Saturday, January 24, 2009

At Home with a Super-Mom

Yes, there is more about the wedding, but later. (Is it just me, or does that lily look...particularly matrimonial?) It takes a while to process. Today: True Confessions of a Reformed Super-Mom.
When I was the mother of young children, babes indeed, I was all about the outings. There were Bible studies, and volunteer work, and actually working, and going to the museums and the parks and the walks, and exercise class (I know, it's a distant memory, but I did) and the birthday parties, and then more Bible Study .. and the practices, and the....bleh, bleh, bleh - all that good-mother stuff I did. . . and did I mention the Women's groups and Bible studies?...and the whatevers I could find to get out of the house? I was all about the outings.
I lived life fast-paced, and interesting, and challenging, and super-charged and way cool and the pace of our life was frantic. I was frantic. Also busy, and so very proud of myself for how much I could get accomplished with all these babies around me. Rock-star in the mothering world. Ask anybody. Ok, maybe not. I was probably scary in my Rock-starness.
Also, I didn't so much like to be alone with myself, and my thoughts, and even our children. They were scary. What if something happened that I couldn't manage? Would I be a failure?

A wise mother of children older than ours asked me "WHY?" Also she was brave. Because I knew so much about mothering and was I so damn COMPETENT, I cannot imagine how anyone dared to challenge me. Our children spent more time with the church nursery ladies and the exercise nursery ladies and the Bible study nursery ladies than they spent with me. To this day, The Sophisticate and BigB take great pleasure in talking about all the many, many nights - even hundreds of nights - they had to eat a frozen TV dinner (the kind with the little square portion of corn, because fast food would have been a sign of bad-mothering) and then go to the exercise nursery. They speak as if it were some kind of torture. And I thought they were having FUN, with nursery toys, and an ever-changing cast of caregivers.Also, I had some chronically cranky children who didn't really know how to entertain themselves at home. (Yikes). Why would they? I was busy entertaining them. Or paying someone else to entertain them while I entertained myself. Watch out.I got them out of the house because I wanted to be out of the house. I also wanted to keep the house neat and orderly, as a sign of my competence. With them there, then they made a mess, which had to be cleaned up. I also didn't like being imprisoned with our little ones.

One day, our wise big boy (who was probably all of 4) said - "Mom, can't we go somewhere to play, only it's home all day?" His sister had been expressing that for days by refusing to cooperate with getting dressed, (i.e., she didn't want to wear the really cute outfit with matching panties, but instead wanted to wear pajamas all day, preferably accessorized with an unfortunate pink vinyl belt) and arching her back when it was time to get in the carseat. Competent, I tell you.

So, eventually I listened, since they always tell you exactly what they need. I did just as LittleKidB suggested - I designated a day at home all day, no outings, no errands, no Bible Study. A day at home every week. It seemed blasphemous and ungodly, but I did it anyway. I wish I could remember how it happened, and I am sure I could make up a dramatic story that would bring tears to my eyes, but honestly, I have no idea what pushed me over the edge. I had to be pushed over the edge to stay home. Contemplate that.
What I found out is that they really wanted to be home and just piddling around home without interruption, without me directing every minute. They didn't want to be interrupted in the middle of playing "boats in bubbles" in the tub, or fashioning frozen dinners out of Play-Doh simply because I was ready to go somewhere! And pajamas all day, with or without accessories are fun too. Actually more fun than the exercise nursery.

So - I learned to give them a day at home at least once a week. It became Tuesday. When my other two babies came along, my Bigs were in school, so we still did a lot of running - but I tried to give them at least a couple of mornings and afternoons that were ONLY interrupted when it was time to go pick up the sibs from school. It made me a better mother, and our children more calm. Also, me, I got more calm. My house got messy. We have since progressed to dirty. There's always a trade-off.Fast forward to the NOW - our older two children, who I trundled all over and kept all of us busy with entertainment and excitement and stimulation - those two want to go OUT all the time, and consider themselves boring social misfits if they aren't going OUT. OUT somewhere.
My younger ones - the ones who didn't have to do all that crap (due to my frantic-ness) . . .have an easier time entertaining themselves - and seem to be able to pick the outings that are right for them. They decide when to go out,
but don't hesitate to stay home. And make pies. For me.I cannot attribute it completely to what we did when they were small -because much is due to inherent temperament and personality, but I can't help but wonder (Oh, how I long to be Carrie....) if I taught them in those wee years that home was NOT a fun place to be, and that we needed to be GOING to be doing something important.
It's hard to know why, but our Young Son and PPP seem to be content at home, when it's home-time. The Sophisticate and BigB? They have had to learn how to be alone with themselves and to be content with 'finding something to do.' Did they learn that from watching me?

ME? Today? I'm agoraphobic. Totally.

1 comment:

ppp said...

i couldn't help but wonder....