The Problem with Parenting and Free Time

Ha. You don’t have it.

Photo by Ketut Subiyanto on Pexels.com

Still with me? You still don’t have it. I write because, at the time I first started, the only me-time hobbies I had were sleeping and eating. I didn’t even have showering or using the bathroom -in fact, I didn’t even have sleeping and eating. And so, I started writing. I even had some paid work doing writing; this fact warranted the use of that non-existent free time toward facing a computer and expressing myself with words.

So, it’s easy to look back over this and my other blog, shake my head, lament my negligence, and resolve to …ignore the elephant in the room because I have even less free time now. Buuut, I’ve loved it. Thank you for reading and supporting. I’ll be back when I can.

And, if you’re a parent without much free time, I get it. Keep at it, whatever you’re doing. Spending some of that time on yourself will make you less crazy, and that’s never a bad thing.

©2021 Chel Owens

Books Around the House

I remember the positive furor Dr. Ben Carson caused when he told the world about his mother. Seeing that rich people had books in the houses she cleaned for money, she came home and told her boys the TV was going off and books were coming in. Dr. Carson has since advocated and promoted literacy and reading in his political platforms.

Which is just great, when applied appropriately.

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After Tad R. Callister quoted Dr. Carson’s story in an LDS talk, I heard mother after teacher after grandmother talking about how they were going to purchase more books for their shelves. Surely the presence of reading materials would encourage children and grandchildren to pick them up. Surely their offspring would grow to be neurosurgeons and members of the presidential cabinet.

Right?

I happen to be “a reader.” My children are as well. Their teachers and administrators have commented on that quality. One administrator even said, “Your boys read. You can’t teach that.”

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Which is my main point, today. Having books on the shelves does nothing if you don’t pull them down. With every. single. one of my children, I have demonstrated what books do; what they contain. I’ve read to them. Sure, I’m not consistent. Each boy has had even less time with me than the one before.

But I try. Reading Ramona the Pest once a week(ish) is still better than my five-year-old thinking that staring at a phone at night is the only form of entertainment around.

Showing them that I read on my own has demonstrated that adults read, too. It’s the cool thing to do! I share things with them and discuss ideas or characters from the stories. I attend book group and have brought the older ones along.

Dr. Carson said his mother insisted they do two book reports a week. I’ve had mine do a report occasionally, but not often. Books need to be fun and not a chore.

So, moms and instructors and grandmas: pay attention. If you actually want a neurosurgeon, you’d better start practicing your own literacy. At least start practicing funny voices for the characters.

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Photo Credit:
Robyn Budlender
Ben White
Image by StockSnap from Pixabay

 

©2019 Chelsea Owens

Raise Strong, Independent Daughters AND Mothers

I am the product of many strong, brave women throughout history. Women no one ever knew toiled day in and out at the most mundane of tasks to get their daughters just that much ahead in life, only to have the pattern repeat for a few centuries more.

Women with names we now laud stepped from the shoulders of those mothers to stand for rights, demand votes, insist on admission to colleges and professions, and to study and alter laws once named ‘fair.’

Although ignorant of the nameless women of history, I am not without appreciation for the starting position they gave me. I only ever felt encouraged to do whatever I set my mind to as a child; encouraged to be myself; encouraged to do anything or dress any way or play any games I wanted to.

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And, for a while, I could do whatever a boy could do. I wanted to, since I have never been much into dress up or celebrity gossip. I determined to live for myself, alone and independent. I wasn’t afraid of snakes and could open jars; I could do anything.

I thought that teaching girls to have limitless goals was a great idea… until I became a mother.

It’s no secret that I didn’t want to be a mother. If it is, then you’ve missed the name of this blog and a few, key blog posts. To clarify: I’m not mad that I’m a mother. I don’t feel the desire to leave my children in a basket on a porch. Not really. I simply did not ever plan to be just a mother and looked/look down on the profession.

I’ve not quite pinned down the reasons for my dissatisfaction yet; otherwise, I’d probably not keep writing. Recently, however, I have resonated with the idea that motherhood disappointed me because of that ‘girl power’ upbringing.

-I was told I could be a doctor and had the intellect for it.

-When I said I wanted to be President of the United States of America, teachers and school counselors cheered.

-At college meetings, no one batted an eye when I registered for engineering and science programs.

-I remember conversations with professors, guidance counselors, neighbors, friends, and family where, when asked about my future, they never mentioned motherhood.

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HOWEVER, life changed. All my goals and plans went out the window. The determined spinster that was me fell in love in high school, married after a semester at college, and started producing babies within a few years after that. No matter, right?

-With what was left of my brain, I told myself I could still do medical school.

-I didn’t actually want to be POTUS; politics were more complicated than people told children.

-I could take a break from engineering courses and finish them up after the kids grew a little.

-Motherhood wasn’t that bad. (Female) people did it all the time.

Suffice to say, I was a teensy bit unprepared for the emotional and mental car crash of stay-at-home motherhood after a young marriage and fairly young pregnancy. I was unprepared for a fairly young servitude of diapers, schedules, and (above all) the whims of my offspring.

I think I’d set aside motherhood as a contingency plan, or maybe as an idea that it would “probably happen.” I had not realized how much of a lifetime commitment the profession was, particularly if one has difficult children. Maybe, like my ultimate life goal of never doing chores, I was simply ignorant.

Or, maybe, we’ve shifted too far away from encouraging what every woman used to aspire to.

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I know the future is brighter for females. I am so happy that we can gain entry and employment to nearly everywhere. I definitely appreciate not being talked down to when I converse with a doctor or a mechanic. As I said earlier, I loved feeling free to do anything.

But I’m afraid that we’ve killed motherhood.

I don’t think I would have minded more sewing lessons in school. What about cooking and cleaning courses? Scheduling? Budgeting? Basic interpersonal marriage counseling? -All good. Overall, though, what we’re really missing is the expectation of families and the support needed to make them work.

Where once there were mother’s coffee groups and communal play areas of apartments, there is social media and day care. Church classes and community events have been replaced with atheism, apathy, and selfishness. People lock their doors, install security systems, and watch any visitors -even their own next-door neighbors- through door cameras.

When I ask my neighbors with daughters about their children’s futures, they do not list family production. It is always college, discovering themselves, and changing the world. Talking to the girls themselves produces a similar answer.

Can’t we have strong females and good mothers? Well-adjusted parents who feel they have societal support? Good children who are raised by responsible and loving parents? Mom groups? Community events that want children around?

Being a mom sucks. I know. But, the only way to change the world is the same way our female progenitors did: raising children for the future.

 

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Weekly Round-up:

Sunday, April 14: “Religion in the Home,” a post about religion in the home.

Monday, April 15: Really proud of my poem, “A House(work) at War.”

Tuesday, April 16: Shared a quote by Ray Romano.

Wednesday, April 17: Offered a Food Tip.

Thursday, April 18: “Reasoning with a Toddler,” a quick thought about unreasonable toddlers.

Friday, April 19: Felt inspired to share some vacation tips with “10 Tips for When You’re Crazy Enough to Vacation with Kids.”

Saturday, April 20: Shared Feeling‘s encouraging tweet.

Sunday, April 21: Happy Easter!

 

Photo Credits:
Kenny Krosky
Eye for Ebony
Zac Durant