Saturday, March 4, 2006

My Heart Melts

Brendan is napping right now, curled up in his dad's favorite chair. I can see him breathing and he looks so small and sweet. His cheeks are flushed and his lips rosy. His blond hair curls up at his temples and he looks every bit of a cherub. I want to hold him and kiss the sweet spot on top of his head. All the frustrations of the morning have melted away and I regret being so wrapped up in household chores that I didn't sit down and play with him more.

Of course, I always feel that way. It's a battle for me, finding the right balance between keeping the house in some semblance of cleanliness and order and finding time to be a fun mom. I wonder what the ideal amount of time playing with one's child is. Back when he napped it was easier. He'd nap and I'd clean. Once my chores were finished if he was still napping, I got to have some time to myself. Now that he rarely naps or takes only a brief afternoon nap, I find I have to do housework while he's awake if I want the house to remain above the level of pigsty.

Sadly, none of my friends have this problem. Or so it seems. I am the only one of my friends in our neighborhood who does not have a housekeeper or maid who comes in once or twice a month. It's crazy. Stay-at-home moms with housekeepers. I thought cleaning house was part of the job description. Not that I'd complain if I could afford to have a maid. But would I? My friends spend between $120 and $180 a month to have someone clean their homes. I can think of a lot of other ways I'd spend that kind of money. That said, would it be worth it if I had an extra 2-5 hours a week not engaged in cleaning, laundry, or other chores that I could devote to my son? I don't know. That's precisely the problem.

How much time do kids need with their parents? I don't remember my mom or grandmother ever spending time playing with me or reading to me unless I was sick. I could read at three, so I read to myself. And I played by myself constantly unless cousins were visiting.

How much time do you spend playing with your kids each day? I'd love to hear how others balance household duties with giving children the time and attention they need. Does it make a difference to you that cleaning and cooking are ways you are caring for your family? Let me know...

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