Short Time

Dear J-

Consider this: I spend maybe at most three hours a day during the weekdays with figgy. She’s in daycare so I pick her up between 5:30 and 6, bring her home to eat dinner (where I tune everyone out while reading the newspaper distractedly), give her a bath, then we watch maybe half an hour of some show (she’s been on a Wallace & Gromit kick lately; they are the perfect length and I will nap sometimes) and I brush her teeth and read her stories for another half an hour until theVet takes over to sing (let’s just say that no one would be soothed by my tuneless croaking). Repeat. That’s been our pattern for four years come October.

Put it that way, line the numbers up baldly like that and it’s clear that I spend less time with figgy than at work or even (almost) the commute (4:45-6 in the morning and 3-4:45 in the afternoon = 3 hours commute time). And after she goes to bed I stay up late thinking I need the time to update pictures, online status, go through my Google Reader articles, maybe play a game or two and decompress. Because, you know, it’s so stressful to not spend time with your daughter and ignore her until she falls asleep (she has started holding it until after bedtime so that she has an excuse to bound up and use the restroom, which does show a surprising level of craftiness: how can you say no to the restroom break?).

I don’t stop being a parent once she goes to sleep but I also can’t spend your fraction of a day together and call that adequate. When we’re on vacation or the weekends the intensity level doesn’t drop. We have the whole day when usually we have to compress the crazy laughter and play into those three hours and yet it feels unbalanced, that we instead need to spread ourselves thin across activities and busy times to compensate for th skimpy amount of total hours. I remember what it was like to have to entertain yourself and I know she’ll get there sooner or later but for now we make the best of it and I promise that our three hours, short as they may be, need to have more quality and less distraction.



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