Thursday, December 15, 2005

The kind of parent I am

Before I had C I had visions of the kind of parent I would be. I would sit on the floor and play games endless with my children. We would do lots of arts and crafts, and make big messes all the time. The kids would love to read and read and read, and I would snuggle with them on the couch narrating all my favorite books. My children would take long naps, and I would have an opportunity to read my own books, work on my own projects, and get dinner ready. We would eat as a family and then everyone would happily drift off to sleep in their own beds.

In reality, I am a very different type of parent. I'm not much for floor games. I do set up train track after train track, but I tend to let my kids figure the stacking cups, puzzles, and stacking rings out on their own (or not) as they choose. I make toy suggestions ("Why don't we get out the cars") but don't get down and zoom the cars around myself unless begged.

Arts and crafts drive me bonkers. I never liked them as a child, and I truly hate them as an adult. Crayons are fine, markers are OK, I avoid paint and glue like the plague. I've been relenting more and more on the paint front with C, but it takes some real negotiation on his part. I don't know what possessed me to think I would be an arts and crafts parent, but I am clearly not. I hate big messes. Which I am sure amuses my mother to no end.

We do read. A lot. And I will read the same book over and over and over again until I can recite it word for word on demand. Unfortunately, my favorite childhood books are not my children's. But 99% of the time I let them choose the story of the hour. I hope our tastes merge when we hit the chapter book stage, but if they don't, I will still be a mom who reads.

As for the long naps, yeah. Those never happened. With either child. I've always been lucky if I could squeeze in a shower, and maybe a trip to the garage to take the trash out. There is no mommy time for reading, projects, or cooking. The family dinners are also few and far between. Between M's commute factor and the lack of daytime sleep leading to an early bedtime factor, there is just no possible way that a family dinner could possibly work. And quite honestly, while I have some guilt over it, I relish the 30 minutes of time with M to talk about grownup things and eat grownup meals.

I frequently wonder how my children will remember me when they look back on their childhood. Will their therapy sessions be all about how mommy wouldn't do art with me? Or how mommy emptied the dishwasher while I ate dinner? Or will they remember the snuggles on the couch reading books or the long, long chats we have about whatever strikes their fancy. I hope they will look back on their childhood fondly, and be glad I was home. But some days I question whether I'm really the type of parent who should be staying home, or whether I've made a colossal mistake.