Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Mommy Guilt

Almost every morning when I drop Jacob off at day care, I feel a twinge of guilt. On one hand I know it's not the worst thing in the world. He's getting some variety in his life--different place, different people, different toys and activities, and a generally safe place to roam around all day. In addition, not having to spend all day shooing him away from the VCR or scooping him up just before he tries to climb the garbage can probably makes the time I do spend with him better. That is, assuming I have time to spend with him. My days right now feel insurmountably full. Each morning my alarm goes off at 6am. I really should get up then, or close to it, but lately the snoozes have been taking me into late-to-work territory, around 6:40. Usually I get up, shower, make Jacob's bottles and food, and my lunch, then retrieve him, feed him, get myself dressed and ready while Craig dresses Jacob, and then it's off to day care and work. I work from 9ish to 5:15ish, hop back in the car and pick Jacob up (or if Craig's got him, run the inevitable errand), go home, make dinner, eat it while feeding Jacob his dinner, carve out a little play time, maybe a bath for Jacob, and then it's time to get him ready for bed, fed, and down for the night. Once that's done, I usually have to go back to the kitchen and wash bottles and do dishes, if I didn't take the time to do it right after dinner. By the time I start getting to my to do list, it's usually after 9pm and I'm already beat. It's unfortunate on all counts. I get very little quality time with Jacob during the week, and I feel so bad about that...and yet I still don't feel like I have the time to do much else either.

It's incredibly difficult to face that never-ending cycle each day and see no end in sight. Lately with school ending, I've been thinking a lot about summers once Jacob is old enough to go to school. Will we have to put him in day care or find someone to watch him? In theory we'd have another baby by then, so there's always the issue of whether or not it makes sense to work vs. staying home with two kids. Maybe our lives will be totally different by then and this will be a moot point one way or another. Still, I think about it because summer is supposed to be a great, carefree time--playing with friends, going outside, and whatever else. I did some of that, though much of my summers were spent watching TV (bad, I know, but really, I enjoyed it and my brain hasn't rotted out yet) and doing a lot of family stuff. Jacob may not have the option to do either of those things if he's stuck in day care somewhere. Incidentally, I actually find it funny that we haven't had much of a chance to introduce him to kiddie TV like Sesame Street--not that we should anyway, but judging by the toys out there you'd think we're way behind--because he's just not home at the times that stuff is on. It's just odd to me that he could potentially grow up in such a different environment than I did. And quite frankly, it scares me a bit. Anytime you go out of your comfort zone, what you're used to, you just wonder what's in store.

I'm still not sure I could do the stay-at-home mom thing full time. Before it was sheer exhaustion from the constant cycle of feeding, crying, and pooping, and now I think Jacob would just tire me out running around the house. I've decided that my weapon of choice would be to get out of the house. Easier said than done, but Jacob is so content when we're out and about. He just likes being in the middle of the action and looking around at everything. I think we'd have to have some sort of schedule. One day the zoo, another day a play date, the next day the playground, the day after that the mall (or something), and another day we'd walk a bike path or something. Leave time for naps and meals, and we'd be all set. Again, easier said than done, but I think it would be doable. And if I was home I'd definitely work on getting crafty and providing good, educational activities. But right now I'm lucky if we get to play with a couple toys before Jacob is cranky and ready for bedtime, let alone digging into some new, unexplored activity. I'd love to blow bubbles with him, or get him a kiddie pool, or finally get his new swing hung up, but finding time for that is incredibly difficult right now, and I feel like he's not getting a rich enough life experience right now. I know he doesn't really know the difference and is just happy to see anyone that loves him (us or his day care caretakers), but it's hard to know if there will be a difference long term. Sometimes I feel like day care is a safety net. Maybe I don't get to sit down and read with him as much as I'd like, but I know (think?) they do. He'll get to do craft projects very soon, and they'll most likely let him get messier than I normally would.

I suppose a lot of it balances out, but I still wish I had more time to spend with him, and that the time I do spend didn't have so much "background noise" from the stuff that I know I need to do next. Someday I hope I can spend more time with him, but for now, it is what it is. We can't change it, we can't go back in time, but we can always keep our eyes open for ways to sneak time in or improve the quality of the time we have. Wish us luck!

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