Last Sunday in north Texas was so lovely that the little guy and I went tricycling (him) and walking (me) at our local park:
The following Monday was a similarly nice, albeit cool, weekday, with the little guy at his preschool and me at work.
But then the Great North Texas Iciness happened on Tuesday, shutting down workplaces, schools, and roads. The temps remained in the teens and low 20s, so the ice never melted on Wednesday nor Thursday — more work and school closings ensued.
On Thursday, the little guy, my sister, and I were so up-to-our-eyeballs with cabin fever that we ventured — very very carefully! — to the local mall, just to get OUTSIDE.
Good thing we ventured outside on Thursday, because on Friday, with temps still below freezing, it snowed. But I couldn’t bear another day being shut-in again, so we ventured out to the backyard:
Besides realizing that I had essentially paid a week’s worth of preschool for just one day (last Monday), I also realized this weekend that tending to a three-year old while stuck in the house for four continuous days nearly drove me to distraction.
Early in my maternity leave, I had bemoaned the fact that I had only six weeks paid leave and that I would eventually have to return to work, as it was financially not feasible for me to be a Stay at Home Mom (SAHM).
(Also, the students of my six classes and the six colleagues who were subbing for me while I was on leave would durn near KILL me if I didn’t return in six weeks.)
After six weeks of being a SAHM to a newborn, I felt both guilty and relieved that the little guy would be looked after by trustworthy caregivers (the daycare/preschool where he still is now) so I could return to work.
Sleep deprivation, a mild case of baby blues, 24/7 mommy duty, and watching kid programming on PBS (because non-cable daytime TV was just WRETCHED) made me yearn for things like taking a shower, putting on real clothes, and going somewhere where I could talk to adults for more than a couple of hours a day (that is, with the Hubby when he came back from work).
I had realized back then that I was not cut out to be a SAHM — and this past week reinforced that realization.
Yes, I love my son. He is funny, whip-smart, kind, mostly obedient, and curious about just about anything. He is turning out to be a pretty cool little boy, and I could just hug him to bits.
But I also love my job — teaching my students, collaborating with my colleagues — and since my job is in education, I have that insider’s view of the type of student I hope my son will be for his teachers, which informs how I raise him.
I am a Working Mom, and when I’m on the “Working” side of that equation, the little guy stays at his preschool until I’m ready to be fully the “Mom.” That sometimes means I may leave campus and be home well before 3 or 3:30pm, but I don’t pick up him up until 5 or 5:30pm. It is in that window that the prepping for next day’s classes happen, the grocery shopping, the cooking, the cleaning, and just overall decompressing (which sometimes means that’s when I get to shower).
When I do finally pick up the little guy from his preschool, I am MOM: giving him dinner, playing with him, asking about his day, making sure he goes potty, giving him his bath, reading his bedtime story, tucking him in his bed, roughly around 9pm.
I am MOM when I wake him up around 7am, get him ready for preschool, drive him to his preschool around 8am, and walk with him to his classroom or the breakfast area, where I put his stuff in his cubby, wish him a happy day, tell him to listen to his teachers, say I will see him later that afternoon, kiss him good-bye, and leave for work.
When I do turn back to see him with the other kids, on his little kid chair, at the little kid table, I do feel that tug of guilt, of regret, that he is here while I am there, there at work.
I am Daniel’s mom.
But once I leave the parking lot and mentally go over the things I need to do for my classes, for my committees, for my advising duties — I feel that I am also in my element, as basic to who I am as water is to fish. (Okay, maybe that’s a bit of a hyperbole — but not by much.)
I need to work to give the standard of living that I want for myself and my son, so I am grateful that the work I do happens to be something that I love to do — not everyone has that happy coincidence.
I am also grateful that Daniel is at a place that he so genuinely likes — his teachers, the food ladies, his classmates who are also his playmates — that, after a day of the Great North Texas Iciness, he kept requesting that we go to his preschool.
I respect and am in awe of SAHMs everywhere — my mom was one until the youngest of my siblings started kindergarten, and the little guy’s godmother is a SAHM. I’m just not cut out to be one.
So I try my damndest to be the best Working Mom I can be…
… very much still a work in progress.
Good night (er, morning?) everyone! For tomorrow is Monday (or today, as the time-stamp is early in the wee hours of Monday morning).
A work day for both the little guy and myself.