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enjoying time with the kids

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

it turns out that i am terrible at Enjoying Time With the Kids. i do love the warm & fuzzy moments and the cute & hilarious ones, but i have to admit that i am almost always waiting for naptime, bedtime, papa-getting-home time, monday back-to-preschool. i check my email or wash the dishes instead of playing. i like nursing because i can sit at the computer at the same time. it makes me feel terrible, and i wish i could give them so much more of me. since it's also my primary activity right now, it means i feel like complaining a lot of the time.

this post by blue milk and its many wonderful links were a very welcome, understanding "you're not entirely alone" hug for me. i do wonder, though, if my case isn't more extreme. less "natural" and understandable.

i have a friend here who has mentioned to me several times that she is "enjoying every minute" with her two small kids. i know it's just a way of saying, that she has her share of bad days, sleepless nights and so on. (not to mention a part-time babysitter/housecleaner). but as wonderful as my kids are and as lucky as we are to live here in this beautiful place, i can't seem to be able to enjoy it.

f. and i had a talk last night about when and how i can find time to do some paid work. we can't afford any extra help right now, but we did realize that i could take the monster to school in the morning, leave the monkey with him, and work all morning in a cafe somewhere. i guess we haven't done it yet because i've never left the monkey for any period of time, and he's been touch and go lately on occasionally accepting a bottle or not. but he's almost a year old, he can handle it.

f. said that he doesn't know why i take on the work. if it were him, he would just enjoy the morning time with the monkey, go to the beach, play, etc. (yeah, he does know that it also means washing the dishes and sweeping the floor a kazillion times a day, changing diapers, cooking things every single day that can't always be pasta or rice, etc. but he's better at all of that - at least the cooking part).

he suggested that i enjoy this time now and worry about work later - in a few months, in a year. i guess i tried to be all offended - why shouldn't i work? what if i want to work? - but f. is perfectly happy to go with whatever arrangement will work for me. i can't blame him for any of this (damn!) - he stayed at home with the monster when i went back to work after a year, he's done way more than his share of home-making, he's basically perfect, hard as i may try to find fault.

so what is my problem? am i just not happy?

some of it is surely just sleep deprivation and small town, expat mama isolation. this is what happens when i try to write about sadness - it disintegrates into minor, passing complaints. because really i have so much.

i just came back from a walk on the beach with the monkey strapped to my back. it was truly lovely. i need to force myself to do these things. and to accept that being with the kids is what i'm doing right now and to remember to enjoy it. at least partly, sometimes.

am i just not good at the stay-at-home-mom thing for more than a year? when i went back to work after my year of maternity leave with the monster, i didn't miss him terribly every single minute i was away. i didn't. yes, it was heart-wrenching when he cried for me those first few days, and a few months later when we transitioned him into daycare, i bawled when i eventually had to leave him screaming in his new caregiver's arms. but he was soon thriving and i was happy to be back at work. to have my arms free. to be able to zone out and zone back in on my own time.

it's not that i'm not attached. i know i am. i'm just not enjoying enough. but i'm going to try.

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