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Wednesday, July 13, 2011

What I don't say about motherhood

About 5 weeks ago, I wrote a Pour Your Heart Out entry called "The downside of Facebook (or where did my social life go)." Many of you were sympathetic, saying you've encountered the same situations. Life settling into less than exciting social lives, the kids' schedules taking precedence over your own. But there was one commenter who left me thinking.

Lauren Michelle said, "I hear this a lot from parents, and it kind of makes me nervous about having kids. I really want kids, but I saw this same thing in my own family growing up and my parents only had one kid - me. I played softball, danced, cheered, did gymnastics, not to mention all the after-school activities I participated in...I don't know what they would've done if I'd had siblings.

I feel bad that parenting has become this thing that just wears you down and makes you a semblance of what you used to be...Maybe not everyone feels like that, but I see it a lot in my family and family friends. It makes me sad. I mean, I know that when you have kids you're supposed to do everything you can to make sure your children are having the best life possible, even if that means you get pushed back into the fray. I completely agree with children coming first, but it still makes me sad that parents tend to feel the way that you feel right now."

Lauren's comment really made me stop and think, so much that I'm still thinking about it 5 weeks later. What's made me keep coming back to the topic is not so much what Lauren had to say, but what I've had to say -- on this blog, on Facebook, in real life -- about parenthood.

Yes, being a parent is hard and it means putting myself and my needs aside sometimes (often). But it's more blessing than burden and Lauren's comment has made me look at myself and the way I talk about the privilege of being a mother.

Can people -- especially my kids -- tell by my words and by my actions that I feel so lucky to be a mom? Because I do.

I feel blessed
when one of my kids asks me if I'll snuggle up with them on the couch.

I feel lucky to be here to witness them learning new things, like riding a bike.

I swell with pride
when another adult tells me that they appreciate my child's good nature.

I am humbled
when one of my kids starts praying when an ambulance drives by, asks to go to church (that one doesn't happen very often), or in other ways show me that they are embracing the faith we're teaching.

I am grateful
for the silly and witty things they say that bring joy and laughter to our home every day.
Being a mom is hard work, yes. But it's a job I've never regretted signing up for. I'm going to try to do a better job of showing that -- to my kids and to others, even if that means I'm pouring my heart out.

For more PYHO posts, head over to Shell's place at Things I Can't Say.


Cyndy Bush said...

Very thought provoking post.
I think that many of us bloggers kind of assume that our audience is made up of other mothers, at least primarily. And because of that it almost goes without saying that we love them and wouldn't trade it for the world. But I can see how a non-parent would only see the negative, because she doesn't 'get' that underlying love & devotion.
But it is a good reminder to at least balance the complaints with good stuff! =)

Eileen said...

I put off having kids (not by much because God had other plans) because I thought I was too selfish, not ready to give up everything I perceived as "my life." Now I wouldn't have it any other way. I know my teenagers will be leaving me for their own adventures soon enough, so I do try to appreciate them every day.

Thanks for the reminder.

Evonne said...

Just because we complain about putting our kids' needs and wants before ours doesn't mean we don't love them and our lives. I can understand why non-parents would see it different.

Steph said...

I know I do more complaining than showing how much I do enjoy being with my kids. I think it's human nature to complain. But I feel that I really do need to start being more positive and less whiny!

Farah Jasmine said...

Parenting is exhausting. Motherhood is stressful. We tend to lose a bit of ourselves in the process, BUT by the prompting of my husband I'm working hard to find myself again and for becoming the woman I want to be. I don't want to the exhausted mom in the background with bags under her eyes and herself under her baggy worn out clothes. I admire the women that can keep it together and I will do the same so I can show my kids that I'm happy with me and I love them with all of my heart.

We'll see how I do.

Shell said...

This really makes me think. I complain more than I talk about the blessings of being a mom.

I think b/c it's what others do. And how it's easier to talk about my fails and crazy moments than to say things like "My 3 year old just gave me the sweetest little cuddle! I think he's the most precious little boy ever!" even though I think it... b/c that makes people gag.

But, maybe I need to find a better balance.

Maude Lynn said...

Wow! This one made me think.

Claudya Martinez said...

No regrets.

I think the comment was very thought-provoking and obviously from someone bright and observant.

I love that it stuck with you and inspired a whole other post.

My kids are super important to me, but I really make an effort not to put myself aside because I know that I am just as important and I am setting an example for them. If I'm happy, they will be happy. My youngest has a kidney specialist that she sees and when we first met him he gave us some advice or more so he gave my husband some advice. He said, "You think your first priority is your children, but it's not. Your first priority is your wife because if the mother is happy, the children will be happy." It made me start crying because he made me feel so appreciated and central because I am. I'm not saying any of this in a selfish manner or course I do what's in the best interest of all, but it is a reminder that taking care of me is in the best interest of all. I'm always reminded that on an airplane if the oxygen masks come down, you are supposed to put yours on first and then help your children.

Unknown said...

Great post! I bet my boys here my complaints more than they hear my praises. Ouch! I really need to work on that. This is the 2nd post tonight that has made me take a hard look in the mirror. Thank you. Motherhood is hard work! however, the blessings for outweigh the work. I hope they know that.

Anonymous said...

Wow, what a great post! I totally understand what you mean - I find myself telling a lot of "I was pulling my hair out!" stories.

I tell these stories, and I think you may too, because they are easy to relate to. Readers (and friends) don't want to hear "Oh, I find this parenting thing to be the easiest task in the world. I am never just ready for bedtime, it is all joy joy joy. Exhausted? Nope, never." Because then they feel like the WORST PARENTS IN THE WORLD.

Sometimes I find myself with my group of friends and we are all trying to top each other with "No, MY child is the craziest because..." stories (we also all sit around saying "No, MY body is the worst..." - but that is a whole other story).

Anyway, I hope you continue to tell the crazy stories - that way I know I am not alone.

OK, time to finish this LONG comment - my 3 year old just popped the balloon he made in camp yesterday and is hysterically crying on the floor... Poor little guy.

kjluedeka said...

My hubby and I run into this a lot with our 15 month old. We love her to death, but we have had to adjust a lot because of her. We have lost friendships that didn't understand, given up our 'afterschool activities' and readjusted our house. My hubby calls itthe new normal - sometimes I think it's his way of joking through the stress- but its true and worth it.
Thanks for reminding me to hug my little one again today

Also your kids are wonderful people- even when you're not around to see it at school :)

Erica Saint said...

Great post! You are a thoughtful, fun, and interesting mom and your kids take after you. Keep up the good work.

Sharon said...

Very thought provoking, indeed.
And beautiful.