Take Time for You. Ish.

This evening was a monumental event in my life, marking another finger on the one hand that can count how many times I’ve left the house and gone to something without ALL THE KIDS.

Between cost, cost, cost, and cost; I just haven’t been able to justify a lot of me time. Like, ever.

And, despite what I said about going without kids, I actually went with two of them. They’re older now, so it’s almost like a date. -Though not in a weird way.

But see? That’s the problem. I have a lot of Mom Guilt about anything I do. If I do something, it needs to not cost a lot. It needs to not traumatize the kids. It needs to be with my husband. It needs to, in short, be worth more than the anxiety of all those worries.

So, when I finally get out, I most often choose an event that is free and/or one to which the offspring may also come. I pat myself on the back for culturally enlightening them, even though I had to hiss at them to Get back in your seat and Stop poking each other and For the love of everything holy will you please stop making noise??

Today, then, is the advice that I am not so great at following:

Seriously, go to something with just you.

Seriously.

At least once a year, okay?

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Photo Credit:
chuttersnap

 

©2019 Chelsea Owens

Selfish Selflessness

Being a mother is like being between a rock and a hard place, especially if the rock is a petrified piece of carpet food and the hard place is the mother of all Lego bricks.

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We live a daily life of conflicting messages:

Cuddle your child but don’t smother him.

Teach your children to stick up for themselves but to be kind.

Help them understand that feelings and emotions are healthy, yet don’t psychologically screw them up by being anything but upbeat.

Know where they are so they don’t get mugged; why are you such a helicopter parent?

Spread out the responsibility of the chores but do not demand too much of your offspring.

Maintain a schedule but be a fun mom.

Put the husband, children, house, pets, and community as the first priority; make sure you spend time on you.

We feel the need to be selfless -no!- we are forced into selflessness that very instant the baby is out and cannot even live without minute-by-minute care. The bond of servitude begins forming as the baby does, but is shackled in place upon his birth.

Whether a mother is a good mother or not; she is, henceforth and forever, tied to another soul.

This arrangement wouldn’t be so bad if we were more like other mammals. Horses are full-grown by about age four. The blue whale comes in a bit longer at 10 years old.

We’re not going to talk about the elephants ’cause they have it worse than we do.

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The point is that we maintain this forever selfless connection up till our child is grown and out of the nest. Even then, we stick around to help move furniture or post bail. Understandably, mothers are not able to be more selfish. If we are, we feel guilty for it.

What if your insecure teenage daughter runs away while you’re at a party with adult friends? What if you let your son ride his bike to the theater, only to learn that he crashed and is calling you from the hospital? What if a nosy neighbor calls Child Protective Services because your escaping toddler made it down the block to the park again? And, what if your husband cheats on you with his younger, more fun, unattached coworker while you were swimming in this selfless bubble he helped place you in?

See what I mean? Rock and hard place. They’re not some sort of yin-yang thing, you know.

I wish I had an easy answer for anyone feeling this way, but I don’t. I’ve been able to spend more time on me this past year, but that is primarily due to my children growing older and us having enough money to try counseling services and emotional doctoring.

do have practical steps you can take; the ones I’ve tried for the last two years:

  1. First, I joined a young mother’s group at a local Christian church. They referenced some religious topics but mostly strove to be somewhere for moms to go and be supported.
  2. I also started personal counseling. Not far into it, I started marital counseling with my husband. Both have been vital.
  3. I looked into a few emotional health concerns by trying hormones. A regular doctor advised against continuing with some, but what I learned about vitamins and hormone balance was useful.
  4. Every day for nearly 9 months, I exercised.
  5. I made appointments with people for specific days we would go out to lunch. Sometimes I paid and sometimes they did.
  6. I visited a real, live person at least once a week.
  7. I started a blog, and wrote every day. I started a second blog to discuss what was bugging me (you are reading it).
  8. Through what we’ve learned in counseling, I have asked for what I need and tried not to feel guilty taking it. My husband has toned down his disapproving looks and stepped right up when I ask.
  9. I’ve made life goals and told myself I will achieve them.
  10. I’ve made a list of ten things I did to help combat the impotent feelings of motherhood.

If you are feeling trapped between carpet food and Lego-hood, don’t give up. Things really do get better, as cliché as that sounds. Try my list or make your own. If you can do nothing else, I encourage anyone and everyone to find a good counselor and do what s/he says.

Get out of your rut and take control of the direction of your life, and I will too.

 

Photo Credit:
Aleks Dahlberg
Casey Allen

Good Mom, Bad Mom

Fruit Pie

One time, my neighbor stopped by to give me something. In these times of internet-everythinging, visits are not such a common occurrence. She caught us right when we’d returned from the grocery store and all the children were enjoying a fruit pie snack.

She made some comment about how I was “such a fun mom” to let them eat the sugar-glazed, berry-filled, envelope of sugar. She was surprised, thinking I was usually strict about the kids’ diets.

am strict, because I don’t want them to develop diabetes or -more likely- hyperactivity.

HOWEVER, every kid needs to try a snack pie. I also buy them weird Oreo flavors or chocolate Lucky Charms or Twinkie Weiner Sandwiches -randomly, to try once. This makes me a good mom.

Then, at bedtime, exasperation sets in. I’m sarcastic, rude, stressed, unkind, impatient, and loud about trying to get them in bed. I’m even worse when they will not STAY in bed.

At times like that, I’m bad mom.

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“Let’s go to insert random location,” I say, and we pile into the car and drive to IKEA, the world’s largest Costco, the Pepperidge Farm outlet, a splash pad, a park, or a relative’s house.

The children smile and get along. They love the spontaneity and their happy maternal parent. Things are good.

But, sure enough, all good things must come to an end.

“Time to go,” I say. I say it again, and again. I threaten, snap, threaten, pick up shoes, pick up boys, deny “last times,” and ask them if they really need to go to the bathroom if they went when we first arrived.

Bad mom’s back, and she means business.

I feel a bit torn. Am I good mom, or bad? I’d really rather be firm but loving, but that fantastical plan flies out the window the instant they shoot me point-blank with a Nerf gun.

Does anyone else relate? What can we do?