This article from the Huffington Post gutted me, big time.
In the article, the author narrated how she discovered that her son’s nightly request of having a glass of water brought up to his room was an excuse for night time cuddles before going to sleep. She always had excuses or was perpetually late in giving into the requests and her son just stopped asking.
Oh man, that’s so me.
When my eldest was 8, I just started working from home so I needed to put in additional hours to be able to meet our necessary spending income. My husband worked in the city and it was just me and the two kids at home during weekend. My youngest was only 3 so she doesn’t necessarily need a sleeping time, unlike my eldest who needed to be sleeping by 9PM because of school. At that time, I was working odd hours, mostly doing serious work from 7PM to 4AM. So I was, literally, in front of the laptop. We lived in a small house so distance wasn’t an issue. I work on our dining table while they eat, work on the dining table while they watch TV, and answer their questions or attend to them while working on the dining table (see the only constant – the dining table). Take note, they come to me when they need to ask something. Not me going to them when they need attention.
I had great intentions for working hard – this was a trade off of my choice to work at home. I needed to establish stability first so I can maintain working at home and taking care of them. While I managed to maintain working at home until now, looking back I think I didn’t do a great balance of working and giving them attention.
Sure, I was there all the time. But the rituals became taxing and unfortunately for me, seemed unnecessary.
My son went to bed alone since he was 8. I wasn’t there to put him to bed. He would call on me to lay beside him because he couldn’t sleep or because he was scared but all I’d do was turn on the lights so he won’t be scared or worse, yell at him to quit being a scaredy cat and go to bed.
For all I know he just wanted his Mommy. Thinking about it now makes me cry.
He is now almost 14, stays on a dorm in the city five days a week during the schoolyear and has his own room. He now doesn’t ask me to sleep beside him. He doesn’t even sleep in our room anymore. I wish I’d given the time to lay beside him when he asked. Work could’ve waited. My youngest could’ve slept earlier. My kids could’ve formed better sleeping habits earlier.
My daughter, the youngest, was never read to at night when she was a toddler. I needed to work – again, with my good intentions, right? At 8, she hasn’t developed the love for reading like her brother, who I read to when he was young. I somehow blame myself for this. I just console myself with the fact that she is still only 8, and I can still read to her. I just have make time for it.
I have big mommy guilt towards my eldest, like how Marge wrote about her firstborn. But this post isn’t about crying over regrets. It’s about making time for little things.
Making Time for Rituals and Little Things
I only get to have two of my kids under one roof two days a week, during weekends. My son studies in Pisay and I worry about him all the time. I don’t even get to wake him up for school anymore. But I get to have two days out of the week and vacations in between. I make time to talk with him, making sure my phone isn’t glued to my hand, really talk to him – eye to eye contact, not while watching TV or browsing FB. Sure, he might be the one doing that (talking to me while tweeting for example) but I want to soak up my time with him with little things. The usual sermon still happens of course – whether it’s because of a lost sock, a dirty parent’s form (How do kids pack their schoolbags these days anyway?) or the quintessential be-practical-with-how-you-spend-your-money talk. But I make sure to spend time with him. This is the reason why schedules for work during weekends are declined more often than not.
I’d rather be with my son first. Is it the right choice? Maybe not. But for now, it’s going to be him first. Maybe when it comes the kids, I’ve learned that they should come first – forever.
Lastly, if you are like me who experiences big doses of Mommy guilt from time to time, remember that you are doing an awesome job. We always have the best intentions when it comes to parenting – sometimes it doesn’t work, sometimes it’s the wrong choice – but we always go back to the right intention – the heart of the matter.
We are doing what we can. And that is enough.
This series, Making Time, was born out of my realization that for me to make things work, I need to find the time. Time is a precious commodity, much more valuable than money and I want to make sure I am rich of it. I still don’t know how to manage my time, this is not an expert advice column. But I can always share what it working for me.