“There is never enough time, unless you’re serving it” – M. Forbes

March 11, 2008

Mathematically, this is my son’s life

I’ve been doing some math. Mathematically, this is my son’s life: Out of 168 hours in a week, he spends….

  • 70 hours sleeping at night at home (on average 830 pm – 630 am) (yes, he also naps during the day, but that isn’t what I’m tracking here)
  • 45 hours at daycare
  • 5 hours w/mommy & daddy getting up/dressed on weekday mornings
  • 5 hours in the car with daddy during their daily commute.
Which leaves us a scant 43 hours per week (25.59%) for “everything else”

Last Week “everything else” Included:
  • Two evenings home with mom while dad was at practice (6 awake hours)
  • Two evenings home alone with dad while mom was at work (6 awake hours) (although as a special treat Dad did bring him by the fundraising event for about 45 minutes)
  • One evening home alone with dad while mom was out w/her mom (3 awake hours)
  • One afternoon at a Birthday party (with dad) (3 awake hours)
  • One afternoon/evening at Grandma’s (with dad) while mom was at work (8.5 awake hours)
  • One evening out at dinner with mom & dad’s friends (2 awake hours)
  • One afternoon in and out of the car while mom & dad ran errands (3 awake hours)
Eleven and a Half Hours

Those remaining 11.5 hours were the time he was at home and awake with both of us there. That time basically represents Saturday and Sunday mornings, when we get up, eat breakfast, maybe watch a little Big Big World or perhaps E will convince me to show him the “Tivo Guy” animation over and over and over again. Then we’ll play with toys and read books. Or maybe we’ll go up to his room and make a game of some chore, like putting laundry away. Eventually we’ll get him dressed, and Josh and I will need to take our showers and get dressed. For this particular week, his S/S nap times took place during the errand running and time at Grandmas, but in other weeks that time needs to include E’s nap time as well. (When he’s at home with us for an entire weekend day, family nap time with books and snuggles can be a warm and wonderful treat.) 11.5 hours is 6.8% of E’s week. But in between the working and the groceries and the attempt to have a richer life involving other people (for both us and him), its all there is left.

Some Questions You Just Know Never To Ask

I actually started this exercise to assure myself that he does spend more time with us than he does with his daytime care provider, and he does, but just by a slim edge – 45 hours a week with her vs. a total of 53 hours per week when he is in the company of at least one parent. Of course, he spends stable chunks of time with Sarah and the little girls: 9 hours per day, 5 days per week, (on a side note, I also just realized as part of this exercise that we pay her less than half of minimum wage per hour for the time he is with her – and that includes two meals she provides each day! – but it’s the rate she’s asking and she gets to be at home with her own daughter, so I must not feel guilty about that), whereas his time with us is broken up into chunks and bits and dribs and drabs. This partitioning of our time with him is, above all things, is what I hate about the current schedule. He, of course, seems none the worse for wear, but who really knows how he regards the adults in his life? He knows that I am Mamma, and that Josh is Daddy. I don’t know what he calls Sarah and I don’t want to know. I suspect he calls her Mamma too, at least some of the time. It’s a question we just prefer not to ask.

"It's like having a Parent Die"

When I attempted to change his care situation last fall to such devastating effect, someone mentioned to me that abruptly taking him away from Sarah was “like having a parent die.” The comment offended me at the time, but with reflection I’ve come to realize that it’s the truth. Sarah, for better or worse, is another mother to him. H and M (the two girls he’s in care with – H is Sarah’s daughter) are his part-time siblings. I’ve always known that Sarah’s values will have as much impact on his upbringing as our own do, and the upside of having him in her home every day is that I’m sure that she’s warm and loving and moral and that it’s a non-harmful environment for him. This is the big pitfall of putting a child in care – you are, in fact, having him raised by a carefully chosen stranger. It’s a fortunate feature of the human psyche that love is a bottomless well (and more so in babies, I truly believe, who love completely and unconditionally, with their entire bodies and souls, reserving nothing), so I don’t have to worry about him loving Sarah “more”. If I had to guess, I would say that he knows he belongs with us because … well, because we smell like his parents should smell, but the mystery of what the realities of the world are to a toddler are broad and deep.

“We’ve been told we can have it all. The truth of the matter is that you can’t. You can’t have it all at the same time.” – Michelle Obama

My resolution for the spring is to find more time that we’re together as a family. I will admit that last week was sort of an aberration – this week we’re in now, for example, I have both weekend days off and Josh and I will be home together at least two and possibly three weeknight evenings. The question becomes what to do with the time we have. The temptation is to try and make that time “special” – to go places and do things on weekend days, to play special games or eat special meals on weeknights. The better answer is probably just to emphasize the idea that we are together, that we love each other, and try to make E laugh as much as possible.

And enjoy family nap time, if we have the chance.