It's 4:25 pm and we've just pulled into our driveway after a long day of work and daycare. I slowly drag myself out of my car, take a few extra steps around to his side of the car, enjoying those few seconds before I'm officially a mom again. I open the door and unbuckle him from his car seat and lift him out. My arms feel extra heavy today. There's no smile on my face as he excitedly runs towards the house ready to play with me.
I'm not ready.
We get inside, I plop my things down on the wooden dining room table that has become a catchall for everything we don't feel like putting away. I immediately sink onto the couch, grabbing the TV remote as I go.
"Henry, Mommy really doesn't feel good today, can we have quiet time?"
He comes over and kisses my forehead. "I made your forehead feel better, do you want to play now?" The look on his face is heartbreaking. I know he wants to play, I know I should want to play with him. But I'm so exhausted - from life, from work, from pregnancy. I want to play with him. I truly do. But my body is screaming at me to just rest.
"How about we have quiet time for just a little bit and then we'll play? Do you want me to turn on a movie for you?"
He readily agrees, grabs a book, a couple of Paw Patrol guys and sits down on the floor, ready to be immersed in his independent play. I close my eyes and try to shut the day out of my mind and just rest.
Every once in awhile I can feel him looking at me so I open my eyes. The movie is on one of our favorite parts and he's grinning at me to make sure I see it, too. I grin back and then close my eyes again. "Mommy look, he's wearing paper pants," Henry whispers to me as though he knows that he's supposed to be quiet but he really, really wants to share with me. I smile at him again.
He comes to me and covers me with his favorite blue blanket and does a quick pat on my back, the way I do to him. Then he goes back to his book and his movie.
We do this dance for nearly 45 minutes with him occasionally breaking into my rest and me dozing off for a minute or two here and there. When I can't fend him off any longer, I get up and do my best to play with him. But we both know I'm half-assing it.
That's when the guilt kicks in. I want to play with him. I want to be his superhero sidekick. I want to play bad guys and capture ghosts and run cars along his road rug. But I can't right now. This season of life has me tied to the couch or the bed or the bathroom floor just struggling to feel better.
People tell me he won't remember this. That he'll remember all the times that I DO play with him instead. But what about me? Will the guilt I feel over missing out on our last days of just the three of us ever go away for me? Or will the constant failure always feel suffocating?