7/20/10

Choosing Motherhood: Pep Talk To Self

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I'm working hard to fill our next two weeks with lists and planned, thoughtful, intentional moments of being a part of each others lives rather than just bumping into each other as we wander to our own tasks. I'm not good at this and I will probably fail at least twice the first day.

I want my kids to get the best version of this but a lot of times I just don't know how to get excited about the things I feel are most important to a rich family life. Or I don't know how to get past day three.

Here's to choosing meal planning, sticking to a budget, playing music instead of summer TV while I work, committing to teaching Sebastian there is more out there than yogurt and chicken strips and goldfish crackers, to keeping the laundry in the drawers, to strengthening real life friendships so my kids can see how to be a friend, to exercising regularly again, to getting enough sleep, to having routines, to using humor to redirect, to being more affectionate.

I remind myself in moments of emotional laziness or weakness that I only get to be a young mother to young children once and that I can either do what is easy or do what is best. I don't want to look back and regret being distracted or busy. I want to put the hard work in so that my kids have every opportunity to be well-adjusted, interesting, creative, compassionate, healthy individuals. I want to learn more about the new places my kids are in developmentally so I can be prepared to handle those normal bumps in the road that sometimes leave us all frustrated. I also want to gain perspective on being gentle with myself when I don't live up to my own standards.

How do you feel like you're a good mom/wife/friend? What are your strengths and weaknesses when it comes to those you're in charge of or share life with?

xoxo,
Rachel

p.s. Sixteen more days until we get Brett back!



65 comments:

Morgan said...

Such a great post, Rachel, and I completely agree. I want to be intentional in everything I do because if there's one thing I'm passionate about it's loving my family. I want to be patient, to overlook their "awkward attempts at success" (to quote some parenting book). I think a lot of times I expect everything to be neat and orderly and get frustrated when it's not. But, it's ok as long as my kids are feeling loved and safe and encouraged.

Christen Krumm said...

umm. yes. you sound like me (minus the four year old). and i do agree that i need to be better :) and for the record, i hate putting the laundry in the drawers ...

i'm trying to do better too.

good luck!

xoxo,
christen

Hambergoosa said...

I know how you feel sometimes I don't think I've ever felt such a sinking feeling when my daughter threw a fit that I wouldn't turn on the tv. we've decided to limit tv now. Sure it's the wiggles, and all about dancing but I would much rather have her invent her own dance moves. I get the whole "wanting more for your family" thing. My mom was barely there for my childhood and I don't want that for my own kids! Thanks for the inspiration!

Rae said...

I love this post. I need to remember this post! I'm a task oriented person, so for me, it's a challenge to remember to look past my to do list at the beginning of the day- to remember to have purposeful time with my son - and at the end of the day - to know that I've accomplished much more than crossing those things off. After all, the times I've felt most successful as a mother are the times I've thrown the list out the window halfway through the day and devoted myself to time with him.

best of luck in your remaining time apart. May they go VERY quickly!

bella vintage said...

i agree with the 1st comment..i am a single mom and work full time. the biggest challenge and thought that comes to mind is giving my daughter a connected home, that's how i heard it best..i have beat myself up allot at moments when i want to be perfect for my beautiful girl and keep a lack for a better word "routine home"...but i found that the best nights between me and her are those when I don't worry if dinner is on the table exactly at 7 or that the dishes need to be washed..but that i took the time to sit on her bed, and talk, laugh cry and we don't realize it's 2 hours later..i think she'll remember those times best..i've learned that yes I come short and yes I need routine but that the time of connection with her will never be replaced...and hopefully those are memories that will stand out the most and the ones we store in our hearts...

Emma said...

Thank you for this post - are you sure you weren't thinking of me when you wrote it?!
Now that my children are all fairly independant and can entertain themselves quite well, I have to be intentional about pausing (not only physically but mentally too) and focusing on spending time with them - it's so easy for us to happily co-exist without really connecting. This post was a great reminder for me of what I value most, thank you again x

Eeffie said...

Amazing how you put into words exactly how I feel. As a mother of two I often miss the quiet times...I find it very hard to make time for me and my husband and sometimes it feels like I can't keep up with life's pace. At the same time I do enjoy this hectic time and the kids grow up way too fast.

