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.
I never thought of it like this. And I realize I need to. Thank you for putting this out there.
You’re welcome, Lynn! Thanks for the comment.
This post is selfish and superficial. Anyone that picks watching trashy TV over a loving moment with their little ones is what’s wrong with this world. Clearly this is not written by anyone who has an understanding of child psychology. Your childs eye will gleam when they share any loving moment with their parents, it doesn’t need to come from extravagant parties or things. Being a parent means not putting yourself first. It saddens me that these little ones have to worry about clean party clothes instead of playing games with Mommy. Take a step back and reevaluate your priorities. Hugs, kisses, sticky fingers, dirty dishes, wrinkled clothes, but time for snuggles.
Hi sk Mother! I couldn’t disagree with you more. The mother you are describing is a recipe for a lady who will eventually burn out and resent everything she had to give of herself for her children. If she is always putting her kids first, as you indicate every parent should, she’s going to lose herself. Should she stop mid-pee to give the kids attention too? What about when driving? Or in the middle of a phone call to the pediatrician? Or are those moments acceptable but other times are not? In our happy home, there is time for the Man, the girl, the boy, the baby, and the Lady, not equal shares to be sure, but we make time for everyone. We also make time for fun and for work, for play and for chores, for the wants, the needs, and the musts. It’s all a balance, a difficult one to manage but one we constantly try to maintain for everyone’s well-being. While I do appreciate the open discourse, please keep the name calling to yourself. Thanks!
PS-No one said the parties were extravagant (I’ve got a budget to work with too!) or the only way to get the gleam in the girl’s eyes…but they don’t hurt either.
I couldn’t agree with you more, Lady. I’ve been the mom who got lost in giving it ALL for the kids. You know what it got me? Ungrateful kids. Kids who appreciate neither me nor the “stuff (parties, gifts, outings, you name it).
Switching things up and letting them see that after we get home from school, after I’ve helped with homework, cleaning up their backpacks of the papers that needs signing or whatever, washing their lunchboxes, and starting dinner, Mom gets 20 uninterrupted minutes to either watch something on TV, flip through a magazine, read a book, whatever. The point is for them to see that Mom gets time too. Twenty minutes. Selfish? To some, perhaps, but the kids have learned respect boundaries, to appreciate the time the get (which is the other 23 hours and 40 minutes a day), and to value the outings and gifts they receive. Win-win, if you ask me.
Well said, Lady. Just because I became a mommy doesn’t mean I stopped being human. If it makes me selfish to have a few moments to myself so I don’t completely break down, then so be it. My son will have a much healthier and happier childhood because I take care of myself, too. And what is wrong with getting chores done as opposed to sitting there watching your kid color all day? It’s a GOOD thing to teach kids responsibility; to show them that there isn’t some fairy who comes and cleans the house — PEOPLE have to do that. And families can share some of those responsibilities, so everybody wins. Sometimes I hate being a mom in modern times, if only because I feel like I have to CONSTANTLY justify how yes, sometimes I actually take a few minutes away from my child to take care of my needs. GASP. Yes, I have been able to take a shower most days even though I have a small child. My son plays with his toys happily in his room and mommy gets to take her shower. Are my showers always uninterrupted? Of course not, but my precious boy understands that shower time is mommy’s time and unless there is a problem, he can keep himself occupied until I’m done and will gladly join him for a game of Legos. It does NOT make me selfish to want a shower—it makes me HUMAN. It’s absurd that I even have to say these things because most of society would disagree with my desire to take care of my needs in addition to my family’s. Ugh.
Totally disagree with you, sk Mother. Not only is giving your children constant, undivided attention unrealistic for the parents, it’s unhealthy for the children. It’s great for kids to know that their parents are always there for them and love to spend quality time with them. It is, however, unhealthy for children to think that they are or should be the center of their parent’s attention at all times. What kind of world are we fooling our children into believing this is when we teach them that adults should drop everything to listen to them tattle on a sibling? I work in public service, and it is horrifying to see how many young adults are totally incapable of even the simplest task of waiting their turn in a line. These people are taught as children that nothing is more important than their wants and needs, and they become adults who cannot function in a world that, quite frankly, couldn’t care less anout those wants and needs. How about we teach our children that parenting and adulthood are hard work? Let them see that things like doing the laundry and paying the bills are sometimes more important. Show them that being responsible means finding a balance of fun and hard work. No, being a mother is NOT enough, but being a well-balanced, responsible parent, and a good example for your children will make all the difference in what kind of adult they turn out to be.
Let me first say, I agree with all the responses people have had about sk Mother post, so I won’t restate what has already been said. I did want to come at it from another angle though. Sk you made a comment about The Lady not having an understanding about child psychology, well my mother was a professor of it so I’ve been exposed to it a fair amount and was raised largely around it as well. I guess her questions to you would be, how do you expect your children to learn how to deal with disappointment? Is it not down to parents to teach their kids that sometimes you fun has to wait because you have other responsibilities that need to be taken care of first? Also, why are you worried that your children will somehow feel less loved if you do miss a card game? Maybe I’m misinterpreting your comment, but that seemed to me to the be the underlying message. Trust me, your children’s eyes won’t gleam any less because you missed a “moment.” I’m present enough in my kids life that they know we have chances for lots of “moments,” so if we have to miss one, that’s ok. My own personal belief is we as parents are in charge of making sure the next generation grow up to be self-sufficient and secure adults who understand that the point of life is a lot more than just taking and unrealistic expectations.
