I never want this feeling to end, being needed by my baby. The smell of her freshly washed hair, her baby soft skin cuddled next to me, and the sound of her whispering, “lay down with me” at bedtime. But time is moving at warp speed, and in another month she will turn three. No longer a baby, but a little girl.
It hit me hard in a massive way today, that mom guilt that never disappears fully. It felt like it was suffocating my heart as I realized that I haven’t spent enough time with our second daughter. That happens to most parents I suppose, double the responsibilities equals half of the attention. But for some reason today it became clear that in nearly three full years, I haven’t been fully present with Emylia. At least not as much as I was with our first child.
Am I working more? Maybe. Do I have more housework? Sure. Am I feeling well? Not really. Am I doing the best I can to keep us all fed, healthy, happy and alive? Absolutely! But these are really just excuses…
We decided to go for a nature walk this afternoon and saw all sorts of beauty and oddities; a mother duck and her ducklings, beautiful yellow butterflies, and a crotchety old man shooting at iguanas with his air rifle. (Don’t ask.) As we came to a tree she asked me “why does the tree have arms?” I told her those were called branches. And then I taught her about the trunk, leaves, and the trees roots…and I showed her that you can climb it. I couldn’t believe that I’d never talked to her about trees before! She was full of joy as she tried to climb as well.
We then went into the backyard and my mind started to wander. I had emails to respond to, dinner to prep, and an article due….but then Emy said, “listen to the birdie mama, isn’t it pretty?” I never even heard it until she brought me back to the present.
“It sure is – what do you think she’s saying”
Emy said, “It’s a baby birdie and she’s a little hungry.” We then went on to imagine all the things the bird did that day. We observed woodpeckers and blue jays, found caterpillars, and felt the wind blow in our hair. This is what all children need, time. Time to play and absorb the world around them, and time and attention from their parents. I just wish I’d given her more these past years…
With our first daughter I didn’t work as much, I used a play-based home school preschool curriculum, and we had planned activities most days. With baby number two…it’s been parenting by the seat of our pants. She didn’t respond well to the curriculum and I fear I haven’t taught her enough, or played with her enough, and the guilt just plain sucks.
As we ponder if she’s ready for preschool, or if I should start that next work project, I really am owning this and trying to prioritize what’s important for our family. I’ve always believed that you should
And for me that’s our kids.
I most likely will continue to indulge her at bedtime, and savor those late night cuddles…because in just a few short years she won’t need her mommy. Maybe I need her more than she needs me…