Thanks for sharing! It's nice to hear you're not the only one struggling at times!

Roda said...

I feel the same way right now! This is my first time at motherhood-I have a growing, teething(!!!) 10-month old boy. There are sooooo many challenges, not only with caring and raising a child but with yourself (self-expectations; me, myself and I: pre-child), dynamics with family (husband, child, other family members...), and basically just life at this point in time. I hear you...I can relate...I'm in good company! :)

twinklyspangle said...

Lovely post :-) I have a toddler and sometimes I think I need to let go of my life a little and give myself more completely to him.

Emma Fourie said...

Hear hear! and all the young mums around the world agree! especially the working ones....

It's so easy to do the absent-minded parenting thing when life is full on but SO more rewarding to make that effort and get down on the floor, take your shoes off and build a castle out of the furniture and blankets!

And also completely agree with taking it easy on yourself when you don't meet your own expectations! it's a killer!

Well done you, and know that you are not alone in your efforts and you are human :)

x

Asha said...

You pretty much covered it all, there are so many aspects to being a mom. It's an everyday struggle, for me anyway, to do the best I can. I just had a convo with my DH last night about dropping things to spend time with our two little ones. Dropping chores and to do lists and just play with them, look into their eyes while talking to them and taking the time while their young because they are going to be young for a fraction of their lives. This next party sounds horrible but I'm a passionate scrapbooker, sewer and crafter, just like so many bloggers I read everyday. I've had to put a lot of that on hold, for now. It just wasn't doable with two little ones that needed my help every few minutes or that would find me and distrupt my thoughts or take my supplies, etc. I'm too tired at night to craft anymore so I'm just waiting for them to be in school. It's about putting them first, for now, for a bit and then it's back to me. *my daughter just joined me on the computer and it touching keys on the keyboard...never a second to myself, for now.

Sara said...

A perfect parent doesn't do all the right things a parent should do, but is someone who shows their children how to deal with all the emotions of life. Frustration and loneliness included. My husband traveled for work extensively for 4 years and it was just plain hard, and I didn't have kids. I'd say, try your best, but also just let it be hard when it's hard. That's okay too. You're halfway there!

Lara said...

Oh Rachel, great post. You have a way of writing about complex feelings that makes them easy to understand and relate to.
I'm yet to join the ranks of motherhood (am trying though!) but can say that keeping my marriage healthy is something I definitely get lazy at from time to time. At the moment I'm focusing on keeping him smiling (he hates his job), and putting him first. I know I've done a good job if he can open up to me and have a rant, and then leave it alone and enjoy being at home. Sometimes it's far from easy.
The way you analyse these things shows how great a mum you are and that you're doing a fab job.

Kristin Ann said...

You are an inspiration. I do not have kids but will feel the same desire when I do. I feel that way even now with just my husband. I am getting better at just being truly "present" when I am with him, but it is hard when life gets in the way. :)

Julia K. Riley said...

Beautiful post, Rachel! I don't have children yet, but I'm going to save this for when I do. I have a feeling it will come in handy.

Aesthetic Outburst... said...

Girl, you must have been reading my mind this morning. This is like a motherhood manifesto! I'm turning off the computer and we're going to the park. Thanks as usual! xo, Abbey PS You're dong a great job!

Stefan, Sarah and Lukka said...

I agree, and you put it so gracefully. I have the strengths of organization & getting crazy to-do lists done, but at the end of the day I sometimes feel like i was just herding my kids to activities/etc and not really spending time with THEM (even though I'm with them all day, every day). I really have to stop myself and get down on the ground to play with them, or I can always find things to do for myself instead (i.e. read, answer emails, cook, clean, chores, etc.). I try to realize this every day. It just doesn't always happen.
One good boundry I've set for our family is no 'media' when the kids are awake unless someone is sick. Save all internet for before they get up/naptime/after they're in bed, so I am purposefully engaging THEM and not trying to ignore them. We also don't let them watch TV much, maybe 1 hour per week, since we noticed that it makes them more restless & whiny than normal. (exception: sick on the couh.)
Sarah M

cbryan said...

