Tuesday, June 23, 2009

On Being Present

You can't multi-task motherhood. That's one of the things I'm learning. I mean, I joke around that daycare is outsourced parenting (and frankly, that's really only half-joking, as my kid spends more time with his teachers than he ever has with me since my maternity leave ended). But daycare allows you this false sense of what it is to spend time with your child. Being at home with them isn't enough. When you're home with them, there's still dinner to make, laundry to do, bills to pay, and sometimes, as I sheepishly admit, TV you want to watch.

All that's fine when you have an infant. Wear him in a sling while you do laundry. Cuddle him on your lap while you watch TV. Coo at him in his swing from the kitchen while you make dinner. Then toddlerdom hits and it's game over.

So I'm trying to be present in the moment now. Sure, there are still chores to do, but I'm trying to save the ones that can wait until after Rolo has gone to bed, even if that means a later bedtime for myself. Because kids know. Sometimes we'll be reading a book for the 11th time and my eyes will drift over to the television, or a magazine and I answer "Uh-huh" to his questions one too many times. And Rolo will put his hands on either side of my face, look me square in the eyes and say quietly "Mama. Mama." His meaning is clear: I can tell you're not really here, Mama, and I need you to be here.

I remind myself constantly of what has become my mantra: he'll never be this little again, or need you this much. And that will always be true. When he's a teenager and barely acknowledging my existence I know I'll look back on these times I tried to watch an episode of House Hunters while playing with him and wonder why I was such a fool.

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