"Don't ignore your son's tender years" - Juvenal

October 7, 2010

Boy With Trucks
Originally uploaded by Wooliedales
Some nights when I get home from work E and I simply don't interact much at all. I always try to find time to lay down on the floor with him and play trucks or trains for a half hour or so, and probably 5 days out of 7 bedtime is our special time to talk together, but some nights (like last night) events conspire against us and our entire interaction for the evening is sitting together to eat supper and a quick hug and kiss before bed.

I try to tell myself that its balanced out by days like Saturday (when we went to the Cumberland Fair -- just the two of us -- and rode the Ferris Wheel and petted goats and hung out together for hours and hours) and that spending one-on-one time with his father is equally valuable as spending time with me, but there is always a tiny voice inside me that says "you're his mother, damnit. Be more present for him."

Very recently our family had a financial windfall, which, if we really wanted to, could have been used for me to quit my job for a year and stay at home with E until he starts Kindergarten in the Fall of 2011. (Class of 2024 - wow, its the future!) Its very tempting to do this, enormously tempting, as in "don't press the big, red, candy colored button" kind of tempting. Josh and I talked and talked about it, and have come to the conclusion that, although it might be emotionally satisfying for me, its not strictly necessary and would be a step backwards for our family, leaving us, in a year, basically where we are now but with even less savings and less of a safety net. What if I couldn't get a new job next fall? What would be the financial impact to our insurance? What if one of our cars finally fails and we really need to replace it? So we decide to maintain the status quo, but I find myself keenly aware that its a choice that, in some ways, is putting our desire for a certain kind of middle class lifestyle above what may (or may not) be best for our child. And I get, too, that its a luxury for us to even be having this conversation -- that for many families its not a choice, not a conversation, not a discussion. Working is simply survival -- as it has been for us too, for a while now.

So, today being Thursday E and his dad are at E's swim lessons, while I work late. After lessons E and his dad will go for dinner together and perhaps some climbing on indoor play equipment. While I work late. And then they will go home and E's dad will tuck him into bed and read him stories and I will (hopefully) arrive home in time for a sleepy kiss before E drops off to dreamland.

And then I will go downstairs and wonder how different our problems would be if we made different choices in our lives.