I'm right there with everyone here. I just went from being a full-time working mom, to only working 2 days a week and I'm trying really hard to get readjusted and be the mom I always wanted to be.

kt_kthx said...

It's so good that you see it now, and not in hind sight. This is a sign that you're doing a great job so far! We are our own worst critics, remember that!

I read an article recently about how over the years, children are getting less and less creative. That made me sad. Maybe incorporating more family "art/craft projects" will be something I can do when the time comes to have a family one day!

Visible Voice said...

Um yes...amen! Feel the same way!

robin said...

I've reflected on this quite a bit..and after hearing from my kids friends talking about their parents I've come to a couple of conclusions of things I know I've done right
I've never givin "chores" to any of my kids
I've never "grounded" any of my kids

I've learned bringing home a D or F in a class isn't the end of the world..yeah I'm upset if I know they haven't made an effort and my statement of "I know you can do better" and their knowledge of my disappointment has always been enough to put them in the right direction
With 5 kids there has never been any "order" we go with flow. I ring a bell to call them in and serve a buffet of food every night and we don't sit at a table and discuss the day's events we sit in front of the tv and watch our favorite programs together as a family whether it's "how I met your mother" or ""so you think you can dance" at any one time I could have 15 kids eating dinner at my house just hanging out..chaos? yes..you bet.. but surrounded by laughter and love from 2 parents they know who love each other and them and are just trying to "make it" one day to the next

Sara said...

Thank you! Now I don't feel so alone...I need to intentionally "mother" my children better. Granted, we have a new baby. Maybe I'll start with meals? Or play time? We need to play together more...

♥ Carrie Shan said...

Thanks for this post! Our family is going through the same thing...kind of a re-adjustment period. We have to do it ever so often because it is easy to lose track of your priorities, esp. as a WAHM. I try to make a list of priorities and goals and really evaluate what is important...to be intentional in that direct one on one time with eachother. I try to evaluate each day in what is really important as far as the future end result. And I also do a lot of praying...that helps best!

AshleyAnn said...

Rachel, you are great writer. You always communicate in a clear, fun way that leaves your readers wanting more. Really great post.

As far as what I am good at and what I am not...you'd have to ask my kids that one. I will admit to being quite the master Lego architect though.

Kel said...

I was feeling and praying on this exact thing all day yesterday. I feel so guilty when I can;t bring myself into the innocent joy that my 5 year old and 1 year have. It's such a challange to, like you said, redirect them with humor. Thanks for the insight. Inspires me do do what I know needs to happen as well.

jari spry said...

yep - this is fantastic. it's exactly what i've needed to hear from anotha motha!
i need to work on being more patient and letting the girls just be kids. it seems as though they've already grown up way too fast and i've missed a lot. i need to stop making them 'pick up' all the time because this is our home, we all live in it, and their stuff should be allowed everywhere. but mostly for me, i need to start focusing more attention on them randomly during the day. because they are older and more independent (not needing me so much :() i miss the little things that i find out after the fact... ie, yesterday they were in the bedroom drawing in their notepad about dream bedrooms. cuuuute. and i missed it because i was too involved in my daily to dos.
let's do coffee... we could talk about so much more!
xoxo.

Good Girls Studio said...

What a heartfelt post! Most days I feel like such a failure as a mom. Need to start recognizing the little things I do, the hugs I get in, the meals that get made & the laughs that get shared!

Candace said...

I feel like a good mom when I remember to make jello & put it in the fridge 4 hours before dinner or when I have the freezer stocked with popcicles. It's that simple.
Then I just try hard to go easy on myself & love them all the best that I can.
:)
you are swesome Rachel!

Andrea!!! said...

While there is something to be said for neatness, there is also to be said about a messy house filled with love and learning. I read the following poem when Ella was just born, and it helps me keep things in perspective (and try to let go of some of my perfectionistic ways!)

Mother, O Mother, come shake out your cloth,
Empty the dustpan, poison the moth,
Hang out the washing, make up the bed,
Sew on a button and butter the bread.

Where is the mother whose house is so shocking?
She's up in the nursery, blissfully rocking.

