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Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Comments

Lilian

Wow, that's a deeeep question. I don't think I've found the balance although at first look one might think that I live every minute of my life for these boys. I don't, though. And for me, the "me" time has been pretty much virtual (through blogging and blog reading) in the past three years. Well... either that or time spent writing the dissertation which should not count as "me" time, but which is time I spent alone working at the computer.

I guess that when our children's needs are so overwhelmingly great that we basically have to live for them we kind of forget about our needs for a while... I don't know.

Oh well, I really don't know what else to say except that this is a really complex question that I often ask myself. My six year old sometimes complains that I don't play with them like daddy does and he's right! I live too much in my head, I'm always reading blogs or a book... almost always self-absorbed and I do not spend much quality time with them (if any) even when I spend most hours of the day with them...

Jenna

Hey there Kateri,
This is Jenna as in the Jenna of Legend & the Fran Campbell fame...
I had many thoughts strike me upon reading the above.
I am a co-sleeping, cloth diapering, baby slinger who enjoys mothering magazine and practices attachment parenting with vim & vigor. I feel like I give of myself in ways that I never imagined that I would, or hell, even thought that I could. But the one thing I have realized with all this constant mothering, is that I HAVE to feed my soul, I need time which is mine in order to do the things which fill me up...whether its dancing, skating, carousing, writing poetry or sewing, I need that time to refuel so that in turn I can give back to them. & by filling my cup, I set the example to show them how important in this life it is to follow our hearts and interests whatever they may be because those things do fulfill us and I try and share my interests with them when it is appropriate....
It occurred to me also the Myth of the Perfect Mother...that portrait of the giving & selfless woman...which is unfair and wholly unrealistic...
I think of my mother and what she went through and how she dealt ....her divorce, her crazy years...& I can understand...I am so forgiving of her because she showed me what it was to be a human parent she showed me her struggles and I thank her for that, I gained so much wisdom and understanding b/c she was so real with me....
I hope that all makes sense.
By the way,
I really enjoy your blog and so hope to meet you soon!
Take care.

Lisa V

I don't know if I have found balance. Like you, I notice when I work on something of my own (work, school) really intently, my kids take more of a back seat.

It's hard because I have four of them too. So maybe I have one kid on my mind or drawing my attention and the others get moved to a less pressing part of my life.

I think the only way to really find balance is to pay attention. I don't do it enough. If I am "present" to my children's lives as much as my own, then I will have balance. I haven't done it long term yet.

Andrea

I know what you're talking about. It was 18 months after Frances was born before I finally began to feel like parts of my self were reasserting themselves--like I actually cared about my own wants and needs again. Before then, I sincerely didn't, I hardly even recognized myself.

Frances is definitely taking more of a backseat now that I am trying to figure out this whole being-single thing again. And it is a struggle to find the balance--to meet her needs without losing myself again, which I can't afford to do right now--I don't think I've managed it yet.

Jul

Ooof. I really... really... REALLY hate that definition. Mothering is such an important part of a woman's life, her identity... but to base that part wholly on self-sacrifice? That's kind of horrifying.

You're right - it IS all about balance. J.Q. is part of my life - but he's not my whole life. Just because I'd jump in front of a truck for him doesn't mean I'm going to actively court that scenario.... and just because I COULD and WOULD give up my entire identity to foster his doesn't mean I'll give up any more than I absolutely have to. In my mind, as long as a kid can generally view their parent as a safe haven - a place of warmth, comfort, stability, guidance - not much else really matters.

jesspond

Hmmmm...balance? You mean there's something other than diapers and laundry and babies babies babies?? LOL!

No, but right now for me I'm pretty immersed in the kids. But with a 10 month old and a 4 month old, I think you'll have that. Plus, I'm a SAHM who lives out in the middle of BFE, so I mean...you know...what else is there?

I'm happy, though, at least for now. I tried hard to get these babies here, and now that they're here, I'm content to just be Mom for a while. Hubby and I still go out (though mostly we take the babies) and shop and do that sort of thing. I'm still involved in VBS and the youth group and the church ladies' group....so I guess I have other interests, too, they're just all sort of "family" interests, you know?

I do worry...when these babies (or the last baby if we ever get lucky enough to have another) leave for school...what will I DO with my days??

suz

Okay, similar to you, I surrendered a child to adoption, am recently divorced and parenting my boys. So I could relate to alot of your post.

For me, it is literally a daily struggle. I do agree that our children are important, and we set ourself aside to AN EXTENT for I also believe teach our children how to value themselves by how much we value ourself. This may be a bit more important to me if I was parenting my daughter and I would be even more of a role model.

I am parenting sons.

Even still, I learned from my own mother that she meant nothing and we meant everthing. This lead to ber being very neglected by everyone - including herself. It also lead to me believing I meant nothing and owed people everything (even my first born chil). BAD, BAD lesson.

For me, one helper to my balance is that my ex and I have a shared parenting plan. This means I get 3.5 days alone every week. When I have the kids, I am dedicated to them, when I dont, I am doing my own thing.

FireMom

I'm currently working on that balance. It's hard with one who is breastfed on demand and one who is potty training and general craziness. But I'm working on it. I'm not there yet. Hope to be sometime soon.

Celeste

Excellent comments here and I agree with them all.

I think you have to be careful with asking other people what makes a good mother. It seems to boil down to being like "The Giving Tree" or "Rainbow Fish" to them--give til you're gone, give til it hurts.

Is this really all that different from wedding vows that promise that two will become one? It's just not possible without some loss there.

Either scenario presumes that it's right and good for a woman to throw herself on the altar for the good of others and be consumed. Can anybody ever really be grateful enough for that? And is it even necessary--for real? The odds of you having to throw yourself under the bus for the kids...that is just so unlikely. And how is it supposed to give our daughters any kind of good or hopeful feeling about their own future to believe that this is expected of them at some point?

It's hard when they're little but IT WILL NOT LAST. I'm in a quilt guild and many, many of my friends are waaaay older than me. When I've remarked on how they never miss an event, they say things about how good it is not to be ALONE for a while. If you make your kids your whole existence, when they walk out that door someday they'll take your life with them.

Sometimes I think balance is just another unrealistic ideal we saddle ourselves with.

One of my friends told me something that I always come back to: there is no way to be a perfect mother, but there are LOTS of ways to be a good mother.

It's been a long winter, hasn't it!

Emily

I think that true balance is difficult to achieve, because you have to shift to meet the needs of our little tyrants progeny, and they don't know yet how to give and take.

I lost a lot of myself in the cycle of parenting, PPD, divorce, moving - and some of the things lost I'm better without.

I'm still learning how to be "good ENOUGH"

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