Friday, September 16, 2011

Motherhood

Last week Stephen went to New Jersey on business and I stayed with my parents for the week.  I hate how I seem to digress into a 17-year-old whenever I visit, but I like to think I did better this time at maintaining my own age.  You know, cleaning up after myself, helping with chores while I was there, watching my children.  The things normal adults do. Have I mentioned how great my mom is? That she makes my every visit feel stress free, even when I'm doing work with her?

Anyway, I brought a bunch of projects and my wonderful mother helped me get things together and watched the kids so I could get some of them out of the way.  She is amazing.  She also came to my house to help me today. I asked her to come and she did, because she is a super mom.  Sometimes I just wonder how she does it, she is such a great mom, because sometimes I feel like something is missing in me.  Sometimes I look at my kids and I just don't know what to do.  They're happy, their basic needs are met.  But something is missing.

I have been feeling lately like I need to reevaluate my parenting.  I am coming to realize that raising children is just so much more than taking care of them and their needs.  Argh, how do I voice this without sounding terrible?

My mom is great.  I love watching her when she is with my children because I feel like she shows me how to be a mom.  She plays with them, asks them questions, shows them interesting things, gets them snacks, and makes them feel important.  I see it in Ben's face every time she visits.

I am good at making lists and goals and meeting specific needs.  Ben is thirsty? Get him a drink.  Sophie is cranky? Feed her, hold her, pacifier her, rock her, put her down.  We're not saving as much as we'd like? Reevaluate the budget spreadsheet.  Dishes are dirty? Do the dishes.  Fridge empty? Plan meals and shop.  I am good at concrete things like that.

I think that I try to fix a situation and move on to "the list."  It is easy for me to feel like I've accomplished something important this way.  That I'm taking care of my children by taking care of the household.  But is it the best thing I should be doing?  I don't think so.

I think I get Ben comfortable and step away too quickly.  I think I spend too much time on the computer.  I think I need to involve my children more in my tasks and, more importantly, I think I need to be a bigger part of theirs.  I need to stop and play.  I need to listen.  I need to sing and dance with them.  Teach them the best of what I know and love. I think I need to be as attached to them as I possibly can.  Before they get older and start pushing me away.

I'm going to try something drastically different from the task-oriented way I've been living.  I'm going to set for myself two to three things each day that are the most important concrete goals so I feel like I've accomplished something and then devote the rest of the day to spending it with my little children.  For example, tomorrow my goals are to (1) get caught up with the dishes, (2) vacuum and (3) keep the computer off.  The rest of the day I hope to spend playing trains, making pizza with Ben, and cuddling a not-feeling-so-well Sophie.  I think this is realistic enough for me to feel like I'm still maintaining a household and still spend time with the children.  Perhaps I just need to work on our quality time?

I know this post is a bit heavy, but that's what I'm feeling right now: the weight of raising two little ones to be happy and fulfilled children who trust that their mother will be there for them.  The pressure is enormous sometimes.  I just need to take it easy and be there for them.



On that note, what ideas do you have for spending time and playing with your children at home? How do you pass the time in a meaningful way?  Ideas would be very much appreciated.

3 comments:

  1. Spending time with my cousin this summer opened my eyes to another way of parenting that I found interesting: let them entertain themselves and you follow their lead. My cousin's son is 6 and was a meth baby, he has a lot of special needs but he is an amazing little boy. He has such an imagination, it's incredible! He doesn't have too many toys, but he loves super heros and has action figures of almost every single one. He loves to pretend to be one (or more!) at a time and he likes to dictate the play. He'll tell you what to say, run around acting crazy telling you what is happening, and he has a blast. My cousin did not raise his son with a structured list of playtime activities. Remember when we were little and our parents would say to us, "Go find an activity!" It is like night and day when you see a kid going from keeping themself entertained to being dependent on a parent or other adult figure entertaining them non-stop. This little boy sometimes has outbursts related to the damage the drugs did to him, none of which were his fault, but when you pay attention, you can see the change in him when you actually listen and talk to him instead of just telling him something like, "Big boys don't cry" or ignoring his tantrums. There will always be a time for structured activities, but sometimes I think you get to know your kids best when you just let them play, and you follow what they want to do. Listen to what they are actually saying, watch what they are actually doing and have a real conversation with them. I don't have any kids yet, but spending so much time with my extended family (old and new!) this summer was like a crash course in parenting, watching and participating. I think being pregnant made me pay attention a little bit better than I have in the past! Anyway, my point may be moot with you and your family, but it felt good to actually put into words part of this experience.

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  2. It sounds like you're doing everything right. And "right" might be different every day.
    I liked having my kids join me with whatever I was doing. They can dust, sweep, wipe down, whatever it is YOU'RE doing. It usually means more work for you, but they learn that doing it together makes it fun.
    Melody

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  3. You know, I have felt *exactly* the same way before, Alica. You'll figure it out. We are so blessed to have Heavenly Father there for reference, and to be able to talk to Him whenever we need that help. If you set a specific set of circumstances when you will always be with your children or pay attention to your children, it will help a lot. Right now, I'm bribing Nathaniel (with 15 min of computer time) to help me with dinner every day, and while I could definitely fix it faster without him, he stays out of trouble and he's learning, and it's fun to spend time with him. And I *love* it when James sits in my lap, even when it's crazy inconvenient, at times. But Alicia, I completely understand. .

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