Vocabulary Police, Dawdling, and Over-thinking

If you had been at our house this morning, you would have seen me standing over the washing machine with my arm in almost up to the shoulder, frantically fishing through cold, dark water for my drowned cell phone. Already late for work, you would have heard me say a lot of things to myself. And you would have heard me end with “FUCKING STUPID.”

And then, you would have heard a firm little voice in the kitchen say, “Mom. We don’t say ‘stupid’.”

Ah, my Bird. She is a piddling, dawdling, piddledawdler in the mornings. A. puts up with most of it since I (theoretically, anyway) start my paid workday earlier than he does, and it is more frequently becoming a power struggle/ battle of wits/ tangle of wills between the two of them. They argue like teenagers. He asks her to put on her shoes, she puts on five finger puppets. He askes her to go get dressed, she spends her time jumping on the bed. He asks her to brush her hair, she ends up in a puddle of tears because she’s found her winter coat in the too-small box. He asks her to put on her listening ears, and she says, “I left them at school.” He counts to three. She complies at the final second. And more than a few times, Bird says, “Daddy. Settle down.” Which, if you know my mild-mannered A., is especially funny. Except not to him.

So, about that too-small box. Looks like it’s going to be seeing a lot of action starting this winter– baby #2 is officially a girl. Time to start naming, sorting, wrapping our heads around what’s going on around here. Two girls. Yay and yikes.

No time like the pregnant to over-think some shit: In halfway following a discussion board comment thread, I read the words that push the overthink-buttons of WOH mamas around the country: “evaluate what you give up to go to work and decide if it’s really worth it.” I’ll spare you the details of my rabbit-hole thinking– my ever-changing and always hazy list of gains and losses that never declares a winner.

All this talk of giving up and gaining. Of worth. How much of it is truly about the benefit to the child and how much of it is about having sorted laundry and clean sheets and time to slow-cook a meal? How much is about parenting and how much is about physically being in and keeping up a home? How much is just straight-up personal, on both sides of the decision?

I have wrestled with internal and external voices that both encourage and challenge my choices as a working-away-from-home mama, and I can tell you with complete honesty that sometimes, the desire to be home with my child during the day really does boil down to having naptime to myself and getting some flowers planted. Running an errand in the middle of the day without paying for it with my lunch hour. Spending enough time in my house to clean it and enough time in my neighborhood to enjoy it. And having time for actual, personal, non-facebook connections with my actual, personal friends. That is what I am missing– or feel like I’ve given up– the most right now. I have time with Bird every night, but I haven’t seen some of my dearest friends in months.

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