I, like most mothers, suffer from a huge amount of guilt every single day. I think it becomes part of our DNA the moment that sperm enters the embryo and the process begins. We question ourselves from that first pee on a stick until our children leave the house (whenever that may be), and as I’ve learned from my own mother, often even beyond that.
Last week was tough.
It was my first week with my son, without employment, and with my boyfriend working full-time at home. We live in a 1,052 sq ft condo. We have two cats. And a hamster. There are two bedrooms and a large-ish open living area that houses our kitchen, dining room, living room and main entrance. We have a small balcony, but no backyard.
The main living space is where we spend 90% of our days. The dining room table is now my boyfriend’s makeshift desk, my son’s school desk is set up in the living room, and I float between the kitchen counter and whatever space is left on the dining room table (when I need to write something like this).
Last week, I played full-time home-school teacher + stay-at-home mom + cook + cleaner + entertainer, and somewhere in there I had to remember to be myself.
Last week was hard. I’m not going to lie.
By Thursday morning, I actually found myself feeling slightly annoyed that my son was once again asking to cuddle. That he wanted to be close to me. That he wanted to hug me and sit with me on the couch when all I wanted was a moment alone. A moment away from everyone – including him.
When I went to bed that night, I felt like a terrible person. A horrible mother. And all I wanted to do was hug him. Hug him tight and not let him go.
I consider myself an intelligent person, but preparing 2-ish hours of worksheets and educational activities for my grade 2 student per day for five days has been nothing short of exhausting. Finding things that challenge, but don’t frustrate; that engage without suddenly becoming boring; and that teach without being too easy… my God is it ever time-consuming.
And the patience needed. My God the patience.
I am extremely lucky that my child is well mannered and listens. He’s eager to learn and he loves science and math and he likes a challenge and adores anything to do with nature and bugs. But not when it comes to writing and reading. That is his Achilles heel. That’s where he draws the line. That’s where he breaks down and takes 45 minutes to write 2 sentences when it really should have only taken him 10 minutes, but he chooses to stare at the ceiling or wear down the eraser on the side of his wooden desk instead.
Suzy Homemaker I am not, and yet suddenly I am (of my own choosing and free will) thrown into the roll of keeping the household running smoothly while my other half works long 12-13 hour days holding up his department. Cleaning and most definitely cooking were never, ever my strong suits. But now they have to be.
So, my son and I are learning together.
We cook almost every meal together, bake together (great way to teach reading and mathematics with the instructions needed for baking), and during his chore time he helps vacuum/sweep, puts laundry away or cleans the hamster cage. He always has something to do, and is eager to help.
But last week was hard. So hard.
The hardest part was Friday. His father came to collect him. And all the week’s guilt, anxiety, and worry hit like a ton of bricks. While most look forward to the end of the week, I approach Friday during the weeks with my son with fear and uncertainty and a dread, especially in this new COVID-19 world we live in.
I don’t know what the next few weeks will bring. I don’t know what the next few days will bring, if I’m honest. But I know that unlike last week, I am eagerly awaiting Friday. I’m on tenterhooks. I can’t count the hours in the day fast enough. I cannot wait to have him back with me.
And I’m almost looking forward to the guilt, because it means I care. It means I want him to be happy, healthy, and safe. It means I have a child to care for and one that means the world to me.
It means I’m a mother.
So, is it Friday yet?
Miranda Lightstone has been a professional writer and editor for the past 15 years. Writing is, undoubtedly, her passion along with her son and of course her two cats, Biscuit and Hobbes and the resident rodent, Sir Hamsalot the hamster. Miranda lives in Vaudreuil with her menagerie, and a very patient and understanding boyfriend.