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.