I realized this week that I've become that kind of mother.
The kind of mother I never wanted to be. The kind of mother that I used to sit in haughty judgment over whilst drinking good, dark beers with my friend Jess.
The kind of mother who sits her child in front of the TV so she can get laundrymoppingcleaningdishwashingyogacrunches done.
During the month of February - busy with unpacking boxes from my move into Glenn's townhouse and busy with a wedding just a few weeks away - I'd catch a quiet hour or so with Claire happily watching Playhouse Disney. And I vowed that this was a temporary solution - that once life settled down and a rhythm and routine developed, this stay-at-home mom wasn't going to have her kid in front of the tv all day. This mom wasn't going to have an electronic babysitter sapping the creativity, personality, and essence out of her child. Not this mother.
But, it's becoming a habit, and not even one that Claire initiates. At 8:30 most mornings - the time when Mickey Mouse Clubhouse comes one - I say to Claire, "Finish your breakfast - Mickey's almost on" and she gobbles up the remains of her soggy cereal...I've become the TV pusher, me, a person who lived for a year and half without any cable on my little 19" screen, a screen that for 6 months Claire didn't even really was a TV, because it was never on. Sigh.
But, I'm having a bit of trouble finding the sweet zone of staying at home. I've been out of work for a long time, but Claire was still in daycare. I'd bring her to school, do errands, clean, prepare supper, go for a run or go to my minimum wage job at Gymboree, or go to an interview all while she was occupied at daycare, learning her days of the week, stories, songs, computer time, socializing, getting educated. When she'd come home, I'd only focus on Claire. Everything else was done. Now, she's with me all time (which I do love, honestly), but I feel torn between the chores, the Me Time, and my Claire time.
I know I'll find a balance. I'll figure out my own fun & educational activities to do with Claire during the day. And I'll find a balance for my Me Time too, which for me is also known as my running time.
The Mommy Guilt is a real, pervasive thing, though. I know I'm a good mom, AND I know it's good for Claire's psycological development into a happy, well-adjusted person if I am not at her beck-and-call each and every moment of the day. But, I also know that Mommy Guilt makes me feel badly when I'm trying to get a bajillion things to fit into a day, most especially my run.
Yesterday, I dropped Claire off at a one-hour Math and Music class that a preschool is doing (called "Afternoon Enrichment"). I signed Claire up so she could have some school-like time, some friends, a little return to the structure that she knows and loves and is desperately missing. I met several of the other moms, all nice ladies about my age, most of whom were sticking around, chatting and drinking flavored coffee during the hour their child was occupied with number games. I thought, "Well, here's an opportunity to meet some new moms, good for me, good for Claire..."
And then, I looked out the window, saw the beautiful bright blue sky and realized, this hour was my Me Time, my running time...As the other moms gathered, chatting away, I started jogging down the driveway. Claire was happy and safe at the daycare. I need my Me Time as much as Claire needs to be with other kids at that daycare.
That is the kind of mother I want to be. The one who knows it's ok to leave her child - and her Mommy Guilt - behind.