Saturday, April 9, 2011

Parenting with Blinders On

Disclaimer: If this post is disjointed and makes no sense, it's because I typed it one-handed, while nursing Edith and mediating disagreements between the kids. Multi-tasking at it's finest!


For the last 6 weeks I have been in a bit of a quarantine. With Edith on oxygen and under strict instruction not to take her anywhere until May, we've been hanging out in our little corner of the family room, tethered and tied down. I have emerged a few times, but in general it is a very Edith-centric and sheltered life I lead.


Oddly enough, though difficult, this has been a bit of a relief for me. The situation I find myself in has given me a break from the nagging feeling that I often have that I should be more and do more as a mom. I am being forced to accept the fact that there's only so much I can do.


I am more limited in what I can offer these days, and do you know what? My little family's world (okay, big family) hasn't been shattered. In fact we're thriving. In a much better way, even.


Instead of us quickly going back to a normal where I shouldered maybe too much of the burden, yet still felt as though I don't do enough, the rest of the family has had to step up. There is a much more equitable distribution around here these days, and I plan on it being our new norm.


And because I've been living such a sheltered existence I have been unable to make so many of the comparisons I am guilty of. Those that make me feel I am not doing enough. You know, those comparisons where I look at other mothers and assume they are doing a much better job than I am and their children must be so much more happy and fulfilled than mine. 


(Well, except when I look at those mothers who berate and yell at their children in public. They should know that such things should be saved for the privacy of home. I mean, any good mother knows that.)


It's kind of like I'm parenting with blinders on, able to see only what's right in front of me.


I know of some people who have as many children as I do (Yes, there are others besides me who are crazy enough or are just plain stupid about birth control), and I hear of them taking all of their kids and sometimes even a gazillion of their kids' friends to the zoo or a park every day of the week without their husbands and then on a mini-trip over the weekend, and I feel guilty. Bad mom.


I see these women in the blogosphere who have cute, craft-filled homes and cute, clean, headband-wearing children and babies, who have planned crafts and games to fill up their children's entire day (nay, lives!), and I feel guilty. Bad mom.


I know moms who go with the flow.


Moms who don't cry over spilled milk and never feed their kids chicken nuggets.


I am not that mom. I am anal and high-strung. A schedule is my friend. I cry over spilled milk (well, you would, too, if the house you were living in had carpet in the kitchen).


I am the mom of children who will never get to have a friend over because she tells them their room has to be clean first!


But, I am also the woman whose children are well-behaved (generally) because they have been fed on-time and are well-rested. 


My children are able to amuse themselves because they haven't had their lives scheduled, and we most certainly aren't going to go anywhere that will do it for them.


My children know that sometimes chicken nuggets will have to do.


My children know they should learn to get along with their siblings because they'll never get to have anyone over.


My children are good readers because they have lots of time to fill. To read. (Athough, if they used that time to clean their rooms, instead, they'd get to have a friend over...)


My children know not to spill their milk or Mom will cry.


Crocodile tears. And swear words.


But, seriously, what I've focused on the past 6 weeks is only what I see here at home. What experience. My kids are great. They are thriving. Sure, I'm not perfect and there is plenty more I could do, could be, but I don't have to do and be everything. And not all the time. 


I will do what I can for now and strive to be better, but I won't strive to be like someone else as I parent (who knows, maybe they feed their kids Pixie Stix for dinner and make their daughters sleep in curlers). I am going to be the mom that works for me and my family. I am going to parent with blinders on.

20 comments:

SassyMama said...

Good for you!
I find that whenever I get caught up in comparing myself to other mothers I only feel worse about myself. Because I inevitably compare my worst to their best.

So I am very happy for you that the last six weeks have meant less comparisons, a more equitable sharing of work, and a simpler focus.

Well done:)

Rophone said...

Does this mean I have to keep up what I am doing?

I Love You

The Laundry Queen said...

Sassy-- look how succinctly you put it! And I just wasted so many paragraphs trying to get my point across.... ; ) I guess that's what multi-tasking gets me.

