To My Child: I’m Sorry For Not Spending Enough Time With You

Dear Andi,

Now that we spend all our days at home, you would think that I would have more time for you. And yet, ironically, there are moments when my physical presence makes me feel more absent.

I’m near you, and yet, I’m in five different places all at once. I’m feeding you your lunch while I answer important messages. I’m watching over you while I’m washing the dishes. I jump from one task to another, trying to accomplish so much in so little time.

I want nothing more than to drop everything and play with you all day. I would love to snuggle next to you for as long as I can and read you your favorite stories over and over again. I don’t mind just sitting next to you, watching you, as I become amazed at how smart and beautiful you are growing up to be. I want to slow down, but there is so much to be done, and there is only one of me, without a village to help me raise you and help me carry the daily physical and mental load of motherhood (aside from your father, of course). Not all of us have the luxury of setting aside our duties for later.

I hear little voices in my head, saying things like:

“The chores can wait.”
“They’re only young once.”
“Other moms spend all their time with their kids. Why can’t you?”

And then once in a while, I also hear this:

“You’re not a good mom.”

But if I don’t prepare your meals, what will you eat?
If I don’t tidy up at home, how sure will I be that you don’t get sick?
If I don’t work, how can I help give you a comfortable life?
And if I don’t take breaks and look after myself, how will I look after you?

I make up for my unavailability by setting aside everything to devote some time to you. When I ask you “Do you want to play?,” your eyes twinkle and you exclaim “Yay! Play! Let’s play!” I love how excited you get, as if bonding with me is the best part of your day. It doesn’t even matter what we’re doing or what toys we’re playing with. My company is enough for you. You make me feel like I am all you need.

At night time, as I put you to sleep, I feel a tinge of sadness because another day has passed, peeling away another layer of your childhood, which I can never get back. I hear those voices in my head again and the guilt creeps in, so I apologize to you. “I’m sorry if Mommy didn’t get to spend that much time with you, okay?” Every night, you say the same thing and you answer me in the same cheerful tone: “It’s okay!” Sometimes, you’ll add: “Don’t be sad,” as if you know exactly how I’m feeling. I feel like I’m failing you everyday, and yet, you forgive me every single time. Or, maybe you don’t even feel the need to forgive me, because in your eyes, I have done nothing wrong. In fact, you speak to me only as if you know I’ve done my best. (I know this because you tell me yourself).

You may only be three, but somehow, I think you get me. You understand why I need to do what I do. For you, it’s quality over quantity. You don’t quantify the time that I spend with you. You don’t equate my love for you with the number of minutes that I give you my undivided attention. You measure our magic moments by how much we’ve laughed, cuddled, kissed, and had fun together.

I’m sorry if I don’t spend enough time with you. And thank you because no matter what, you always make me feel that anything I give you is enough for you, and whether it’s 2 hours or 20 minutes, you’ll love me just the same.

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