“Mom can I just ask you something?” he says, as if it’s the first time he’s said it all day. As if he didn’t just say it 30 seconds ago and 30 seconds before that. As if I didn’t just remind him for the 5th time that “Mom is working”.
“No, not now, I’m working” I say as I mute the call I’m on and silently hope that the person named “Jennifer” from Aetna who is clearly not on the same continent as I am, can’t tell that I’m not in an office but in my kitchen with a yappy dog and needy child. And why I care about “Jennifer” or “Brad” is beyond me, I’ll never meet them, I’ll never see them face to face and yet I hope that I somehow create this professional illusion of who I am on the other end of the phone.
“Mom I just wanted to give you a hug” and I’m abruptly brought back to reality. The messy kitchen, my sweatpants and the adorable little 4-year-old in front of me. And I feel awful for saying no, for my frustration, for my caring what a person on a phone in another country might think. And yet, it’s my job. One that I’ve worked really hard to keep these last 4 years and one that has been very flexible with me this past year.
And these days are not easy. This working at home is anything but easy. And some days I have to remind myself to have patience not just with him but with myself. We will adjust to this new routine of me putting in more hours at home.
I give him a big hug and guilt washes over me. And he wanders off and I hear him quietly playing in the playroom, the way he does most of the time. I remind myself that he is only 4. I think of how most times he plays independently with his Imaginext play sets or how he goes up to his room and “works on his art” or when he turns on Sprout and quietly sits on the couch. I think of how he’s learned when I’m on the phone and when I’m on hold. How most time he is good about being quiet.
I know sometimes I expect a lot from his 4 years, mostly because he has always so easily given it. He’s a good listener, he’s smart, he’s compassionate and he understands things beyond his 4 years. So sometimes I forget that he’s little and that patience isn’t always his or my best trait. Maybe it’s because we are so much alike. I’m reminded that he’s a good kid and that my expectations aren’t always inline with his age.
I finish my call and record my work. I look at the clock and anxiously wait till I can punch out. I sneak into the playroom and get that extra hug. I make him a snack and ask what he wants to do when I’m done. I remind myself that we are lucky that I can work from home, that we have this time and that I’m lucky he really is a good kid.