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Are You a Mr. Potato Head Mom?

Sarah Preston Gorenstein

Preston’s the center of my universe—probably because he IS my universe. With no other kids to divert my attention, he gets all of it. I’m a get-on-the-floor, Mr. Potato Head Mom. Lately my hours at work have been killer, spending 50-60 hours a week at the office, so of course I spoil him with copious amounts of attention when I’m home. He says “Mom!” I say, “How high?”

It’s not just the working-mom guilt; it’s the infertility guilt. Though he’s pretty independent, he loves a playmate, and I’ve always been his go-to girl. Plus, since I work so much, I have a very hard time justifying doing anything without him, or allowing myself any “me time.” It’s probably not the healthiest thing for me, or my relationships, but it feels like the right thing for him.

The irony in all of this is I used to go out for a living, as a nightlife columnist and professional party girl. Now I’m such a master homebody, I need a new name for it. I choose to spend every available minute I have with my son, even if that means missing nights out with my friends. This might be hard for some people to understand, but working full time plus not knowing if I’ll have more children makes it hard for me to do anything that doesn’t involve him—every moment of his life is that much more precious. Weekends are spent together as a family, whether that means going to Michigan, running errands or seeing Preston’s grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins. Weeknights are spent at home, playing Mr. Potato Head.

“Mommy, will you play with me?” is the first question he asks when I walk in the door after a 10-hour workday, and no matter how tired I am, I rarely say no. He’s not the kid that’s asking for new toys. He’s not asking for much of anything. He just wants to play with his mommy, and—unless I have more work to do at night—I almost always oblige. He chases me around the house while I ride on his Plasma car; we color together; he cooks me pretend dinner; we read books; do puzzles; shoot hoops; play catch; whatever he wants. I often wonder what it would be like if he had a sibling to play with…would he still want his Mommy?

He recently told my husband that I was his “best friend”—Barkely (our dog) is apparently my husband’s best friend, according to Preston. Glad we got that straight.

Are you your child’s regular playmate? Do you ever feel bad that he or she doesn’t have a sibling to play with? Between the working-mom guilt and the infertility guilt, I don’t know how I’ll ever squeeze in some guilt-free “me time,” but I appreciate every second we get to spend together. And I realize the sad reality is, I may never get to do this again. So I’ll gladly play Mr. Potato Head with him as long as he wants me to…

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