Mothering in a Not So Perfect World
In the world of the mother hood, women make every attempt to present a put together all is calm, all is wonderful front to the world. After all, if something is wrong with their child, it isn’t the father who gets the blame, it is the mother. (Even if a woman dies, she would still get the blame for her children’s problems because she died!) It may seem sexist, but it is the truth.
With social media giving us an opportunity to share every living breathing moment of our days on Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and Twitter, the pressure to have our lives look better than they really are is even more intense. An occasional whine about our children is acceptable because we all have those difficult days, but an entire wall of problems and issue will have many people turning away and unfollowing your posts.
As women, we need to support each other and share out parenting highs and lows. But oftentimes we do not. Here are some of the common lies mothers tell each other.
I Love Having My Children Home All Summer
Once upon a time, America was an agricultural nation who needed the labor of our children to help run and support the family farm. This is no longer necessary, yet our school calendars are still stuck in the agricultural era of our nation.
For mothers who work full time outside the home, they need to find child care for their children so they can continue to receive a paycheck. For mothers at home, the ten weeks of summer vacation mean they have to play “Julie, Your Cruise Director” .
To be honest, the first two weeks are great. No homework, sleeping in, being lazy and permitting your overworked children to get some necessary down time is refreshing. But then, the whine of the wild begins to resonate…”Mom, I’m bored!”
At that moment, September seems like a lifetime away.
To be honest, I know some women who love their summers at home with the kids. The school year is full of scheduled activities that leave some of them without a chance to unwind until ten at night. No schedules means peace and an opportunity to spend time with their kids that they do not get during the school year.
Another group of women that I know love summer with their kids because they have a husband who makes a ton of money-they can go on fun outings all the time. They do not have to rely on free library activities or trips to the dollar movie theater to keep their children entertained. Anything is possible.
Other women that I know have healthy parents or other family members who love to take the kids for the day or come over to watch the little ones so Mommy can get a break. A chance to recharge their batteries is all a mother needs to make it through another week of “What are we doing today?”.
Lie Number 2-I am Not Overwhelmed
If I am to be honest, I did tell this lie when my twins were younger. Too many times, if I said something about how tired I was or how I could not keep up with my twins, someone would tell me how I chose to adopt them, so I should not complain.
Seriously? Because I chose to enlarge my family via a route different than biology, I gave up my “Mom cannot be overwhelmed” card?
In a parent/child class I took when my twins were toddlers, another woman with twins was responding to questions other moms were asking her about how challenging it was to have two children the same age. She said it was easy parenting her boys!
I interrupted her and said, “You have full time help. That is why you think it is easy!” (the woman that was actually running after her kids in class while she chatted was her full time nanny). She gave me a look and told me how she was on her own with her husband at night and there was no help. I told her it must be nice to have a husband who comes home every evening. Suffice to say, we spoke very little for the remaining classes.
My husband rarely came home before the kids went to bed. There were times that, after I put my twins down for the night, I would lock my bathroom door and cry. I was tired and overwhelmed, but had to put on a brave face to the world.
All of this took place before the advent of social media. I wonder how much more difficult it is now to put on a “things are fantastic” face because the entire world is looking at you. I know other mothers of older twins, and they lament the lost days of babyhood. Really? Not me.
I'm Not Bored
Getting tired of bon bon eating?
Lie number three is one that many mothers will never share. After all, it is considered a privilege to be a stay at home mom when so many others have to work to pay the rent. How dare you complain about being bored?
It is not that being with your kids is boring, it is that so much of your life revolves around them, you barely have time or energy to do something for yourself. Again, if you have help with your kids so you can take a class, meet a friend for coffee or join a gym that has babysitting services, you get the “me” time that is so necessary.
When your kids are older, there comes a time when you want more than PTA committees to be your social life. Maybe you want a part time job, go back to college, or do something else that is out of your wheelhouse. You are ready for different kinds of challenges. Some might think you are crazy to give up life at home, but unless your spouse can finance days of shopping and lunches out, being home all day can be a bit lonely.
My Marriage is Even Better Now That We Have Kids
Okay, this is one lie that, if you hear it, watch for Pinocchio nose growth on the person saying it. It may be politically incorrect to say out loud, but children do put an added stress to your marriage. You wanted kids, you love your kids, but now your life of couple-hood has changed. There is a dance that your spouse and you have to learn if you are going to make it together with your relationship intact. This is especially true if you have multiples, children with special needs or a child are going through some kind of illness, whether it be physical or mental.
According to the non-profit organization Relationship Research Institute in Seattle, marital satisfaction plummets within the first three years after becoming a parent for two-thirds of couples.
If mothers told the truth, marriage after kids is different. You can no longer be spontaneous-life revolves around nap time and feedings with infants. As children get older, it is not uncommon for one parent to take a child to one activity and the other parent take the other child to hers, and maybe sometime later that night they will meet up, tired from all the running around. When do they get couple time?
Marriage can get better over time after kids only if there is open communication between the two partners. Remember as the kids get older and eventually leave the nest, the only thing left is the two of you. As challenging as it is at times, both parents have to work together to maintain marital satisfaction. Once the kids leave, you will have time alone once again.
Bette Midler in Parental Guidance
Profound words at the one minute, 20 second mark
Motherhood is a challenging world. If we open up to others and tell the truth, maybe the journey will not be as hard.
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