I just finished tucking Patrick into bed. This is mostly because he's roped me into it. When I brought him an extra blanket one night and made a production of tucking him in; he discovered that he really liked it. So, now, every night, he gives me the puppy-dog eyes and, of course, I reluctantly agree to come tuck him in. It's not that I mind, of course; I'm just lazy and a little bit (extremely) exhausted. ;) But, I go in and cover him up. Then, I kiss his head and hope that it makes up, just a little, for all the nights that his head wasn't kissed.
We've gone through a lot of stages of bonding over the summer and different lifestyles, for lack of a better word. We've taken a family trip. We had to adjust to that. We came home and I worked for way too many weeks of the summer. We had to adjust to that. I finally went part-time and I was home a lot more. We had to adjust to that. And, finally, the kids have started school. And, we had to adjust to that.
There was all kinds of adjusting going on!
Looking back, I think the major bonding happened during the second part of the summer when I was home more. That just makes sense. But, we definitely had our moments when I was busy resenting the fact that I didn't have a lot of moments with the kids.
So, as we've established, I was working. :) This meant that there was a lot of tag-team child care going on. Brian covered when he wasn't working. I covered when I wasn't working (translation: the weekends). And, Jennice, the poorly paid/overworked/god-mother/long-time friend covered the rest. She saved me, this summer, because she stepped in and came over whenever I needed her to and only asked for some occasional gas money.
This was not an easy time for me and I'm not thrilled with how I handled all of it. But, thankfully, that time has passed. While at work, I spent my time feeling sad that I wasn't home with the kids. But when I got home, I was exhausted and, let's face it, more than a little grumpy. My grumpiness would pass, usually after getting some food in my tummy. And, then I'd have an hour or two to hang out with the kids before sending them to bed and falling asleep in the chair as Jennice tried to tell me about the day.
I, of course, tried to boost the quality time factor up on the weekends and enjoy the kids as much as I could. And, I did. But, it never felt like it was enough.
Whether I deserved it or not, Patrick tried to do things to make my life easier. In the mornings, he offered to watch William, Antwan, and Lizzie until Jennice got there. This is because Jennice is generous, but she's also always late...;) He also cleaned counters, mopped floors, and helped get breakfast ready, in the mornings. This did make my life easier and, also, made it slightly less frustrating that he, apparently, didn't know how to close the pantry door or put any of his dishes from the day in the sink. ;)
One night, I had one of those little moments. I had one of those little reminders about the kind of mom that I wanted to be.
When I left that morning, Patrick had said that he would vacuum. When I got home, Jennice and the kids were still off galavanting around. It was clear that the floor hadn't been vacuumed. I promised myself that I wouldn't say anything; that I wasn't going to start the night complaining. I wasn't even particularly mad. But, when they came home, out it came, anyway. I made a comment that he hadn't vacuumed like he said that he would. I tried to make it light and jokey-jokey, but it was definitely getting lost in translation. We went back and forth a couple of times. And, before, he angrily walked back to him room, I saw the hurt in his eyes.
I wanted to be annoyed that he had an attitude, but I knew that I couldn't really blame him. And, I knew what I had to do.
I went to his room and told him that I was sorry that I was harsh. I told him that I was aware of all the ways that he had been helping and I really appreciated it. Finally, I asked him if he forgave me. He nodded and I left.
A few minutes later, he cheerfully came out and all was well.
I felt like he respected the fact that I owned my behavior. Or maybe he didn't think anything about it, either way. But, I do know that I was proud of myself for realizing that I screwed up and going in and acknowledging it. That's not my favorite thing to do, by the way.
Either way, we continued to bond and, hey, I learned a little something about myself. :)
From that point on, I tried to be more aware of my tone. Sometimes, I was aware that I nailed that supportive, patient, understanding tone. Sometimes, I was aware that my tone wasn't so great. But, I keep trying and sometimes, that's all I've got. I might try, but still do a lousy job. But, the cool thing is, I think he gets it. Yeah, sometimes, he just cuts me a little slack and knows I'll do better next time.
He says that I'm the best mom in the world. I know that's not true and, I'm fairly certain that he's buttering me up for something, haha, but I sure don't ever get tired of hearing it. :)
It's not going to be simple, but I think we're going to be ok.