Quantities of Quality Time
By Karen T. Smith on March 26, 2011
Hmm, I wrote this on Wednesday but then didn't post it. My sloth extended to my online time, too, apparently.
I find myself reminded again about this maxim (Quantities of Quality Time), which I first heard at a La Leche League meeting ages and ages ago. It's often one of the underpinnings of one's decision to stay home with the kids for some period of time, or at least I found that it helped me feel comfortable with my own decision to do so. Even on the days when I swore my brain was melting from lack of use. (I'm sure you're as relieved as me to find out that it didn't, even though there were some touchy moments back then.)
But beyond just that decision, which - by the way - I've noticed more of my mom friends making over and over again - viewing the workforce as something they can dip into and out of over their children's younger years. I am thrilled about this development. I have done this, too, doing project work at times that suits my family's schedule, and either turning down or not pursuing work during times when it's difficult (e.g.., summer holidays or busy times of year.)
I can count many friends right now who are either working again or have recently stopped working, again (having been home with the kids at some point since having them.) Isn't that interesting? One just decided to refrain from taking any more project work until the fall when the youngest is in school full-time, another just picked up some freelance work after pre-school started, a third was back in the workforce for a bit but quit when job pressures began to outweigh family ones and she (and her husband) felt the balance wasn't right for them.
I recognize I'm lucky to live in an era and socio-economic environment where any of us have these choices, but at the same time I also embrace the fact that this is the feminist legacy - that has given my generation of mothers and the one directly behind me some freedom to choose. While I know some of my peers really don't have a choice and must work, I think we are in an era where there are more options for us, more choices, and for that I am grateful.
But back to my original point - the quantities of quality time...today is nothing special. I was in the office today, which makes for a long day for me, but I was able to get the kids by the time school let out rather than using after-school care. And we came home and have done some hanging out. The eldest is currently in the comfiest chair in the house (in another room), reading. The youngest is up in my bedroom watching TV. I am snuggled into the couch with the dog, who misses me on my office days. ;) And my kids are here, and we're home, and the world is in balance.
Even though the house is a bit...untidy (I'm being over-generous with that statement, but let it slide, folks, let it slide...) I have some of that awesome 5 mins a day bread resting on the counter and the oven on. We're going to eat soon, and then snuggle in further with the dog to watch American Idol. And maybe some video-game time. And I realize that there are a thousand educational things I could do with my kids, and a thousand ways I could make this time more memorable - we could do a project together, play a game, or have them help me cook. But I am satisfied in my sloth, because they have a LOT of me. And we're together. And that's what's important to me, and to them, right now at this stage in our lives.
The fact that I have quantities of quality time with them means that I don t have to put pressure on myself or them to always bring my "A" game - and it means they're pretty darn accepting of me and my limitations. When I do have a hissy fit about something minor and later apologize, they are so gracious to me. We show each other that we're human in those small ways. And today, we can just snuggle on the couch and be together, and that is enough. That is plenty. And we are lucky.
I write on Suburban (In)sanity. I have two kids, two cats, a dog, a husband and a minivan. I live in the suburbs now and try to stay sane. Some days, I succeed.
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