Out of the mouths of babes

by Diana

I was in Target this afternoon, shopping for exciting things like cat food, and toilet cleaner, and back-to-school clothes for the Kid. As is my obsessive habit, I made a pass through the book section to see if–by any chance–my book was shelved there. (Yes, I know that getting shelf space in Target is a huge long shot. Still, I had to check!)

The Kid is apparently used to this by now, because as we turned down the aisle she asked, “Is Mark of the Demon here?” (Yeah, she’s five, and she knows my book!)

I gave a tragic sigh. “No, sweetie. But I didn’t really think it would be.”

She looked at me with a serious expression. “You have to work very very hard for that.”

She’s a smart kid. 🙂

Her perception made me laugh, but it also made me stop and think. On the one hand I’m thrilled that I seem to be setting a good example and giving the lesson that success is a direct result of hard work. On the other hand, I worry a bit that all she’ll remember is that I worked a lot. I admit that there are probably too many times that I say, “I have a lot of work to do, babe. I can’t do [insert activity] with you right now.”

The last month has been like that. First I had a tight deadline for revisions, which meant that during a semi-vacation to Destin, FL, I ended up signing the Kid up for resort activities so that I had free time to work during the day. (I say semi-vacation because my husband was there for a work-related conference, and the Kid and I tagged along.) She enjoyed herself tremendously in the resort activities, but still, I couldn’t help but feel guilty that we didn’t do more stuff together. Upon our return she went right back to the day camp that she’s been attending this rest of the summer, and for the next week I picked her up from day camp and then turned her over to the husband so that I could finish the revisions. Then, as soon as I finished the revisions, it was time for me to head off to the San Diego Comic Con. (Which is why I missed posting last week. Sorry!)

So, this week I’m doing my best to compensate. I’m doing hardly any work. I’m trying to do “quality stuff” with the Kid. We’re playing tea party and watching movies.

Because I know that in another week I’ll be receiving the copyedited manuscript, and I’ll have about a short amount of time to get that finished and sent back. Which means that my Kid will have another week of seeing her mom head down in paperwork, and another week of hearing, “Not now, babe. I have a lot of work to do.”

All I can do is hope that she’ll eventually be able to accept the cycle of “no time to play” vs. “let’s cram as much quality time as we can into this interval between deadlines.”  And, I can only hope that the quality time will be enough.

4 Responses to “Out of the mouths of babes”

  1. 1 Terri-Lynne
    August 1, 2009 at 8:05 pm

    Diana, you are teaching your daughter one of the most important lessons in her life; you’re showing her how to follow a dream. You’re showing her that just because one becomes a mother doesn’t mean all other dreams have to fall away. You’re teaching her how to be a woman in this world that still does not value her gender enough to otherwise teach her these things as it would have had she been born a boy. You’re teaching her that she is important, but that you are too. You’re teaching her that you are a PERSON, and not just her mom. And in the end, she’ll be the same kind of mom; and maybe, just maybe, she won’t have to suffer the same sort of guilt women today still too often feel when they dare put their own wants/needs/ambitions on equal footing with family obligations.

    It’s a tough line to walk, individuality/motherhood. Really tough. But by telling her “I have to finish these revisions today,” while still spending other quality time with her, you’re teaching her how to walk that line so that someday, she’ll be a pro.

  2. August 2, 2009 at 10:49 am

    Thanks, Terri-Lynne! It’s awfully easy to fall into the “I’m a horrible mom because I don’t spend every free moment with my child” spiral, so I really appreciate the pep-talk. 🙂

  3. 3 Terri-Lynne
    August 2, 2009 at 11:28 am

    Ha! Been sucked into that spiral myself. You’re welcome.

  4. 4 Sue
    August 4, 2009 at 1:28 pm

    I don’t recall spending all my free time with my kids. After all, even though I was not involved in wage labor, I still had a life of my own outside the family confines.

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