I remember the summer of 2010 as the greatest summer of my life. My son was born the previous November and was still under a year old and we went everywhere, every day, all over the city and the countryside, in his stroller or Ergo carrier. It was my first summer off work and the world was my oyster. Gone were the long, LONG, dark and utterly lonely postpartum winter days I had spent pacing the floor of our old ghetto apartment with a pukey jaundiced newborn, waiting for my husband to return from work as the snow whirrled under the street lights and the wind rattled our windows.
Isolation no more. I had the nerve to finally take my son outside once the weather warmed up, and explore. We were both like Bambi’s first walk in the meadow, blinking in the sunlight, making new friends and marveling at the flowers and the beauty of everything. My son still had long naps in the afternoon which afforded me time to rest, clean, cook, or sometimes even just sit my butt down at my computer, like I’m doing now, but without jumping up every 30 seconds to break up a spat, clean up a spill, or give somebody a drink of water.
This summer feels entirely different. I’ve become well aware of how much of an actual JOB this is. Like one of those feelings where you wake up, and you want to call in sick. Just for ONE day. Just so you can do NOTHING for a day. Except there’s no way you possibly can. Many days feel like autopilot – drag self out of bed after miserable night’s sleep, forgo shower and tie hair back in a bun, feed kids, change kids, potty training, oops the baby is screaming (ignore her and continue getting dressed so you can just get the hell into the car and go? Or pick her up and console her, stalling your morning by 5-10 mins?) look for shoes, look for shoes, look for keys, look for phone, get kids into the car to go to playgroup OR get kids into stroller to go to park in which case a lunch/snacks/water/toys/blankets must be prepared but oops the baby is screaming again because you aren’t holding her… Around 2 pm you’ll realize you haven’t eaten anything yourself.
A trip to the park sounds fun, and I’m sure most of my friends envision me laughing, playing, relaxing and having a blast with my kids. And it’s not that I’m NOT having a blast with my kids, but it takes 100% of my attention, at all times. One day – I don’t know what I was even thinking, in fact I guffaw at myself looking back on this – I thought I could actually bring a magazine with me to the park. The entire morning was spent with me looking like I was following some sort of vertical tennis match, my eyes darting from the page up to my 2 year old clamouring up the slide, back to the page, and back up to my daughter crawling at the speed of light towards somebody’s discarded food wrapper.
I know this is all very typical. And I know things change as they get older and more independent. And I love my kids and really wouldn’t trade this for the world. But it concerns me that I’m finding myself actually having to remind myself to take advantage of this time I have with them, and not let resentment creep in. Honestly, a 9-5 administrative office job (like I had before I had kids) sounds like a vacation to me. Imagine – leaving the house by myself each day without armloads of diapers, carseats and kids. A 20 minute commute on the bus? I could actually read! Or a half hour walk to work? I could dig my old mp3 player out (when was the last time I was even capable of using that thing??) I would focus my attention on my tedious, annoying, boring job without a person beside me literally pulling on my shirt or puking on me or asking me for a sandwich. Then I’d get a whole freaking hour to myself at lunch to just EAT FOOD? And they pay you for this!
To illustrate my point, as I am typing this I am having to push my daugher’s hands back from the keyboard every few seconds as she is letting out an air raid siren wail in my lap. (Seriously? She’s started this random screaming thing that is so.. not… cute…) This one does not nap. Except on lazy Saturday afternoons when dad is home, making it look like mom has it a lot easier than she actually does. Traitor!
Before I know it, my kids will be grown. I’ll have the old 9-5 again, and I’ll be looking back on these days through rose coloured glasses. I’ll be wishing I could go back to the days when they were small, when they needed me so much, when all they wanted was for me to just hold them and make them a sandwich. I know I will miss this time so much.