What do we want to instill in our children?
That's the question that's been plaguing my mind this week. (Actually, I'm always thinking about that question, but this week it's especially been on my mind.)
The other day, as I was leaving my apartment bright and early in the morning, one of my neighbors asked me where was Aiden heading so early in the morning. I smiled and said, "He's going to summer camp."
"But it's so early in the morning?!"
That was her response. It was well-intentioned and she was clearly and genuinely concerned that it was just too early in the morning for Aiden to be awake, let alone leave the house.
But usually when someone makes a comment like that to me, it leaves me with some level of guilt. Or some notion that Aiden, too, is making a lot of sacrifices for our little family of two.
But not this time.
This time I smiled and said, "Yes." Boldly. Confidently.
Momma's gotta work so little boy's gotta go to school or summer camp. That's just the way it is 'round these parts.
I used to feel guilty about it. If only I didn't have to work so much. If only I could bring Aiden to work with me on a regular basis. (My team and I are leading a school of kindergarten -- fourth grade students so that's not always possible.) If only he were older and could stay home alone. If only I had him when I was older and a my career was a little more established...
My thoughts would run wild. And I'd feel even more guilty about not being with Aiden. Sigh. Working mom problems.
But I know that I spend lots of time with Aiden in the evenings and on the weekend. If we're not hitting up a local child-friendly activity in NYC, then we're going on a play date. Or going to his extra-curricular activities like swimming or soccer. We travel during Spring break (playing tourist in Philadelphia) and Summer break (beach-ing it up in Puerto Rico). We're always on the move. And we have fun. Lots of it.
During our evening hours, we play games. Or review an academic skill that he's working on. Or read stories together. Lots of them.
During our evening conversations, Aiden talks to me about his day and things that are going on in his world. All the time. He even asks me about my day and about the people I had meetings with that specific day. He asks about my students. (He loves finding things out about them.)
I say all this to say that it's okay. It's okay that I work long hours sometimes. It's okay that sometimes Aiden has to wake up early to get to summer camp.
I'm instilling values in him. He's learning what it means to establish a good work ethic. But he's also learning how to have a little balance -- that evenings and weekends are family time. And he's learning that family time is important too.
He's learning about responsibility. He's learning how to have "table talk" and genuinely take interest in someone else's day. He's learning that other people matter, but that his needs matter as well.
For all of that, I guess it's okay that he's waking up early on the reg.