"Mom, can I just relax in the bathtub for a while? I've had a really tough day."
When she said it, my first instinct was to laugh, snort scoff ... what could my very protected and privileged six-year-old possibly know about a tough day?
But, I didn't laugh. I paused, just long enough to really consider what she had said. I watched her lean back against the side of the tub and close her eyes in an attempt to let the day start to wash away. She looked, well, a lot like I imagine that I look at the end of the day. As I thought more about what she had said, it dawned on me how similar my child's schedule, yes my CHILD, is just like my own.
She wakes up before 6:00 a.m. Every single day and rarely slows down until 8:00 p.m. Sure, her school day ends mid-afternoon, but she is immediately bussed to her after school program, where they're encouraged to do homework right away. They do have a short snack time, but does that really count as down time?
When I pick her up, there may be a bit of free time, but the evening routine basically kicks in right away...dinner, bath, homework. It's exhausting for me, as an adult that has the maturity and wisdom to process this busy trap we've woven for ourselves.
She sighed and opened her eyes, ready for me to wash her hair. It had only been a minute, but I could tell she knew it was a minute too long, a minute we didn't have. It took a lot for me to fight the instinct to hurry her through the process, but I tried to resist. I sat down onto the floor, off of my knees. I rested my chin on the edge of the tub and sighed right back at her.
"I had a long day, too." I told her. She touched my cheek with her wet, soapy hand and smiled up at me, and we sat in silence for just a few minutes. She swished the water around her, and I watched the calm wash over her face with every moment that passed without me saying, "hurry up."