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I Thought I Had Needy Kids. Maybe It Was Me All Along

When the kids were little and I worked part-time, I rushed home to see them, smell them, read with them, bathe them—all of it. I needed it (even though I told myself they needed it). They were so happy to see me—Mommy!!! Big kisses, hugs, snuggles—the whole thing. Yum. I could never tire of this.

Fast forward 10 years, and there were two in high school and one in middle school. At that point, I was working from home a lot. Strike that—working a lot, mostly from home. I tried desperately to schedule outside meetings during the school day, so I could be home for the kids—even if it meant sitting at the kitchen table working.

Most days I was in a full sweat, having rushed to get home before the kids arrived.

On one particular day, I slipped in from the garage 30 seconds before the onslaught of kids. Not even a minute to appreciate the quiet state of the house.

The first one came home, dropped his backpack, and headed to the family room to turn on the television. I was working in the kitchen—didn’t he see me?  Clearly, I was wearing the Harry Potter invisibility cloak. Weird, I didn’t even remember putting that on. Hey to you, too, I muttered under my breath.

Next one came in, dropped his backpack, and headed to the piano. This one definitely had to see me; in fact he maybe have even bumped my chair when he walked past me to get to the piano. Yeah, these kids were really crying out for my love and attention.

Kid #3 entered the house. I gave her my best sad puppy-dog face. Taunting her to acknowledge me, hug me, ask me how my day was. She could feel my stare. Nothing.

“How was your day?” I offered meekly.

“You’re so needy,” she replied. Gotta love the gene pool smirking back at me.


“Just wanted to check in—was your day okay?”

“Why do you always ask that?” She seemed annoyed.

“’Cause I care?” It was definitely a question—not a question of whether I cared, but of why I bothered to ask.

“Fine. Are the boys home?”

“I think so.” I didn’t want to appear needy.

“How do you not know if they are home?” Instead I appeared stupid—so much better.

“Yeah, I think I heard them come in a bit ago.” I’d show her who’s needy. Not me.

With that, she exited the room.

Truly so glad I killed myself to get home, I sat at the table for the next 30 minutes, catching up on email that hadn’t been checked since the wee hours of the a.m.

Why do I do this to myself? They don’t care whether I’m here.

Child #1 entered the kitchen—he had decompressed and began foraging for a snack.

“How was your day, Mom?” the headless body asked as he leaned into the refrigerator.

I looked up, feigning surprise.

“Who, me? Yeah, it was good. Busy, but good. How was yours, Cook?” (I’m still holding onto his nickname from long ago.)

Then Kids #2 and #3 showed up—and just like that, we were all together at the kitchen table, snacking, doing homework, taking jabs at each other.

It was noisy, messy, smelly, and frantic. Just how I liked it. Who could tire of this? The “Mommy!” days are over, but I need this, too.

Stephanie Schaeffer Silverman is publisher of Your Teen Magazine.

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