After a much needed hiatus, wherein I took the time to focus on my actual life (as opposed to my electronic life) and also to unwind and regroup, I am back. [cue the lone kazoo] With my return, I bring the fruits of much soul searching to share with you. Are you ready for it? [cue a drumroll, lone kazoo optional]
I am officially declaring this year to be: The Year of the Parent.
Well, duh, you say as you roll your eyes. We’re parents. Every year is our year. Right?
When I say that I declare this year to be The Year of the Parent, I am not talking about praise for the long suffering nights covered in baby…detritus (to spare the weak-stomached a more graphic picture). Nor am I talking about the daily power plays wherein most parents find themselves outwitted, yet again, by a quasi-verbal, 2 foot tall ball of energy (or is that just me?).
I am talking about taking it back. Taking it ALLLL back for us. Last year, I know that I found myself ensconced in a cocoon of family. It’s difficult to explain, but I’ll try. I passed up activities with friends because our daughter still needed a lot of care and attention. I gave up on things I might have wanted to do for myself because I felt it was more important to come home – and BE home. I’m not just the relief shift for our resident SAHD – I’m also the relief for a child who is ready for a change of scenery.
And because 98% of our friends are childfree, I let friendships that probably needed a little maintenance founder. I tried to maintain a semblance of mental and physical fitness, but rather than do what I knew would work for me (and when), I tried to modify what I really needed to do to meet the demands (self imposed?) of my home life.
It’s been to my detriment, and to M’s as well.
So this year, I am taking it back. Admittedly, this epiphany began a nebulous formation when I came home from work one day about a month ago. I received the standard, and always welcome, exuberant greeting from A and then…that was it! Instead of following me around, demanding to be picked up or played with, she kissed me hello and wandered off. I found her in her room, playing on her own. She smiled at me when I walked in, but when I tried to play too, I realized that this wasn’t Mommy Daughter Play Time. This was Daughter Play Time. Something happened and I didn’t know the rules to the game.
She shut the door behind me when I walked out. Of course, this sudden rejection was shortly redeemed when she realized that she still can’t open the old doors in our home, so she needed me for something – but not for play.
This developmental shift left me feeling rather useless at first. I puttered around the house, started dinners too early, twiddled my thumbs and cleaned grout. But lately, I’ve realized that it may mark the start of a markedly different year, that is, a year in which we let her go more and take time to breathe.
It may involve daycare and a return to work for M (maybe!) which, in talking about this, seems to be an idea that pleases him greatly. In fact, he’s talking about finishing his education too – and the night the subject was first broached, he jumped online to feel out the job market in aviation maintenance right now. I read a book. A played. I watched her and thought, “She loves kids. She loves to play. She needs to get into a setting where she can do that.”
I’m checking in to dance classes and after work activities for myself and getting organized enough to go back to school myself. I’m thinking of trips and bar-b-qs, parties and dates and realizing that not only is A perfectly happy to have her sitter over, but this may just be the year that we can afford a little more “us” time and a lot more horizon broadening.
So take this declaration and sign up for that class, ditch the kid for a night and remember that sometimes, it needs to be all about YOU...unless, of course, you already knew that.