Like Jessie Spano of Saved by the Bell memorably sobbed: “There’s never any time!”
There isn’t. I’m constantly fighting the clock. Get kids up, fed, dressed, packed for the day, out the door so I can work, so I can pick them up on time, dinner, nighttime routine forevermore, amen.
They don’t even do any scheduled activities yet! (Another thing I feel I’ve failed on, FYI.)
I’m not a fan of this rinse-repeat cycle in any way whatsoever, and yet any time I’ve tried to change it, I’ve just had to hit the button again, like when I forget laundry in the washing machine overnight.
There’s also the subdivision of time with my kids: Who gets what? And when? Our oldest, Ruby, is so independent and just so good that I often don’t worry about her. As for the boys, one really needs a constant eye on him, if you know what I mean, and one is still just needy because, well, he could choke on something or eat cleaning supplies or jump off the stairs and whack his head.
Someone once said or wrote — in any case I heard it or read it and filed it away — “Fair is when everybody gets what they need,” which has sort of been my guiding light whenever I feel the Scales of Attention get tipped toward one kid. (I mean, fairness to me or my husband is really not even in the picture, so let’s just be honest about that right up front.)
Ruby is old enough to complain about this from time to time: “You’re always paying attention to someone else,” she will accuse. She’s not wrong. I apologize and try to rebalance. But sometimes it just is what it is.
I know in my heart that I’m a good mom. I know that I love my kids. I know that I’m affectionate with them. I make sure they have all the things they need — and then some. But I have major Mom Guilt over lots of things, most notably the Time Situation.
And there’s this undercurrent of doubt: Am I really doing a good enough job? I wonder whether I could do it better, if I was more patient or more efficient or just a better human being? If I was perfect? I know it sounds nuts. But it’s true.
I also need my own time. I spend a lot of my time at my computer, alone at home. And sometimes I need to get out with other adults and do work that feeds my soul.
I’m fortunate because I have an all-in partner who I frankly believe does a better job of being present with our kids than I do. He can access that joyful, inner kid with them so quickly, and I’m so grateful for that.
He also is great at supporting me doing my extracurriculars, like waiting in line for hours to take a photo with Elizabeth Warren at a rally. Despite his encouragement, I think to myself, that is time away from an already-starved resource.
Yesterday I had my hands full. We’d just returned from a short, glorious family weekend away. I was unpacking; we were trying to find William’s wallet, fixing the lawnmower, getting everyone in the bathtub, laundry.
Ruby told me to go check my desk. Then she told me again. And again.
I kept putting it off in favor of all the other stuff that I felt “needed” to be done.
Finally, I made it upstairs.
There were four small notes, accessorized with stickers.
I love my mom.
Mom is amasinge.
Mom is cool.
Mom is a good prsin.
I went in the bathroom and cried for a solid two minutes. It took me far too long to see the message she was sending. And it hit a sore spot I didn’t even realize I had.
Mom is a good prsin.
Katie Dohman is currently living in the midst of a total full-house renovation with her three kids, two pets and one husband. Follow her adventures at instagram.com/dohmicile.