Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Everyday structure

This morning, as we were about to leave Zoe looked puzzled at me: "Mommy, we did not do what we used to do today?" I looked at her to get an explanation. She said that I had watched TV (iPad) with her while having breakfast. I agreed. While eating my morning granola I had watched some show with a Frog teaching basic concepts of math (plus and minus) and wondered if Zoe was picking up on anything in terms of actual numbers and counting or just enjoyed the cartoons and the songs. I like the Danish math shows much better because they are more silly and weird, adhering to the Danish sense of humor. But we had watched 5 of those the previous evening.

Which got me thinking about just how much our everyday life in New York has changed and become more messy. I find it really hard to admit, but it is true: Zoe has not eaten dinner at the dining table since she came back here in the end of June. We eat while watching a show on the iPad on the couch. Part of my giving in is actually that our dining table is squeezed in along the wall with too little space for the chairs and it is so unstable that a small push makes it wobble. It is not cozy to sit there. Another part is that I don't think of this as everyday life. Since we came here it has been an exceptional time. New York was (officially) a temporary space and everything we did was temporary. I made exceptions for everything. On top of that my intense work meant that I relied on a number of babysitters (to the downfall of my finances) and still do now that she is in half-day camp. No day is the same, sometimes I come home 6:30 pm to a Zoe who has already eaten, other days we come home at 5pm and I scramble to make some dinner out of what I can find in the cabinet (pasta with butter with a side of cucumbers being a favorite).

I made rules and structures like we had back in Stockholm except they were different rules. There we had a rule about having dinner at the dining table without watching TV. Now we have a rule that says no TV until after 6pm. I used to be strict on breakfast, now I let her grab the last part of the chocolate cookie because it was there and, I, myself, had the last half of a macaron for breakfast, so who am I to judge? I truly don't think that bite of cookie is going to be Zoe's downfall to doing drugs at 14 (or becoming obese for that matter) but I'm starting to worry that I'm using the "single mom" as an excuse. I have never wanted to think that I couldn't do an optimal job being Zoe's mom, just because I'm on my own. In fact, I think I can do a better job without being with someone else that I constantly have to negotiate with in terms of what to let her do and not do. Her dad is way more strict than me, he keeps special days for candy where I let her have a little bit most of the times she asks (which is really not a lot) and he says no a lot more than I do. Instead I have no choice but to focus on her when we are together (not that I would ever want to do anything less) and I don't agree when people say "well, it's nice to have a bit of time on your own too" in relation to her spending two months in Stockholm. I don't need that kind of time on my own. I need to work during the day and I need an hour at night after she is asleep. Other than that I need to be Zoe's mom.

I think it is time for a couple of new rules. But I also think I'll talk with Zoe about them tonight. If anyone should help making them, it should be her. 

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