I can remember when I was a child and I would watch from the window as my mother would leave each morning and walk to work. She worked at a newspaper in a small town, about two blocks from where we lived. She would come home smelling like paper and photo developing fluid and I would snuggle into her and breathe in her day. She, on the other hand, would immediately change clothes, desperate to get the smell off of herself and inevitably end up in the kitchen attempting to make up for lost time. Mom wanted nothing more than to be a stay-at-home-mom...that's all she had ever wanted. But life, in all it's glorious inevitability, had different plans. My mother was a woman of the 90's in the 70's and 80's. She didn't consider herself modern, progressive, or groundbreaking. Most of the time she considered herself exhausted. A full-time job with two kids and no one to do everything around the house but her.
When my son was born, I immediately understood. To have to leave early in the morning while Kyser peered out at through his crib, his eyes all bright, his hair all fuzzy, his little body all warm and smelling like sleep, was painful to say the least. But it had to be done and I knew this.
Fast forward six years...so much has changed. Kyser no longer peers out at me through his crib, now he takes up all the space in a double bed and snores like a drugged gorilla, his eyes are still bright at least when they're not rolled up into his head in exasperation. His hair is borderline Opie-fro, red and bushy if not tamed on a daily basis. And his body, well, not so little, still warm but not so much with the smelling like sleep. I don't think I need to elaborate...
As fate would have it, my job situation took a turn for the worse at the first of May and so I decided I would take the summer off and be a stay-at-home-Mom. As difficult as this was for me comprehend, trying to get Kyser's mind wrapped around it was even more difficult. "You mean when I wake up you'll be home?" he asked. I told him yes. "And you'll stay home?" Again, yes. "And you and I will spend the whole day together and do fun stuff and you won't have to go to work?" YES, YES, YES! "Well, it sounds like a good idea..." And it did. So I immediately went online and did research on all these super-duper fun, educational things to do in the summer. I bought new pots and pans so we could make cookies and brownies. I found my copies of Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn so we could read each day. It was going to be the perfect summer, perfect for me, perfect for him, just plain perfect!
So a couple of days ago, imagine my suprise when I realized how quiet it was in the house. I roamed back to Kyser's bedroom and found him in there playing quietly, alone. "Hey, what are you doing?" I asked. He turned and looked at me with those big blue eyes and uttered these words: "Mom, I just need some alone time...some ME time. Why don't you go read a book?"
I backed out of his bedroom and collapsed against the refrigerator. Now I know how the character of BraveHeart felt at the end of the movie, when they tied him down and did horribly torturous things to his personal person. Now I understand the pain of the thousands of mothers, nay millions of mothers before me who have been brutally rebuffed, made to drop off a block away from the school, not allowed in the room during the slumber party.
Then I got angry and the gift of guilt began to rear its ugly head... Here was a child that I had almost DIED giving birth to...Did he know how many hours I had spent painstakingly scrapbooking his life so that someday he would know how much I loved him? Did he understand how many times I had to make the stupid treasure chest out of angel food cake for his third birthday party before I got it right? Does he know how many people I had to whack with Peace On Earth christmas wrapping paper to get to the LAST Indiana Jones Lego set just so his Christmas morning would be golden, golden, golden? How about the blisters from making what must amount to hundreds of treatsacks over the last six years? I have sacrificed valuable television time, dressed up like a whoopie cushion, sang countless versions of "I'm a Goofy Goober" and listened to "That's the Way I Like It" at least 468 times in the last week in the car all for that little red-headed succubus. And HE wants alone time?
"Mom?" He came around the corner. "Can I have a popsicle?"
Popsicle? You want a popsicle? Sure, why don't I slice myself with a dull piece of dirty glass and bloodlet myself into a cup then I will eat ice and blow on said cup until you have a popsicle made out of the very fluid that gives me life? Would that make you happy?
"Mom? I'll eat a red one and you eat a blue one and let's go out on the back deck and talk about stuff..."
Talk? You want to talk to me? You want to spend time with me now? Now that you're done with your Legos and Lincoln Logs and race cars? Now that you've exhausted every other option you come to me?
"Okay, I'll get the popsicles and meet you out there." Suddenly nothing mattered as much as that popsicle committee meeting on the back deck.
It was then that I realized perhaps I am not cut out for the stay-at-home-Mom gig. I'm sure Kyser did need some time away from me...I had been hovering over him like a member of the paparazzi since the beginning of the summer. He had grudgingly made cookies with me, listened to me read to him, gone places I wanted to go, let me take pictures of him in numerous, ridiculous poses and in general, spent his summer entertaining me. That's a lot of pressure for a six year old!
I'm still at home, but not nearly as stay-at-home-Momish as before. We don't have a schedule or required activities for the day. We're just kind of taking it easy, being lazy and having the kind of summers I used to have as a kid: full of love, attention, and fun, but not too much of any of it.