What seems like ages ago now, I was a month into my then new job and I wrote about how being a working mother meant I had to try extra hard to fit in all of the adventuring we used to do. And I did, we did, for some long months. Until it started to feel like every day the Babby would say she wanted to go to the park, then wander dejectedly when we got there, just wanting to be held, until sometimes breaking down entirely. We'd go to the car and she'd say she wanted to stay, then cry that she wanted to go.
She literally had no idea what she wanted to do. We were still all in a jumble, figuring out a work life balance that was so different from our old work life balance. Long, slow days turning into something more hectic.
I think, now, that I contributed to the confusion. Because I wanted our long, slow days back, I inadvertently made our days more packed, more hectic. It never struck me that just like I had had a busy day and needed to unwind, the Babby might have had a busy day and might need to unwind. I suppose in my desire to deny the reality of our new situation, I let my brain play a little trick on me. I let myself imagine that the Babby was simply in stasis while I toiled away at work, only coming back to life just moments before I picked her up.
Ha, ha. Dumb, no? It took me months to realize how dim I was being and why afternoons were getting more and more unpleasant for everyone.
The truth of the matter is, of course, that the Babby spends the time while I am working living her own adventures. Making pictures. Playing pretend. Putting her butt in mud. Using the potty. Eating foods she'll ardently refuse to touch at home. Learning. Doing. Thinking. Exploring. And doing I don't know what else because the Babby is very much like a much older kid in that she tends to just shrug and mumble when I ask her what she did on any given day.
When I pick the Babby up, I may ask her what she wants to do that day though sometimes I don't. More often than not, she just wants to go home, like I do. To be in a familiar, comforting environment. Home. Where we know all the games and can just relax. Where we can both unwind.
Am I sad that we don't do more adventuring like we did in the old days? You bet. But I'm not going to let my feels turn the Babby's afternoon's into something that exhausts her and stresses her out. And honestly? After work, I'm tired, too. Most days, I just want to go home, too. We do a lot more late afternoon vegging out now, but I guess that's okay. I'd much rather that the Babby looks back happily on time spent with me doing a whole lot of not much than remember snippets of otherwise enriching activity that left her feeling tired and overwhelmed.
P.S. - I still can't read Over in the Meadow without crying. It's true. I tried.