Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Life After Children.

Lately I have been thinking a lot about how very different my life is and has been, as a result of choosing to become a mother.  (<--- Thesis Statement.)

Ask any parenting parent and they'll tell you, there was life before kids and then there is life after kids.  Somehow, someday fertilization happens and a zygote turns into a blastocyst turns into an embryo turns into a fetus turns into a baby turns into a real live person and there is work to do!  Suddenly everything looks different.  Not just about you, but to you.

One Tuesday it hits you that eating out is a Really Big Deal.  As is sleeping in.  Sleeping at all, for that matter!  By Friday, you find the need to acquaint yourself with words like "developmentally appropriate" and "thimersol".

And by "you", I mean Me.

There isn't a single decision that I make that isn't cast into the mold of What is Best for My Children.  Where before I was casually coasting along taking things as they come, I am now living an outcome-driven way of life.

If there were a physical measure, a scale to weigh how much everything I am putting into my children's lives and how much hey-maybe-I-should-save-some-for-me I'm putting into my own it would never fall heavy on my side.  That's just a fact.  I know I need to look after myself too, but honestly, who has the time?!

At least I've had enough sense knocked into me to know now that I have a right to my own happiness outside of that which makes my children happy.  Until recently, I didn't know how deeply I had engrained in myself that putting my children waaaaaaaa...aaaaaaaa...aay ahead of me was the defining characteristic of A Good Mother.

And still, I have only realized my need to take care of me because it affects my ability to take care of them.  (Can I get a witness?!)  

I am fully aware (in fact I am working toward ensuring) that the minute, the second, the moment will come when they will have outgrown me - as they should; and that if I make my whole existence about them now it will mean that when The Time does come and they Go, I'll have nothing left of my self but shadows and an empty mirror.

I sway with the pendulum and the tides reaching desperately to find the point any place in the general vicinity of the middle.  A place where I am giving them my "best of" and giving me (my relationship with The Mister, with my friends with myself) my "greatest hits".

Perhaps my life after (having) children will continue this way until I find myself with a newly defined life after (raising) children.   Hopefully when I am there and looking back with through the irony we call 20/20 hindsight I will know at last that in the very act of aiming for it, I was always somewhere in the middle because it is wider than I thought.

Whatever happens to me, I am placing all my bets that it will have a lot to do with what happens to them.    (And not the other way around.)

7 comments:

sarajschmidt said...

Cian, I share these feelings with you in my heart! No truer words have been spoken.

Milkshaken said...

Thanks for that Sara. Sometimes when gently open the gates and let my vulnerable bits out there in cyber space, I get a little scared that - well, they'll be all alone. So thanks. I appreciate you sharing too.

alxfergi said...

Cian, I'm feeling you girl. I have had a little longer to neglect myself and my husband in the name of "good mothering" and I confess that I wish that I have been so aware a few years ago.

However, as my girls grow (and one gone off to college) I do not have any regrets, I don't wish I had any of the time back for myself and I will never wish that they needed me any less. So.......

sarajschmidt said...

Also, I can vouch for what happens when you completely neglect yourself. I worked full-time, went to school full-time, and was a full-time stay at home mom. I barely slept for three years. I ended up with heart problems at age 24, tooth problems, in the hospital with blood poisoning, two emergency surgeries, and many other complications! My doctor said I could not repair the damage that the stress and lack of sleep had done to my body, though I needed to stop what I doing immediately. I did for a while, but unfortunately, with my husband laid off, I'm back to working a lot and not sleeping again, and I can definitely feel the impact. I learned that taking that time for yourself is integral if you want to be alive to even see your kids become teens. Keeping that information in mind every day, of course, and acting on it, is another matter! So I do regret living that lifestyle, for sure. My body sure does. And the worst of it all is that I don't even remember most of that time with my baby, which hurts, too.

Milkshaken said...

woah, Sara, that is intense! I really hope you are able to find ways to enter into stillness - even if it's only small bits at a time.

Alexa, I knew, going into this that I was signing my life away. By "my life" i mean, putting me first.

After 7.5 years of putting me last, I had an actual breakdown. Fell apart, lost my senses, could not function.

Thanks to my personal Fall, I am consciously moving toward a more balanced view. Martyrdom is not good mothering either.

Do I regret all that I did - hell no! It is all worth it. I would, however, advise other women to seek the balance earlier. It's not true that everyone will fall apart the way I did - it is true that ignoring yourself is harmful to one's health (emotional and physical).

The decision to really Mother your child(ren) is an investment of inestimable value. No doubt about that.

Rosie Kaplan said...

Milkshaken,

I'm sorry you're not so interested in reading my blog anymore.

So that you know, I am actually employed as a second grade teacher and I do a damn good job of it, too. I honestly believe any teacher who really does the things described in my blog would be fired. Hence the disclaimer. Early on I was getting teachers who responded to me, stating they wanted to do some of the things in my blog- things I would hate for them to do and get in trouble for. So I created the disclaimer so people would know not to actually "try this at school."

My writing is based on the reality of teaching, but exaggerated for entertainment, commentary on the state of education, as a satire of teachers who take some things too seriously, and other things not seriously enough. All that mixed in with some of my own opinions and beliefs (for example, the majority of the radical book list are books I love and use in my classroom.)

Anyway, so as not to kill the vibe of the blog, I am going to delete your comment. By the way, your blog is great. You have a beautiful, honest voice.

Rosie

brinabird said...

Never mind being a good mother...I wanted to be perfect. Thankfully it is something I have come to terms with while the wee man is well still we. I have been on an incredible journey since the beginning of this year which has forced me to analyse my role as a mother. I was an emotional wreck and no use to anyone much less my family in that state! I realise how important being a mum is to me but that it is another part of me that I have just learnt to exercise more. The other parts of me are finally getting their moments now as I am slowly learning to really let my son go and just watch from the sidelines sometimes. Be it with time with a book, an hour at the gym or even with a once in a while lie in as Daddy does morning duties! We are off to Italy soon and we get 2 MAYBE 3 WHOLE NIGHTS away from the wee man...and yes I WILL NOT FEEL GUILTY!!

And still, I have only realized my need to take care of me because it affects my ability to take care of them. (Can I get a witness?!)....AMEN!!