I read some blogs, some journals, some facebook chronicles about women for whom raising children is a calling. I post a lot of photos on facebook of my day to day family life. They are stills of a (sometimes) controlled chaos. I often delete ten photos where one person has their eyes closed, or is crying, or refuses to get in the photo at all, for every one that makes it on there. Sometimes I think people feel I am one of these moms I envy, I’m not. These moms feel rejuvenated upon waking each morning to their childrens smiling faces. (I sneakily lay out breakfast items the night before in hopes they will fix it themselves and leave me alone till 9am) These moms eagerly count the hours until their children come home from school. They pinterest crafts and actually do them. They sit on the floor with their children and play for hours, games of make believe and wonder. (I had subsequent children to take care of this need) These moms cook meals that contain all the food groups (unlike yours truly, for whom when they decided ketchup was actually a vegetable, sighed a breath of relief ‘I have been feeding Marilyn veggies then!’). For these mothers, patience knows no limit, they never tire, it seems they have boundless energy and no commitments or obligations other than to fill their childrens days with magic and love.
For me, motherhood sucks the life from me the way someone might suck bone marrow from a particularly delicious short rib. I’m not even half joking. And I love being a mother. Can we just get that clear right now? I love being a mom, more than I ever in my pre-mom life thought possible. But I also love being a person, a woman, and I am finding it difficult to balance those things. I wanted nothing more than to stay at home with my kids again. I cried most of the days I went to work, I hated leaving them, not being home to tuck them into bed at night, or share their days after school and I would never, not for anything (except to save my family from certain financial doom) willingly go back to work. But I don’t know how to balance being a person with being a mom. I have always been such an all or nothing kind of person.
I think about writing here and then I see that the floors need to be swept. I think about sitting down to write anything, a poem, a blog post, a journal entry and I feel absolute guilt. I am always trying to get ahead. I think to myself, if I can just get ahead then I can relax. If I can just get ahead of the laundry, ahead of the mess, ahead of the chores, then I can write. But there is always more laundry, more dishes, more school pickups or doctors visits or sick kids. I never get ahead, I just get behind on me-things like the blog or writing.
And can we just touch on the fact that motherhood is not a creative outlet? It is often a thankless job with no boss to tell you if you are doing a good job and nobody writing notes of appreciation. No way to even tell if you’re doing it right, until the final product is released into the world and by then it’s mostly too late. I feel lost a lot of the time even though on a baseline I am happy and content. (By this I mean, I have a checklist in my head and I can check off the things that I think should make someone happy. Solid marriage, check. Healthy children, check. Roof over head, check. Food in fridge, check.)
I find, lately, my brain has turned into something resembling the consistency of split pea soup. I spend my evenings doing mindless ‘social media’ things like facebook or addictive games, or watching tv shows with Joe. I’ve always found it much more difficult to write when I was in a good place in life. Maybe because that naturally meant there were good things going on, or more people involved in the everyday goings on. Since I’ve had children the years have yielded little results, matched pretty much by my efforts. The funny thing about this is, that motherhood is sometimes a sad thing for me, it can be very lonely.
I don’t think about things like the blog or poems or deeper wants every day, or even every week, but when I think about these things.. these things that were such a big part of me before I had kids, they too, make me a little sad. I worry sometimes that at 40, the kids will be mostly grown and I will not have a single idea of what to do with myself or who I am. (And then conversely, I think, a lot of people are just having children at 40- what am I complaining about?)
I hope this doesn’t sound like a bunch of whining, but then again, if it does, just remember that I listen to whining most of the day and I rarely get out to anywhere that requires more of a dress code than not being naked so… whatever. (Oh you thought you were going to get a nice little ending tied up in a package of pretty pink bows and ribbon? Sorry, this is real life).