Saturday, May 24, 2014

Mama Guilt

There you are, playing on your floor mat. And here I am, on my computer. I'm not ignoring you, but I'm not interacting with you, either. When you go to bed, or when I drive away to work, I will feel like I haven't spent enough time with you. I will be flooded by the knowledge that you are growing and changing every day, and that I don't want to miss it. I will battle the mama guilt about whether or not I have made the right choices.
Every day I am torn between giving you space to become independent, competent, strong... and giving you attention to know that you are loved. I can't find the middle ground no matter how hard I try. Or maybe I'm found it and just have no solid confirmation, because in parenting, that's a thing that doesn't exist.
When you smile at me from across the room, is it a just a smile? Are you happy there? Or are you trying to entice me to come play with you? You don't seem discontent, but you're a baby. The life you have is the only life you know. If you could understand everything, what would you ask for? Would you thank me for letting you discover things on your own? Do you appreciate the time to move freely and concentrate on your toys without interruption? Or are you lonely? You are not one to cry or even fuss unless something is very bad, and even then you calm easily. So maybe you are sad and lonely, missing me even as you play. It sounds overly dramatic to ask if you play with your toys for something to do while you wait for me to come back to you, but I can't help wondering if that is what happens sometimes.
And honestly, I need some time to just be. I always want to be with you, I love being with you, but there are things that I need that come from other sources. And yet, I'm gone so much. Every day I go to work and you stay home with daddy, and then I feel like spending even a minute on anything else is squandering our precious time together. But I do it anyway. Because even people like me, whose whole lives are focused on children, who waited and longed for a baby to come to them, who felt bittersweet pangs of emotion every time another person's child told us they loved us... even we need some time to not be responsible for anything. We're still human. But those minutes are paid for in guilt; in fully understanding that every second spent on something else is a second away from this tiny person who rules our hearts, who depends on us and loves us like no other; a person whom we love like no other, and who is constantly changing and needing different things. Because our time isn't our own anymore, even though it is. So those stolen moments are bittersweet, too.
I hope that when all is said and done, when you are an adult fully responsible for your own life, you will be glad I made the choices I did. I hope you don't feel like I abandoned you, and only your dad was there when you needed someone. I think that you will, but something like this is too important to be content with uncertainty. And yet I can't know, now, whether or not I am doing the right thing. I can only do my best.

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