There is no denying that this has been one of the most joyful seasons in my parenting life. The fact that this has also been a season in which I have spent the least amount of time with my children is no coincidence.
Make no mistake, I love spending time with my children, and I do spend plenty with them, despite this new regimen of classes and office hours and sprints back and forth to Mac Labs at 11 p.m. to set up technologies that will just make a liar out of me. But let me be honest: my children are smiling more and my Baby Girl has run through the Creation story in skit form and my Little Man has started spouting vocab words like woah, and I have had very little to do with all of this. Oh sure, I hired the outsourced care. I scoped out the school. I earn the scrilla that writes the checks. But I am very much the mama who rides in like a hero at the end of the day to hear all about the day’s playground drama and what kind of cement mixer passed by our house. My capacity has been reduced. I am more than a freelancer, but less than a full-timer if we’re really counting direct service hours in parentland. Of course my children are always on my mind, they are inextricably linked to my heavy heart. I enjoy their company more than I remember enjoying it and I attribute it to all the support I have right now in helping them to explore the world.
I am generally okay with it. The guilt does come in waves and sometimes, because I am in the South where mothers of small children with careers seem to be an anomaly, I feel sucked in and spit back out to shore by it all. I stand over my sleeping children, warm little pajama-clad marsupials breathing in all the peaceful molecules in our home and breathing out all the yawps of glee of the past day, and I think, Was I there enough for you today? Did I give you enough hugs and peanut butter today? Will you remember this day ten years from now as a day in which we put away the silverware together and talked about hot air balloons, or will you recall how I got all sorts of bent out of shape because you kept interrupting me reading a Mercer Mayer classic and FOR THE LOVE OF PEDRO CAN YOU PLEASE STOP SNARFING ON YOUR BROTHER’S SOCKS.
All of this enJOYment of my children comes in contrast, though. Had I not the privileged opportunity to stay home with them for months and sometimes whole years, I am not sure I would feel this way. Grateful doesn’t even come close to expressing the hearty thanks I have to my husband for working all of those insane jobs (with the insane) to provide that opportunity for me, for us. The days of placating newborns through the witching hour, of wrangling toddlers who boycotted nap are a part of my past career, but the skills are transferable to my current position and the memories of the sweetness and the struggle inform all that I do now, all that I am now: Wife, mother, professor, hapless student of this joy-filled mess.
outdoor photo credits to Lovey Loverpants