It’s a fifteen minute drive from daycare to home. And today I picked up my daughter as usual, put her in the car seat and hopped in the drivers seat and pulled out of the daycare- as usual.
I read once somewhere, that you aren’t supposed to just say “how was school” or “how was your day”. I don’t remember the source, or the reasons behind it, or if they offered any alternative, but I remember it.
So I stop myself from blurting it out, and instead simply say “I missed you today, munchkin!”
She just looks at my reflection in the rearview mirror. I’m never sure if she can only see my eyes or my whole face. Then she starts whining the names of the daycare providers that’s she’s closest too. I’m not gonna lie, I get slightly offended!
“You’re gonna come home with mommy! And we will hang out!”
“No!” She says then continues playing with her little doll.
I know she’s only two. And that she doesn’t understand that I would much rather be home all day and playing games and eating snacks and listening to old macdonald. But mommy has to work. And her relationships are strongest with her providers and her dad whom she sees on weekends. He has those days off and gets to just play all weekend. I get it. But it doesn’t make it hurt any less.
Up ahead on the side of the road I see christmas lights draped from houses and taverns and I enthusiastically say “Zoey! Look at the pretty lights!!”
“Wow! Pretty!” She exclaims then as quickly as I drove up on them, they are gone. And the car becomes awkward again- not for her, but for me. I keep glancing at her and wonder what she’s thinking, what I can say to connect more to her, to get her attention.
Sometimes I feel like I’m just doing all the “work” of motherhood, taking care of all the business. I feel like sometimes I know very little about her. I mean, I know her routine to a tee, I know what to feed her, and her allergies, and the best and most effective way to get her to sleep. I know her social security number, and birthday, and pediatricians number, and that she has a soft spot in one of her baby teeth that I have to “keep an eye on”.
But it’s all just business. I feel sometimes like she’s missing out on having me really there.
I can barely tell you what her reaction would be at a public restaurant because I can’t remember the last time I could bring her to one. I haven’t the slightest clue if she prefers riding on the end of the cart in a grocery store, or in the seat- or neither! Because I do all my errands either on my lunch break while she is at daycare or on weekends while she is at her dads house.
How do you make that kind of time to really connect to such a young kid while leading such a busy life? How do I get her to be excited to hang out with me instead of just going through the motions?
I know she loves me. She is happy to see me when I pick her up and sad to see me go when I drop her off. She wants to cuddle with me before bed. She asks me to read to her. She wants me around. Which I love! But I feel like we are both missing out on some very vital pieces of a mother/daughter relationship.
I know deep down it’ll all come together, I just wish it were sooner.
As we pull into the driveway I glance back and say “almost home!”
She smiles back and says “home!”
And that’s some hope!