Am I a bad mom? I ask myself this question much as I’m sure every mom must ask it when a conflict arises between Mom giving the kids what they want versus doing Mom doing something for herself. In my case, what my kids, Princess specifically, are asking for lots of play dates. What I’m asking for is a couple of hours to myself every afternoon to do some work.
It’s a sticky issue. There aren’t a lot of little girls Princess’ age in the neighborhood. Only two, to be exact. Everyone else is either a boy, and only wants to hang with other boys, or quite a few years older than Princess. Of the two little girls who are Princess’ age, one is getting ready to leave for a cross-country trip this summer. The other lives within walking distance, but I’d have to walk over with Princess (no biggie, I can always use the exercise) AND… Pixie is not invited to go with her.
I hate that. As with Princess, there are only two children in the neighborhood around Pixie’s age. One of them is sister to the girl who’s about to leave on that cross-country trip, so she won’t be around either. The other is allergic to just about everything under the sun, so arranging play dates requires a lot of pre-planning and logistical discussion (choosing a restaurant can we all eat at, scrubbing my kids down before going over to make sure they’re allergen-free, etc.).
So essentially, Pixie is out of luck in the local friends department. I’ve made arrangements to have Princess’ one little friend come over here a couple of mornings a week, to ensure that Pixie isn’t left out when the girls play together, but even then it’s a crap shoot they’ll all get along. Every time this particular kid comes over, she has a nasty habit of dragging Princess into her room and slamming the door on Pixie, who then comes sobbing to me. I’m going to try to prevent that scenario from happening this summer by making the kids play outside all morning while I garden (and I’ve already told the other mom that’s going to be the rule – girls stay outside!). Even so, I can’t guarantee Pixie will included in the older girls’ games.
All this means I’m not inclined to have Princess’ friend over every day of the week (especially since she also annoys the hell out of me). In fact, I’m thinking along the lines of one or two mornings a week at most. Then I’ve got a standing agreement to meet with a friend of mine and her kids one morning a week. Patty’s got two boys, one Princess’ age and one Pixie’s age. It’s a bit of a drive to get together with them, but doable once a week. That gives us three mornings a week of play dates. And of course I’ve planned to take one day a week for day trips, just me and the girls, to the beach, the museum, Busch Gardens… I’m thinking that’s pretty good right? Plenty of activity all summer and lots of play dates with other kids!
Except Princess keeps whining that she wants to see her one girlfriend every day, in the afternoon, either at her house, where Pixie is not invited to come play, or here, where I will be hard at work writing the next great American smut novel.
My plan was that I would devote the entire first half of the day to the girls – play dates, gardening, going to the pool, throwing water balloons, karate classes, arts and crafts, etc. Princess’ little friend could come over during that time and join us for some outdoor fun. Then we’d come in for lunch and after lunch, when it’s hot enough outside you could fry an egg on the front porch, the girls would go upstairs to their rooms and play together. Quietly. While I worked in the office for a few hours.
I thought that arrangement sounded quite fair. They’d get to see friends and have all the fun they wanted in the mornings, I’d get the work time I so desperately need in the afternoon. But when I discuss this with Princess, I get a lot of arguing about how it isn’t fair, she never gets to see her friends often enough, she’s bored, she’s lonely, why can’t she play outside by herself, she won’t run out into the street, she won’t let her sister run out into the street, the three girls could play very quietly in her room and no one would fight or set the house on fire while I was working, etc., etc., etc.
Am I wrong? Should I try to have Princess’ friend over in the afternoons? Or have I set a reasonable schedule for all of us? I can’t say. I will say I’m not budging from that schedule. No kidding, I have a novel to write this summer, and a website to massively update. I can’t afford not to work those hours. Princess will get to see her friend once or twice a week, see some other kids once a week, and go on some fun trips every week. That’s enough, right?
Now to figure out how to quit feeling like a bad mom every time she asks for a play date…