Let me say this first: I love my daughter.
I LOVE HER.
She is hilarious, intelligent, and fun-loving. She cares about everyone and wants to learn about everything. She is one of the greatest blessings in my life.
So logically I should be enjoying my 1-2 months with her before my new job begins. But instead we seem to find ourselves consistently at odds with what the other needs, and counting the days until I go back to work and she goes back to a pre-K/daycare environment.
I recently finished a doctoral degree and have only one class to finish teaching, so it made financial sense to keep baby girl with me for the remainder of the semester. My wonderfully generous and loving father takes care of my baby girl while I teach, and the rest of the week we are together. All the time. Non-stop.
She loves to play. I love to read. She loves to play. I have to clean. She loves to play. I would rather do pretty much anything else.
I can bring myself to engage in what her teachers call “dramatic play” for about 15-20 minutes daily before I start to get antsy. Some insight into why this might be: I have enough mental energy that if it were converted into a fossil fuel we could stop drilling worldwide, and being at home with a child who is used to teacher/peer engagement all day creates a very different sent of expectations than I find at the workplace.
My daughter is less than pleased, too. Like me, she loves the idea of being home with me, but in practice it is kind of, well, boring. And when we get bored, we get a little nuts. She is, after all, my child.
The days go by more smoothly when we have a plan of action that includes time OUT OF THE HOUSE. This can be a trip to the library, farmer’s market, gym. Pretty much anything that gets us out of the same living room space for some amount of time. I prefer this in the morning because she still takes naps in the afternoon, so even a short trip breaks up the large chunk of morning time.
Yet even with these excursions, I can say with absolute certainty that my daughter will run from my arms and into her new teacher’s in a few weeks, and I will throw myself back into my work. The truth is that like any relationship we have our own dynamic, which works best when we both get good and exhausted during the day and can reconnect in the evenings and on the weekends. I shouldn’t be surprised–after all, she’s mine.