Bub and Pie wrote an interesting post yesterday about motherhood, blogging, individuality and sense of self. Mella wrote something along similar lines about the juggling act, the constant tension it causes to try to find a moment here or there for something other than mothering.
Lately in the midst of listening to reading, and cooking affordable meals, and checking math, and sending encouraging emails to my college student, and kissing my baby’s neck, and paying bills, and reading to my little ones, and jollying cranky kids back to cheerfulness, I’ve been struggling to carve out chunks of ‘real’ writing time.
I’ve been feeling strung out lately, aggravated that I seem to be accomplishing less than I think I should. Part of it is just February. Part of it is self-discipline. If I want to write, then I need to spend my quiet moments writing, not blog-surfing. Last night I was up till 2, claiming those blissful late-night hours for myself.
But inevitably morning comes and a two year old is prying my eyelids open with the same enthusiasm whether I’ve had four hours of sleep or nine. A tired mom is never at her best. And I want my kids to have my best. So- I need to get to bed earlier.
And yet, I have words wanting out of my head. Things I want to do. Things I need to do. Things I love to do. I’m constantly fiddling with the balance of my seesaw.
Last week I felt so pleased that I’d done so well fitting in game time with my little ones. Last week I also paid the house payment three stinkin’ days late and earned us a late fee. Gack.
Last week I got my bedroom cleaned out–apparently almost entirely by hucking things into the laundry room, or so it seems by the height of the heaps on the counters. As soon as I focus on one area, another falls to wrack and ruin.
Growing up, I had an at-home mom who also spent time on her own interests. She read extensively. She sewed. She counseled breast-feeding mothers, taught childbirth classes, and even assisted a doctor with occasional homebirths.
There were moments as a child when I dreamed of more focused attention from her. As a teen I also fretted about the mess in the living room, wondering as I hucked everything under the couch why I was the only one bothered by the clutter.
And yet I look back now and think that my own life is probably that much more vital and interesting because of her example of immersion into intriguing projects. She demonstrated that a mother could have passions of her own, even in the midst of mothering eight children. Her kids have turned out strong and capable and happy. And as adults, without exception, we all admire her deeply and feel so grateful that in the mom-lottery we got her.
Her example makes me less fearful of following my own dreams. Of course my family’s happiness IS my highest dream. Above all I long for them to grow strong and healthy and happy, and to always trust God for their lives. But I think — I hope — I can help them grow strong and happy while still taking regular moments for myself.
The balance is tricky…I struggle each day to get it right. As I tap away at the keyboard, taking frequent breaks to tie a shoe, or spell ‘V-a-l-e-n-t-i-n-e’, or laugh at a knock-knock joke, or tutor a teen making spaghetti, I hope and pray that my children will see the breadth and richness that can exist in the life of a mother. Yes, I am a mother. But I am also still myself.
No, I can’t have it all. But with thoughtful choice and clarity of purpose and lots of prayer, I pray that I can get the balance right enough. Right enough that my children will get what they need from me. Right enough that I can complete a few thoughts of my own every day. Not so much ‘me’ that it swings into self-indulgence and shorts my kids of what is vital to their growth and happiness. But enough.
It’s a tall order.
Here’s praying I get it right.
Here’s praying we all do.