Mommy guilt is a ridiculously strong force. It's not that I don't think I'm a good mother. I know I am. But I get down on myself pretty easily, for one reason or another.
I love spending time with my little girl. But (and here's where some guilt comes in) I'm not a big fan of getting down on the floor and playing. Of course, if she pulls out her blocks or Mr. Potato Heads and asks me to play, I'll oblige. It's just not my favorite thing to do. I don't love that about myself, but it's true. On the other hand, I'll sit and talk with her endlessly; answer a thousand questions about the cars around us on the road without losing a bit of patience. And then there's our mutual favorite activity to do together...READ! We'll sit and read, literally, for hours each day. I love that time, snuggled together under a blanket on the couch, going through stack after stack of books.
Maya's favorites right now are the Berenstain Bears. Mark and I both loved the series when we were growing up, so we pounced on a great eBay auction shortly after Maya was born and we now own at least forty of them. I pictured the Bears being more a staple of her preschool/early elementary years, but after pulling out a few books out one day, the girl is hooked on Mama, Papa, Sister and Brother. She loves experiencing all of their adventures, and I love the gentle lessons and sweet homeyness of Bear Country. I've chosen to roll my eyes at the criticism of some who shun the books based on Papa Bears doofy ways. Maya has enough books featuring terrific fathers, and has an amazingly involved, intelligent and decidedly un-doofy father herself, that I have no fears that one character is going to warp her view of the entire male gender. The Bears have a way of mixing life lessons and new experiences with a focus on love and helping others, and I love sharing those things with my daughter.
Another activity that I never tire of is spending time with her in the kitchen, baking cookies and cakes and other things that strike our fancy. And for my pregnant self - quite a bit is striking my fancy these days! Maya has developed a particular affinity for banana bread. A few months ago I had baked a couple of batches that we'd enjoy together in the morning, during our cuddle time on the couch after waking up. Last week, out of the blue, she asked me again, "Mama, you make banana bread for me please?" Well, who's gonna say 'no' to that? Not me! I promised her that there would be some waiting for her in the morning, and sure enough - the first sleepy words out of her mouth the next day were, "You make banana bread, Mama?" And had you seen the joyous smile on her face when I told her that yes, there was indeed a fresh loaf waiting for us in the kitchen...well, you would have understood why we went through that batch, as well as another one that I mixed up just a few days ago! To see Maya's happy munching and hear her exclaim with wonder, "Mama made banana bread...for ME!", well it just makes my heart sing!
I think when I really examine my feelings of guilt over what I don't do "enough" of as a Mama, it comes down to my fears that Maya will grow up lacking sweet experiences of toddlerhood and fond memories of this mother/daughter time that is bound to pass way too quickly. I don't do very well with the run-around-the-table game these days, and I can't maneuver around the park as easily right now without needing someone else along to help with the climbing and sliding. But those worries ease when I look at the beautiful things I look forward to doing every day with my girl. We have snuggling, we have our long talks, we have our beloved shopping trips and neighborhood walks. We have the Berenstain Bears and banana bread. And I hope, and trust, that those are all things that will fill her memory bank with sweetness and joy for as long as these two-year-old memories can last.