Friday, June 24, 2005

I think I was Catholic in another life

After several THOUSAND melt downs, on my part, during each of the previous summers that I’ve been alone with kid or kids, my husband insisted that I put the children in school at least two half days a week while I’m off for summer break. I finally agreed and now actually look forward to my Tuesday and Thursday mornings. It gives all of us a break from each other and keeps them acquainted with their friends and teachers.

During my first week off, I needed to fly to Minnesota to help my parents start to get their house ready for sale. I was away from the kids for four days – three of which they attended school. This week we began our part time status at their school. Everything went well on Tuesday morning. However on Thursday morning, Harrison had a tough morning. He wanted to bring his Lego race car into school. (Toys are only allowed to be brought in on Fridays.) Trying to follow the rules, I stuck to my guns until he cried. He cried A LOT. Buckets of pathetic, loud tears filled the quiet school as all the rest of the children participated in Circle Time. He threw himself on the floor in front of the door begging for his car. Fine. I went to the car and got his damn car. I know that it wasn’t the best moment I’ve had in parenting, but I decided I’d throw this moment into the “Pick your Battles” file. When I returned to the scene of the crime, Harrison – still on the floor – was being consoled by the teacher and a few kids. I gave him the car and apologized to the teacher for breaking the toy rule. I told her that he hadn’t slept well the previous night and that I was accounting his sensitivity on fatigue. She quickly looked at me and said, “He’s probably upset because you’re gone so much.” Oooo…OUCH. That one still stings two days later.

Sunday I leave again for a educational conference in Nashville. I’ll be gone another four days. I enjoy my time away, but wonder this: why do mothers, well women in general, feel so guilty about so many things? The obligations and “rules” we put on ourselves are encumbering and relentless. Working moms feel guilty about having other people “raise” their kids. Stay at home moms worry that they aren’t getting enough intellectual stimulation and this is affecting their relationships and personal happiness. Women worry about their weight – more specifically what size they wear. Did you know that J. Jill sizes things about one size too big so that when you go to try something on, you feel like you’ve lost weight?! When I mentioned this fact to a man, he was dumbfounded by the lack of logic women use to find comfort in this information. The list could go on and on.

Bottom line: I wish that I could go to Nashville totally carefree. I will miss my children, of course, but don’t want the concern for their care to consume my thoughts. My husband can handle things. He has been offered a lot of help. They’ll be fine. I am afraid, though, that Harrison’s teacher’s words will be ringing in my ears. It makes me wish that parenthood could be turned on and off like a light switch.

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