So, its finally here. Natalie's first birthday!
To be honest, it was a little anticlimactic. I think that Saturday will be more fun since that is her party, but today was really just a regular day. She is too young to understand presents, and besides, she found them all in our bed room a few days ago. I tried to be extra nice to her all day and give her anything that would make her extra happy. This mostly meant watching Sesame Street videos on the lap top, toast with jam, an extra nursing, Yo Gabba Gabba DVD, and lunch ready for her when she got up from her nap. Of course, there were conflicts, most notably some fussing over me not wanting her to touch the oven and her throwing down her spoon for the first time at dinner. But at least we got through the day with out a good whack on the head or any real serious crying.
So, there isn't too much to say about today. It was fun and touching to think of how far Natalie has come and to enjoy her, but as always, at the end of the day I always feel like I could have spent more time really engaging with her. Sometimes I feel like I'm giving myself a hard time. I mean, no mom can be "on" like that every day all day. If she is happy watching some TV for a bit or playing on her own, should I be forcing myself into her playing? But there are times when she is craving my attention or starting to just veg in front of the TV and I need to step in, but its hard sometimes. After a year as a mom, sometimes its nice to have a break during the day that isn't during on of her naps. Its easy to slip into doing my own thing once I start. Its hard to interact with someone who can't yet talk to you, who you never quite know what she's thinking.
By the time we get to bath time and the day is winding down, I start to feel like maybe I've wasted my day, like maybe we didn't do enough together. We have lots of little moments together - reading books, singing songs (both on our own and with the tv), dancing for her while she eats, hiding toys for her to find, diaper changes, kisses, nursing. I feel like our time at bed time is special. But a lot of the day I feel like we are trailing after each other. I'm following her around the house or around the yard, or she is following me in the evening as I'm trying to clean up or get something. When I feel this way, I always vow that tomorrow is a new day and I'll do better, but its so easy to slip back into old habits. I wish I had a way to get an unbiased opinion about if I'm spending my time with her well. I mean, I know I interact with her more than some moms, but is it enough? What is enough? You can never know. Its unrealistic to think we have to spend her every waking moment engaged in play together, especially when she spends so much time wandering around changing her mind every few minutes.
I guess I'm just feeling a little bummed that today was her first birthday and I feel like it wasn't special; I worry that it was the opposite, that I was too distant with her. I know that she has no idea that today was a special day, but it was my job to make it feel special.
So, I was done with this post and got up to go get some ice cream to eat while watching the runway show on Project Runway. But as I was scooping it occurred to me: I'm a stay at home mom. I might feel guilty about the amount of "quality" time Natalie and I spend together, but how much time do working moms really get to spend with their children? Maybe a rushed hour in the morning as they get ready to leave the house and then for me it would have been 3-4 hours in the afternoon / evening, including the rush to get home and make dinner. While I'm not saying that just time spent together is everything, but in those hours we spend together we have some many small moments. If I were working, we would be trying to force all our contact into a few hours with this intensive contact. What if one of us didn't feel like it? I just continue to think about how crazy I would be if I was working. And if I was working, someone else would be with Natalie all day. Someone else would be reading her stories and singing her songs, encouraging her and praising her, whipping her who-ha, cradling her when she bangs her head, learning to hand her to spoon as she eats. While these things start to seem mundane day in and out, it is very important that its me, her mom, doing them for her. Its not a series of strangers who have many other kids to focus on as well, but instead its her family in her home.
So, I am feeling better about how we spend our time together after this new round of thoughts. I'm not saying that some days don't have room for improvement, but overall, maybe I am giving myself too hard of a time because those the every day things must be draining for a reason.