Saturday, May 31, 2008

Bad Mommy!

**This is a disturbing rant on my part about my mothering "skills." If you think that it is going to be too offensive for you or change your opinion of me, please don't read it. All of the things that I mention in here are being worked on and changed. Originally I published this only as "private" but I want other people to know that they are not the only ones who struggle with successful mothering. Above all, my children know that I love them and I always will.

Why are mothers constantly plagued with guilt? It seems like there is not a thing that I am going to do right in my kids' lives; no matter what choices I make, they are going to end up messed up and incomplete and they are going to have every right to blame me for it. Why? And why do I automatically accept this guilt, recognize it and allow it as though it were some prize?

I know I'm not going to win "mother of the year" and I know that I will probably never be as good a mother as my mother was to me, but why do I feel insecure all the time about the skills that I have as a mother? Is it just my insecurity in general or am I subconsciously admitting to a lack of parenting prowess? Is my guilt justified?

This isn't exactly a new thought and I am confident that I am not the only mother who feels the same way. In fact, several months back I bought a book called, Motherhood: The Guilt That Keeps On Giving, by Julie Ann Barnhill. I never read it because at the same time I bought another parenting book from the same author that dealt with anger. Though I never finished the book (in fact I barely started it) it has stuck with me and I think I have made some changes, though I know I haven't made enough.

I want my kids to grow up happy and healthy with a sincere love of Christ as their personal Lord and Savior. I want them to be well adjusted and confident, intelligent and capable. So far, I feel like I have laid groundwork for lazy, unintelligent beings who only attempt at obedience yet are incapable of achieving the lofty goals that have been set by their authoritative parents. I don't think they feel safe or wanted at home, in fact most of the time they are sent away to their rooms to watch a movie on the small set they each have in their room. A TV, in a toddler's room??? I don't know how to teach them, at their level, even the most basic of things. I fight with their father in front of them until they are confused and upset and yet I don't know how to change. These kids are not going to grow up the way that I want them to and I'm the one who can change that, yet I don't know how.

The answer that came to me is this, "Lose yourself in them." A thought that I've had before, in reference to my mother. She lost herself raising us girls and now that we're gone she feels like she has nothing. We all see her enormous skills and talents, but she feels like she is worthless. I never wanted to lose myself like that. I somehow thought that I could be a stay-at-home mom and still keep my identity. I would be able to sleep in, read books, watch movies and "work" on the computer all day long. Sure, I get up to feed them when they mention that they are hungry or I am ready for a nap, since I know that feeding prior to a nap ensures a better nap for them. Am I even a parent? Maybe the reason I always feel like their babysitter is that I am their babysitter. I am not the one that is invested in their education or training. I am merely marking time until I can do something else. But how to change this? Everyone says that it is easy, that you just include them in what you are doing, but what I do is a solitary activity and doesn't want help, in fact their version of "helping" only frustrates me further and then I dispatch them to their rooms to watch a movie. Oh when they were babies and required so little! I was able to continue my activities because they would sleep most of the day. I would hold them and nurse them and pray over them. Sometime between 15 months and 24 months, that changed. Now they require constant stimulation and activity and unless I am prepared and am doing it with them, they are restless and the only thing that seems to entertain them is a movie. They ask, and I provide. But every time I turn on that TV in Jordyn or Noah's room, I feel like a piece of me is dying. They aren't happier because of it, I'm not happier because of it. The only thing is it is easier. It requires no thought, no planning, no skill and IT WORKS!!! If only it didn't work.

I have an idea: I can start the day with a movie. I usually have a hard time getting up and ready, so the movie is easy distraction while the family rises. We eat breakfast, they get dressed (since I showered right away), and we do some morning chores. The movie will still be on, probably, so they can either watch or join in my chores. I don't have too many chores to do when I do them on a daily basis, so this should be easy. After that, we can have "active time". They can choose an activity from a jar that usually requires activity. Examples are: play a game, play outside, sing songs, take a walk, ride bikes, go shopping or to the park...whatever. I really don't want to commit a lot of time to this activity, but some of them are long (like shopping or the park). When we get done with active time, we can have quite time, again they can choose from a jar things like, read a story, practice in a workbook, do a craft, bake something, play a quiet game. After that, it will probably be time for lunch and naps. In the afternoon we can follow the same pattern....

Hmm, wonder if that would work...I'll have to find out.