As I was tucking Alex into bed last night, having just returned from the gym (the first trip in weeks) and having actually taken some time for me, she says this:
"Mom, I don't even know you. Your gone all the time at work and I'm always at school."
A dagger pierced through my heart. I looked at my sweet girl, almost 5! And as much as it hurt, I felt the same way about her. Time just flies by, I maneuver through the work week counting days until Saturday when I can re-connect, breath and be a mom. Where I'm not racing to get home, jumping hurdles to get dinner on the table before they melt down from hunger, hurry them to bath and pray that they pick short books and go to bed quickly so I can collapse.
It's true that she doesn't know me. She doesn't know that I think of them all day at work. She doesn't know that I would give anything for more time with them, and she doesn't know that I go to bed feeling horrible guilt for the time I'm not home. I wish I came home refreshed and alert, with all this energy to give to them, but I don't. Just like I get through the work day, I'm just getting through the evening routine. Hopefully one day she will understand.
One day with kids of her own, she'll realize that although I wasn't there for the fun, the learning and the amazing experiences she had during the day. I was there last night for the moment when Ian pooped all out his pull-up and onto the floor, smearing the walls, his skinny little legs covered, and soiling his Jammie's for good. I was there to give him a shower at 8:45 pm, when truly I wanted to be face down in my bed. That was me. I was there for that. Isn't that enough?
In the meantime, I have to just keep doing my best. I have to keep taking what I have to give and dispersing it to where it's most important. And maybe this week, I need to focus on her and let her pick that huge, thick, Sleeping Beauty book I hate at bedtime. And the fact that summer is approaching and the top button of my jeans is working harder than a Japanese train pusher to keep me in may just have to wait.