Once upon a time I would have traded blood and organs for the chance to be a Work At Home Mom (WAHM). A few years ago, I stumbled onto the right ad on Craigslist and, without making any deals with the devil, joined the growing legions of moms who work from home. For the most part it’s been a win-win. I’m home on snow days and sick days. There’s no dry-cleaning to worry about, and the gas and rubber saved is significant. It has also, however, taught me a lot about the difference between quality time with my kids, twelve-year-old Thing1 and six-year-old Thing2, and simply more time.
Our town has school choice, so Thing1 and Thing2 go to different schools in different towns. The schools are a mile apart, and, while the calendars often overlap, there are somedays when one school is closed and the other is not. Yesterday was Thing2’s day off, and, enjoying a unprecedented state of organization last week, I remembered to schedule a day off for myself.
The kids are in school full-time now, but summers and holidays mean that I’m often scrambling to entertain them while I work. More often than I’d like, this results in kids playing on iPads or computers and me snapping at them to stop fighting over this or that toy. It’s more time together, but it is not quality time.
Ironically, spending more time with my kids has fueled my desire to carve out more special days with one or the both of them. It’s a tradition that started when Thing1 was still Thing-only. Mommy-Thing1 days started with a special breakfast and then a visit to a museum or even just a day on the couch watching a movie of his choice. It’s one-on-one face time, and it’s become a sacred ritual for both kids.
Thing2 and I started the day with breakfast and haircuts. Money he had earned was burning a hole in his pocked, so we took a quick trip to the toy store and then went to visit a friend who’s recovering from surgery. By the time we got home, my day with Thing2 was drawing to a close, and a planned evening with Thing1 was about to begin.
The Dorset Theatre was in its final weekend of its production of The Crucible, and, since we don’t have a regular babysitter, the Big Guy and I had decided to take turns attending. We’ve been dragging Thing1 to plays for a while now (with increasing levels of enthusiasm), and I decided we would go out to dinner before the play. Thing2’s palate is getting more adventurous so we ended up a Thai place in Manchester, VT.
The restaurant was a little more upscale place than we usually go with either child, but Thing1 warmed to the subdued atmosphere. Absent distractions, we began to have a different Mommy-Thing1 day. Thing2 is still at that stage where Mommy and Daddy are at the center of his world, and our special days are basically one big mental cuddle. But Thing1 is at the border of adolescence, and the independence that accompanies that stage of life means that our special days have changed in content and character. Last night, as our special day consisted mainly of very grown-up dinner conversations about technology and society and later about the play and the performance, I began to see for the first time how that change is bringing us closer.