I'd been so looking forward to this summer of more time away from Mia. I imagined my long leisurely days of full-time childcare, and all the me-time I'd have. The leisurely trips to the gym, the long meditation sessions, the time to read books and get my work done without pressure. Instead, I've spent much of this time missing Mia. Feeling lost and disoriented, wasting too much time on the computer, feeling guilty about not getting enough work done, obsessing over my to-do list and being resentful about spending so much time in this house. I've been reading blogs written by moms who are planning no end of wholesome summer activities, who are so looking forward to these leisurely days to explore and create with their children. And I'm thinking, that's what I should be doing. Not paying for summer camp so I can spend more time running errands and procrastinating on the internet.
So, in the time we have together, I've been rushing around trying to do special activities with Mia. Art projects and neighborhood hikes and trips to the pool. But there is one little problem with my special mother-daughter bonding time. It's that my kid is an evil little monster. Mia seems to be going through a Phase right now. It's been going on for a few months now, and I sincerely hope that it's almost over. It involves a lot of arguing and complaining and meltdowns and nasty, sarcastic comments and refusals to apologize. She turns pretty much everything I try to do with her into a fight. I try to take her to the pool and she has a meltdown about getting her shoes on, or over who has to carry the swim noodle. I take her on an evening walk, at her request, and she spends the whole time complaining about how itchy she is, or how her shoes are uncomfortable, or insisting on holding my hand and then yanking down on it in a way that wrenches my back, then yelling at me for holding too tight ... no, too loose ... no, now too tight. Today, she asked to go to the dog park and insisted on sitting in my lap while the dog played. But she spent most of the time complaining that my head was in the wrong spot, pushing me and jabbing me with her elbows, saying she couldn't get comfortable and yet refusing to sit in her own damned chair.
So I seem to be trapped in a cycle of desperately missing my child and feeling that I am wasting my life on meaningless child-free activities, and then being with my child and feeling either sad or full of rage about the way she is acting. This is not a good cycle, so I think I'll make a little plan.
I have another week of being mostly child-free, due to grandparents and a beach trip with a friend. I promise to spend that time taking leisurely trips to the gym, meditating, reading a good novel, writing and remembering how nice it is to have some space from my demanding and, let's face it, bratty child. I also vow to step away from the computer whenever possible. And then, next Thursday, I begin a week and a half of family vacation. In that time, I vow to be fully present with my child. Not to wish it were different, or be disappointed when she doesn't act the way I'd hoped. Just to be there with my child in the most fundamental way, helping her make her way in this big, confusing world.