Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Do the Math

The other night, after one of the usual marathons of evening baby- and toddler-care, when both girls were successfully down in their respective beds and Christopher and I were cueing up the first season of "The Office" on DVD, he said to me, "Now that they're both in bed, I totally miss those girls and wish they were up."

At first I thought he was nuts, and said as much: "You can't be serious! I cannot IMAGINE such a thing." And I can't.

But then I figured it out. In a typical Monday-to-Friday workweek, considering only the hours during which we (the adults in the house) are awake--let's say, approximately 7 a.m. to 10 p.m.--I spend, at most, 15 hours apart from both Julia and Genevieve: from approximately 7 p.m. when they go to bed (if I'm lucky) and 10 p.m. when I do. OK, we can make it 16 hours if I happen to get in three 20-minute runs a week.

In contrast, in the same five-day workweek, Christopher spends about 55 hours apart from the girls: 40 hours at the office, and then those same 15 evening hours after the babies are snug in their beds.

Fifty-five vs. sixteen! That's quite a difference. I love my girls, but comparing the numbers, is it any wonder that, by the time Julia and Genevieve are in bed in the evening, my general feeling is, Thank God, and now don't anyone touch me or talk to me for the next three hours? (I'd say twelve, but Genevieve is still night-nursing, so there's no point in such a demand.) I mean, most of the time, I barely make it to 7 p.m., and I can't make myself go to bed early--despite epic exhaustion--because if I did, I'd lose My Evening, a.k.a., my only alone time. It's so different from a workweek existence outside of the house, in an office, with coffee breaks and solo restroom forays and lunches involving only one mouth to feed (your own) and a milieu of incidental socialization with other adults--that it's no wonder I cannot imagine Christopher's point of view, his inner longing to see more of the girls, to have more of them around, and he, no doubt, has a hard time imagining my state of depletion, of needing any amount of time to myself with no other body glomming onto mine or sucking mine or spitting up all over mine.

So how can it be that I adore my life as a parent, but I apparently love it most of all when the kids are in bed?


Christopher said...

Those numbers are striking. I sure wish we could engineer some sort of trade - one or two more full days a week with the girls would be wonderful. Stupid job...

Regarding your closing question, "So how can it be that I adore my life as a parent, but I apparently love it most of all when the kids are in bed?" I think that it's exactly like the cliches about writing ("I hate writing, but I love having written") and working out ("Every minute of it sucks except the first one when it's over.")

Donna said...

Having time away from the kids means that you can love them even more when you're with them. Everyone needs a break.

Heidi said...

Maybe one of the weekend days could be "daddy day" and Mom could go out and do whatever she wants. And then the other weekend day could be a shared day. (Of course, that doesn't allow Daddy much *totally* free time, without job *or* kids, but you cold shuffle the weekend hours to allow for that too.)