I was having a conversation with a friend of mine a few weeks ago, and I asked him (never married, childless, single 30-something man who is, no, not my boyfriend) a question. "What makes a good mother?"
"One who sets herself aside in favor of her children" was his answer.
One who sets herself aside.
On one hand it's true. My needs become exponentially less important. I will throw myself in front of a bus to save my girls without a second thought. As would most of us mothers.
On the other hand, where is that line between "less important" and "not important"?
Immersing one's self in motherhood is part of the process. But there comes a point where the self is asserted again. For a long time I was happy with no interests of my own other than the things related to mothering. There was a time when the only books I read were child-rearing-related, where all my internet bookmarks had to do with slings, cloth diapers, and mothering.com. I can't say I was unhappy or unfulfilled that way. It wasn't a problem until the rock met the hard place.
Around the time I got divorced I swung the other way and all my interests had nothing whatsoever to do with my kids and everything to do with me me me.
I am aware that the drastic swing my life has taken, from one extreme to the other, has not been immediately beneficial to my kids or, really, to myself. But it had to be done. And for the first time in a year, I've been finding that balance between my needs and theirs. Or, trying to. Or, trying to undo the damage from the swinging. Or, becoming aware of the damage wrought and the need for balance. Or, or, or. You know what I mean.
I can't help but wonder, however, how I would have done things differently if I had known.
I am interested in your thoughts on this matter. Have you found a balance? How?