Something’s been bugging me all week long (raise your hand if you’re shocked to hear me say that). When I got back from Seattle on Monday this week, the first thing I did was head upstairs to my sleeping children and try to wake them up so that I could say goodnight to them.
This may not sound that unusual or odd to anyone, but I am a very firm believer in the need of sleep in children. I know how much sleep my children benefit from, and I also know that having spent the previous four days with my parents, they weren’t getting anywhere near that level of sleep.
So why did I (unsuccessfully, mind you) try to wake sleeping children? I feel like I’m missing out on them. I see them growing up quickly, and I don’t get a chance to spend the time with them — particularly not one on one — that I realize more and more I want to because they’re such fun and neat little personalities.
My mom told me that on Monday, Little Miss asked her when my mom picked her up from daycare if Mommy would be on a conference call when they arrived home. That’s my only daughter’s view of me. When she comes home from daycare, Mommy will still be working and unable to ask about her day or play with her or even just pay attention to her.
Work has been really busy for awhile now for me. I work twenty-four hours, and my agreement is that I stay at twenty-four hours, even if some weeks I work more than that. In return, other weeks I work less. I quickly built my way up past thirty hours “extra” that I had in the bank. I’ve been trying hard to reduce that backup and get back to even, but five months later, I’ll end this pay cycle up around eighteen hours.
Granted, I’m really lucky that I work only three days a week and that I do have two days during the week that I can spend with the wee ones. It’s amazing how fast that time disappears though.
Little Miss goes to preschool five mornings a week (not my choice – the special needs preschool is five days a week or nothing and she benefits from being there), she comes home, eats lunch, naps, wakes up to eat dinner, and our bedtime routine starts. There isn’t a lot of quality time with her on the days that I have home with her.
Mister Man’s days with me aren’t much better. He’s home in the morning and doesn’t head to preschool until after lunch. We had a playdate this past Tuesday, and I realized how infrequently we have the opportunity to do this and how much he loves playing and sharing with his friends — and how much the playdates benefit him and his social development.
The first Tuesday of every month I have the PTO meeting which essentially takes up the entire morning. I have only twenty minutes after Little Miss gets on the bus to hang out with him before we need to head to the preschool. Tuesday and Friday mornings are my only chances to run during the week, so we talk in the car on the way to and from the club, but that’s it. Granted he loves going to the Kids Area and making new friends there, but I don’t spend the time with him. If someone needs a doctor’s appointment, guess when I’ll plan it? Or if I need to run to the post office? Or maybe if my car needs an oil change? How about grocery shopping? Yep, it’s all during the time that I should be spending playing with him or working with him on something or setting up playdates for him.
Then I run into the issues where the school plans events on days I’m working. Since they rarely try to plan anything for a Friday knowing how busy Fridays are, there’s a seventy-five percent chance that whatever event they plan, I’m going to have to miss it for work. Forget the Halloween parade at school. Forget the Thanksgiving craft with my child. Forget the RIF events. Forget Valentine’s tea. I’m the mom who isn’t there. Unfortunately, with the frequency they come up, I can’t take the time from work.
And don’t get me started about my actual job. It’s better and safer for everyone if we leave that topic completely alone.
But how can I even think about quitting in this economy? Could we make it work as a one income household? Yes, we could. It would involve cutting back on various things, but we could make do. I’m a nicely frugal person. But everything is so uncertain. Who knows where inflation will be going. Who knows when our roof will need replacing followed immediately by our furnace then our hot water heater then my husband’s car and then medical issues? Were any of those worst case scenarios to arise, making do would no longer be in my vocabulary.
I work part time. I have a job that challenges me intellectually and gives me great responsibility. They pay me decently. How can you walk away from a situation like that?
Then I peek into Mister Man’s room to see him sound asleep with a cat curled up on either side of him. Roar lifts his head at the noise, sees it’s me and goes back to sleep. I quietly edge open Little Miss’s door and see her surrounded by stuffed animals. These quiet, stolen moments are sometimes all I get from the wee ones.
How much longer will Little Miss say that I’m her favorite? How soon before Mister Man again pushes me away? And how soon before I don’t recognize the teenagers before me, grown up in an instant while I was distracted elsewhere.
It’s really been bothering me this week. Ironically, tomorrow I have an article or post or whatever you want to call it up on BettyConfidential talking about how I got to my part-time life. Go check it out tomorrow, and then whack me upside the head for forgetting that life’s never perfect.