I´ve been working from home now for almost two years, since my daughter was six months old. In that time I´ve had a few babysitters, but they come over while I´m in the office, pounding away at the keyboard. I´ve left the house to work only a few times, when I´ve had to run out for supplies or do research at the library. But these jaunts are short, just an hour long or so, and then I return to find my daughter playing happily with her sitter, oblivious to my entrance.
During these same two and a half years, my husband has taken my daughter to the park numerous times so she can play or so I can rest. Generally they are gone for an hour or two, and when they return my daughter nods in my direction, tells me about her trip, and then goes about playing with her blocks or dolls as though we have been together the entire day.
We´ve had company in town this week, and I´ve had a multitude of projects to get done in a short amount of time. So yesterday, I sent them off to explore Newport Beach while I remained at home to finish up some writing that had to be done by the end of the day. The family was gone for half of the day.
I sat down to type and quickly realized just how quiet a house can be. When the babysitter comes over, I can hear my daughter laugh and play and ask things like, "Why?" and, "Where´s mommy? Let´s go see her." Yesterday, I heard nothing but the click, click, click of my keyboard and, eventually, the background sound of talk shows, because, honestly, it was just too quiet.
Hours later they returned, tumbling out of the van that my in laws had rented for the trip. My daughter bound through the front door with complete enthusiasm, headed straight for me, and flung her arms around my neck in an embrace so strong I thought she might take me down. She remained in that position for so long that my legs started to cramp. Then she gushed about her trip to the mall, and the park, and the restaurant, before throwing her arms around my neck for one final hug. It was the best thing I´d ever felt, that appreciation that comes when mom is gone for hours and the little one misses her so.
I missed her while she was gone yesterday. I enjoy having her here; listening to the clunk clunk of my heels as she traverses up and down the hallway, the sound of her giggle as she plays with her dolls, the "Hey You!" she shouts out the window when the trash truck or the gardener or the mailman comes by. I have to admit, it sure was nice when she returned home and fell all over me as though I were the best thing since peanut butter on a spoon.
When working from home, you don´t get the, "I miss you," because you are always around. Instead, you get the, "Why do I have to do this? " and, "No, don´t play with me." You get the temper tantrums and the fighting of naps. Of course, there are great times as well, don´t get me wrong, but rarely are there moments when you realize just how much your children depend upon you, because, well, you are always there and so they don´t have a chance to show you.
I suppose the next time I´ll be gone from her for an extended period of time is when the new baby is born and I´m in the hospital. So I won´t create any big separations until then, but I will hold in my memory the excitement I felt when I saw how excited she was to see me again. And I´ll try to remember that the next time she pulls the cat´s tail when I´ve told her eighteen times in a row not to.