catching things and letting them go; catching things and keeping them

September 17, 2012

I feel desperately unprepared for life as a stay at home parent. Since my return to the working world after Jude's birth 3 years ago I've had a built-in buffer between myself and the critical hours of motherhood that happen daily between 8am and 5pm. It never made me any less of a mother, but I'll be the first to say it influenced how we operate.

After the initial shock of separation wore off we learned to relish that space between us during the week – Jude and I were able to pursue our respective interests and then come back together at the end of the day with a renewed appreciation of togetherness. Space made each moment seem a little more precious. It pushed me to make the most of each minute and be the best mom I could possibly be. It helped me take a deep breath and make it count.

In a lot of ways the space between us was the keystone of our carefully built balance. Our architecture is standing strong but the walls are all askew.

Emotions have been running higher, fed by our state of flux. Irritations I would normally be able to overlook send me pacing into the other room, jaw set and fists clenched at my sides. I don't mind the challenge to improve my patience but combined with "times of stress" it hasn't brought out my finest moments.

Some days we both do everything wrong all in a row and go to bed pleading for a fresh start. Some days we do everything right and by noon I'm still a wreck because my life is what's really askew, on course for something I can't see through the distance. None of that has anything to do with Jude so on those days I flog myself to hell and back for letting my own turmoil leach into the sacred space between he and I.

Other days things are fine. I craft and color and prepare snacks and practice the alphabet ad nauseum. I compromise and sing and play and dance and yell and throw. From the outside things are operating in their proper order, despite whatever quiet tides are pulling beneath the surface.

After a dull and cloudy morning he came and put his hand on my knee, "Want to play cars with me, mom?" I got down on the floor and we put together an elaborate scheme of crashing and racing and saving and helping. Somewhere along the track I drifted off again, misty eyed and sullen. A little hand on my shoulder jerked me back into the present.

"Don't be sad, Mom. I'm your friend. Let's play."

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