My headline reads like the title of a Little Critter book, doesn’t it?
On Monday last week, TJ and I got to spend some time together. Just us. Mother and son. Like we used to before Baby E was born. It was the last session of Music Together (MT) for this quarter. Upon my request, Aaron worked from home that morning so I could leave a napping Baby E at home and attend MT without having her tag along.
Not wanting to take E along was infused with a little bit of guilt. Why would I not want my baby to go with her mother and brother, whom she loves so very, very much? Is it fair to her to leave her at home when clearly, she enjoys these music sessions too? Am I depriving her of social and cognitive development by denying her this one session even though she has attended as many sessions as TJ, in the womb and outside of it?
Then, the larger question of the moment made its presence felt. Isn’t it also somewhat unfair that TJ hasn’t been able to truly spend time with his mother, just him and me, since the baby came along? As a parent of multiple kids (two, in my case), how do you manage your feelings for wanting to give equal time to each child without making the other feel ignored?
I may have written about this before so if you have read it already, feel free to skip.
I had been wanting to spend some quality time with TJ for a while. Yes, I am a stay-at-home-mom which means I DO get to spend a lot of time with him and yes, a lot of that time is indeed, good quality time. But, I wanted to spend more time with him outside the home doing things more actively.
Back when he was a baby, I did get to be with him a lot but once my leave ended, I had to get back to work. Being a professor and the nature of the work being flexible, I continued to see him a lot and spend time with him but for the larger part of the day, he was in the care of an at-home nanny.
Chicago summers are absolutely gorgeous and we lived by Lake Michigan so there is never a dull moment or day during those three months. However, in the summer after his birth, he was too much of a baby to do much of anything really active. I did take him to our neighborhood parks but he couldn’t participate much not being able to walk and all. Then came winter and other than short brisk walks to the grocery stores or short drives to appointments with his doctors, we were mostly at home, staying warm and cozy. By the time the following summer came along, it was time for us to pack up and move to California.
In the weeks leading up to our move, while still in Chicago and after I had resigned, I did get to do a lot of fun things with him. TJ was about 16 months then and I got to take him to our neighborhood beach, the Shedd Aquarium, the Adler Planetarium, the Lincoln Park Zoo, several walks and parks around our urban neighborhood, jogs and walks by the Lake, and so on. Those were good times. Did I mention how much I love Chicago summers already?
By the time we got to California, I was in the first trimester of my second pregnancy and those were not happy times. I remember getting so exhausted (how naive…I didn’t know what exhaustion was back then. Exhaustion should see me now, two kids later, and redefine itself) that sometimes in the mornings after Aaron left for work, I would just lay there on the carpet, trying not to fall asleep, struggling to keep my eyes open while also trying to play with TJ.
My sweet, sweet boy, all wise for a 19-month-old, would drag me a cushion and throw blanket every time he saw me lay like that. Sometimes, he even let me close my eyes for a few seconds. I remember I actually fell asleep like that once. I woke up with a start within minutes of having dozed off to find TJ quietly doing his own thing. I forgot what he was doing but he gave me the confidence to know that it was okay to leave him to his own imagination and play for a few minutes every now and then.
As the pregnancy advanced, I still kept up the pace of his activities. We had a regular schedule. Mondays were for grocery shopping and running errands. Tuesdays and Wednesdays were visits to two different libraries for story time. Thursdays were for visits to the Zoo, playgrounds, or other local activities, and Fridays were for sessions of Music Together at our community center. The Tues/Thurs schedule changed once he started daycare that he attended for two months. This continued till I was 39 weeks pregnant. Clearly, from simply a quality time perspective, I got to do a lot with him. Just him and me.
Where I think I failed him was not being able to participate entirely in his more active activities of which, MT was the biggest offender.
So, off we went, my little boy and I, to our first Music Together class when I was neither pregnant nor had Baby E to worry about during our many movements.
To be continued…