My mother always tells the same story. She worked long corporate hours. My father was a blue collar welder. His construction hours meant he could leave at 5am and be home to his family by 3pm. He spent plenty of time with me. My mother came home from work one day and she took me out of my fathers arms and I cried. No big deal right? Well, my mother tells this story every time she is mad at me. For the past 29 years, I have been hearing this story at least once every 60-90 days.
Now that I am a working mother, I completely understand. My childcare situation is somewhat unorthodox. My work schedule is 1:30pm-10:00pm. I am never away from my daughter overnight. On my days off, she is with me. She’s my sidekick at the mechanic, at the nail salon, church, grocery store etc. Its not like I don’t have the option of getting a break from time to time. I am absolutely terrified of losing my bond with her. I do not want to miss out on crucial moments in her life. She’s in a babbling stage now. She says, “dadamamapapababadadmamapapababa” over and over again until someone reacts. I love it! Yet, I’m still secretly fearful of missing the first real word. What if I miss the first crawl? I’m petrified.
Remember that old show, “Dinosaurs”? I still remember the song, “I’m the baby, gotta love me…” The baby dinosaur used to bust his father upside the head with a frying pan and say, “Not the mama!” So I have a confession…I’ve had nightmares of my daughter busting me upside my head with a frying pan and saying, “Not the mama.” Freaky right? Its just that no one really prepares you for this. Most of us don’t have the luxury of planning their parenthood. There is no time to save months of income so you can extend your maternity leave. I had 6 weeks with my kid after she was born. I squeeze in every bit of quality time that I can get. I love family. I ache for my loved ones when I am away from them. I brag about them. They are my prized possessions. You conceive this unimaginable blessing, then you feel it grow within you, then you painfully deliver this blessing into the world, and then you trust others to help you raise your child and build his/her character. Children grow so fast and you just don’t want to miss anything.
Early this afternoon I was in Kmart getting a swing tray booster seat for the little one (she eats solids now!!! 🙂 ) While I was on the check-out line, the woman behind me smiled at my kid and said, “She’s getting so big.” I was instantly uncomfortable. I thought the lady was insane and thought she knew me or my daughter from somewhere. This was a mistaken identity situation. It had to be an error because I don’t know this lady. Finally, sensing my uneasiness and attentively watching me as I hurriedly attempted to speed up my transaction, she spoke again. She said, “I live across the street from your aunt.” Now it all made sense. My aunt is retired and watches my kid 2 days a week. I noticed the cute Christmas outfit she had in her hand and she said, “This is for my grand-daughter. She’s the same age as your little girl.” We continued talking while I bagged and loaded baby food and diapers into the cart. She proceeded to tell me that she was starting to butt heads with her grand-daughters mother. She said the mother was starting to feel threatened. I asked if she had an example of something she was accused of doing that may have been out of line. She told me she bought the baby’s Halloween costume. I was brutally honest. I said, “Yeah, that was out of line. Of course you meant well and your heart was in the right place but “firsts” are off limits for grandmas.” She was receptive and we continued to chat while we rolled our carts out to the parking lot. I took holiday pictures with my own professional camera for Halloween and Thanksgiving with attire specially picked. Sometimes Mommy’s and Daddy’s get possessive or have disagreements, let alone…grandmas. I would have hung that costume in the closet and bought my own. With some things its just the principle.
Parenting is extremely difficult. A fellow working mom confided, she has had day-mares of forgetting her son and nightmares of hearing him screaming and she jumps up to check on him and he’s comfortably resting. Till this day if my baby sister is asleep (she’s 14 by the way), I still put my finger under her nose to make sure she’s breathing. The fear of losing a bond with a child. The fear of losing a connection with a loved one. The fear of doing your best but not being good enough is enough to wake you up in a cold sweat. Sweet Dreams.
By: Shaun M Nickens