"It is not a parent's job to entertain their child" -- Susan Yates
Between that quote, circulating on both Facebook and Pinterest, and this article, which states that "...parents are spending more time with their kids than they did two decades ago." this idea has been on my mind a lot lately.
Truthfully, it's something I struggle with. I think (for me) a lot of it stems from working mom guilt. I feel like I miss so much of Jena's time, that I want to be truly present with her at all times. Really be there, quality time, connecting on her level.
And my housework suffers, and meal preparation suffers, and time with my spouse is lost, and time to pursue my own interest is gone.
But I've always been okay with that.
And still am, to a point.
But lately I've been thinking more and more about whether or not this is best for Jena. Just because she's happier, just because I'm at peace with it, doesn't necessarily mean it is what is in her best interests.
And so I've been trying to redirect some of my time, some of my attention, with the thought that maybe on occasion it's good, not bad, for me to tell her 'no, I can't, I'm busy'. Maybe it's okay for me to do the dishes while she's still awake. Maybe it's good for her to see me working around the house, instead of just waking up to chores being done.
Now, this isn't to say I've never done any work with her around. She's certainly helped me fold clothes, do the dishes, put in the laundry, feed the pets, sweep the floors, etc, etc, etc. in the past. But it's never been my priority. I always put my priority on focusing on her and what she wants to do.
And so now I'm working to shift that focus. To appease my working mom's guilt by telling myself that it really is best for her to see me focus on these other items, even if she's begging me to play. At least once in a while.
Similarly, Jason & I have done a pretty good job of keeping date nights and us-only trips since she was born, but when we're together as a family, the focus is almost exclusively on her, not each other. And maybe that needs to start shifting as well.
And me. My interests. I tried to participate in some of "my" activities after Jena was born, but found it to be too much, overwhelming. And so I still find myself anxious at the thought, but I've scheduled a couple of girls' days out with friends, and I'm seriously thinking about joining a community band in the near future. Because I've been really missing performing lately. There's an ache inside me that misses the music. And so maybe it's time that I make time for that part of me. And yes, I do think it would be good for my daughter to see me perform, to see that Mommy can do other things besides mothering and housework.
It's all a balancing act. One that changes and shifts, morphs along with the passing of time. Maybe I feel that I can refocus because Jena is older. Or maybe it's because my years long struggle with depression & anxiety were clouding my focus before. Or maybe it's because I'm becoming more experienced as a parent.
I suppose the reason doesn't really matter. Only the outcome. And so I shift again. Refocus. Juggle. And see where the balls fall, where things work, where adjustment is needed. And then shift again.
All the while trusting that it will all work out in the end.