Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Not Yet

Theo is just starting to grasp the ideas of time and place. He understands Now and Later and When and Where. This means he comes up with questions like, "Where I going, Mama?" just before we walk out the door, and replying "Not yet. I playing," when I ask him if he's ready for lunch. Every night before he goes to bed he asks, "Tomorrow a play day?" meaning he's wondering if he'll get to sleep in (a "play day") or if I'll rouse him out of bed to take him to day care. His attention span is expanding and he has been known to settle in with some cars or a book for twenty minutes at a time. Last night he grabbed my hand and led me into his room, asking me to "Play a game with me, Mama." He also gets excited about taking his vitamins, and his latest favorite book is Olivia ("Read Livia to me, Daddy!"). I can't wait to see what goofy new thing he does to make me laugh as I lift him out of bed after his nap - lately when I stick out my hand, he says, "I'm DeeDee," to which I'm supposed to respond, "Nice to meet you, I'm DahDah." Don't ask me how that is supposed to make sense.

Every stage in his life is interesting to me, but now that the physical growth has slowed down a bit and his intellectual progress is faster, I am more fascinated by him than ever. He's started making jokes, and remembering directions ("We going left?"), and trying to figure out what day it is ("Today Tuesday?"). Of course he's also bossier than I ever imagined he could be, and he has a real problem remembering that everyone deserves a turn on the slide and that blocking it with his body and just hanging out at the top really isn't acceptable playground behavior.

So isn't it just my luck that, just when he's at his most charming, I've up and got myself a full-time job? It's true. I start next week. I'm excited about it. I've really missed the intellectual stimulation of working. I always liked my work and now that I've had a four year break, I know for sure that it really was the right field for me. So I'm going back.

Before I had a child I suspected I was not stay-at-home-mom material, and although I am beyond grateful that I could hang out with Theo for as long as I have, I still believe I'm happier when I'm working. I do not do well with unstructured days and hours alone with my toddler. I do not enjoy housework, and I just feel guilty that it's not getting done while I'm trying to re-assemble a broken dump truck. I am terrible at arts and crafts. My patience for whining is severely limited.

Of course this new plan is kind of breaking my heart too. I am savoring our sleepy mornings this week, eating breakfast in our PJs and wandering over to the library and the park. I don't like thinking about the post-nap cuddles I will miss, or the quiet weekday visits to the zoo.

But it still feels like the right thing. I'm happy with our child care situation. Jeff and I are both looking forward to caring for Theo in a more balanced partnership. And it's a financially responsible decision for all of us.

But I'm not looking forward to giving up our play days either.

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