Oh, I've grown as shiftless as Little Boy Blue,
Lullabye, rockabye, lullabye loo.
Dishes are waiting and bills are past due
Pat-a-cake, darling, and peek, peekaboo

The shopping's not done and there's nothing for stew
And out in the yard there's a hullabaloo
But I'm playing Kanga and this is my Roo
Look! Aren't his eyes the most wonderful hue?
Lullabye, rockaby lullabye loo.

The cleaning and scrubbing can wait till tomorrow
But children grow up as I've learned to my sorrow.
So quiet down cobwebs; Dust go to sleep!
I'm rocking my baby and babies don't keep.

- Ruth Hulbert Hamilton

Rubyellen said...

you mirrored my current sentiments exactly! i think this awareness of a desire to not be complacent is always a good thing.

i hope your days until brett comes back fly by like lightening speed!

RachelDenbow said...

Andrea! Loved that rhyme! Going to print it out somewhere and keep it ready for those days my priorities go askew!

Thanks to everyone for these wonderful affirmations. It feels good to be in this together!

bailey said...

you really hit home with this one! this post is EXACTLY what i needed to read this morning. thank you!

my biggest weakness is separating work from play. i am a working mother of 2 young girls and i get too easily wrapped up in achieving personal tasks each day. i have set a new goal for myself to focus on the interests of the others in my family instead of just myself.

life is busy with a family but it's so fullfilling to make it through the trying times. please keep sharing! i find so much inspiration in your writing!

Jenny said...

I have to say being a mother some days is one of the hardest things I have ever done. It's hard for me sometimes to just sit still and play. I always feel like there is something to be done. I beat myself up all the time for not being all that I can be. I want to make memories, and cherish each moment of laughter, joy, and growing.

Heather at A "Love"ly Mess said...

Great post!!!

Olivia said...

I think every mother, working in the home and outside of the home, goes through this at some point...if not at least every day ;) It's hard to be giving all the time when you have personal tasks you want to accomplish, especially when you have a little tugging at your pant leg, or a little one wailing in the background because he dropped his crackers. I work outside the home, and even though we have a routine, it is hectic most of the time. I tend to get the worst of my kids at night...they are tired from being at school/daycare all day, they are hungry and want to eat the house the *minute* we walk through the door. It gets frustrating, but then I stop and realize, like you do, you only have one chance to mother them as little people before they grow up and go out on their own. So, in these times, I through caution to the wind, and just love them...let them be and get on with life. As cliche as it sounds, I try not to sweat the small things, and I make sure we play each night, read stories, just have time where it's all about them, and nothing about the house, bills, laundry, etc. And really, all I have to do is look in their little eyes, and realize nothing else matters.

Great post! Oh, and we meal plan and budget and it's tought at first, but is so worth it when you start seeing the rewards of it all.

Good luck!

astr!d said...

you did a great job at explaining your goals. and also that you need to forgive yourself when you don't meet those goals!! that's the most important thing and something i struggle with. we're not superheros!! our energy, patience, thirst for life are not endless. there is no way any of us can be perfect but we somehow think we can. we have to let go, rest when we need to, take a time out for ourselves, not fuss over small things like chores and just hang on for the ride!! your right, were only young once and our kids are only young once too! so i try to make each day count and its a constant struggle. but i believe with all my heart, if we have the best intentions, forgiveness, and faith in ourselves and our lord- we can do it!!!

tiffany. said...

you can do it Mama!!! :))

xo

fernandflora said...

Mmm. Good post and honest thoughts. I'm not a mom yet but my sister has two little boys and she often shares similar desires and struggles with me. I passed the link on to her. I think it will be an encouragement....

Big Yellow Dog said...

Holy cow, I feel like this post came straight from my own heart! I've been finishing up school since my son was born, working part time, and now applying for grad school. He'll be two next month and I can't help but almost feel guilty for being so busy and distracted during these precious first years of his life. It is hard to take the time to sit on the floor with him and stack blocks or read a book or actually play with him at the park, but it's so worth it. It is easier to put Thomas on (honestly, I just can't help but give in when he shouts 'too too!!!'), but it's so much more fun and meaningful to dance around to some fun music. I want to be intentional and give my son a happy, meaningful childhood, even if it means putting other things on the backburner.
Margaret

nicole said...

