Wednesday, June 25, 2003
( 3:40 PM )
Being Mama Redux
Well, Martin's second day of day care at Miss R's yesterday went much better than expected. Upon arrival, he immediately screeched with delight at seeing his new friend Isaac (who is a few months younger, but also walking) and went immediately to play. Miss R said he did okay during the day, with a few little episodes of crying and needing cuddles, but all in all much better. He was still clingy when P went to pick him up, but not nearly as much as the last time. He was tired - he doesn't nap well there yet, that will take some time. I admit to still feeling a bit like the third wheel, though P tries so hard to not make it seem that way. It's just a natural thing for the baby to have more attachment to and separation anxiety from the person he spends the most time with. Sometimes it seems like it's getting more pronounced and that I don't even exist when Daddy's in the room - but that could just be my imagination. I try not to feel rejected, it's not like he is rejecting me personally.
I wonder if it's different for "working" mamas than it is for "working" dads. I wonder if dads come home from work hoping to get attention and cuddles from their children but finding that the kid wants to only be hugged by mom, feel rejected and put aside. I never heard of that - the stereotype is that the dad just wants to be left alone and not bothered. But I'm sure that can't be true. As evidenced by all the dads staying home now, I'm sure that for the most part Dads want to be as involved. The thing is, they don't have ages and ages of cultural guilt and expectation heaved on their shoulders like mamas do. So it is different.
I sometimes feel bad enough that I'm not with my child like a "good mother," especially when people imply that my working is a betrayal of my son or something like that. On top of that, to feel like my son isn't really attached to me makes me feel weird - aren't I the mommy? I sometimes feel like "wait a minute...was it supposed to be like this?" On the other hand, I feel good and confident about the decision P and I made - I can make more money and get benefits for all of us while he cannot in the current economic climate, and so we are doing what works for us. And I feel good that Martin is getting to develop such a close relationship with his dad so early on. I suppose it's just going to take a longer time than I expected to adjust. It gets hard the older martin gets - he learns new things every day and I feel like I miss out. Life is just a series of trials and errors, isn't it?
UPDATE: Conflict Girl has a post today about women "having it all" and work environments. I know that there is often a huge divide between moms who work at home and moms who work out of the home (again, I think it's because of a cultural bias and societal pressures that have built up over centuries). I was interested in her comments and it made me think more about this subject. I definitely wouldn't work in an office if I didn't have to...right now it's the best job for me and my family. I think that it's easier to make things black and white - but they never are. I can feel good on an overall level for the choices I've made about "working" or not, and still feel yucky that I'm not with my son more. It's not an either/or thing all the time. Now, if I could just win the lottery...
UPDATE 2: Being Daddy points to an article out of San Francisco that echoes my inkling that the "working" dad might be bothered by the dichotomy of expectations on him too. I guess we're all in the same boat sometimes - never adequate enough. But still, I wish my baby would fling himself at me just once when Daddy was in the room (sigh).