Earlier today I tweeted that my working mother guilt is at an all-time high, but “guilt” is not the right word. It’s sadness. It’s that I am sad that I have to send my child to daycare, and today I am sadder than I usually am.
For whatever reason, Henry has become more affectionate, particularly to people who aren’t Melissa. I suddenly have a little boy who wants to cuddle, who wants to hold my hand when I’m walking next to the stroller, and who wants to ride in the car with me when I’m just running out to pick up pizza. This change has brought me a world of joy, but it means that I also have a little boy who does not want to be parted from me when it’s time to go to school in the morning.
When I say that I am sad, I mean that it hits me in the gut when I see that one of his trains is parked on a windowsill in the dining room, that I fight back tears when I see someone at the library with two children about the size Henry is right now.
I am also confused, because this is one of those things that messes with my sense of self. I was at the library to drop off a couple of books and, as is usual for me, I stepped inside for a few minutes to wander around and see if any books caught my eye. As I was wandering, today, I thought about that fifteen minutes or so and how I could be spending it with Henry. Well, not that particular fifteen minutes, as he was almost certainly napping, but that fifteen minutes could be used to do work that I wouldn’t be doing later, so I could go pick him up fifteen minutes earlier than I might have.
Who am I, if I don’t occasionally wander through shelves, looking at books?
Who am I other than Henry’s mother?
That sounds like a nice, pat response, a clear answer, but am I a good parent without a sense of self? It’s not just about fifteen minutes. It’s about taking another fifteen to write this. It’s about quality of time spent, whether it’s with Henry or without him. It’s probably about not playing games on my phone, if I’m honest.
I’m still not really sure what I’m doing, as a mom. I still need to learn about things other than “attention and time spent fills him up and makes him happy.” I know that I do.
It’s not easy to integrate all of this love into my life, I guess I’m saying, but oh man, it’s so great to have this big thing trying to fit itself into my time. Oh, man, I am so lucky. Today I’m just lucky and a little extra sad.