You know how I’ve experienced crazy before? And then a different crazy after my kids were born? And another different crazy when we uprooted at 6 months preggo? Well, I find myself this week contemplating a whole new level of crazy. Different things are all the sudden smashing my brain – not depression – but something else. Mid life crisis perhaps? Just the drama queen poking around in my head out of boredom? Hard to tell, but it doesn’t seem normal. But that’s my judgement of what I know I am experiencing, verses what I guess (based on appearance)others are. How fair is that comparison?
That reminds me: last week, I met a lady with 3 little girls like me. She was about 2.5 years behind me in the time line. Hers were infant, 2, and 4. Or something like that. She had the cutest chic blonde bob cut, cute baby carrier strapped to her chest, a little toddler in pony tails, and the preschooler in the pool with her class. She looks SO put together! And me, being the *kind* soul that I am, said absolutely *nothing* to her. She actually said hello to me first, after approx 8 days sitting next to each other watching our kids. (Not that I’m beating myself up over that or anything. Not me!! I know better.)
We chatted about the ages of our kids, how she was doing, if baby was sleeping: the normal stuff. She looked so cute. She was struggling without sleep, like every mom, and she said that the housework had gone by the wayside. She made it sound like her home had been struck by a bomb. Poor thing. Every once in a while she would say, “Its all good”. In my opinion, people say that when they are 1) trying to put a positive spin of the conversation, or 2) trying to convince themselves that its the truth: its all good. Near the end of the conversation, with me feeling like a complete fake – all chatting happily about babyhood – said that it really depends on how you handle babyhood. And that I, when they were babies, had a VERY difficult time, I hated it. I was depressed, and I hardly remember most of that time of my/their lives. At this point, tears came to her eyes, and she immediately was nodding, and saying, “me too”.
Oh my word. My heart breaks for her. Babyhood, for some of us, will be the worst thing we ever HAVE to do, and worst of all – we are not allowed to express that to anyone. We aren’t allowed to mourn our freedom, or crave sleep instead of breastfeeding. We are not allowed to be selfish with our bodies (just need sleep!) because we have a baby. All of the sudden, motherhood is upon us, and we are no longer a woman with rights and needs. We are JUST a mother. And I mean JUST a mother. I know Oprah and pop psychologists are all about motherhood being the hardest job – blah, blah, blah. I ask you one thing: when you are introduced to someone and they ask what you do, who has more prestige, respect, and admiration: the Stay At Home Mom, or the Professional?
Say what you will, in our culture, motherhood is the least respected of any profession. We are not respected (how much do you PAY your babysitter? How much TRAINING is required to be a foster family?), most of us do not have family that comes to our “aid” because GOOD mothers don’t need AID. They go sleepless, mop floors at night, have sex with hubby while baby is sleeping, and spend the rest of the time cooing and nursing the sweet little center-of-the-universe.
I propelled myself forward based on these expectations, and more. I “motivated” myself by thoughts like, “If the pilgrims could have a baby, strap the thing on their back and go back to work, then what am I complaining about?”
So, baby-cakes, I HEAR you. I’ll say it for you: For some of us, Motherhood SUCKS. It sucks the life out of me, it is competing with my self worth, it is making withdrawals on an emotional bank account with a deficit.
This is the thing that I’m ATTEMPTING to balance my life with: Children are NOT the most important things in the world. Strange, isn’t it? Of course, this can be taken to extremes, but there it is. These things I tell myself, sometimes I believe them, most of the time, they don’t quite make into my heart:
1. We are each people, the children, and I, and hubby, we all have purpose, and responsibility, and importance. My purpose is unique, given by God, and I have something to DO with my life, other than be a babysitter.
2. We are each creative. It is easy to see children be creative, but that is the thing that I’ve learned I *need* in my day to get by with the 10% of sanity that I have left.
3. We each have gifts. Yes, we try to help our children with their gifts, but we have a responsibility to our society, to our world to use ours too. Would we want our little girls to grow up, have children and bury their talents like we are?
4. We are also the first society/ generation to value children as much as we do. No other society says that “Children are our future”, “the very survival of our species depends on our children”. Oh, and here’s a good one: “If you do psychological damage to the kids, they’ll grow up to be failures, and feel the way you do right now.” You HAVE to read, “Under Pressure”, author un-remembered.
5. I do not have to do it ALONE!! I have ultimate responsibility (or me and my partner) but I see that as a responsibility to bring other stable adults into their lives. When I worked with children professionally, (hard to believe, eh?), I firmly believed that children needed other adults, besides parents, to be role models and mentors. Wax on. Wax off. hehe But now that I’m a Mom, I somehow think that I should somehow be capable of providing for ALL their needs. Exclusively. To create a bond, or something like that. Anyone will tell you, that is absolute nonsense!! First of all, no one can be everything to anybody. And secondly, children need to learn to relate to others, they need to learn how to problem solve, and how to meet some of their own (age appropriate) needs.
There’s lots more that I try to remember, and things I try to keep in balance, with me being just Cathy. But mostly, I try to remove the GUILT and the PRESSURE!! Those have no place in a loving relationship between an adult who is FREE to love, and a child who GIVES loves so willingly and unconditionally!
Da, da-da-da-da, I’m lovin’ it. (sometimes)
Social Networking is the sincerest form of flattery.