Some days the only time I have to spend with N is during his bedtime ritual. It’s odd that the beginning of our day is the end of his. We have a dinner, where some overcooked pasta, diced veggies, or broken meatballs end up stuffed in his cheeks, a sippy cup is tossed off the tray and repetitively retrieved, and I manage to pretend enjoying whatever it was I ate between all the exercise this mealtime dance offers me. We then go upstairs for bathing, playing, slathering with Aquaphor, wrestling into pajamas, and reading a story with a bottle of milk. While B and I often share many of these duties, they are all precious to me. They are the way I say, “I may have been gone all day, but I’m here now and I love you.”
As we read together, I think about the message that each book conveys and how these stories will shape the man he becomes. Ok so sometimes we are just looking at pictures of shapes or farm animals, because he is 1 after all. But today I spent a long time looking online for children’s books about working moms and was dismayed to find a very small selection. A friend gave me one about a mom’s high heel shoes and while this one acknowledges that the mom leaves for work, looking stylishly uncomfortable, it doesn’t address any of the other issues around separation. It doesn’t explain who will fill mom’s shoes while she’s gone and what that does to the structure of your day or why a mom might choose to work and how that makes each family member feel. A friend said that N wouldn’t need a book about that because it’s all he’ll know, which is true since I went back to work when he was 6 weeks old, but I don’t think I’ll get off that easy! Given that I have a lot of questions about this decision myself, I can only imagine that my little guy will too.
I’m still crafting my answers to all those questions, but the bedtime story I tell myself is that my working will teach him ambition, dedication, passion, sacrifice, pride, equality, happiness, and honor, because that’s what it has taught me.