Wading in the deep end of the pool

I’m really incredibly glad that dd appears to be enjoying much of her time at camp. She’s a bit thrown off by the differences between camp and day care (like the fact that they nap on mats instead of on cots), but otherwise she’s been okay. Probably the most unintentionally amusing part of camp is how she’s been coming home in her spare outfit. When I queried her about it this afternoon (“Did your clothes get wet or dirty?”), she just shrugged and moved on. Turns out that she thought having “a change of clothes” meant that she was expected TO change her clothes. So, like the diva-in-training she can sometimes be, she was going through her second wardrobe change of the day (her first being into her swimwear). HIGHLY AMUSING, but since it’s draining her supply of underwear and shorts, we’re asking her to cut it out unless she needs to swap out some clothing.

Where things are less amusing is in the area of time. With a single day care drop-off for the two kids, it was easy enough to drop them off at 7-ish in the morning and pick them up at 5-ish in the evening and hear only mild amounts of complaining. I’ve tried explaining that both dh and I work, and this makes it impossible for us to do late drop-off and early pick-up on a daily basis, but trying to explain this to a 2yo and 5yo is like trying to have a conversation about it with our fish: blank stares if you’re lucky and off to the next interesting thing if you’re not.

Now, we have two drop-offs and two pick-ups. Thankfully, the camp is only a few minutes away from day care, but since camp hours are shorter than day care’s, I’ve been dropping dd off before ds and dh has been picking dd up before picking up ds. This has the dual effect of putting dd into camp when most of the other kids aren’t there (we had to pay extra for before and after care, since regular camp hours are 9:00am-4:00pm, and before/after expands that to 7:00am-6:00pm) and requiring her to go into her former day care to pick up her brother. To hear dh tell it, she’s not responding well to picking up her brother; she’s done with day care and wants to move on. I get that – I really do – but since much of a parent’s life is about controlling and managing the logistics of day-to-day life, as much as I sympathize with her discomfort, I can only tell her to get over it.

This doesn’t mean that I don’t feel awful having either kiddo hanging out there waiting on us to come and get them.

I have some vague memories of being like that when I was younger, too. By the time my mom showed up to pick me up from my babysitter’s house, all I wanted to do was go home. And I was awful. I’d hang on her. I’d pull on her skirt. I’d bug the ever-living crap out of her when all she wanted to do was have a pleasant, adult conversation with my babysitter – her friend (and a woman I truly do consider my second mom). It’s not until you’re a mom and your own children are pulling this same crap on you that you realize how much you have to answer for.

And it’s funny, because I could do something about this. I could work fewer hours and take the commensurate pay and benefits cuts. Or so could dh. But neither of us is interested in entertaining this right now. It wouldn’t buy us enough to do it, and the loss in total compensation could be more problematic than it’s worth. But that doesn’t mean I don’t feel guilty.

And, to top it all off, dinner has been late both nights this week – the shift in schedule for pick-ups from camp and day care has really messed with our timing. So the kids are exhausted AND out-of-sorts AND hungry-cranky AND AND AND…

I won’t say I’m a bad mom. A bad mom wouldn’t care. It’s just frustrating that there are so few ways to be better at it without making life even more difficult. So I need to figure out how to let go of my stress at coming to work for 8:30am instead of 8:00am. And I need to find a way to make dinners in 20 minutes total instead of 30 minutes total. And I need to just let some stuff go and stop worrying about every little thing. But the nagging little guilt will still be there. There’s a part of me that thinks it’s always there, for every parent, whether they work in or out of the home, whether they send or don’t send their kiddo(s) to camp or day care…it’s just the constant bug in your ear that tells you that you need to be doing a better job. And I’m glad I still care. Now I just need to figure out how to do what I would consider “a better job” and that should help me get some of that stress right out. I hope.

*glub glub*

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