As a mom who works outside the home, I find that I’m incredibly protective of my free time with my daughter.
For the past year, our 18 month old has gone to sleep within an hour of getting home from daycare. On the best weekdays, I have about two hours with her, and half of that is in the car. Subsequently, I feel like I have to make the most out of every moment when we’re together. I could talk about my Mom Guilt when I go grocery shopping or clean the house on weekends while daddy takes her for a walk, but for now, we’ll focus on what has been a secret source of pride for me…bedtime.
Until last month, I never missed a bedtime that I was in town.
Caroline goes to bed early, so it has been easy to do Date Night or Errand Night or Mommy-Needs-A-Facial night without feeling any guilt about being gone. Schedule any of the above after 6:15 PM, and we are good to go.
I’ve even missed bedtimes when out of town, and neither Caroline nor I had any problems with the change in routine. In fact, the first two bedtimes I missed were when I was still nursing, and those went off without a hitch (and mommy enjoyed a full night’s sleep!).
Despite having grandparents down the street and other wonderful babysitters who have offered to do the dinner and bedtime routine, we have made being home for bedtime a priority when work and travel has allowed it. But last month, I had to miss two bedtimes in a row.
My job requires I be on call during extreme weather, and I was at work one Sunday until 9:00 PM, three hours after bedtime. The very next day was an event that I had to attend that began at 5:30 PM. And do you know what happened?
I was fine. Caroline was fine.
I wasn’t thrilled to be at work at 9:00 PM on a Sunday, and my preference for the other event would have been earlier in the day. I missed getting to snuggle during story time, and once home leaped at the chance to return a tossed wubbanub just to rub my girl’s back and give her a kiss. But I did what needed done for my job and other commitments, I had complete faith in Daddy to handle the bedtime routine, and everything was completely fine.
There is a certain measure of freedom in having been forced to release control over bedtime. Two months ago, I would have said “no” to attending an upcoming engagement party for dear friends in Northern Virginia. Now, pending finalizing a babysitter, we’re going. Two months ago, I would have been torn about attending the Richmond Moms Blog Launch Party. Now I’m looking forward to it without guilt.
Snuggling in our rocker and reading a story is still one of my favorite things to do with Caroline, and I’ll continue to make it a priority. But for the times I need to be away, I’ll know that we will both be just fine.