I was a fairly well-balanced person before having a child. I ran marathons, ate well, slept well, was a good employee, and maybe even a good wife. So why did the addition of one tiny, gorgeous, little person change all that? For the past three years, I’ve been hunting that balance down like nobody’s business.
Finding the right amount of this and that while raising children is a struggle for all parents. But is it disrespectful to either gender to suggest that we moms have a harder time finding evenness, proportion, and harmony in our lives?
After having my son, the love of my life, I can actually feel a physical pull toward events that involve him: planning play dates for him, taking him to the park, teaching him how to grow tomatoes, and so on. I have a strong, unplanned-for desire to be the one who writes the letter to his teacher, puts him to bed at night, and calms him down after a nightmare. But the pot of extra time it takes to do those things I love wasn’t handed to me at the hospital when he was born. (I also forgot to pick up the instruction manual for raising him. Did anyone grab an extra copy for me?)
My son is almost four, so we are well past the sleepless nights, breastfeeding struggles, and endless colds and fevers. But I still find myself with the, “How am I going to get everything done?” conundrum. If it’s my husband’s turn to take on bath time, I have 20 minutes to myself. What to do? Let’s see, I haven’t worked out in over two weeks, so maybe I should pop in that Jillian Michaels DVD. Oooh, sitting down with a good book never seems to happen, so I might take this opportunity to read and relax a bit. But no, we’re going out of town in two days and have overflowing laundry baskets. Something has to be done about that.
I don’t think I’m alone in feeling some guilt when I choose the book over the laundry, or the nap over the workout. And yet, these are valuable ways to spend time! Time that all of us should make for ourselves somehow. When we take that 20 minutes to rest and relax, we are undoubtedly more cheerful with our children. Asking our partners to take care of the laundry this week translates into a chance to read a magazine. (It also shows our children that men can, in fact, do housework.)
Mother’s Day recently passed, and with it all of the love expressed by adult children to their mothers. On one of my favorite websites, Integrative Nutrition, I found some very touching sentiments employees shared about their mothers.
- “There’s nothing my mother can’t do. She puts everyone (including our pets!) before herself.”
- “My mom is amazing because she is constantly giving and doing things for others while expecting nothing in return.”
- “My mom gave me life and the giving has not stopped since.”
These are beautiful, loving, heartfelt sentiments. I hope that someday my son will write these things about me. I want him to know that I’m a caring person and that I love every second we spend together. But I also hope he can describe what I did in an attempt to remain a whole person.
I hope he can say, “My mother is amazing because I grew up knowing I was loved. She adored and cared for me while at the same time allowing herself to continue with her own interests. She made sure that my father was involved in all aspects of my life, and once in awhile she spent time alone. My mother knew that going jogging or taking a night away with friends meant she would return to me refreshed, healthy, and a good example of someone who pursued her dreams.” This issue reminds me of the FAA policy for oxygen masks. If the masks drop, put yours on before you put on your child’s. If neither of you can breathe, you’re in trouble.
With that said, it’s now important that I live that way. I think we all know how difficult this can be! I hope to inspire my son to write (or at least think) those words when he gets older.
QUESTION: How can you be a living inspiration to your children?
CHALLENGE: Think about what you would want your child to say about you, then choose to live that way today.