One would think that if the children weren't sick of me by 6 p.m. every day, they would at least feel like they had received plenty of deposits into their "mommy time" account and could stand the thought of being apart from me for more than five minutes. By 6 p.m., I'm sick of me. As much as I love my children and love being with them, I admit that by 6 p.m. on most days, my "kid time" account is practically maxed out and I'm ready to make a withdrawal or two.
My daughter does not share my sentiments. The girl simply can't get enough time with me. She wants to be with me every waking moment. (And when I stop and think about that, I think, "Who could blame her?" I'm no Pioneer Woman, but I am pretty cool. )
So today on the way home from a four hour errand outing (preceded by over four hours of school with me as her teacher), she said, "Mommy, will you play a game with me when we get home?" Exhausted at this point, the thought of playing Sleeping Queens made me want to drive a stake through my kneecap. I took a deep breath and said, "No. I just can't tonight." I could see in the rearview mirror that she was teary. There was a pause and she said, "You never do anything with me." I almost ran off the road. "I never do anything with you?!? I am with you all day long. I spend hours with you every day teaching you history, math, spelling, geography, reading with you. I even played Scrambled States with you this morning. That's a game! How can you say I never do anything with you?" Then she passed teary and launched right into the ugly cry and said, "You don't understand. During the day you're just my teacher, not my mom."
I was counting all that time as quality time together. She was just counting it as school.
I saw that time as us having mommy/daughter (and son) time. She saw that time as teacher/student time.
I thought about it for a minute and it made sense to me. Since I have taken responsibility for educating our children, I try to use every moment I can to squeeze in some kind of learning. The problem is, the children don't want every moment we spend together to be turned into a teachable moment. Sometimes they just want to have fun with their mom. I had combined the roles, but they don't like it that way. They love having me as their teacher, but they miss having me as their mom.
I said, "You know what? I understand what you're saying and it makes sense to me. Let's play Sleeping Queens tonight." She let out a big sigh of relief and said, "You really understand? I love you, Mommy."
For the record, I won the game.