Wednesday, October 10, 2007

It's a 5 o'clock world

This has been one of those days that makes working moms feel like terrible parents. Everything seemed great this morning while we were getting ready for school. The kids were mellow and agreeable, and Thea was talking about how much she was looking forward to seeing her friends. In the car, they shared a toy nicely and no one seemed particularly grumpy. Then at daycare, everything went to hell.

We had just finished dropping off Liam's lunch in his room. Our new routine is for the kids to give me hugs and kisses at the door, then to wave at me as I walk to the car. Thea skipped into the main room to get ready to see me off, and her teacher yelled, "Thea, no running! Thea, did you hear me? No running!" Thea stopped in her tracks, came back to me, and buried her head in my shirt. I tried to leave delicately for a half hour before finally giving up, leaving her physically restrained by her favorite teacher and sobbing "Mommy! Mommy!" Of course, I cried the whole way to work.

I kind of loathe the morning teacher, anyway. She speaks to the kids in a cloying baby-talk while the parents are there, all honey-dripping mooshie-mooshie-mooshie. But when she thinks she's alone, her tone is impatient and abrasive, often sharper than the situation calls for.

Lately I've been pondering the whole Motherhood Thing. Is it a choice of doing right by our kids, our jobs, or ourselves, or will you always feel like you're half-assing it all? Can I ever feel secure in knowing that I'm doing the right thing, taking the right path? Tangentially, how do you know when you've learned from an experience or when you've just been scarred by it?

11 comments:

nylonthread said...

Those are some hard questions at the end, Kelly. You are doing the right thing for you, and you know it, deep down. It's normal to second-guess yourself, really; everyone sometimes thinks they are a fraud or the grass is greener on another path at one time or another. It's just human nature. Have you ever met anyone who says that they feel completely secure about every decision they've made? I don't think that person exists.

FWIW on the learning/scarring thing, I don't have much to offer except some advice a friend gave me: "until you have learned from [your experience], the world will keep throwing it at you." I kind of believe this.

I'm irked by those baby-talk people too! Ugh! Our pediatric dentist's office is full of them. So sorry that Thea was that distressed this morning. I hope tomorrow is better!

aimee / greeblemonkey said...

OMG, this is my daily running thought process. And I hate baby talk.

The Clamdampers said...

As a work-at-home mom, I have a lot of the same questions - whether or not I'm doing this the best way for everyone involved. I definitely feel the half-ass aspect, and wonder if daycare would be a better way to go, since my two-year-old would at least get more attention from kids and professionals (baby talk aside) than she sometimes gets from me at home. But there are days when I want to give up on work and start sewing all of her clothes, baking her fresh, whole-wheat, preservative-free bread, taking her to story-time at the library every day, and other impossibly time-consuming endeavors that, in the end, probably wouldn't make much of a difference in her development (or my self-satisfaction) anyway. And I figure I'm not doing her any favors by giving up on a profession that is, for the most part, important to me, or on my independence in general.

NT said...

Boo hiss on the two-faced teacher! Besides, skipping is not running.

God, I don't know how anyone who is a parent stays sane.

Kudos to you for thinking and feeling. It's hard to do both.

Kelly O said...

Thanks, Nylonthread! I agree with your friend, that the universe keeps giving you the same situation until you've learned from it. It's just hard to know when that is happening, and when you're being gun-shy, you know?

Normally I'm very secure in the knowledge that daycare is the best thing for us. The kids are thriving, very smart and social, and they generally feel very loved and protected by the teachers. And I want them to feel like there's a community of adults who actively cares about them. I guess, like every other parent, part of me just can't stand to see my kids' feelings hurt and not be able to fix it.

Aw, thanks NT!

Unfit Mother said...

Daycare can be a great place for kids to learn that there are people in their world who make them feel a little icky. Either other kids or nasty attitude preschool teachers who should consider another career path. I think its important for my daughters to socialize with other adults as well as other children.

When my oldest daughter was in daycare / preschool and I worked, I felt like I was a better parent to her. When I'm home with the kids all day I tend to resent them - or maybe just my situation. The grass is always greener...

Kelly O said...

UM, I think you're right. I want my kids to grown up feeling secure, but I also want them not to blindly trust that every authority figure has their best interests at heart. Fight the Man, yo.

radical mama said...

Um, I vote for always feeling like your half-assing it. Or at least that has been my experience, regardless of the choices I have made.

sher said...

you'll always question it. trust me on that. my mother always reminds me that it's the quality of the time you spend together, not the quantity. sometimes, that was all i had when i was working FT.

when you're not working, you miss grownups and contributing in a place where people actually give you feedback (and not somehow assume you just do what you have to do and not acknowledge it all too often.)

when you're working, you never feel like you've done right by your kids, your partner, your house, your life.

actually, i never do, and i'm not working FT anymore. well, not outside the house. and i feel guilty the times when i wish i had time alone with the kids are with me. and i wish the kids would be with me when i'm alone.

you can't win. i think we all should take up meditation.

as far as the teacher is concerned, grrr. i've been lucky enough that teachers the kids have have usually been our partners, so to speak (except for some notable exceptions.) when not, it can make life sheer hell.

hoping thea -- and everyone -- had a better day.

Nonna Madonna said...

Advice from old person: 1) Sidestep the guilt. You are doing what needs to be done now. Do not allow yourself to feel otherwise. Others sense your guilty feelings and use them to manipulate you; skip through that (this includes kids, by the way, which probably makes separation process harder, little varmints smell guilt like predators smell fear). Consider that the day will come when you drop Liam and Thea at the center and they DO NOT NOTICE that you are leaving; you will feel like you just walked off a cliff. No guilt, it's totally non-productive. 2) Let kids work thru various issues that the day brings them unless you feel a crisis at hand BUT 3) Make time every evening to ask (and then really listen to their words and emotions) about their day. Since you have more than one, I suppose you should do that separately so the two don't confuse one another and you. In this area of interaction I already know you excel (from reading blog and comments) so if you can bag the guilt, give them some room to make mistakes/learn a few things, and carve out one-on-one time every night, you are a mom who casts her own shadow.

Kelly O said...

Aw, guys. The understanding and support is totally making me weep into my coffee. Thanks!

Sher, did you mean "meditation" or "mediation"?