This was beautiful. I don't think I want to have kids, but I do want to be a teacher & I always have similar discussions going on inside my head about trying to do the best for my students & choosing that over what is easy. I'm sure you're a fantastic mother :]

Meg said...

goof for, rachel, for being mindful of these things. i can imagine it is no easy task to be the best mom you can possibly be, but your kids will appreciate all of the effort and love you're putting forth.

RTS said...

I never leave a comment, but you hit the nail right on the head with this one so I wanted to thank you by adding to the dialogue. Being a young mom is a privilege and I know that I for one sometimes take that for granted. I'm not a stay at home mom and having so much on my plate causes me to be inflicted, from time to time, with a horrible disease known as "self-centered tunnel vision"; not a good thing when you have a kid and a husband to take care of. Thanks for such an honest and thought-provoking post!

Carla said...

Well said. I feel the same way, a lot of the time. I try to remind myself to slow down, listen and look my children in the eye when I am interacting with them.

I just finished reading "Unconditional Parenting" by Alfie Kohn and it was awesome. It really helped me refocus on what kind of mom I want to be.

Corynne Escalante said...

wow, thanks for the honesty. i totally identify with this. it can be really hard to want to "be there" in body AND mind when we are doing something "boring" to be with our kids. but it is rewarding when i sit down and do it. this encourages me to carry on. a good reminder. thank you!

heyjenrenee said...

ohmygosh ... i totally get this on all levels. you are an awesome mom and always seem to have the right things in check when it comes to your kiddos. i'm the worst at getting stuck in a rut when dealing with different phases/challenges, so my new mantra is a piece of advice from a friend. if what you're doing isn't working, do things differently. (it's so simple, but sometimes i feel like i have to do things the way i've always done things.) :)

The Coons Family said...

THis is such a great post and every young/new mom can relate to it I'm sure. I'm a mom to a 3 yr old and a 19 month old and every now and then I get into a rut about all the things I want to be organized (former ocd neat freak here), but then I realize that my kids will remember the great day we had blowing bubbles at the park over the laundry being folded, but not all put away. One day we will have extra clean houses, moments to ourselves and time to do our tasks, but we will SO miss these moments and first discoveries from our little ones. When I told someone the other day that I was a total mom and sort of lost my old self she said "Give yourself a break-you're making a person and doing a great job at it!" :) Thank you for the thought provoking post. :)

Kate said...

this genuine effort means so much.
stick to it, but let reality exist, for the next 25 years and you'll be set. (speaking as a daughter)

Today's Letters said...

well said, r. you inspire me.
e

Brina said...

I'm reading these comments as I look around my apartment, thinking how I have to clean it because I'm having a friend over for crafting tomorrow. I'm not even married yet, though I live with my fiancé, and I have a lot of guilt over not folding laundry or washing dishes. But my hunny doesn't care if the house isn't spotless! He cares that we spend time together, laugh and enjoy each other. I do all sorts of things for him, like making his coffee in the morning and keeping his cinnamon rolls in the house. Those are the things that make me feel like a good girlfriend, not the cleaning. Thanks everyone for giving me some perspective! :)

Toni Brockliss said...

Such a beautiful post that I have thought about all day.
There is so much pressure to be a supermum these days but in the end the pressure only comes from within. It's all about forgiveness.
To forgive yourself for days that felt like a massive fail.
To forgive yourself when you tried to finish a quilt for your children because all you wanted to do was keep them warm, but they wanted you to look at them instead of the sewing machine.
To forgive yourself if you don't do the laundry for 5 days.
To forgive yourself when you get excited about a goal that doesn't involve your children when 5 years ago your only goal was to have children.
You try your best and you must tell yourself that every single day. A loved Mum (including the love you give yourself)is a loving mum.
Even tonight I was pulling the vacuum out and my little boy said "Not tonight Mum. It's too loud."
He's happy I am not whizzing past picking up random crumbs and that I can spend that time with him.
Well that's ok with me.
I will forgive myself for my dirty floor and that Mrs Brady had a clean one. Although she did have Alice.
xxx

Tracey said...

ooh that's me talking.

