didn't have a response for it. I used to teach in a preschool, and we would cluck and murmur about the lunches that kids would be given, or the fact that their shoes had worn out and they had not been replaced yet. I understand now the frazzled sense of trying to get it all done, and sometimes it is a-okay for a kid to eat bologna three days in a row, or wear the socks he wore yesterday. He's happy. He knows we love him. He can get clean socks out of the laundry basket.

I don't know what it means to be a stay at home mom. I don't consider my maternity leave a period of stay at home mom-hood. I was out for 8 weeks. We rarely left the house because he was nursing every two hours, and my one anxiety was nursing in public. I know, I know, we live in an enlightened culture; it is such a natural thing to do; I live in California for crying out loud, but I let me tell you, my life was made exponentially easier when Lucas took to a bottle. It got easier when he started eatin table food. It got a little easier when he became more mobile. It gets a little easier every day. Lucas turned 18 months yesterday, a testament to his survival of our parenting skills. So working motherhood it is, and it probably will be for a very long time, and I will continue to ignore the dishes in the sink and the unmade bed. I have more important things to do.

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