There are days–okay, most of them, actually–when I feel like a mediocre parent, at best. My almost-three-year-old is exhausting. He’s active. He’s full of energy. He’s curious. He talks all. the. time. And he wants his mommies to play with him, all day every day. Seriously, if it were up to this kid, we’d do nothing but follow him around all day, playing with a different toy or game for five minutes (or less) before moving on to the next one.
So I felt a little guilty when we had two back-to-back snow days–Friday and Monday, giving us a four-day weekend–and we put him in daycare both days. I know there’s no reason to feel guilty. Our schools might have been closed, but his wasn’t. We’ve paid in advance for his daycare. We needed the days to work on prepping the nursery for the new baby. I had laundry to catch up on. He has fun at preschool. His friends are there.
That last was the reason I settled on being my main justification for taking my kid to preschool on a snow day. His friends are there. At home, as he’s constantly asking my wife and I to play with him, and we keep mentally begging him, please just play by yourself! But inevitably, he returns to his refrain–“Mommies, come on! Come play with me!”
So we took him to daycare, and I felt guilty. My wife and I got a lot done. We organized closets in the baby’s room and the guest room. We even got to go out for lunch, just the two of us. And we assured ourselves, repeatedly, that our toddler was happy, having fun with his friends.
Afternoon rolled around, and my wife went to pick him up from preschool. When they came home, we hoped to have some family fun together time making cookies. But toddler curiosity had other plans, and the second I stepped away from his side, he ruined the batter by dumping his milk into the carefully measured flour. After I had told him not to. We didn’t have any more flour. There was a snowstorm outside. He cried. I cried. Everyone was mad. I felt like a terrible mother.
Eventually, we all calmed down. The milk incident was forgotten most quickly by our toddler, but mommies still remained sad and disappointed, feeling that our limited family time that evening had been ruined. But 6:30 came along, and it was time for our nightly episode of “Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood” before bed.
Our little man settled himself between the two of us on the couch. As we watched Daniel play with Katerina, trying to cheer ourselves up, my wife asked him, “Who do you think is Daniel’s best friend?” His reply was immediate. “Katerina!” Well, obviously–they were playing together!
“Who’s your best friend?” I asked him. That’s when it happened. Sitting there between his two moms, his favorite spot in the world, our little man didn’t hesitate a moment. He spread his arms, pointing to each of us on either side of him. “You two!”
In that moment, the ruined cookies, the tears, the frustration, the exhaustion…none of it mattered. We were both smothering him with kisses. He grinned, unaware of the effect of his simple, truthful answer on his moms. It’s true. We’re his best friends. And someday, all too soon, that won’t be his answer to that question any longer.
I’ll try to remember that the next time my toddler tugs on my hand and says, “Come play, mommy. I want you with me!”
Of course he wants us with him. We’re his best friends.