On most Friday mornings, I can be found at the Children's Hospital. During these couple hours, I am up on the patient floors doing patient sitting. I pop into patient rooms, introduce myself to Mom and Dad, and let them know I am there to watch their "little one" if they need to: get out of the room...take a break...get breakfast...escape for a couple hours.
Well, this last Friday I made a b-line to the floor and room where I was directed that a little girl (2-years-old) was alone since Mom and Dad were working. I walked into her room, and spent the next 3 hours there.
And what did we do when I was with her? I supervised her eating breakfast. We played Candyland. We read books. We colored. We went on an "adventure" in a wagon where we went to the volunteer office to grab some crayons, coloring book, and play-doh. And the remainder of my time with her was spent playing with play-doh and some more reading.
During these couple hours, it dawned on me...when was the last time I REALLY played with my kids?!
It hit my like a ton of bricks. I was ashamed.
And here is where the pilot wife comes into play. I work 8:30a to 3:30p Monday - Thursday. During this time I am busy with numbers and money and stress (lately).
After I get home from work, and after picking the kids up from school, I am busy getting dinner ready, going over homework or projects, cleaning up the house, getting prepared for the next day...then bath time and bedtime for the kids.
Wash. Rinse. Repeat. Day after day this is our routine.
And when Steve is home, you would think that I had more time on my hands. But, that is very much not the case. I am busy with laundry, groceries, chores, ect. I save up all the heavy chores and errands for when Steve is home.
During the week I do what I *have* to do to get through the day, and put everything off until he gets home. And then when Steve is home, I am busy finishing the things I was neglecting, as well as getting everything prepared for his next departure with errands and chores. And let's not forget fitting in "me time" stuff so that I don't lose my mind, like coffee with friends or volunteering.
Ever since the kids were born, I was SO concerned with Daddy spending QT with the kids since he is gone so much. And if I had only looked in the mirror sooner, I would have noticed that I needed to spend QT with them too!
On a day-in, day-out basis when I am solo with the kids, I am constantly here&there doing this&that around the house. So, if Ben or CC asks me to play my typical responses are:
- Mommy is busy making dinner right now...after dinner.
- Mommy is really tired right now...just give me a minute to rest.
- Mommy is in the middle of cleaning up right now...after I am done.
- Mommy is doing laundry right now...after I hang up the clothes.
And "later" never comes. Shame on me. I never saw it so clearly until I spent those couple hours with that little girl last Friday. My experience with this little girl had an incredible impact on me.
After I got back, you bet I was sure to play dollhouse with CC. The laundry can wait. The cleaning can wait. My kids deserve me.
I had this incredible wake up call: what type of mother was I? What type of mother were my kids going to remember me as being? What will my tombstone read: always had a clean house? or fantastic mother?
I know us pilot wives have a lot on our plates. I know it is difficult to keep all of our shit together all the time. I know it is impossible to be the perfect wife and perfect mother and perfect employee and perfect friend. Since I was hit with a ton of bricks about this, I want to gently remind you that our kids deserve us. Our kids deserve our attention. Our kids deserve our best. Let the laundry pile up a bit, if that means you can play ponies with your daughter. Serve basic dinners, of course with good nutrition :), so that you can have more time with your kids after school. Be there for your kids. Maybe this means that after they go to bed you have an extra 45 minutes of housework to do, instead of just crashing on your ass with exhaustion, but it is worth it! Your children will always remember you as the mother who was always there for them.