Tuesday, February 06, 2007

And sometimes, they're just awesome

On Monday and Wednesday evenings, Craig teaches a night class, so I'm alone with the kids. It's been like that, just varying evenings, as long as we've had kids. Some semesters he's taught four evenings a week, and when Alex was a baby, he also delivered a weekly paper into the wee hours of Wednesdays.

Which means that, historically, bedtime has been the domain of Mommy.

Craig is a fantastic daytime parent. I've had 8-4:30, Monday-Friday jobs for years. School starts a bit later and ends earlier, which means that Craig's schedule is designed so that he takes them to school, teaches some classes while they're learning, and then picks them up from school (at varying times depending on which after-school activity is happening), then oversees homework, snack, playtime. By the time I arrive home, the homework is usually completed, and it's time to make dinner and wind down.

My kids, even at the advanced ages of 7 and 9, go to bed at 8:00 on school nights. Last year, we tried to adjust their bedtime to give them a little more time, but even 8:30 meant they were dragging in the morning. Those little bodies really need 11 hours of sleep every night. And based on how hard it is to wake them up in the morning, they could probably use 12. But there's no time for all that.

By 7:00, on the evenings that Craig is home, he's pretty much ready to send the kids upstairs. He's been with them through the rush of getting ready for school and running out the door. He's been with them (and helped them) through the mountain of homework. He's been the nag: get your lunch, pick up your backpack, empty your lunchbox, put away your shoes.

And I get the better part of them most nights. I get the sous chef when Alex helps with dinner. I get the long talks with Susie about her friends. The best stories? Are saved for me. Craig often complains that the kids never talk to him. Not that they give him the silent treatment, but that they save the real talks for me.

How do I get so lucky?

Being a working mom sometimes gives me the best of both worlds.

When I was a kid, my dad worked and my mom stayed home. Mom was there for the bumps and bruises, the crying about some mean kid at school, all the daily stuff that's so, well, daily. Dad was the "fun" parent - he was playful and silly and seen much less (sometimes his work took him far away, like Australia, for weeks or months at a time). So seeing Daddy? That was party time!

In our little family, both parents work, but one, Craig of the flexible schedule, is there for the "daily" stuff. And I'm not. Which means that I get to be the "fun" parent much of the time.


I'm still the mom. And that means when someone's sick? They want me. When someone plays a video game that he should not have played and that scared the crap out of him and now he's scared of zombies? (Thank you, Resident Evil. Thanks so much for being so tempting to little boys that they beg and beg and seem mature enough to handle it so their parents relent and then they quickly realize that that game is way the hell too scary for a child.) He wants to talk to me about it. ("Mom, if you were a zombie, you'd tell me, right?") When someone has a problem with a friend, I hear all about it. When someone has a barbeque dinner at school, I'm the one that is begged to attend.

And last night was one of those nights when nothing special happened but everything was great. When I got home, Susie's homework was done and Alex was almost done. She had a stomachache and he didn't feel like it, so we didn't go to yoga. I did, somehow, convince the kids that they needed to straighten up the living room, and I straightened up the dining room.

I didn't have a plan for dinner, and with a girl with a stomachache and a boy without one, a plan wouldn't have helped me anyway. So she got lots of miso soup and he got a hot dog (with the ketchup "wavy, like in the restaurants") and I had leftovers and we sat around and watched cartoons. Then there was ice cream.

Did I mention the massage? Because Alex totally hooked me up with a great shoulder rub.

By the time they went to bed, we had snuggled and chatted and Susie's tummy felt better and Alex had talked to me about his new fear of zombies and everyone went to bed happy and content.

It's nice to be the mommy sometimes.


furrjenn said...

((( )))

That hug is for "craig" who does a lot of constructive nagging during the day, I imagine, and yet doesn't get the good kid gossip. Poor fellow.

Susan said...

I like your positive perspective on a working mom's quality (if not quantity) time with the kids. Sometimes I feel inadequate by only spending a couple hours in the evening plus weekends with my baby girl. But when you look at it in a positive light, it's really a concentrated, but awesome, opportunity.