The day ended with bath-time – as usual. But it ended with a quotable, blog-able, quote. Nora was playing in the bath – and playing with herself as she sometimes does. We ignore it. She looked up at me all of a sudden and said, “Mama, I hurt my butt.” I said, “You did? How’d you do that?” Nora replied, “I put my finger in it.” And then Ken and I tried to stifle laughter so as not to alarm her.
This was just one of those days, though. A day when I wish I could stay home all the time. Yes, it was a holiday. The weather was beautiful, it happened to be toddler-time at the children’s museum this morning. All the stars aligned to make my yearning emerge. If today had been yesterday (bad sleeping night, muddy weather, moodiness of mom and baby) I wouldn’t be writing this. But today was today and so I am.
This morning I decided that I would take Nora to the Austin Children’s Museum for their baby and toddler time. I had done that once over the summer and decided it was time to try it again. When else do I have these opportunities? I had no one to call to invite with me, so I mused to Ken on my way out the door that I need more mom friends. I have one good mom friend – she was busy today. I have a few mom acquaintances, but not really a good “supply” of people to call for a play date. I imagine that comes partly from working- I don’t have time for play dates.
At the museum I stood in line behind a woman and her two daughters. I recognized her. She lives down the street, in a nice house with an enviable play set. I said hello, introduced myself, talked about a mutual acquaintance who just had a baby – and who decided last minute not to return to work. “How could you go back to work?” This mom asked.
I chose not to be offended. She doesn’t know me. She obviously hadn’t registered that I knew this mutual acquaintance from working. I can imagine myself asking that same question in different circumstances. I moved on.
Nora and I had a most excellent two hours at the museum. The best story of the time there is of diapers. I only took one with me. Nora requested a new diaper since hers was pretty wet and she thinks its great to get her diaper changed in a public restroom. After changing into a clean diaper she decided to make the new one dirty again. I didn’t want to leave – we had just been there 40 minutes. I asked the desk if they by any chance had diapers for sale. The nice teenage boy got one from the back, which Nora put on and called her “museum” diaper for the rest of the day.
Taking her back to the toddler time made me realize that she is so much more “grown up” than she was in July when we last ventured out downtown. She talks. She is much more sure-footed. She is curious in a whole new, in-depth way. In the last two weeks there have been a number of things that have made me realize she really isn’t a baby anymore. Today was just more proof that that is true. Maybe that’s why my longing emerged. She is growing so fast. I am working so much.
After nap she wanted to go for a walk in the neighborhood and I chose to go in the direction of the neighbor mom’s house since I had forgiven her statement and really do think it would be great to have a play friend for Nora that close. Sure enough, we ran into her and her girls right around the corner.
“So are you around in the mornings?” She asked after re-introducing ourselves and our kids.
“No. I work. I am a teacher.”
“I am around on school holidays like today and all summer.”
“Well, you’re welcome over anytime – I guess on the weekends. We have a great playset.”
I wanted to not sense condescension or judgement. I really want a mom friend. But it was there. And so was my longing to be able to say yes – I could come play with her and her kids any morning of the week. But she doesn’t know that about me.And so I walked off bothered and feeling sad.
On days like this I wonder. I wonder if I really would be good at staying home (I’m terrible at all the “domestic” stuff. Ken is so much better at it). If I would be more understanding of working moms than this neighbor is. If I am right to assume that working is good for me in many ways – and daycare good for Nora in some ways as well. I wonder if there ever is a “right” choice (if there is a choice).
Really, the point of all of this is that Nora and I had a great day off together. She’s quite a funny, smart and opinionated little girl. It’s days like these that I realize I’m lucky to be her mom – staying at home or not.