I love being a parent. Most of the time, I think I’m actually a pretty good one. But just when I’ve convinced myself that I’m ok at this job, I read or hear something that I’m doing (or not doing) is detrimental to my child’s health and future. It just triggers this wave of self doubt. I know that my particular blend of neuroses contributes to my shaky self confidence, and since the dutchkid may be the only child we will ever be able to have, it seems all the more important to “do it right”.
Lately I’ve been obsessing over the preschool debate. I am thinking about sending her for 2 mornings a week to a preschool program next fall. I use a Parent’s Morning Out program here very occasionally, because I don’t have the luxury of family in the area, and it’s helpful for appointments. Once your child is over 2, most places that offer PMO have 2 year old “classes”. Many of them are 3 or even 5 days a week, the one I’m considering I chose not only because of it’s good reviews but also because she could go just 2 days instead.
I think it just might be good for us both. The problem is that old mommy guilt kicks in. While I’m getting pressure from some (my MIL, people in my playgroup) that she needs the socialization, others are of the mindset that it’s completely unnecessary and in not so many words, is just maternal laziness. Maybe it is. Hello, guilt. Sometimes I get tired of being the playmate, and she just isn’t that great at entertaining herself. I let her watch too much TV as a result. Having 2 mornings a week would allow me to do some things for me (like studying the piano again). Selfish? Maybe so. I love my daughter so much it frightens me sometimes. I wish I could say that sacrificing myself for my child’s absolute well being is my life goal. But if being a mother has taught me anything, it’s that being a martyr about it doesn’t make me a better parent, it makes me resentful. I just wish finding the balance of focus between her and myself wasn’t so hard.
I did it. I emailed her.
I’m so glad I did. It turns out she recently became engaged (!) I can’t describe exactly how it felt to read that email. A strange mixture of shock and relief… of the guilt I’ve been carrying around for the past few years but also of happiness for her. It felt like the chapter of her life (the one that included me, and the Army) completely came to a close. I remember having so many conversations about life, and our futures when we lived next door to each other. We had thought we would be traveling down the same path.
How very different life has turned out.
So now that’s 2 people (the other being my very own mom) who I never would’ve expected getting engaged. They say it comes in threes, anybody else?
We survived our weekend. The dutchkid was a perfect angel for the long day of driving. Our friends are doing well, and it was very good to see them. Sitting around, talking about some old times. I love it when you just pick up right where you left off, even if it has been a year or more since you’ve seen each other face to face. Dh and I even had some quality conversation in the car on the way home, which was nice. It seems so often that we spend our lives talking about the day-to-day nonsense of life.
On our way home, we decided to eat at a hole in the wall Mexican restaurant we used to frequent. It hasn’t changed a bit. I was just congratulating myself that I had managed to just enjoy the day without walking too far down memory lane. Then I remembered: the last time we ate at that restaurant was with a couple who we lost touch with long ago. C. was killed in Afghanistan, and afterwards my friendship with his wife was never the same. Our friendship had started disintegrating before that happened, my dh’s “failure” had changed things (or maybe just changed me)… but I don’t know that I’ll ever recover from the guilt of having my dh alive while hers was dead. We had struggled through infertility together, trying to cope with the stress of fertility treatments around deployments. I was newly pregnant at his funeral.
We kept in contact for several months after that, but by the time the dutchkid was born the phone calls had stopped. I often try to rationalize my reluctance to call her or even email by telling myself that if I were in her situation, I wouldn’t want to talk to me. I don’t want to torture her by trying to assuage my own guilt. I might have to try again one last time. Just to tell her we were there. How I remembered us laughing about the “mystery meat” tacos. How I remembered her and I sitting there as our dh’s joked with the waiters in Spanish. How I remembered him.