I have grown accustomed to feeling I am letting Zachary down. He needs so much, and I have only so much to give. I lose my patience with him, hurry him, and just generally am imperfect.
But, I have never before felt like I am letting Benjamin down. He seems to need me so much less than his brother does. He is easier (OK, not physically), marginally less intense, and pretty happy as long as he is given a constant stream of calories.
And then there was Tuesday. I had been away for the weekend, and both boys missed me, which was a bit of a surprise since neither seems to care when I drop them off at school, sometimes not even turning around when they say goodbye. And our nanny started full-time last week. I had hoped to ease into her caring for the boys, but I came back to appointments, parties to plan, and more suggested revisions from my agent. My due date is not getting any further away, and I need to keep things moving along. I needed sustained work time. Uninterrupted work time.
Instead, I had a nanny who didn’t know what she was doing yet, children who had missed me, and workmen continually tromping through my house. Zachary took it in relatively good graces, as he has always taken my need to work. He seems to get a commitment to anything involving focused thinking, and when he is jealous, it is of another child – namely, the child who sleeps on the bottom bunk.
Benjamin, however, was less than pleased that Mommy returned on Sunday only to hand him over to a nanny all day Monday. While I was on the phone with my agent, he got so upset I had to tell her I’d call her back. And on Tuesday, he needed me. All day long. In the afternoon, whenever I tried to work, he busted into the room crying for me. But, I need to get the f-cking book done, and it ain’t going to happen while I am sitting at the playground.
When I checked in on the boys later that night, I kissed his sleeping face. “I’m sorry I let you down today, baby.” It was the first time, but it will not be the last. I am sad and I am sorry, but I also accept it as part of raising children. We cannot be all they want and all we have to be all of the time. It just is not possible.
Besides, if mothers never let down their children, think how boring psychoanalysis would be.