I couldn’t agree with you more……I would NEVER want to be a ‘Stepford Mom’. I have a daughter and 2 granddaughters and Iove them with all my heart and soul, but if there’s an opportunity to do something fun for ME…I’m going to take it. It doesn’t make me a bad mommy or mom-mom… It gives me the chance to do something for me so I can be in a better frame of mind to be a
better mommy and mom-mom.
I’m going apologize for the verbal assault that the Lady has received. The language, the tone, the accusations…none of it was necessary. Why would you feel it necessary, SK Mother, to attack another woman? Is this the type of example you are to your child? Here are a few lessons you seem to have missed: A: Do unto others as you would like done on to you. B: Offer grace to others for one day you will certainly be in need of the same courtesy. C: If you have nothing nice to say, keep your damn mouth shut.
I have read all of your posts, just haven’t commented until now. As a new mom to 6 month old twins, this is something I have struggled with since day 1. As a young girl, I started to feel the need to be a mother one day. I was born with it…I knew I needed this fulfillment, however it may come. A few years ago, I met my amazing husband. We knew we wanted a family and after two devastating losses, I gave birth to two beautiful, healthy baby girls. My husband works so hard around the clock so that I can stay home and raise our daughters, something that was a priority to both of us, something that I do not take for granted.
In the beginning, I did everything for these girls to make sure they were happy, well fed, well rested, and content. I had plenty of experience with babies, though having two at one time definitely adds some extra work! I was so thankful and so overwhelmed that God had blessed us with these two girls that I put everything else aside. I still took care of my husband, but I brushed off taking good care of myself and care of the house. My first and foremost thought was that I needed to put the babies first at ALL times. Did this work? Not really.
Don’t get me wrong, these two are still top priority. (as is my husband) However, I am also making time for myself now. It may be a nice long shower, a haircut, or just getting out of the house by myself for a bit. I am also making time to make our house more of a home. All of the wonderful people that are part of our support system that I turned down help from in the early days, I am now graciously accepting it. After these changes, I feel I am a better woman, wife, and mother. It took me 6 months to get to this point, and I admit I still struggle with putting myself first occasionally and being away from our babies, but it’s a learning process. Every woman will find her own way and her own balance.
There is nothing about parenting that is objective. To elude to a claim that you have it all figured out as to THE correct way of approaching motherhood is pompous and self-serving. If you do, in fact, have the conclusive evidence to prove your theories as absolute, then publish your findings, write the books, go on the talk shows, and change the world.
Oh, wait. That would be counter-productive to spending every waking moment with your children. I guess the world will just have to suffer.
I love your posts lady. They help me realize that I may be a normal mom, not an exception to the rule. While every mom in the world may not fit this description, we all have the right to be differentl different, I definitely do. Thank you.
The Lady has it right, it’s not 1950 anymore. It takes a lot to raise a family and maintain a household, if it means missing a few moments with my kid so I can prep a meal for dinner then so be it. There is more to bring a SAHM then just being at home with the kids, it ALL needs to get done some way or another… and (gasp!) mom might need a moment to herself to maintain sanity.
I am The Lady’s best friend, and not in an imaginary online staler way either, I’m her actual best friend! With that said I can tell you 100% that her kids have the most happy and awesome childhood! If any of these “haters” had ANY idea how much thought she puts into all the ways in which she loves her kids they would SHUT THE HELL UP! Sorry to curse Lady, well not really sorry, because you we both know how good a curse word can feel, but you know how I feel about anyone telling us how to live our lives! We are all just trying to do our best…for our kids, our families and even ourselves! I love you Lady and I love that you are standing behind your thoughts and words…again, again and again! <3
I just want to say for the record just how much your posts mean to me. You make us realize on a daily basis that we don’t have to be perfect. That we all struggle with feeling like we are letting our kids down sometimes but we leave with a feeling of hope. Something about pain shared is pain lessened. Please keep doing what you do for those of us who need you and your wonderful outlook on things!! Thank you for simply being you!!
When I think of being a parent I am always reminded of the “in case of emergency” instructions on an airplane. When oxygen masks fall from above, be sure to put on your mask before helping other passengers in need. Thank you Lady for reminding us that in order to able to care for others, we must care for ourselves as well.
I am the mother of 5 children and one grandchild. For a lot of years now I did put my all into my children. Every ounce of my soul was for them. I love them so much. I am adopted and don’t have really any family so I wanted to build roots for my children they will have each other. I don’t regret being a mother but I do regret not taking more me time. When I do try to do me time you would think something big is going on they are all freaking out where are you going what are you doing? I have just recently started taking some time for me more and actually analyzing who I am again. It is all foggy I lost myself over the last 22 years. My children have very good hearts when it comes to others. Most days I feel literally invisible to my family. I love this article it helps me to not feel so guilty for being me not just a mother but a women with my own dreams for myself. I have worked and been a stay at home mom. Both are hard you always want what you don’t have. I love both wish there was enough time in the day to do both. To Sk you must have only 1 child to be able to keep eyes on them. When you have more than one you realize at some point your out numbered. Thanks for the article!