Thursday, November 1, 2012

Why I went to Work Yesterday, Instead of To Your Pumpkin Parade

Dear Aquaman,

I love you, kid. I know sometimes you doubt it, like when you spill your milk on the floor for the thousandth time or when you accidentally kick me in the face during your wild tumbly moments, or when you scream at the top of your lungs because something isn't going your way. But I really do.

I loved you before I even saw your alien like form on the 9 week ultrasound. Loved you enough to do a lot of crying with you those first few weeks after you were born when you were learning to fit into your skin outside of mine.

Love the way you've grown into a boy who never ceases to amaze me with his wit and charm and fierce loyalty and determination. I'm so proud of who you're becoming, Aquaman.

That's why it was really hard for me to watch you climb into Grandma's truck yesterday, with the wagon that we decorated together (well ok, mostly I decorated it while you pushed your little brother wildly around the garage in the Little Tykes car, and occasionally yelled "suggestions" to me about where to put one of the plastic spiders) and drive away. It's why, getting in my car to head to work, I brushed a tear away, even as I smiled at the mental picture of you marching through the sanctuary pulling your freshly painted pumpkin in that decorated wagon and waving at your Dad, and Grandma, and Noni, and Papa, and Aunt K (who all really really love you too, by the way).

It wasn't the first big day I've missed because I was at work. (I missed your first day of school this year too), and it won't be my last, Aquaman.

I wrestled with this decision a lot these past few weeks. Thought about going in to work late (but it would have been really really late), or switching my days, or just taking the whole day off. When I first told you I wouldn't be able to go, you got very sad, and I started making plans to be there no matter what.
But when we found out that Daddy had that day off already, and that he really really wanted to see your pumpkin parade, suddenly it didn't matter to you if Mommy was there at all.

And that was when I knew what I had to do.

 Because the reason I go to work, Aquaman, the MAIN reason, is because if I didn't your Daddy could never be at your pumpkin parades or your future athletic events or debate team contests or even your quiet weekends at home, because he would always be working. And I know that even more than a boy needs a Mommy who holds him and reads to him and washes his face; he needs a Daddy who is not overworked and overtired and who can wrestle with him and mess up his hair and show him how to be a man.

Your Daddy, and you, and your baby brother (who is rapidly losing his babyness, isn't he?) are always more important than some job, and as often as possible, I choose you over it. It's why I've only worked 3 days a week since you were 7 months old.

I've been what many would call a "Helicopter parent" thus far, and I'm not ashamed of it. I unabashedly take every picture I can and post it all over Facebook. I follow you all over the playground just to take delight in your newfound physical prowess. When you were a baby, I never let you cry more than 5 minutes in the church nursery. I still climb into bed with you in the middle of the night when you feel cold or lonely.

"The maternal instinct is a Gift-love, but one that needs to give; therefore needs to be needed. But the proper aim of giving is to put the recipient in a state where he no longer needs our gift. We feed children in order that they may soon be able to feed themselves; we teach them in order that they may soon not need our teaching. Thus a heavy task is laid upon this Gift-love. It must work towards its own abdication. We must aim at making ourselves superfluous. The hour when we say "They need me no longer" should be our reward. But the instinct, simply in its own nature, has no power to fulfill this law. The instinct desires the good of its object, but not simply; only the good it can itself give. A much higher love - a love which desires the good of the object as such, from whatever source that good comes - must step in and help or tame the instinct before it can make the abdication.."
- C.S Lewis

This is why I wasn't at your pumpkin parade yesterday. And why, despite the twinge of sadness I felt, answering phone calls in my office while you were pulling that little red wagon, I also felt a sense of accomplishment.

Because yesterday, for one of the first of many many times: I was superfluous.

And you know what's really crazy? I'm ok with that.

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