What is there to say about mothering that hasn’t been said before? I’m not sure. I can only offer my perspective and interpretation of what I’ve experienced so far, so bear with me. This may not look pretty, but it’s as honest as I can get.
I think mothering (parenting) is the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life. It’s completely exhausting. I am so, so, so tired. Both mentally and physically. See, I’m a selfish person when it comes to my time. I really enjoy doing the things I want to do. I’m not particularly interested in baby stuff, kids shows or silly games. I’m not really a fan of kids in general. They’re annoying. Yeah, I said it. It’s true. I never even wanted children until I met my Jim. The idea, to me, was a nightmare.
Having said all that, I like my kids. I love my kids. My kids are awesome. Why? Because they’re mine. They’re little pieces of me and Jim, screaming, running, and wreaking havoc on all of God’s creation. They’re still a lot of work. I often think “Why didn’t anyone warn us about how much work kids are?!” Oh… they did. But until you have a child of your own, you can never truly grasp what it is they’re talking about.
Having a kid is a non-stop, never ending, 24/7/365, all consuming job. They want all your attention and they want it NOW. Being the simple human that I am, I tend to get frustrated with this situation. Sometimes, when one of my girls is acting insane, I’ll look at them and think “You don’t think I have other things to do?”. Of course, this reasoning is completely lost on them. Of course they don’t care. A child lives in a self centered world. How can you blame them? They’ve literally had someone waiting on them hand and foot their entire existence because they’re pretty helpless if left to their own devices. (Although a slice of cheese and an episode of Yo Gabba Gabba can do wonders!)
See, I understand this about children. I know it’s not their fault. But just because I’m 32 doesn’t mean that I’ve stopped needing attention of my own and time to get the things in life that I want, as well. And you know what? I deserve that time. What is it about peoples expectations of mothers? Why does having a child mean that we are sentenced to a lifetime of servitude and selflessness? It’s as if we’re expected to abandoned any personal pleasures to ensure that our children are made to feel like the center of the universe (and that somehow is supposed to help our children thrive?).
I just don’t subscribe to this school of thought. You know, as much as I have complained and made my mother feel guilty about putting work and church above me and my brother as children (I’m sure my perception is mildly skewed), in a lot of ways, it was a grounding experience. Children shouldn’t be made to feel like they’re the center of the universe. In turn, they should be made to feel loved above all, but also know that the world does not stop for every whim and want they have. Children need alone time just like adults do. They need to learn how to manage themselves. They need coping skills.
I feel like so many children are bubble wrapped. Parents go to extreme measures to make sure they never feel isolation, heartbreak, sadness and disappointment. Of course, no parent wants their child to have to go through those things… but that’s part of being a alive. That's part of the human experience. We have to let these experience wash over them at some point if they’re to have any chance of being resilient human beings.
I said all of that to bring you back to the point I’m trying to make. It’s ok to ignore your kids sometimes. It’s ok to multitask. It’s ok to take a day for yourself. It’s ok to tell them to leave you alone when you need to be left alone! As a mother of two small children, I know that now is the time to set those standards in place. They need to know that Mommy needs time to do the things she has to do and that requires them using their own coping skills to entertain themselves and learn to be alone in a room (I’m in the next room over) while I accomplish my tasks. I am not trying to raise a generation of dependent people, folks! I am striving to raise two independent, courageous and fearless girls. I want to feel confident that when they leave me that they can figure things out on their own, take risks, make bold moves and still have the desire to call home. I want them to know I’ll always be here for them as a safety net but be so driven that they won’t feel the need to rely on that.
And as for me… just because I’ve had two children doesn’t mean my goals and my ambitions have died. If anything, they’ve grown bigger and evolved into something grander out of changes in my circumstances. I’m having to learn how to adapt to being a mother and taming my desire to work 24/7. I miss the days of being able to put 14-18 hours into my work life. I absolutely love the career path I have chosen and having to dampen the fire a bit to balance our home life with work life has been quite a difficult adjustment. It’s been quite a battle, to be completely honest. During our cross country moves and 3 solid years of pregnancies and newborns, I became resentful. I wasn’t able to work in any capacity that I wanted and almost gave up on it completely (I’m very “all or nothing”).
What caused me to jump back in and what’s been the fire burning under my ass? Well, I want my girls to know that life doesn’t end at having children. I want them to be proud of me. I want to lead by example. I’m not perfect… not by a longshot. Mothering may not be the thing I’m best at, but what kind of mother would I be if I taught them to give up on their dreams just because reaching them is difficult and faced with challenges?
In a way, allowing myself to be selfish and take the time to accomplish my goals is one of the best things I can do for them. I know, even though I gave her hell for it, that my mothers hard work and drive for success has always been one of the things that I admire the most about her. Maybe I can give that to my girls.