I must be doing something wrong

February 8, 2008 | Original NSS, parenting

I was reading another Catholic-mom blog recently that really did a number on my self-esteem, and, trust me, I don’t really need any help in that department. Answering a reader question about how she gets her writing done with kids at home, the blogger quite seriously answered that when her 1-year-old and 3-year-old don’t nap, they are expected to play quietly in their rooms.

And they listen? I find this mind-boggling. Either she’s using some sort of voodoo magic, or I am just a really bad mom. (This is not a multiple choice test, so do not email me responses to that last rhetorical statement.)

Chiara, my 2-year-old, is refusing to take her nap today, so I thought I’d try this new approach. I offered her two options: Take a rest or play quietly in her bedroom, or the family room, or any room of the house. She came up with a third option: Run back and forth between the kitchen and the big, scary stone fireplace hearth at top speed with no pants on. Works for me. At least she’s not standing on my chair, holding onto my hair, like she usually does.

I often read about moms — many of them home-schoolers, who clearly have more patience than I do — whose children have quiet time built into their daily schedules. They are instructed to do something constructive while mom works or cooks or teaches calculus to the other kids. I could never make that happen. Not the calculus part, although that goes without saying. The constructive time. All three of my kids have been hangers-on, taking hold of my pant leg or shirt sleeve or hair as if we were in Times Square on New Year’s Eve and they’re afraid of getting lost.

Of course, the bigger ones have grown out of that, thankfully, but Chiara is at her peak. I do all of my work at home with very little baby-sitting time and very little nap-time (for Chiara, not me). And so I try to buy myself a minute here or five minutes there by asking her to make me a plastic cheese sandwich or brew me a pretend pot of tea or make me a Play-Doh cake.

I guess those super-moms who have found a way to make the work-at-home life less hectic and more productive would say that I need to employ a little tough love. I decided to try that again just now, and do you know where that got me? Chiara ended up wetting her pants because mommy was busy at the computer when baby needed help getting to the potty. So much for all that extra work time.

I think I’ll go back to the old method. At least when she’s standing on my chair with a toy blow-dryer pretending to fix my hair I never have to wonder what she’s up to.

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