Saturday, August 6, 2011

Kids are smart

When Elle came along, I’d been alone and single for fortymumble years. All of a sudden I had a roommate with poor communication skills who didn’t contribute a dime towards the rent or the (considerably increased) utilities, who left her stuff all over the place, and who didn’t care much about what time it was when she wanted to make some noise.

My daughter is fabulous, but like it or not: it’s an adjustment.

There are many reasons why it’s better to be a partnered parent than a single one. One big reason is that, theoretically, with a partner, there’s someone to pick up the occasional slack. If you’re sick, or in a terrible mood, or just don’t feel like you want to engage with that noisy little roommate at the moment, you can (hopefully) look at your partner and ask him/her to take that on.

Not much of an option when it’s just you.

By the time Friday night comes around, sometimes the last thing I really want to do is have to entertain a toddler for a few hours before she goes to bed. (Hopefully, she goes to bed.) And there’s no way to punt that to someone else.

If anyone wants to post “Honey, you signed up for this, so don’t complain,” feel free. But you know what? Just because I signed up for this—and I did—doesn’t mean I have abdicated my right to whine occasionally.

What struck me the other day was the thought that I hope Elle never feels like she’s a burden. I hope my tired face at the end of the week doesn’t somehow communicate to her that I’d just rather not engage, or that she’s anything but a blessing. I’m not much of a poker player, and children are far smarter and more perceptive than we often give them credit for.

“Tired on a Friday night” does not equal “too tired for you” or, God forbid, "tired because of you." It just means that as she gets older, maybe Friday night we watch movies and have pizza, and it’s a way to be together that’s lower-maintenance.

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