Saturday, March 22, 2014

Overcoming the Sludge of Mothering

                Recently I found myself in the sludge of mothering.  I was waking up, getting the kids off to school, playing with the little ones, making snacks, doing crafts, reading books and repeat.  But I wasn’t feeling it.  I was doing it out of obligation rather than desire.  Don’t get me wrong, I love my children.  They are my life.  I am a bit lost when they aren’t around.  And that is when I realized my problem.  I was starting to give up on my dreams.

                You know those moments when you are trying to accomplish something or reach a goal and you are continually interrupted?  Well, my life was becoming a series of interruptions.  And I felt bad about that. I felt bad that I looked at my children as interrupting.  I wasn’t irritated with them for interrupting. I would just help them with what they needed and try to get back to what I was doing.  But eventually I stopped trying to get back to what I was doing.  “What’s the use?” I thought, “They are just going to need something else.  This project will take months or years longer than I want it to.”  So, I didn’t have goals like I needed.  I would work on writing a bit, but that was it.  I did my morning 20 minute exercises and would shower, but get back into clean comfy clothes after.  When my son came home from school one day and I was dressed in “real” clothes, he was surprised and said I looked really nice.  I was shocked because I didn’t consider myself frumpy, but I was becoming lazy when it came to myself. 

                I hadn’t been out by myself in a long time. I partially blame the winter, because it is really hard to stay motivated when it is -30 degrees.  It is hard to want to get dressed because it is really cold!!  Instead I would just do what the kids wanted to do every day.  And I found myself resenting mothering because I wasn’t an individual anymore. I had made it so I was losing myself in mothering, but losing my identity.  When my mom came out, I asked her how she managed to sew and read with all the other responsibilities.  And she said, “I just didn’t do the important things.”  That made me think.  What things had I been forgetting to do because I was so caught up in the day to day tasks?  Because my routine had become my life and I had forgotten that spontaneity and surprises were good things. 

                Blake took over the kids for most of today so I could get out and focus a bit.  It has been heavenly. I went to the library and wrote.  I went to Panera and had broccoli cheese soup and finished The Bridges of Madison County.  I will probably go walk around a few stores and get a treat.  Just because I can.  Because I am alone.  After I finished at the library, I was missing the family and was thinking of going home, but I couldn’t.  I knew that I would have little time for myself this week and wanted to be fully recharged. 

                I also realized that I have used my kids as excuses to not do things.  We can’t go camping until the kids are older.  Shopping is a nightmare.  Bedtime has to be right on or they are grumpy the next day. Trying to paint or sew or complete a project is near impossible.  But it isn’t completely impossible.  I am going to involve my kids more in what I am doing.  I am good at having them help cook and clean with me.  But if I need to write, I am going to get them paper and crayons to write with.  If I want to read, I am going to have books ready for them to read.  If I want to sew, Brooke can push the foot down (until my patience runs out).  Ever since I have become a mom, I have struggled with this. I have struggled with leading my life and also letting the kids lead their own lives. If I wasn’t playing and interacting with them all the time, I felt guilty.  I felt like I should do more, because time moves so quickly.  I felt like I would miss important things if we were doing things together all the time.  But the more I work on this, the more I see that my kids will always come to me.  They will always need me.  They will always want to play a game or read or wrestle with me.  But they also need to be their own selves.  They don’t need me trying to hang out with them all the time in an effort to suck up every possible moment.  Because as I am trying to suck up every moment, I am losing my own moments. I am losing the times when I can have a few minutes of respite. 

                We will continue to do quiet time in the afternoon, because goodness knows, we need it!  But maybe the schedule will be less rigid because I won’t be desperate for quiet time because I have spent too much time on the kid activities.  Maybe our times together will be more special because I will take them as they come instead of trying to fill every second of every day with productive activities that we can do together.  I have grown to love mothering. I feel like a mom. I feel like I know a lot of answers about mothering.  But for once, I am going to find out how I can mother the kids and mother myself.  And I hope that I can find a balance. If not a balance, then at least a mutual understanding.



Kristin Smith said...

Love your post, Heather! It is so true. Sometimes as mothers we give so much of ourselves and don't take the time to "be ourselves".

I recently came to the same realization you did. The kids will always need us, but it is okay to do things that will fulfill an inner desire. It's okay to be a mother and follow "our" dreams. For me, when I am working on something I love (writing), I am so much happier and I find myself being a better mother.

I love that your husband let you have some "alone" time. We all need it. I wish I got more of it!! :)

Also, have you heard about the A to Z blogging challenge for April? You might enjoy it. You can check out my blog for more info if you want. :)

Jon and Laura said...

I'm not one to comment much on blogs- but I just want to you to know how much that post resonated with me! You articulated so well the transition I've been making in my motherhood. I have 3 boys- 6, 4, and 1 1/2.

I was one who dreamed of being a mother and embraced it whole heartedly, but also really struggled with the question "What does a good mom do?" I constantly struggled with doubting myself, and my first little boy was a very high- maintenance baby and toddler. I am a mom that spends quite a bit of time with my children- I try to spend "special" individual time with each of them daily because it's the way I feel connected with each of them. Yet if there has been one huge struggle of motherhood, it's that I can't get my kids to play on their own for very long. I love that they love time with mom, but mom is feeling a bit smothered, and they need to learn to play independently for a longer amount of time.

Your comment about balance is awesome, and I've realized recently that every time I start engaging in something I want to do, after a certain amount of interruptions my patience is GONE. I get frustrated, and it almost feels like the price is too high. So what do I do- spend more time playing, more time cleaning- and completely neglect me- because it's just too hard.

I have recently come to a realization that for my santity, it's now at the point that it's IMPERATIVE for both me and my boys to learn how to give me some time to work on my dreams. I started writing music for the first time this month. It's EXHILARATING to create again. And yet difficult, because interruptions are a part of my life right now.

Being a mom is such a journey- and I feel like I'm taking my next step. Thank you for expressing what is in my heart.

Heather said...

Jon and Laura!
Well, I know am happy you were able to feel understood through my writing. I think part of mothering is admitting that it has turned out differently than we expected. And that isn't a bad thing. My kids were 4, 1, and newborn. I was drowning. Now they are 9, 6, 4 and 2. I still feel like I am drowning but in a different way. I have some helpers and they are more conversational. But it's new problems,I guess? I still struggle with doing things while they are around. I have to remind myself of my post all the time.I am happy I wrote it down in a time of inspiration because when I am feeling extremely uninspired, I am reminded. Congratulations on your composing! That is amazing. One step at a time. And the fact that you are pushing forward and trying says so much about you as a mother. When I am feeling realy frustrated with a situation I think, I will never regret playing with the kids, even if it takes away from my other projects. I hope this gets to you! You don't have an info on your profile!


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