Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Hey Me, Hey Mama

 I think it's probably every mother's desire to be the perfect mom.  Maybe if not perfect (for those geniuses who go into it knowing that's not attainable) then at least be the best mom they can be.  So we spend the pregnant months reading everything we can get our hands on, deciding what our plans are for raising the perfect child as the perfect mother in our new perfect existence. Then the baby is born, and our plan becomes revised, but we try really hard to salvage as much of it as we can.  We work so hard on breastfeeding that there are actual wounds (sometimes with blood!) involved. We cloth diaper because it's the best thing for the environment, the best thing for baby, so clearly...it's the BEST.  We spend countless hours researching new blends of baby food, shopping for only organic produce, and then standing in the kitchen all day steaming and pureeing and scooping and freezing.  After $95 and seven hours, we stand proudly in front of the freezer admiring the twenty jars of baby food we just made that might last the week if we're lucky.  "I did this...my baby is going to love ALL vegetables and snack on cucumbers and crave only healthy food." Pleaaase... So worth it.  We spend triple the amount of normal household products on all-natural, chemical-free "safe" cleaning sprays and liquids, scrubbing the bathtub with pride, knowing our bathtub won't be setting the stage for cancer when our babies hit their 40's.  Our good night's sleep gets sacrificed so baby can get a good night's sleep on our chest. Because baby has a big day tomorrow and needs his rest.  Me? I just have work, and work doesn't matter.  We spend our lunch hours attached to a breast pump, reading magazines about babies, and planning fun things for the weekend that will keep baby happy and entertained (but also educated, because it's never too early, right?)  Our laundry sits in a corner unattended while we painstakingly fold each one-sie just so and place it lovingly on top of a perfect stack in a well organized drawer, because baby needs to look nice, and know the importance of organization.  The Fresh Beat Band plays through the car speakers because baby likes them, and the TV is a constant parade of goofy characters that make baby laugh (or think...or learn math).  And at the end of the day, after finally settling in with a good book you just added to your Kindle App, a very small someone sees the iPad in your hands and demands their turn, and you happily hand it over.  Because this is what perfect moms do.  Right? 
     I'm starting to second guess all of this.  Well, not all of it. My chemical-free house and the food I feed my kiddos is always going to be high on my list, but the way my kids have been the sun, and I the planet that revolves around them...a moonless planet, I should clarify, because no one is hovering around me, is starting to feel a little tiresome, and I'm not seeing the reward in it.  My kids aren't light years ahead of every kid on the planet, they aren't craving healthy foods and snacks, or brushing their teeth every day without a fight.  H still poops his pants about once a week and he's over three years old.  For all the effort I have given, and for all the sacrifices I have made, my kids are still perfectly imperfect, and while I would not change a single thing about them (except for maybe sleeping habits and cleanliness), I feel we could have achieved this level of happiness and contentment without me having to lose myself completely.  It's no one's fault but mine, so I'm not pointing any fingers.  But I really no longer believe that the key to successful parenting is for me to be in last place all the time.  
     How are my children supposed to benefit from never seeing their mom as a person and not just "mom".  Who is going to teach them how to seek out dreams and goals if I set all of mine aside?  How will they know what to look for in a wife, if the only thing I am to P is the other parent in the house?  When are they going to become interesting, thoughtful people who have intelligent conversations if no one in the house is talking about anything other than what's for dinner and who wants to go to the park?  I am their mother, first and foremost.  That isn't going to change.  But I'm not being the best version of myself if that's the only thing I am. 
     I am attempting, these last few months, to climb out of my mom shell and do things for myself.  It is a struggle, because it means sometimes, I have to choose to be away from my family and before, I just haven't seen that as ok.  It meant I wasn't making them a priority. I see now that I actually am making them a priority by taking time for myself, doing things without them that only I want to do.  I am bettering myself, and devoting time to me so that when I am in their presence, I can stay sane and happy.  It is not the easiest thing for me, I've been a closed-off person for as long as I can remember, and I am only, at best, on the outskirts of everyone else's groups of friends. But even walking into a party in which I don't have a BFF waiting for me to make it all comfortable and easy is a big step for me.  I am reading books again, and going for runs, and taking up things that have nothing to do with my family, like the Susan G Komen 3 Day, and Plexus.  It's a start. There are other areas of my life that need desperate attention as well, but that's for another day. 
     My goal is to be able to look at myself honestly one day soon, and not see myself as the helicopter mom.  I want H to run over to a group of friends and forget all about me without me having to walk him over there and do the talking for him for the first five minutes.  I want my boys to play on the playground together while I just watch and enjoy their giggles instead of navigating jungle gyms one step behind them, trying to prevent every bump and bruise.  I want D to fall asleep in his bed, by himself, instead of having to look up every few minutes just to make sure one of us is still standing there.  I want them to need me and they will for a long time, but I want them figure things out for themselves when they can, and really experience all the scrapes and cuts and freedoms and carelessness of being a child.  I hope they can see me as more than just their mother someday, to know who I really am, and see the parts of me that existed long before they came along, because I was someone before them.  They may be the turning point in my life, but I was definitely not worthless before they came along, and in order to do that, I have to give my old self a voice again and find a way to balance being her, with the added role of being a (perfect) mom.  Just kidding about the perfect part ;) 

1 comment:

  1. I can feel ya on it being hard to just go do something for yourself. It's just not as fun anymore lol. I don't helicopter over Lily, but I still make sure she eats good and gets outside a couple times a day. And teach her some things. Then I'm bored. Honestly, I've got separation issues from my husband now because things are more fun when he's around. We do stuff together a lot or just talk and hang out. Being home, no car (appointments are NOT fun), no bike/no park that's an easy trip, live in the sticks, he works in the city,and no interest in most anything. I wish we could just do woodwork together all the time and work on our fish business. Someday we may very well get to do that :) I believe in God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit but I still struggle.