Tonight I found myself thinking about how much better a mother I seem to be when I am not working 40+ hours a week.
I don’t mean I am a better mother because I am spending more time with my children. I think working mothers can absolutely spend enough quality time with their kids and quite often do a better job of focusing on that than I do when I am home all the time. I mean that I am more patient with my children when I am not thinking about three gazillion things waiting out in the other room for me to deal with.
I came to this realization tonight when I started to get impatient with my sweet baby boy at bedtime. He had developed the “flying hand syndrome”, that bedtime things kids do to stay awake when you finally get them to lie down and be quiet. Otter will lie still and tap his finger rhythmically on the pillow, or pull at his forelocks, or fly his hand slowly back and forth across the backdrop of his comforter. Monkey did it too, this litany of sleep preventatives invented by brilliant children with too much “letter of the law” in them to outright rebel at bedtime, thereby necessitating an arsenal of subversive sleep avoidance behaviors.
These behaviors drove me crazy when Monkey did them but hadn’t bothered me with Otter until very recently. Tonight I figured out why.
When Monkey went through her subversive sleep resistence phase I was in college and would wait until she had gone to bed to whip out my books and study for hours on end. Every time I put her to bed there was this looming list of “to do’s” waiting for me. Each tap of the finger, every rhythmic tick of the foot, each little hum drove me into a state of intense frustration as I analyzed exactly how much less time I had to get back to my school work.
With Otter I just giggled at his obvious attempts to stay awake. I found them charming and cute. I enjoyed them until I went back to work full-time and began depending on the post bedtime hours for my law practice. Then suddenly each baby hand flight path chopped off valuable time from my night’s billable hours. I began to get cranky and frustrated and unhappy with our normal bedtime routine. This impatience resulted in less quality time at bedtime. It resulted in a less comforting and comfortable mommy presence helping the little ones drift off to sleep.
To be completely honest with myself I should be cherishing these little moments. I should love each minute spent snuggled against a soft baby body awaiting the even uninterrupted ebb and flow of sleeping baby’s breath. I know how fleeting this time is. I am completely aware of how soon he will leap up and get too busy to snuggle his mom, I have already undergone that transition with my daughter.
In reality my days dealing with this problem are numbered. Time will march on and my baby will find new and creative ways to delay bedtime that don’t include soft snuggles. Why am I letting myself view these precious times as impositions? The soft dusky moments spent at bedtime are the times I have been working for. I should be viewing the things that take me away from them as the impositions.
So my goal is to let go of the sense of urgency and simply enjoy my time with little Otter as he tries all the weapons at his disposal to delay bedtime. I am lucky that most of them involve sloppy baby kisses, soft pats, and quiet giggles.