Wednesday, March 11, 2009

So, do you like being a mom?

It wasn't the question that threw me -- though it was a little personal, coming during a chat with a co-worker.

What bothered me was how long I hesitated before answering.

The question: "So, do you like being a mom?"

After an uncomfortable 20 or 30 seconds (that seemed like hours), the answer was -- and is -- yes. I think my kids are more magical than any other. I keep a journal of the funny and amazing things they do, because I know my memory of those moments will fail me as time passes. I tell way too many stories about them to people who care only tangentially (and listen politely).

But the answer also is this: I wasn't prepared for how hard it would prove to be both a parent and a person with her own identity; how exhausting it would be to have two little beings so completely dependent on me; how guilt-ridden I could become as I realized that trying to parent with a to-do list would only invite failure.

I told my co-worker that sometimes it was suffocating, but that it seemed to get more manageable every day -- most days.

It's probably been a year since that conversation. If asked the same question again, I don't think my answer would have a Part B -- again, not on most days.

And I wouldn't hesitate before saying yes.

But that I hesitated once -- the guilt of those seconds will stay with me for a long time.


Anonymous said...

Seeing how hard it was for my mother to be a parent growing up, I have never regretted my decision not to be a parent. I do agree--parenting is the hardest job in the world! So I decided not to take the job. It still amazes me how people are surprised with how hard parenting is. They underestimate how much it will totally dominate and affect the rest of their lives.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps you're looking at it from the typical, baby boomer, me-first generational viewpoint.

When you introduce a newly dependant living being into the world, you DO LOSE some of YOUR identity. That's the way it goes.

Your identity though comes through in your children, for better or worse. And people WILL notice.

Trust me on this; people won't remember you for being a great writer. But they will remember you for what kind of wife/mother/parent you were.

Perhaps if recent generations of adults would be more adult-like, and far less selfish and self-less, then we wouldn't have the problems we have today.

Anonymous said...

While I am certainly not trying to lash out at anyone, realizing that parenting is not for everyone, I love being a mom.

I think it's the most rewarding thing I have ever done and whatever I give to my children is giving back to me x 100.

I recently lost my precious 17 year old daughter to leukemia and I would give anything to have her be her Mom again. Hug your children and know that there is no greater gift that you can give them loving them and being their Mom.

Anonymous said...

I have a two tear old with another one due anyday, and I will say that being a parent is the hardest, most challenging thing I have ever done. Even the most prepared, most realistic parent gets humbled about ten times a week, but I wouldn't have it any other way. That being said, it is NOT for everyone, and I think it's far worse for someone to have a child who is not going to commit to the job than to just not have them. I learn something new everyday from my daughter, and I have found that I was able to keep my identity, but also expand upon it- to become an even better person, wife and friend because I am a mother.

Anonymous said...

To the 2nd anonymous: Learn your generations. She's 'Gen-X' not 'Boomer'.

Anonymous said...

It's more and more accepted to remain kid-free. As mentioned by others, it is not for everyone. With divorce running around 50%, additional energy and priority should be given to your relationship with your spouse FIRST. Then consider kids.

Anonymous said...

I appreciate you sharing your experience...and the honestly with which you shared it. But don't feel guilty about the hesitation! Forgive yourself. We women harbor enough guilt to create an entire Guilt Universe, I think!

You are so right about the difficulties of parenthood...trying to balance work, the to-do list, and being a good mother/parent.

In my mind, motherhood is at an extremely pivotal crossroads. It's nice seeing fathers so much more involved...and yet, we mothers seem to be taking on more than ever (many of us work, etc.). The balance of parental involvement is more so than ever...but there is still a long way to go.

But the sooner we mothers realize that we can't do everything...or if we DO do everything, we can't do it all WELL, the better. It's advise I need to take myself, actually.

Anonymous said...

I love seeing that other moms are saying the exact same things as myself!! I am guilty of trying to do it all and with perfection. At least once a week (its probably more but my mind is too full to really think on it) I have moments where I feel guilty for not being able to pick them up from school, not spending time with them instead of cleaning, etc. I think I'll go home and give them extra hugs and kisses!!!! To all the other moms, you are an inspiration.

Anonymous said...

YOU have reproduced?

The lady who talks publically about their friends husbands privates,adult toy girl parties, and your friend who is still going out trying to get lucky?

Help us all!

Anonymous said...

My children added to my identity, with each stage as they developed and were excited about learning I did too. It was a job that no other job has ever matched as we all worked and played and learned together. They would explore and learn with each age and stage, finding out who they were and what they were interested in doing. I, too would be progressing and constantly changing and developing and having allot of joy watching them. I think though, my identity was secure enough to enjoy at times with losing myself in the wonderful world of my children. I knew who I was and I could always find myself afterwards. Especially when the children became more independent with each stage of growing up and developing as they enjoyed the freedoms and time for themselves and I did too. These spaces with each stage of their independence gave me more time once again to do more or add more to my own separate life. So much was added with us all from year to year. They grow up very quickly and I think the job of parenting is very important, yet I never saw it as the hardest job. Maybe the most important job for sure, along with the most challenging and enjoyable.
Yet I do know too that worry, guilt, fears and sleepless nights just go with the territory.
Keeps me on my knees, humble and praying without ceasing. Nothing matches the important job of loving and hugging and caring for a child ever! And then one day you look up and smile at your children independent and parenting too. You watch them enjoying, worrying, not sleeping or feeling guilty and fearful now with their children like we did with them. You have your life totally returned to you now with your identity and independence, yet you keep praying and on your knees constantly for your grandchildren and children. Smiling and remembering all the energies and time and loving .....and hoping they will too...

Anonymous said...

I think 4:31 has the wrong blogger.

The fact that you hesitated when answering the initial question shows your humanity and thoughtfulness. I'm sure you're a really great Mom.(HUG)