You’ve probably read it. That blog post everyone is sharing about how being a mom, a lady in the everyday trenches with her babes, is more than enough for you, me, her, all of us. Now, although I get the heart of the message is to give yourself a break, a pat on the back, and a friend in the field, it’s all a pipe dream. Being a mom is enough? Nope, unfortunately, it’s not enough for you, me, her, all of us.
The world the writer describes, one in which you stop focusing on your agendas, your phone, your laundry, and just take time to BE with your children, is not a world that exists. It never has! It never could. Who makes the money in this world? Who runs the house? Who does the chores? Or does the mother do it after all the kids are asleep and don’t need her doting attention? When does she sleep? Or does she just skip that part?
As a mother, you have to focus on more than your kids, for you and for them. It’s a necessity, not a choice. Whether you’re a stay-at-home mom, a working mom, a work-from-home mom, or (gasp!) a dad, you’re going to miss some of their childhood because you have so many things to do to make sure they (and you) get to their adulthood.
The endless to-do list needs to get done, and sometimes it’s at the cost of quality time with the kids. You HAVE to keep everyone clean, fed, clothed, and sheltered. That huge responsibility takes up a lot of your time. But after that, everything else is just extra, right? Other tasks can simply be discarded or pushed aside, so you can make sure you aren’t breaking eye contact with the little one, lest you miss something magical.
How dare you want a themed, memorable birthday party for that child it took you three years to have! A special day all for her? For shame. Don’t spend hours making a Pinterest board of ideas. Don’t go to store after store collecting supplies. Don’t make phone calls to vendors and venues. Don’t stay up late night after night putting it all together in the kitchen, hunched over your desk, sprawled out on the living room floor. Because all you get for all of that hard work is your baby girl’s eyes lighting up with a magic so incredible that you can’t remember all the stress that lead up to this big reveal of a Daniel Tiger wonderland with all her friends and family ready to celebrate and play with her.
How dare you take time to do the laundry, mop the floors, dust the shelves, do the dishes, make the meals, clean out the closets, pay the bills, decorate the walls, and sort through the mess to reveal a beautiful home that you have created and maintained for your family! A safe, clean, and unique place where you can live, grow, play, and share so much magic together that it’ll make Disney World look like a dud. Don’t squander a minute that could be spent with the babes on making your house a home.
How dare you focus on you instead of on your children! Your hours spent at work, pouring over papers, making connections, and gaining experience are all a waste. Your time used unwinding, venting, and regrouping with your friends, your mate, your fellow parents, and your childless buddies are nothing more than selfish desires. That magical feeling when you realize that you can be a parent AND a person in your own right is clearly a farce that should immediately be replaced with unadulterated attention to your child.
Listen, I know a lot of moms are struggling. I’m one of them! I know it can get overwhelming to have your kids, take good care of them, and remember to take good care of yourself too. Raising babies is hard, hard work. From the growing of them all the way through to the moment you watch them drive away…and every moment in between and after. It is a lot, but it absolutely is not all there is. Another collection of paragraphs that tells us ladies to stop focusing on the external and just be proud of what is happening in our hearts is deflating and disrespectful to everything else we do WHILE we mother our babies. Recognition, gratification, and appreciation are not dirty words in any other context, so why do they have to be when it comes to parenting? You certainly can want to be admired for a job well done! Accolades are fulfilling, uplifting, and help you move forward through the less-than-perfect parts of parenting that we all know exist. Sometimes those sweet baby smiles just aren’t enough to keep you motivated. Sometimes you have to make your own magic moments.
Time with your children is important, but you can’t brush aside the rest of life for them. You have to find the things in life that bring you joy, ALL the things in life that bring you joy, and create a balance between them and your very real and very grown-up responsibilities. Mix in what makes you happy with those chores that you have to do to be able to afford the happiness! Unless you’re a millionaire with staff at the ready, you can’t “just” be a mom. You just can’t. That blog post provides you with another unattainable ideal to reach for and something else to feel bad about as a parent (as if there wasn’t enough of that going around already). Stop feeling bad!
If you want to make creative Bento box lunches, DO IT!
If you want to go to enjoy having a career, DO IT!
If you want to dust, vacuum, and mop, DO IT!
If you want to zone out with Facebook or trashy TV, DO IT!
And while you’re doing all of that, don’t forget to do all the stuff you don’t really want to do but really have to do to keep the machine running. Sometimes I have to say no to a game of cards with the girl because the boy and the baby are going to wake up in thirty minutes and need their clean clothes for the party we’re going to tonight that I’ve been looking forward to all week! Show your children that they are not the center of the universe, not even yours. They will survive you missing every opportunity to applaud their colorful drawings, adorable jokes, or invented games. They will learn the value of imagination, independence, and self-fulfillment. They will see YOU juggling so many different sides of yourself, and they will learn that no lady (or man) should have to pick only one dream to make into reality. You can be a mother AND every other person you want to be, free from guilt and shame.
“Just being a mom” isn’t something you can afford to be, and, more than that, it’s not something you should be told to want to be either.
Be all that you want to be while doing all that you want to do (and all that you have to do).
You are amazing…and more than just enough.