I’ve noticed a shift in the past few weeks since Catie has started full-time daycare. I mean, of course there’s an obvious shift in her. She comes home every day spouting some new random thing. A couple of weeks ago she was telling me about Obama and George Madison (I guess they were studying U.S. Presidents for President’s Day; she apparently confused George Washington & James Madison, but I like the mash-up of their names), and then this past week she pointed at her stuffed cow (which is supposed to look like the one from Mr. Brown Can Moo) and said, “That’s from Dr. Seuss. It’s his birfday. He’s 1-oh-2 old.” So I looked it up, and sure enough, that day was Dr. Seuss’s birthday. He would’ve been 106, not 102, but she was still damn close.
Wait, what was I talking about?
Oh right, changes in behavior.
No, some of the biggest changes are in me. I think I was probably like a lot of stay-at-home moms for a while, and I was guilty of often phoning it in with regards to childcare. During the day, the TV was usually tuned into a cartoon channel (regardless of whether or not she was watching it), I spent too much time goofing off on my computer, and we just didn’t do very much together for fun. The functional stuff, sure. Mealtimes, bedtimes, grocery shopping, whatever. But playing games and that type of thing? Those things tended to fall by the wayside. Often.
But now that she’s gone so much during the week, my time with her feels more precious. So this past weekend, we (FINALLY!) had some really gorgeous, sunny, semi-warm weather, and we took advantage of it by spending a lot of time outside.
I’m ashamed to admit it, but I am that mom who you see on her iPhone at the playground, usually playing Words with Friends or goofing around on Twitter while my kid runs around playing. But this weekend, I made the conscious effort to not do that. I checked my iPhone once, when she sat down to drink some juice, but the rest of the time, I played with her, instead of being a bystander.
And it’s probably no big surprise, but we’ve had a truly fantastic weekend. We went to three different playgrounds in two days, we played with some neighborhood kids, our lunches were backyard picnics, we drew pictures in the driveway with sidewalk chalk, we blew bubbles, and we had long talks about birds and airplanes and fire hydrants and a million other things that you see every day but never really notice. It’s been a blast.
Normally when Catie goes to sleep, I’m so exhausted that all I can feel is a wave of relief that she’s finally asleep, because it means that I can finally go to bed myself. This weekend, though? I felt sort of sad because I missed my sidekick.
It’s strange how something like a fun weekend goofing off with my kid can validate my gut instinct that going back to work full-time was absolutely the right thing for me to do. It was the kick to the head that I needed to make me realize exactly how fleeting these childhood years are, and just how much I don’t want to miss any of it.