Confession #1: Call me gross. Call me disgusting. But I just can’t get that worked up about food that’s fallen on the floor.
I have a toddler in my house, for God’s sake. If I threw out every bit of food that’s dropped on the floor, our cupboards would be perpetually bare.
Now, admittedly, we’re talking about the floors of my house, not an airport’s public restroom or something. And we’re also talking about toddler food like goldfish crackers and graham crackers – I’m not sitting around licking spilled yogurt up from the linoleum or anything. I’m just following the five second rule when it makes sense to do so.
I know, I know. I’m in danger of having my mommy card rescinded for saying such things. And yes, I’d certainly prefer that Lily ate food that hasn’t fallen on the floor. But in a way, I feel this demonstrates a kind of advanced evolution in my parenting life. Usually parents lower their standards about dropped food and binkies when they have multiple children and can’t possibly get that worked up about such things. I’m already to that point. So here we are.
Confession #2: Generally speaking, I feel no guilt about having Lily in full-time daycare.
This may not sound like a big deal, but I am perhaps the world’s vastest, most susceptible guilt-machine, so I expected to be wracked with shame daily, despite the fact that I adore my job.
The truth of the matter, though, is that each kid is different, and it so happens that in Lily’s case, she’s a social little bug who’s always loved being around other kids. The folks at her daycare love her and take good care of her – to such a degree that she always wants to stay when I arrive (see my “Norm Peterson” post below) – and, as first-time parents, we feel like we get all kinds of ideas and help from these folks who have years of experience with all kinds of kids. In fact, they diagnosed Lily with a yeast infection when we were baffled re: some non-diaper rash redness that seemed to only get worse. And they were right. Thank goodness for them.
I spend an hour or hour and a half with Lily each morning; she’s at daycare for around eight hours a day; and then she’s either with me, Joe, or both of us for the remainder of the evening. We look forward to our time with her on the weekends, and she seems like she’s a happy little girl. So I think we’ve struck that elusive, sweet-spot balance between work and parenting.
Confession #3: I hate Babies R Us. Did I say hate? I LOATHE it. It came in useful for a registry, and we got a few major things there, but I’ve pretty much avoided the place ever since. The store certainly does all it can to draw you in and make its shopping experience user-friendly, but there’s something so bland and depressing and corporate about it all. And it’s a monolith built on the idea that the more that you buy, the better parent you are. Yuck. Mom-to-mom sales are more my taste – in terms of environmentalism (i.e., recycling items), their low-key tone, their more realistic, reasonable prices, and their atmosphere of collegiality. Rock on, whoever came up with that concept.
Confession #4: Lily’s dinner is often pretty random, and I refuse to get worked up about it. She always has a big lunch at daycare, so the fact that she often just wants grapes and graham crackers for dinner, or Cheerios in milk, isn’t a big deal. We try to get a vegetable into her body, and often, we succeed, but I figure, if she’s hungry, she’ll eat more. Lily not being that hungry in the evening isn’t something I should stay up nights worrying about, and I’m certainly not going to pressure her to eat more. I try, as long as it’s reasonable, to take my cues from her.
Confession #5: Though I’m sure it’s viewed as a major handicap for a mother, I am a first class mono-tasker. I am not someone who can do two or three things at once. Even reading a newspaper while eating feels wrong to me, so I’m never able to sustain that.
I’m sure this is one reason why I occasionally feel overwhelmed by anxiety about what needs to be done, and how I feel buried in day-to-day tasks. It’s hard to get everything done when you work on only one thing at a time. But it’s just something about who I am. I can only focus on one thing at a time, and nothing will ever change that about me.
I try to see it as a benefit in some ways. I can focus on one thing for a good stretch of time, which is a quality that’s rarer and rarer these days; and when I’m spending time with Lily, I’m absolutely present in that moment. She’s not one of three things I’m scrambling to juggle. So although I may not be an efficient mom, I think I’m an attentive one.
Confession #6: I utterly failed our first go at a time-out for Lily this morning. She was kicking Joe while on the changing table, and we warned her, but she kept kicking. So Joe placed her in a green plastic chair set against the wall, and she sat there, sadly weeping. She dropped her baby doll, so I went to hand it to her, and she got up and wrapped her arms around me for a hug. Sigh. Disciplining is going to be damn near impossible for me. I can tell already.
More confessions to come….