More of this please…

Monday night I got a full night of sleep and woke up Tuesday feeling fully rested which is rare.  We had a nice breakfast and then it was off to swimming lessons.  Annelise’s swimming lessons are at the Downtown YMCA.  She calls it the big city Y.   We typically go to a smaller one closer to our apartment.  Every week after her lesson she asks me to give her a tour.  She likes to walk up to all the different levels and have me tell her about when I use to work out there (a decade ago when I was training and racing).  We peek into the cycling and yoga studios and I tell her about the classes I took.   We always go up to the courts to see if anyone is playing basketball and then over to the track to look out the windows to see the “big city.”

After our tour we headed home.  I packed us a lunch and then we rode our bikes to the park.  We spent the rest of the morning playing soccer and frisbee.  We had a great picnic and then she played on the playground.  After school got out in the spring we had a hard time keeping her 7 pm bedtime, so I gave her a choice, keep the early bedtime or stay up later and take a nap.  Surprisingly she chose a nap.  So after our picnic in the park we rode home and took our usual afternoon nap.  I love our daily nap.

After our nap Annelise played Legos in the livingroom while I worked in the kitchen.  Now that I’m done with my class and don’t need her to be entertained while I study we’ve tried to cut back on TV time.  Tuesdays are now TV free Tuesday.  While she was playing I cleaned up the kitchen.  The house is a mess after being focused on school for the last couple of months and we established a plan to thoroughly clean one room a day until the apartment was back to normal again.  Tuesday was the kitchen.

Later we took Kikapu out for her afternoon walk.  Typically I just take her out and let her go, but since we were having a laid back day Annelise went with me and we took a walk through the complex and around the neighborhood.  She took her scooter and rode ahead of us.  She is getting more confident with her scooting ability, and got a little reckless resulting in a crash.  I could see it happen before it did.  I almost called out to her to be careful, but didn’t.  I don’t know if that was a bad parenting decision or not.  I did the same thing right before she crashed her bike a couple of weeks ago.  I had a sense of what was about to happen but rather than warn her I remained quiet.   I know I can tend to be overprotective and I think sometimes she needs less “honey please be careful” and more encouragement to push her limits and be adventurous.  Well, it resulted in a skinned knee.

After deciding that the injury was severe enough to warrant a Paw Patrol band aid, she crawled into my lap for a little comfort.  I know the days of her being able to fit in my lap and wanting to be there are limited so I’m trying to take full advantage of the times she wants to cuddle.  As I sat on the bathroom floor rocking her back and forth I told her about all the times I rocked her as a baby.  How I would feed her and then rock her in the rocking chair until she fell asleep and then just hold her while she slept and then after she’d wake up we’d just sit and rock all day.  (Seriously, that’s how I spent my maternity leave.  Sometimes if the weather was nice I’d put her in a carrier and we’d take a walk, but basically I held her the entire time.)  And then she asked if I’d rock her in the rocking chair again.  I couldn’t remember the last time we’d rocked in our rocking chair.  So we went into the living room and we rocked.  She asked if I’d read to her.  And that’s how we spent the rest of the afternoon; rocking in the rocking chair and reading all her favorite books.

I fixed us supper and because I had the night off from work and there wasn’t anywhere we needed to be I could take my time and actually fix something instead of just assembling what I could in hurry.  I was feeling so laid back I opened a bottle of wine and enjoyed a glass while I was cooking and a glass with supper.

After supper Annelise went back to playing on her own while I cleaned up the kitchen.  I had time to actually clean up and put things away properly instead of just stacking the dishes in the sink to be gotten to when I had a chance.  And then we got out the puzzles and games.  We spent the evening putting together a puzzle and then playing games.  We popped popcorn and drank orange pop.

At bedtime, we read a couple of more stories and then Annelise went to sleep and for the first time in probably two years I picked up a book that wasn’t a textbook (trying to stick to our no TV policy).  I read for a little bit, took Kikapu out one last time and then went to bed at a decent hour.

I want everyday to be like this.  I know it can’t.  I have to work and for the time being I have to also squeeze in school.  I shifted my schedule for the summer so that hopefully we can have at least one of these days a week.  Days when I’m there both when she wakes up and when she goes to bed and when there isn’t anything we have to do in between.  Days we can just enjoy being together.  Kindergarten is on the horizon.  She’s been in “school” since she was seven months old, but sending her off to Kindergarten feels different and I have a lot of anxiety about it.

And while these days of nothing are peaceful, they also mess with me psychologically.  It actually takes a lot of effort for me to do nothing.  In part because I am a workaholic (I come from a long line of workaholics), but also because I’m use to being stressed and feeling rushed and busy.  When that pressure and hurriedness isn’t there I feel a sense of anxiety and panic.  I’m pretty sure that some of the chaos of my life is of my own creation in an attempt to create an atmosphere in which I feel comfortable.  I really do love these days of doing nothing but with them comes a certain level of anxiety because it is out of my comfort zone.  I’m working on it, maybe with enough practice I’ll get good at being lazy.

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Not My Holiday

It was Father’s Day today and along with all the well wishes and tributes to fathers there were several shout outs to single moms doing the job of two parents.  There were also several single moms sharing how they are celebrating being both mom and dad.  And while I appreciate the sentiment behind the well wishes, and shortly after Annelise was born I think I did refer to it as Mother’s Day the Sequel, there is no need to wish me a Happy Father’s Day.  My views on the day and how I approach parenting have evolved as I get a better understanding of what it means to raise Annelise without a dad.

I am not her dad and I am not doing the work of two parents.  I have been clear from the beginning that Annelise does not have a dad, biological or otherwise.  The person contributing her other 23 chromosomes is a donor, that is all.  Her dad is not absent, and I’m not picking up the slack his absence creates.  I’m her mother and everything I do for her is because I am her mother.  Our family is complete the way it is.  To claim this holiday for myself or take credit for doing a dad’s job is sending the message that just a mom is not enough and that our family is missing someone.

This is not to say that dads aren’t important.  If you are a dad, you are important to your children.  If you have a dad, whether present or absent, they have an impact on you.  We became a single parent family not because of a break up or abandonment, but because I chose to become a mother.  There was no loss for Annelise.  I don’t need to step up and fill in for the person who left.  I just need to be the best mom I can be.

Annelise is doing just fine without a father.   She somehow thinks she chose this and told me that having just a mom is a dream come true.  She also thinks that I didn’t get married specifically so that it could be just me and her.  I’ve always been open with her and we talk about our unique family situation and that I used a donor.  We have occasionally talked about the possibility that I might date and marry someday.   She’s not too keen on the idea and is very skeptical of any men I introduce to her.  When I’ve asked her how she feels about it she’ll say, “maybe someday, but not for right not.”  I don’t know if that will ever happen, but I do know that if she ever calls someone “dad” it will be because she is choosing to recognize that person as a father.

I know there are a lot of single moms who didn’t choose this path and they may choose to celebrate their extra effort on Father’s Day.  But for us, on Father’s Day, Annelise will celebrate her Grandpa and that is all.  I’ve got Mother’s Day, that’s enough for me.