Let me paint you a picture of what went down on the night that prompted this post.
I came downstairs after working from 8:30-5pm.
(For those of you that don’t know, I own my own business and I run my company from my home office. My husband is a stay at home dad and he hangs out with Willow all day and keeps the house orderly and keeps many of the moving bits of our life in check.)
So yes, I came downstairs from working and made dinner and began my evening with Willow as Steve was headed out to a cycling class.
My sister came over for a visit, as she does sometimes after work, and we finished dinner (my sister proved to be a distraction, albeit a good one, so Willow didn’t eat as much as I would have liked her to) and headed down to the basement craft room.
Down here we played with the the light table, painted, made arts and crafts and fixed her train table up (the tracks were a disaster). We laughed, we played, I snapped some photos, we were creative and we were enjoying ourselves. I lost track of time.
Steve came home from cycling and at the same moment, Willow went into full out meltdown mode. She threw train tracks. She screamed. She flung herself on the floor repeatedly. She didn’t want to be held but she didn’t want us to be very far from her.
Steve asked me how much she ate, “Not much” I replied. He asked me if her bath was done, “No, I lost track of time” I replied. He asked me if I had given her a snack, “No, I didn’t get a chance to” I replied. He then said the words that, to me, felt like a punch in the gut: “Maybe I should have stayed home instead of gone to cycling.”
And there it was. The elephant in the room.
I was incapable. I was throwing her out of her normal routine. I was a distraction. I didn’t know the process.
How can this be? I’m her mother. I have had an equal share in raising this kid. I was only trying to have fun with her. I don’t get much time with her. I miss her.
I stood at the kitchen counter for a long, long time wondering what I could do differently. How I could possibly get more time with her even though I have to be chained to my desk from 9-5pm each day. How I could have possibly lost track of time and kept her up past her bedtime and forgot about giving the kid a snack.
As I stood there at the kitchen counter I realized that I was feeling cheated a bit. That I was feeling cheated of the time that I don’t get to spend with my daughter. That the time I do spend with her is often in the evenings when she is already getting tapped out from the busy day. That I get the dinner routine and the bath routine but I get very little of the quality time routine.
Sure, the night could have gone differently. My sister didn’t have to come over, we didn’t have to paint and do activities, I could have just sat and read books with her or cuddled or really soaked her up in some other way but the truth of the matter is, I simply tried to grasp onto what I don’t get to have all day, every day.
If you go to work 9-5pm, you’ll feel me on this.
If you’re a stay-at-home parent, all I ask is that sometimes, you give your working partner a break. Cut them some slack. Understand that the time that they get with their kids isn’t the same as the time that you get with your kids. Understand that they are spending time with tiny humans who are already very much tired and spent from the day they’ve just had.
It’s going to be like this a lot once Willow goes to school. School will be zapping her energy and both my husband and I will feel the way I felt that night. We’ll both feel like we’re being cheated a bit on getting her best time. However, right now, that time cheat is on my shoulders and I’m trying to find ways to cope with it that don’t involve getting angry or frustrated with my partner.
I get that he’s just trying to help me and he knows how exhausted and overwhelmed I am some days. I get that he craves routine, as does my daughter, and I just need to find a way to do more with her on the weekends but keep things low key during the week. The hardest part though is just accepting that the minutes, hours, days and weeks are floating by and I’m getting much less time with her than I’d like to have.
So, the next time that your partner does something silly like riling the kids up before bed or taking them for ice cream in the evening or keeping them up past their normal bedtime, just know that it’s not done to spite your day-to-day routine. It’s not done to make your day with them the following day difficult. It’s simply done because we love our kids and we’re trying to soak them up as much as we can before we have to head back to work.
Are you a working parent? Do you understand what I mean about the lost time and the kids being a bit unruly by the time we do get to spend with them?