Friday, May 09, 2008

Mothering: Thoughts from my Heart

With Mother’s Day coming up, I have spent a lot of time thinking about mothering. I am hesitant to write this for public viewing but I will anyway. I love being a mother. Never in a million years would I have imagined at 20 that I would one day have 4 kids. I couldn’t even imagine having one child. When I was pregnant with my first, I often fretted about becoming a mother. I worried and cried: how will I be a good mother? Once my baby arrived, I fell in love with mothering. The love I felt for my child was like no other love I had ever felt. Since then three more rooms in my heart have opened up for my 3 other children. I don’t struggle with the fear of motherhood anymore. I truly love being a mother. I do struggle with my position as a stay-at-home mom. This is not a job I am qualified for. Honestly, it is very hard for me to feel satisfied in this role. I don’t think I ever “get it right.” It is so much more than it being a job that can never done. There is the constant struggle between being a “housewife” and being a “stay-at-home mom”. As a housewife, I am constantly trying to clean the house. I cannot ever seem to make progress in this area. Organization does not come easily for me. I relax best in a clean environment, so it seems I am never relaxed. I spend a great majority of my time cleaning, cooking, doing laundry and the like. My heart screams, “Is this what I am staying home for?” If my kids were in a daycare, they would have activities galore. It drives me crazy to think of the structured activities they would enjoy. Not too far back I instituted a weekly Craft/Baking Day. This was greeted with great enthusiasm from my kids. I love these days as much as the children. I long for more of this kind of dedicated time with the children. I long to feel satisfied with my position as a stay-at-home mom. When I worked, I got annual reviews. During those reviews, I would set (yearly) goals, I would get counseled on my progress toward my objectives; I would get feedback on my work. I would get constructive criticism and praise. Now, I get mostly complaints. My kids constantly point out what I am not doing. It is defeating. I remind myself that they are only kids. I know my husband appreciates my efforts. I just don’t find job satisfaction in blanket appreciation. I don’t have clear goals…though I tried to set some for myself at the beginning of the year. I cannot feel a sense of achievement because the job is so abstract. I struggle with what I am trying to accomplish. I struggle with feeling useful. I struggle with feeling productive and intelligent. I loved school. I thrived in college. I thrived in the professional world. I love learning and growing. I don’t feel like I am excelling. I long to feel that. Certainly, I imagine I am not the only woman to ever feel this way. By the way, I struggle with this all the time. And yet, I don’t really want to go back to work. I miss it so much. I just cannot imagine going back. This is the hardest part of all. Even if I could afford to send my 4 kids to daycare, I don’t think I could. I want to be there for my kids on a daily basis. I want to be with them, see them grow and learn, watch them pass milestones, experience their daily joys and frustrations. It boils down to this: I cannot imagine letting someone else care for my kids when I am able. I just struggle with being content in this stay-at-home mom position.


Kimberly said...

Maybe a good plan would be to decide if you went back to work what "chores" would be split between you and your husband to be done in the evenings and on weekends and then decide if this was something you could live with. If so, then "open" your own "daycare". Set aside a certain amount of hours during the day for a set amount of days and "go to work" as the "daycare provider" you think your kids would enjoy. I'm not sure if this would help fill any of those working woman desires you have or if it would help you to feel as though you are giving your children the best care you can but you never know until you try?
I'm very interested in hearing what insight others might have and what their solutions might be.
Just remember, at the end of the day - no matter what you have or haven't done with your kids they still love you more than anyone else and think you are the world's BEST mom! And they would probably get tired of going to daycare real quick and fuss and cry when you tried to drop them off! ;)

P.S. Thank you for sharing your heart!

John & Carrie said...

Thank you for being so real and vulnerable. You are a great mom.

Jessica said...

It was so wonderful seeing this post! Motherhood is not all perfect and I appreciate you voicing your feelings. I am also someone that dislikes having a dirty house but I also dislike having neglected kids. There's only so much of me to go around. I'm irritated with my house when it's messy and I desperately need the Merry Maids to pay me a visit! :) Happy Mother's Day, I hope you have a sweet time with your four beautiful children!

John & Carrie said...

This winter when we were having tons of medical appointments, I was getting frustrated with trying to stay on top of the household stuff when whole days would be knocked out for medical appointments. Finally I realized how miserable it was making me. So, I told John I made a new "rule": if there are two or more medical appointments in one week then I can let either the dusting & vacuuming or the bathrooms go for that week. It made a huge difference giving myself permission to not do a big chore for those weeks that had more than one medical appointments. I couldn't really skip the laundry or the grocery shopping but I could cut out vacuuming and bathrooms if too much was going on. It was all around good because then I could relax and spend quality time with the children (who needed it all the more after a couple days in doctors offices) and it also recognized the other stuff going on in my life.

The Kinney's said...

Wow, this really spoke to me JA. I have been having similar conversations with a few friends about this very subject, just in the last week! I LOVE being home with my kids- I wouldn't change a thing. What I think I am learning about myself is that I am gaging my success (or my identity at times) by the things that I do, rather than who I am in this very moment. I feel like I need to learn to totally accept and love the person that I am today- not the superwoman I could be if I were to get my whole to-do list done. My recent prayers- to be just as thankful on the days that my house (and my mind) are a complete mess, as I am when I have order and cleanliness.
Thank you so much for your honesty! I would love to hear more about your journey through this- keep posting!

P.S. Are we still allowed to blame this on hormones after five months?! =0)

Julie said...

I'm not sure how I got to your blog, but I love this post. I resonate with your conflicted feelings of desiring to be emotionally and physically available for my three children and the feelings of wanting to be productive in a rewarding and fulfilling job outside of the home - even if it's just part-time. I'm on the same journey. Hang in there, I don't know you at all, but I can tell you're a great mom! Thanks for sharing your heart ... you are definitely not alone. If you have time, check out my blog post at it is very similar to your sentiments about motherhood, but it also expresses an epiphany that I had about the same topic. Maybe it will encourage you.