Monday, November 24, 2008
The Dance of Daily Life
Mihret and her Emaye play before church on a recent Sunday
Continuing my career as a full-time journalist while raising Mihret together with my hubby Josh, who works a full-time day job as a communications specialist while pursuing screenwriting and novel-writing, means that Mihret spends almost 10 hours per day at day care.
We call it "school" to help ourselves feel better about sending her.
We're lucky she's in a good, Christian environment, with loving teachers who read with her, teach her about God and Jesus and the Bible, help her complete take-home art projects, let her get her energies out in exercise and games, prompt her to explore with all her senses what we call "baby science" (Water flows down, not up! Sand feels gritty and leaves are crunchy!) and introduce her to friends her age who are also learning how to get along with others. (No biting, no hitting, no hair-pulling!)
Because I only get to spend up to a half-hour with her in the morning (unless she wakes up super-early) and up to two, two-and-a-half hours with her every night, that time I do have is all the more precious.
I have two self-imposed rules that I do my best not to break. I will be home in the morning to help get Mihret ready for school, and I will be home in the evening to help put her to bed.
The morning is easier - I can file stories from home via e-mail to meet an early morning deadline, and then be there to give Mihret her first snuggles of the day.
The evening is trickier, as I've usually got late work or outside volunteer commitments several days a week. When I do have to come home after she's in bed, I always come up with a reason to open her door a crack - her clean laundry is happier in her room, I say, so I slip in and slide it into her basket.
I watch my little one in Mihret sleep mode - on tummy in her footy PJs with bottom in air, sucking her finger, surrounded by Cabbage Patch Baby, Beegabug (her stuffed ladybug), Grover and Elmo and the three blankets she always kicks off.
I breathe in the scent of her room's air freshener. I check to make sure her baby monitor light shines green. Then I tiptoe out, almost hoping that she'll stir so I can go back in and pick her up.
As a family, we make the most of "Patterson family" moments.
When Mihret wakes up in the mornings, grumpy, Josh and I go into her room and turn on her CD player. Josh picks her up and she wraps her legs around his waist, while I hold and hug her from the back.
We three sway and bounce to whatever in our eclectic collection happens to be in the player - early Michael Jackson, Prince, the African Children's Choir, Ethiopian pop - and Mihret is content. She pats Josh's chest, while I lean over and kiss her cheeks.
For two minutes, or three, or sometimes even five, time stands still while we move and groove together.
She'll even ask to do "the family dance" during the daytime, on weekends, when we're all downstairs.
"Mama back?" she'll ask, meaning she wants me to hold her from the back while she's facing her daddy.
I'm thankful for these precious, precious "Patterson family" moments at home.