Thursday, September 04, 2008

All or Nothing

I struggle daily with the extremes of parenting. One minute I’m at work, completely away from my kids and missing them terribly. Then I go home, and the kids are fighting over space in my lap (pictured), and I’m dreaming of five minutes to myself. I can’t seem to strike a balance- it’s all or nothing for me as a parent.

Kristy tells me that I should practice “benign neglect,” perhaps reading a book while the kids play in the same room. It lets them know I’m there, but allows them to be a little independent. That sounds like a great idea, but it’s really hard to read when Connor hollers “Watch this, Mom! Watch this!” every 90 seconds, and Chloe comes over and announces, “The end!” while closing my book.

Last weekend I was excited to spend some time in Nashville. For one thing, it’s fun to hang out at my in-laws’. For another, it's fantastic to have three extra adults (Cory was there too) to help with the kids. It’s just about the only way I can achieve some type of balance- if the kids are outnumbered, I can occasionally sneak off by myself without worrying that my children will think I've forgotten them.

Just because I don’t want the kids physically attached to me the entire time we’re together, doesn’t mean I don’t need some love and affection from them. But it seems my kids have trouble finding their balance too- they often shun my hugs and kisses when we are around more interesting people, like grandparents, aunts or uncles. Last weekend was no exception. Finally, on our last night in Nashville, Connor requested that I tuck him in at bedtime. For a fleeting moment, we both understood how to love each other without ignoring or smothering each other in the process.

Then we came back home, where I promptly went to work and missed my babies, then came home and wished they would leave me alone. But I see how it can be done better. Part of it is found in coming home early a few days a week, which allows me time to play with them AND time to get stuff done for myself. There is room in our lives for both- they don’t have to feel ignored, and I don’t have to feel overwhelmed. And every now and again, I can find the patience to make room on my lap for both of them.

1 comment:

cjaxon said...

oh how I hate the WATCH ME'S!! If it was ever to watch them doing something different it would not be so bad, but how many times can you watch and sound excited about the SAME THING!
I know how you feel, miss my girl while she is at school ... then 30 minutes after she gets home the exasperation starts. They are just at that age, but I think THAT age lasts until they go to college