We're doing this wrong.
I adore my child. She is a beautiful joy. A bundle of brilliance, curiosity, humor, and sweetness. She is usually pretty well-behaved, if you can see through the requisite toddler behavior.
I am exhausted by her. If she pokes me in the butt one more time with a book while I am trying to complete some utterly ridiculous task, like putting on makeup or putting away the dishes, I am going to tear my hair out and scream.
I know she needs my attention. I want to give her attention.
I have vacuuming that I've been putting off for a week.
An endless pile of dirty dishes.
Blogs I have yet to write.
Books bopping about in my head.
Illustrations I haven't completed.
Half done paintings.
Sometimes I feel like I can't complete a thought. Much less a project.
It's such a balance of giving her one on one attention, which I know she needs and I am happy to give and then actually getting things done. Of course I feel selfish for wanting to get things done but 'things' actually do need to get done. Right? They do, don't they? I can't spend every waking moment watching her pretend to fix her new kitchen. Right?
I want to spend a chunk of time on her and then a chunk on everything else. But it doesn't work that way. My child's five minute attention span bounces off my proclivity towards distraction and nothing gets done, I get frustrated, and she ends up in front of the TV.
Then she'll come up and hug me.
Or say, 'Mommy, I like your earrings,' when I'm in the middle of changing her diaper. And I feel like a jerk.
We're doing this wrong.
When I am with a group of mothers and someone says that she works so she can get away from her children, and we all laugh, there is something wrong. I know that not every moment can any one human be patient and calm. With so many mom's feeling tired and worn out and resorting to parking their kids in front of 'The Wiggles' it leads me to believe that we are doing this wrong.
I think this is the first time in history that women have been isolated and made to largely raise children on their own for eight or more hours a day. Play dates and 'mommy and me' classes can only get you so far. I keep thinking of women that I saw in the village in Africa who would get together everyday to do their work. You would look over at pack of women sitting on the ground happily shucking corn and chatting while children ran about playing simple games.
This is a hard scene to recreate when we all live in our separate homes miles from each other. When we have boundaries that say it's not okay to have anyone over when your house has dirty dishes in the sink or your floors are not vacuumed. When you feel like you need to have a four course meal on hand for any guest that comes over around meal time. Even though I know I don't expect that from anyone else. I'm usually just happy for a cup tea.
Last night I invited a friend over for dinner. Her husband was out of town and having done the dinner alone bit with a child I knew she could use company. When we trying to decide when she should come over and I encouraging her to come over sooner I admitted my side of it,
“I'm tired, I don't know when Scott is going to be home, and our kids could play together while we cook,” she laughed and said she'd be over in fifteen minutes.
I threw together some soup and she brought over Bisquick and made biscuits at my house. Our kids stole toys from each other and we had company.
We both dropped our self-reliance, admitted that we could use some help, and had a much better evening than we would have alone.
How can we do more of this?