MandiCoulter said...

wow i almost feel like i wrote this myself! i have to remind myself everyday that i only get to be a young mom with young ones once and that is right now and to absolutely enjoy it! also the idea to take the time and refocus on yourself and your family is so important, especially in the wahm role! thanks for the great post rachel :)

http://commonthreadskingston.com/

Jaimie said...

I often get very impatient and in those moments, I have to think these things to myself too. I think we all do for one reason or another.

Carla said...

This is a great post, and I love that poem! I was a professional nanny for years before I was a mom. As a nanny my only job was to play and care for the little ones. When I get scattered and overwhelmed I try to remember that my most important job is the one I used to get paid for. We are so lucky to be young moms of young happy and healthy babies! Your little ones are very lucky to have you, any mom that cares enough to try to do better is doing a great job!
- Carla
smallfriendly.com

ella@lifeologia said...

This is a great post.
It's a hard life for a woman nowadays - somehow I think it was way easier generations ago.... for one thing - there's too many high-tech devices (pun intended) to keep us from spending that quality time together as a family.

I try and try to keep the house clean and the laundry at least in the laundry room ;) but it catches up to me... and then I just remind myself - CAN'T DO IT ALL.
It's good to get teamwork involvement, the hubby, the kids (if they're old enough), maybe your mom or MIL (maybe not ;) But the point is to balance things around so you're not constantly overwhelmed. Cooking for a few days makes sense, so that you spend more time sitting and eating than in the kitchen cooking everyday.
I work (almost) full time from home and have my daughter 3 out of those days with me. We try and spend as much quality time as possible and I try to have good activities on hand in case I get busy answering emails or finishing up a project.
We also bake at least once a week together - that activity alone I know she will treasure for ever and it will be most memorable for both of us (even though she's not even 3)
Someone also once told me that it's good to have more than one kid - then they entertain eachother!
Good point but not always doable for everyone ;)
Great post. Gave me a lot to think about... sorry i rambled ;)

Miranda said...

Yep. Absolutely. I love it. You took the words right out of my mouth.

Megan said...

wow -- this post spoke to my heart. my first little one is only a couple weeks old and thoughts similar to yours have been running around in my head. my efforts are more simple, such as trying to speak softly and stroke my sweet girl's face as she nurses, instead of playing on my phone. to me, my challenge is to be completely present. it seems like life presents so many distractions -- phones, computers, tvs, movies -- that sometimes it's hard to jut be instead of doing. i can completely relate to your feelings of exhaustion in these efforts, and my girl is still so small. thank you for writing your thoughts down, and inspiring me to be more intentional with my time.

Concrete Jungle said...

Reading through all the coments I'd just like to say to all you mums of young ones give yourselves a break, it is lovely to focus so but you all are too hard on yourselves relax a bit and just be with the children.
Just having you there and respecting them as children and looking after yourself and respecting yourself as the adult usually works pretty well. A little bit of instinct and a little less analysis, it's summer enjoy!

Karen M. Andersen said...

Rachel, you echo what myself and many many other mums go through in raising their children. In fact, I don't think there is one mum in the whole world who cannot say that they felt like this at some time or another.

We all go through phases like this and analyse our parenting from time to time, and by doing that, we are able to grow as mothers and become better people for it.

Thank you for sharing and helping us all to feel that it's "okay" :)

Karen xx

Skooks said...

Just yes, to everything.

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Devin said...

It's so wonderful to know us moms are not alone in our craziness. As a young mother of a 3 and 10 mo. old I know how hard some days can be to keep up with every task that's ingrained into our heads. Some days can be full of raw edges but most days are blissful and lovely when everything that is important can stay intact. The important things are the easy part...everything else can wait til tomorrow...or the next! Thanks for showing us your rawness!

Lillabilly said...

I think you took the words straight out of the minds of every mother out there who is trying her best but still gets tired and frustrated and all the rest of it. Kudos to you for putting it all so succinctly. I wanna print out this post and stick it on my fridge to remind myself every day of how I want to be and that I'm not the only one who finds it a little hard sometimes. Thankyou so very much!

kansas said...

thanks for that! i'm not a mom...yet - but I feel like this is just good advice for anyone! being intentional about what we are doing is so important! thank you very much! :)