Inspired by a post by the awesomely inspirational Leonie Dawson (thanks to another super-inspirational woman, Maru Iabichela, for pointing it out to me).
Motherhood. What an enormous all-encompasing vocation. The down and dirty parts of motherhood last only a few short years but holy shit does it feel like FOREVER!
To be perfectly honest with you, I didn't necessarily want to have children. At least not at the time that I was planning my life in college. I wanted a career. Kids weren't really my thing even as a teenager. I babysitted and the kids loved me! Not sure why. I'm the oldest of all my cousins by at least 5 years and those I was closest to loved to be around me. Not sure why. I admit, I had to really fuck with one of them when I was a kid because she cried over fucking EVERYTHING and was such a drama queen I just had to push her buttons. Just being honest.
So when I met the father of my children, even though in hindsight I would have made different choices, I couldn't believe it when I felt like I wanted to have children with him! I wouldn't change having my children for a gagillion dollars. Marrying him I would have changed but that is a story for another time.
When I got pregnant I started envisioning all those fairy tale days with my daughter. Picnics in the park, playing together, all fucking butterflies and rainbows. When we took her home I was wondering where the instructions were. How was I supposed to do this?! She woke up about every two to three hours during the night, she spit up almost every time she ate, she ate very little at a time. God forbid if she had to shit when she ate because she thought that was the worst thing on the planet and would cry, shit and puke at the same time. She took exactly two, thirty-minute naps per day. One in the morning and one in the afternoon. It was like she had a little alarm clock inside her. Thirty minutes and done. I was tired. I drank shit-tons of coffee.
She was addicted to the evil swing. When we were somewhere that the swing wasn't and she started to freak out for no apparent reason and no soothing of any kind would work, we would swing her between our legs in her carrier.
She would freak out in the truck too. I had an extra cab Toyota pick up at the time so the back seat was close enough that I could feed her a bottle while driving. Probably not the best thing but when a baby is freaking out you just want to do something to make her stop crying. If I stopped the vehicle she would cry. I used to come to not-so-slow rolling stops at stop signs and pray for lights to stay green. I remember my nerves being frazzled.
She always wanted me in her sight. I had one of those vibrating seat things that she seemed to like almost as much as the swing. So I would put her in that and bring her in the bathroom with me when I showered and kept playing peek-a-boo from behind the curtain so she wouldn't cry. In hindsight I may have been an enabler. But again, no instructions came with the baby.
She got older, but still wanted to see where I was at all times. I tried to occupy her with something so I could sneak away to take a shit by myself! Nothing like shitting under pressure! Hurry up before she finds out I'm not there! It often didn't work. She noticed and came to find me.
When she was four I had my son. I was preparing myself for a re-do. We decided, for a few reasons, that I would stay home with our kids. Staying home and being with them pretty much 24/7 is a harder job than anyone who hasn't done it can imagine.
My son as it turns out, was a fantastic sleeper. He only woke up a couple times during the night and took fabulous naps during the day. I think I even woke him up sometimes to make sure he would sleep at night.
The little issues with him didn't really start until he was mobile. To be honest I never encouraged him to walk. I scolded his father when he tried to encourage him to take those first steps. I knew he would learn soon enough. And he did.
Even before he learned to walk he managed to get in trouble just crawling. When he disappeared you went to look for him quickly. We replaced a toilet twice because he put things down there that were unretrievable. I was cleaning the house one day, and it was a big house, I was moving from the back to the front starting in my bedroom. Cleaned top to bottom and moved to the next room. Where's Alex?
Go back to my room and his little hands are in the plant pot and he's throwing potting soil around the room. GRRRRRRR.
I'm still not sure if I've managed to shit or shower alone at this point. Probably not.
I got frustrated. I wanted to run away. I wanted my life before kids back. I used to be creative, I had dreams of career success, I wanted to be somebody, not just a mom. Yes, at a time I certainly did think "just" a mom. I felt guilt about these feelings. Other moms seemed to adore being mothers. It was what they always wanted. They coddled their kids, had the patience of saints, and were all about the "mommy" stuff. They may have been really good actresses.
I wanted more. I wanted to be me; to have my own identity. Not be known as Mackenzie and Alex's mom but as Cherrise, that chick that does "XYZ".
Some women (and men) think that being a mom should "be enough" and for some women maybe it is - maybe.
Personally I don't think that we need to lose our identies, desires, and authentic feelings just because we are mothers. Who said that should be the end of the road? Become a mother and that's it?
Because then what?! Who are you when your children are grown and creating their own lives? If you have lost touch with yourself, you won't know. You won't know what to do or who to be. You will be lost and trying to rediscover the woman you were at a point in your life before you became a mother.
Let me tell you right now, if you are a mom with young children and feel like you have had enough at times, like you NEED to have alone time, like you just can't stand to watch another kids' show again for the millionth time (boy can they watch shit over and over and over again!), like you need to just take a shit alone without planning a whole strategy to get out of sight long enough to do so, YOU ARE NOT ALONE! It is ok to want to go to the grocery store by yourself and to want to just sit alone, undisturbed, at a coffee shop reading a good book and sipping on your fav coffee or tea.
Hell, they have Happy Hour for a reason!
Stop feeling guilty for wanting to be an independant you! You absolutely CAN have what you want NOW! Even if it's just a small pocket of time to build upon a dream, you can create this in your life. You can feel what you feel. It is absolutely ok and I totally give you permission to honestly feel all your emotions.
Being a mother is the greatest gift in the world. I can't imagine not being a mom and I wouldn't trade it for anything. Now that my kids are older and I'm past that time in my life I totally wish someone was there to tell me then, in those guilty moments when I wished I wasn't a mom and had my life back, that it was ok to feel that way and millions of other women felt the same.
We should NEVER be guilted into feeling that we are not good mothers if we have these feelings. We are human! We are women with dreams and big visions for our lives!
And you know what? Your family benefits from you being the best version of yourself that you can be. You can give more and more fully if you are happy and feel valued and honestly see and feel self-worthy. If you have your own identity separate from being someone's mom, you feel better, happier, and that you are truly contributing in life.
I know some people out there will say that being a mother is contributing, that it is the most important "job" in the world, and that you should cherish every moment of motherhood. Well, somewhat true.
Actually this past week I spoke briefly with a mom who was there for her son's practice. She was watching over two little girls of about three years old. They were both up and down the bleachers, all over the place and getting close to other people sitting and waiting for practice to end. Their mom kept telling them to stop and not get too close, etc., etc. over and over again. I told her I'm so glad I'm not at that stage with my kids anymore. And that yes, before she knows it she'll be past it too.
She said, with what I think was a slight measure of trying not to sound like a bad mom, "I'm sure I'll miss this stage when it passes." I flat out told her "No you won't. Don't kid yourself. You'll be totally thrilled when this is over. There will be other phases to deal with and you won't miss one moment of this part." She laughed.
Quit apologizing for not liking parts of motherhood.
First and foremost you are an independant woman. You were a "you" before you became a "mom". Be the best you AND the best mom by acknowledging how you feel and being honest with those you love. You know what? If you don't speak up people around you don't know how you are truly feeling. If you need space ask for it. Explain where you are and how you are feeling. Know that there are more women than you can even imagine who are out there feeling the same thing as you. Believe me!
In the wise words of one of my favorite authors, "Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind." one of the wisest men I grew up with, Dr. Seuss