I am the Queen of Guilt, especially when it comes to worrying about how we parent Daniel: are we spending enough time with him, are we interacting enough with him, are we playing enough with him?
These doubts and worries hit their peak during the work week, which likely comes as no surprise to other working moms. We have roughly 4 hours with Daniel each day during the work week, and I would not call the majority of that time anything close to quality time. Most of that 4 hours is spent doing mundane day-to-day activities: getting dressed, taking baths, making breakfast and dinner, supervising the eating of breakfast and dinner, defusing temper tantrums, preventing the child from somersaulting off the couch/pulling the cats’ tails/running through the house, shepherding a recalcitrant child to and from the car and dropping off/picking up from day care. And always rushing, rushing, rushing because there is always some deadline we are trying to meet.
It sounds fabulous. These interactions are clearly those of which memories are made. It’s no wonder that I worry about our parenting.
There is one part of our day, though, that allows me to exhale, slow down and cherish: our bedtime routine. “Routine” isn’t even the correct word. “Ritual” comes closer to describing that magical time. It begins with the selecting of books. We bring out several of Daniel’s favorite books and allow him to choose 5 or 6. We then head to our bedroom, and after Daniel changes into his pajamas, we snuggle on the bed and start reading. Some of the books are silly while others are sweet. Some are old favorites from Daniel’s babyhood. Sometimes we read to him, but usually our reading is a dialogue with Daniel supplying words and phrases. He is starting to read to us now – obviously from memory – but it is sweet having our roles reversed. He looks up at us and smiles so proudly after he’s finished reading a book to us.
The door to the bedroom is closed, cocooning us off from the world. There are no distractions – no iPhones, no tv, no kitty cats. Just the three of us, reading, cuddling and laughing.
After we finish the books, we bounce on the bed and cover Daniel with kisses. Zerberts are a new favorite. We share a family hug and then open the bedroom door, returning to the world, to say goodnight to the house and to go to his room to tuck him in.
It’s only 30 minutes, maybe only 20 minutes if the books are shorter, but that small amount of time is special and crucial. When Daniel is an adult and looks back on his childhood with a working mother, I hope he thinks about bedtime and the stories we read. The funny faces and voices we made and used. How he had our undivided attention for at least that one moment. And how relaxed and guilt-free his mommy felt.
What parts of your day do you cherish with your child?
KeAnne straddles the world of IT and marketing at large university. After work, she can be found chasing her 2-year-old son, herding cats (literally), attempting to read and watching the Food Network obsessively with her husband. She considers Twitter part of her job and explores the sacred, profane and all points in between on her blog Family Building with a Twist.