I have mixed feelings as a full time working mother. On the one hand, I miss Eva terribly all day and get very jealous of my stay-at-home mom friends who see their babies all day when I only see Eva maybe 2 hours a day Monday thru Friday. AND for that 2 hour time period that I am able to spend with her it’s a gamble as to whether or not it will be quality time, meaning is she going to be in a good mood or, as I refer to it, an evil mood? (Eva is just like her mama; that when she’s in a happy mood she’s great, but when she’s not happy, look out!, hence the term “evil.”) Maybe a bit dramatic, but you’re invited to come hang out at my house on those evenings, and I guarantee it’s no picnic.
Which brings me to that, on the other hand, I fear that being with my yin and yang daughter 24/7 may actually drive me crazy, and I just got off the crazy train, thank you very much and I did not request a return trip.
I’m a good mommy (yayyy, this may be the first time I’ve said that!), but patience isn’t always in my back pocket so between the two of us quick tempered and highly emotional chicks less can be more.
Fortunately I think we have a really great set-up here. Monday through Friday, while my husband and I work, Eva is in the care of my mom and my stepmom (they switch days, just to be clear. They’re not lesbians. Not that there’s anything wrong with that…). I know that I am SUPER lucky that my Chiquita is watched by family – and better yet being fought over by family who loves her and is dying to spend time with her. She is a very happy, independent and well-rounded kid. She gets to do all kinds of fun stuff during the week with the G-ma’s. They play with her, they spoil her, they take her fun places…I can’t even tell you what she does all day. I get texts here and there and feel a twinge of jealousy while I’m sitting at my computer at work looking at the clock with disbelief that it is only 11 am, when I’m thinking, seriously shouldn’t it be like 2 pm already? Working part time would really be ideal for me, but that’s another topic. And my bosses won’t let me do it, so I digress.
So when 4:30 finally approaches I eagerly leave work knowing I get to see my kid. Even if she’s being evil I’d still rather see her and spend time with her than not. I pull up in the G-ma’s driveway. I skip inside the house (Ok, I don’t really skip. Did you really imagine me skipping?) And Eva squeals with delight at the sight of me. My heart is bursting with excitement.
“Hello!” I yell.
“Ahhh!” She yells, running towards me.
It’s the greatest feeling ever. I grab her in my arms in a tight bear hug. “What did you do all day?”
Eva oohs and aahs about her day, presumably telling me what an awesome day she had with the G-ma’s while I look at her with wide eyes, nodding like I understand what she’s telling me. I visit for a few minutes, thanking whichever mom has her, giving a brief description about my day and finding out what Eva’s schedule was like and whether or not I can expect an angel tonight, which usually depends on her napping.
While I’m visiting Eva is playing or crawling on my leg or usually getting into some form of trouble, like grabbing the remote control and pushing buttons like crazy. Side note, it’s hilarious because my mom panics if Eva changes a channel or setting because my mom and technology don’t mix so she’ll be frantically trying to figure out what Eva touched. And just like my old self I’m no help whatsoever because, hello, I’m telling you a story. Aren’t you listening?
Finally, we decide it’s time to head home. I scoop Eva up declaring, “Let’s go home and see Daddy!”
She fights me a little, and whimpers.
“Come on!” I exclaim. “Let’s go home and see Daddy…and Dexter….and Kennedy… and Kelse-Kelse.” I start to rattle off names to distract her and pray that she doesn’t throw a temper tantrum.
And here we are. It’s 5 pm and Eva is having a complete meltdown. She clings to G-ma crying like I’m a complete stranger. Well, luckily that didn’t happen to me. It would have broken my heart. Normally she’ll whimper a little when we leave, but once we’re in the car and headed on our way she’s back to her smiles and chatter, while we jam to B96 because believe it or not, Eva’s a hip kid who loves pop music. Katy Perry is her fave.
However, this did actually happen to my husband! My poor husband. He came home so upset. So defeated. He detailed the story of our baby crying hysterically clinging to my stepmom while he tried to reach for her. He tells me the story on a day that Eva was being evil. She’s running around the house screaming and crying, and I’m having a mommy-meltdown thinking O-M-G, I’m going to kill this kid. As he’s telling me the story, saying words like “stranger”, and describing how she was even trying to cling to Grandpa in a desperate attempt NOT to go her father, I find myself getting mad.
Yeah! I find myself getting downright angry with a 1 year old. A 1 year old I love more than life itself. I’m like, WTF, how DARE she? We are HER parents! We love her to pieces! We work hard for her. WTF, how could she do this? I’m getting like crazy pissed now. This kid has no respect. She doesn’t get it at all.
Now she’s in the kitchen trying to get into the cabinet under the sink; the cabinet with the cleaning products in it. As my husband is still detailing his horror story of complete humiliation and heartbreak in front of my parents, I’m grabbing Eva’s hand and saying no, as I stand in front of the cabinet. She keeps trying to open the cabinet. She can open any other damn cabinet in this kitchen but she wants to open the one cabinet that she can’t go in. Figures.
“No Eva,” I repeat. I feel like all I say these days is ‘no Eva.’ My mom tells me it will be like this for the next 2-3 years.
It is in this moment that I have an out-of-body experience seeing myself completely flipping out. I yell no at Eva (again, for like the 20th time), I accidentally slam my finger in the cabinet door (mother f*cker!!!! I want to scream), there are tears from both of us….What in the world am I so upset about? My goodness! What has happened to the new and improved Jen? The calm, cool and collected Jen? The yoga practicing balanced Jen? Well, she has left the building right now and Evil Mommy has entered.
We sit down to eat dinner. It’s silent besides Eva screaming as she throws her Sippy cup on the floor. I put my head down on the table, and Eva strokes my hair. It suddenly occurs to me. My feelings are hurt. I am sad. Why doesn’t my one and only want to come home and see me? And love me? And be excited to be with me? I ache for her all day!
I rationalize this. She is a baby. She doesn’t know any better and only knows that when she is with the G-ma’s she’s having the time of her life. We’re talking cotton candy and roller coasters. I mean, not really obviously, but you know what I mean.
Chiquita only knows the moment. Right now. She’s having fun RIGHT NOW. She doesn’t want to leave. And this makes me sad. And jealous.
I am her mother. I’m fun! And she should want to be with ME.
But moms aren’t always fun. We have rules and routines. We working moms pick up the kids when they are tired and worn out after their long and fun day. I remind myself there are many worse things in life, that my child is happy and well taken care of. That I know she is loved. And that I know she loves me.
Finding balance. It will come to us. It still hurts me, but I can’t be upset with and blame an innocent child. We’ll get there…we take steps in the right direction every day. And even on the bad days I wouldn’t trade it. I just drink more wine.