Am I present enough in my son’s life?

 

In high school, I lived for the next school play, loved everything Broadway, and dreamed that I would magically get discovered and become the next Hollywood success story.

I played the lead in almost every middle-school play. I was a natural, or so I thought. It turns out that middle school roles are sometimes cast based not upon talent, but upon who could memorize all of the lines. By high school, they kind of looked for some talent too.

Those of us who flunked the casting call eventually found our way backstage. For the rest of my high school and college careers, I dabbled in student directing and stage managing.

backstage

Rotate the stage in any theater 180-degrees, and you will see a well-oiled machine with hundreds of moving parts, all working in unison to make the production come alive for the audience. I craved being in the thick of the machinery, helping orchestrate the magic, even more than I had ever craved the limelight.

Why the trip down memory lane? Well, it occurred to me that as a working mommy, I am the stage manager of my son’s production. This analogy quells the constant doubts over whether I’m present enough, engaged enough, or active enough in my son’s life. They find their way in all the time.

For instance, while waiting for Little Dude’s last doctor’s visit, I sat in the waiting room ticking off boxes on one of those developmental milestone checklists. You know–the kind they surprise you with when you walk in the door with five minutes to spare before your appointment? That kind.

At Little Dude’s first few checkups, social smiles were the business of the day. Now, I needed to verify a whole host of important milestones. Could he could pick up a string by himself? Did he cruise along the couch? Could he bend down while cruising to pick up a toy? I had never even offered Little Dude a string–now what?

Needless to say, we scored a little below par in a couple of categories.

When I dropped Little Dude off at daycare the following day, Daycare Mom eased my anxiety confirmed my fears. Yes, while I was at work all day, Little Dude was indeed mastering his pincer grip and flexing his muscles and vocalizing and doing all those things babies do. I managed a sigh of relief before the mom guilt came flooding in: Someone else knew my kid’s skills better than I did. I had failed him as a mother.

Cue the high school theatre analogy: Daycare Mom might be the leading lady on a weekday, but I am Mom, always waiting in the wings. Whenever mom guilt takes over, I overlook the obvious legwork I do day after day to make Little Dude’s routine run smoothly:

  • The curtain goes up promptly at 6 AM. Lights, camera, pitiful mom-pick-me-up whimpering…it’s show time!
  • First stop, wardrobe and makeup for a fresh diaper and clean, cute-as-a-button onesie.
  • Next stop, catering, where we fuel him up for the day ahead. After a bottle of the house white and some cuddles, Little Dude plays with the Tupperware while I hand-select balanced breakfast, lunch, and dinner choices for the picky eater who insists on big-kid food already.
  • Finally, it’s show time. Little Dude heads off to daycare with the supplies I have packed, and I head off to work.
  • Even though I won’t see Little Dude again before curtain call some days, every list, decision, or pit stop I make in my day is usually made with his best interest in mind.

And I’m always waiting in the wings if he needs me.

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