There are people who dedicate their lives to raising their children. It’s a Herculean and beautiful endeavor, giving one’s full attention to their family, and I’m often awash in reverence for this life path.
However, it isn’t the one I’ve chosen for myself.
Make no mistake, my wife, Elenor, and kiddo, Harvey, are my most sublime and meaningful priorities. Nothing, for me, comes before them.
It’s just that, as working women, El and I anticipated being able to lean on the steady help of childcare providers to be part of our village while we shared our attention with our professional and community work.
That was the vision to care for each of us individually and for our family as a collective unit. We had a plan.
Ha, plans. Those don’t look the same anymore. Harvey is four and we are in a pandemic the year after I was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease. So, childcare for 40-hours each week has been paused (although, bless my generous mom for weekly grandma time so I can remember what concentrating feels like).
Instead, I’m home with my kidlet almost every hour of every day.
And I am tired. Really tired. In fact, I might have parenting fatigue.
I deeply love playing with this curious, energetic, funny, beautiful person, so I’m uncomfortable feeling anything other than total elation about what will probably end up being a year of nearly-constant togetherness.
It makes this column a little more challenging to write, especially because I always picture Harvey reading these when he’s 17 or 25 or 37 (Hello darling!). I’m OK if he’ll roll his eyes and “MoOoMm” me later in life. I just always want him to know he is considered, respected and loved.
I actually think it is because of how much I care about him that I feel this weight. Elenor and I are almost solely responsible for his learning, socializing, exploration, entertainment, risk-taking (ah!), health, safety and energy expenditure.
Plus, we’re constantly trying to help him make sense of what’s happening around us — all while letting him have too much screen time so that we, too, can attempt to digest the chaotic string of epic crises. (BTW, I thought Britannica for Parents had a good article on talking about the insurrection at the Capitol, which may remain useful this coming week.)
The point is, parenting is way more than a full-time job. I just already have one of those. And I really enjoy it. I like volunteerism, too. And writing and reading. I like involved cooking, doodling and doing 1,000-piece puzzles. I even like being alone and still.
At least I think I do, anyway. It’s been a while.
I remember feeling excited to return to our normal schedules after the 2019 two-week holiday break when we had our little nugget home from daycare for what felt like a long time.
Sigh. Two weeks. It’s been 47 this time.
But this is not one of those situations when practice has made perfection. I don’t think I’m sitting on a shiny repertoire of newly-refined skills. On the contrary, I worry I’ve dulled all the tools at my disposal. My screws are stripped. And it’s January, so we can’t even use the “Santa’s watching” tactic effectively anymore.
Did I mention I’m tired?
With the COVID-19 vaccine on the horizon, I’d guess we’re on mile 22 of our pandemic marathon. Unfortunately, my untrained legs became gelatinous some miles back. Also, is someone giving my kid caffeine?
It’s fine. We’re fine. Everything’s fine. We’re going to finish this race, I’m almost sure of it. And it’ll be our love that gives us stamina to persevere. Despite exhaustion, our love is still growing at an exponential rate.
Anyway, if you see a gal crawling to her vaccine appointment on all fours sometime this spring or summer, say hi.
Marina Gomberg is a communications professional and lives in Salt Lake City with her wife, Elenor Gomberg, and their son, Harvey. You can reach Marina at firstname.lastname@example.org.