Wednesday, April 5, 2017

The First Day of the Rest of Her Childhood

Today I took the first steps toward signing my soon-to-be-two year old daughter up for summer camp and it was traumatic.

Not because I am anxious about her going away to camp (which is really just four weeks of structured day care), but because I sat in a room with a group of my peers and felt like I was back at law school orientation.

Let me begin this by telling you about the day I declared this child needed something constructive to do this summer...I believe it was a month ago after I had yet another very long day with her that ended with me feeling utterly exasperated. It doesn't matter what happened, but at some point she drove me to the brink and I made that fateful decision.

And it must have been a few days before/after that I received a text from my line sister about swimming classes. And then her follow-up text telling me that the classes were full and that we might have to try for another session. And I am unsure if that happened right around the time the Hub sent in the first permit request for her birthday party (for which we are still awaiting official approval), because we want to avoid a repeat of last year's rain drama. And in the midst of trying to manage her life and development, I have been dealing with a whole lot of other stuff.

So by the time I actually sat down to find an affordable summer camp that takes 2-year olds, I initially thought I wouldn't find anything. But fate intervened and I found a program, submitted the request form, and then got a call the very next day! We were on our way.

Then this morning everything went wrong as soon as the Hub thought he was offering me a compliment by telling me that I looked like a Mom.

The quick details: I left my wallet behind, then sat in traffic, arrived late and sweaty because I couldn't find the entrance, and then left feeling like I had just been through law school orientation. Which you know, I did 20+ years ago, and I remember leaving that session feeling like I had been to my first day of boot camp. I was overstimulated and overwhelmed, only to get to the Babe's play group to hear that we might need to consider getting special services (again).

So I'm sitting here feeling like a failure. I have one job. Actually, I have several jobs, but I am not winning on any of them right now. And just like I felt on my first day of law school/boot camp trying to process how only one of the three of us would make it to graduation, I am in over my head. For the record, I barely made it through law school, but I am here so I guess the same must be true of parenting. Which is not the most encouraging analogy...

Of course, the pressure I feel to meet or exceed certain expectations is largely internal. I just wanted to find something for my kid to do this summer. I also need a little time from her for a few hours a day to focus on my Mom and other aspects of my life that have been neglected. I might dig out my resume and see what is out there. I might make some progress on decorating her room. I may finally clean up my house. I might get to a spa for some of that self-care folks keep talking about.

And she might come back to us with more advanced language, potty-trained, and better disciplined. I could stay in my feelings and question why every other child seems to be progressing just fine with their nannies at the library story-time while my child spends that time running around in circles. Or I can just buck up and let the experts intervene. I can do what I failed to do 20+ years ago in law school and admit that it might all be just a little too much for me to handle by myself. Not because I am not smart or earnest enough, but because I have a lot going on and if my daughter needs to reach certain developmental milestones, then I need to do whatever it takes to ensure that she does.

I am a lawyer, not a child development specialist. That is why we say it takes a village to raise a child, and now is not the time to become the idiot.

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