Tuesday, June 17, 2008

untitled mommy blog post, part one

I didn't invest a ton of time trying to figure out what it would be like to be a mother before embarking on the great parenting journey. I always knew I wanted children in a generic sense, but I was never one to fawn over others' spawn. Even when we decided we wanted to try, I had a better picture of the mother I did not want to be than what would be real and true for me.

I couldn't imagine myself as the overly "attached" parent. I never intended to be a lactivist, baby-wearing, co-sleeping, organic food or nothing, plastic-toy eschewing, crunchy kind of mama -- even though I wore Ellie close to my heart well past when she could crawl, and had both children sleeping in my bed when they were babies because that was what worked. While I respect that kind of mother, it isn't me.

I could never be the extreme soccer mom. I don't over-schedule my kids, and make very deliberate choices to limit their activities, play dates and obligations to the pursuits and people they truly enjoy (swimming notwithstanding). I am not competitive about them. I participate in their schools, but I'm not an uber-volunteer. What's more important to me is making space for their free time -- to play, discover, create, dawdle and loaf if that's what they want. I also want them to develop a sibling relationship which is difficult if not impossible when the only quality time they spend together is in the back of the car. I'm not saying that we're not busy -- we are. But as much as I encourage their friendships and hobbies, I also want to be able to take a quick trip to the library with them or see what we find at the beach, together and alone.

I couldn't be the kind of mother who completely outsourced the care and nurturing of my children; notice that I say "completely" because I fully support having help to whatever extent a family needs to function --whether that is a nanny, a housekeeper, a babysitting cooperative, awesome and involved friends and family, day care, extended care, whatever. I'd lose my mind if the only absence I had from my children was at work, but I can not identify with people who never, ever see their kids.

As far as being a mother goes, I'm very secure. I know my kids, I know my boundaries, and I know what it feels like to be the kind of mom I want to be. I still operate under my personal parenting philosophy of guiding my children into situations where they can be successful (even swimming lessons).

When I did dream of these babies, decorating their nurseries in my mind, it never once occurred to me what it would take to preserve myself, to be a woman with children, not just a mother.

Despite my efforts, from time to time I notice myself becoming someone else I never intended to be. Sometimes I'm a martyr mom.

...to be continued.


Paige said...

please continue...i am hanging on your every word...

Jessica said...

What a thoughtful and thought-filled post. I never knew what kind of mom I wanted to be. It's still evolving.

The main thing I want to be is a non-yelling mom! Some days I totally fail at that.

I'm hosting a "It's Real Life" fest on Thursday. I'd love to have you come play!

MamaNeena said...

hurry up and continue...you're on to something big!!

Ms Picket To You said...

this is lovely. lovely. and brings up so many issues for me, in a good way.

thanks for this. more please!

Liz said...

This is very thoughtful and thought-provoking blog entry. It made me think of the kind of mother I want to be and like someone else said, it's constantly evolving. I'm glad I'm not the only one who feels like the martyr mom sometimes (especially as a working mom!). I can't wait for your next post!