Rophone-- of course. ; ) I love you, too.

jww said...

I LOVE THIS POST!!!!!!!!! This is an awesome post. So well-said. So true. I am the anal and uptight mom, too, and I feel ALL KINDS OF GUILT because I don't take my kids and 20 of their friends to the park. I would rather die. And so I just feel guilty instead. Great perspective you shared, and I'm glad other (little) people are stepping up. (Don't worry about taking more paragraphs than Sassy. You KNOW how long my blog posts are! And my comments, too, now that I think about it...)

Melody Joy Fields said...

You are amazing! Look at you trying to feed a child 24 hours a day only to watch her spit most of it up and forget to breathe. Most of our children eat and breathe without us having to think about it. So good for you for not comparing yourself to other moms, because we would pale in comparison.

I have a friend whose children all look perfect everyday. She hang dries all their gymboree clothes, irons them and hangs them in closets. They don't own dressers, because the clothes might get wrinkled. But they eat a lot of cereal for dinner. My children eat 3 squares a day and look like their clothes came out of can.

Everyone makes choices, and your choices are what's best for your family, because you're the mom, and mothers do know best!

The Laundry Queen said...

I don't mind that Sassy said it so succinctly-- I just think it's funny that I struggled and took so many paragraphs to get my point across.

I am the QUEEN of guilt, jww. I could have called my blog Adventures of the Guilt Queen, but it doesn't have quite the same ring.

Melody-- my kids clothes come from a can, too. I love your comment, thanks.

carmar76 said...

*HUGS*

you are an awesome mom raising awesome, intelligent, amazing kids.

you're also an awesome person - wife, friend, photographer.

patti's place said...

You are my daughter! I can remember struggling with much the same issues and a friend of mine said, "you can't be all things to all people, and the sooner you learn that, the happier you'll be" and the other thing said to me was that there is a time and a season for all things and you have to live in the time and season you're in and not try to be somewhere else or to be someone else. Love you!

Sue said...

Love this post. Love you, Sis!

kate hopper said...

A friend just forwarded this on to me and I'm so glad she did. I can totally relate (and I only have two kids)! But I'm so glad you found that home balance. Was your Edith a preemie? I clearly have to go back and read more. I look forward to it!

The Laundry Queen said...

Thanks for visiting, Kate, and I'm so glad you commented! To answer your question-- Edith was a 9 pound 7 ounce bruiser at birth who just forgets to breathe. I hope you will continue to read (and enjoy!).

Erin said...

I'm so glad I read this. I have friends who take their 2 perfect children to the zoo every single Tuesday, and do not understand why I wouldn't want to tag along with my brood. I'm not good about field trips. But like Melody, my kids get three squares, and we eat at the dinner table! That deserves some props!

My Kara, who was full term, was in the NICU for a while for forgetting to breathe when she ate. Sounds similar to your Edith.

The Laundry Queen said...

Erin-- I'm not good at field trips, either! And, yes, forgetting to breathe while eating was exactly Edith!

Lindseybabe said...

I totally love this post. I have stopped reading most blogs and I have spent a lot less time on the social networking site you talk about because I am sick of comparing myself and not feeling enough. I decided to stop doing all that and just live my life and be the kind of mom I know how to be. Some days are better than others...but hey...we are all human!

sara shah said...

Good for you!
I find that whenever I get caught up in comparing myself to other mothers I only feel worse about myself. Because I inevitably compare my worst to their best.

So I am very happy for you that the last six weeks have meant less comparisons, a more equitable sharing of work, and a simpler focus.

Well done:)

rehan khan said...

I LOVE THIS POST!!!!!!!!! This is an awesome post. So well-said. So true. I am the anal and uptight mom, too, and I feel ALL KINDS OF GUILT because I don't take my kids and 20 of their friends to the park. I would rather die. And so I just feel guilty instead. Great perspective you shared, and I'm glad other (little) people are stepping up. (Don't worry about taking more paragraphs than Sassy. You KNOW how long my blog posts are! And my comments, too, now that I think about it...)

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