Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Just Keep Them Alive

This is what I feel like most days my method of parenting has resorted to -just keeping them alive. Let me tell you, I'm doing splendidly at it! But then, at the end of every day, I see this look in their little eyes (Sam is the worst) that say rather pathetically - "what about fun mom?, what about personal attention mom?, what about sitting down with a book or a puzzle mom?, what about tickles and hugs and kisses mom?". I'm sure there has to be something deep ingrained in a child that shifts as we get older, but speaks a very similar story. It's this feeling of "I'd rather not be alive if this is it", or "this isn't what I signed up for". Granted, my kids have no idea that any other child has it better, or worse than they do. They don't have that ability yet to compare their lives with others. However, they do have the ability to feel lonely, bored, and not loved to the fullest they should be. Problem is, they don't know how to tell me they feel this way (or even recognize the feeling most likely) ... other than the constant whining, fighting, and being "can I's" as we call them in our house. Anyway, somewhere along the line, I've lost my ability to find an uninhibited joy in my children .... all because I'm just trying to keep them alive (and have massive amounts of laundry, and other chores screaming louder than them most of the time).

I am also that mom that feels incredibly guilty upon realizing such things. So what do I do, I sit here while they are watching cartoons and write about it. Ouch..... I allow them to push me to this feeling of "I'm the worst mom in the world". I begin entertaining every thought along the way, which in turn, pushes me farther out of their reach. I so do not want them to remember me as a mom that was emotionless (other than anger over the floors getting dirty), or a mom who didn't have enough time for them. I don't want to be the mom who never took any risks - and thus raised children who will never take risks. It's a risky world we live in. I want to teach them that life isn't always fun, and they need to learn to behave when needed (without feeling guilty for making them do un-fun things - like grocery shopping). But I also want to teach them to play hard, knowing their limits - yet pushing them anyway. I want to push them down the hill on their bike with no training wheels so they will get it, and be all the more thankful for it. Or throw them in the deep end so they learn how to swim. Instead, I tighten their little wheels, and stand in the shallow end with arm and waist floaties attached. While I understand there is always a time for life's training wheels and standing in the shallow end vs. sinking.... I fear I'm doing my kids a big disservice in my tendencies to stay there -- all in the name of keeping them alive.

So what will I do about it?? This is something I know that MOST moms struggle with, so I'm not alone. But I also know that no amount of parenting books or sharing with my friends will help me overcome this joyless safe rut I think I'm in (or at least heading toward). It's going to take me stepping out of my house that needs cleaning, and into something so out of my comfort zone. Something as stupid simple as swimming at the rec center or the Res.... me against them. I'm so outnumbered. But that shouldn't matter. Not when I go back to my biggest lesson I've ever learned - that my children belong to God, not me. If I kept that at the forefront of my mind all the time, I maybe could begin to find this freedom I desire to have as a "fun mom". I won't ever be that mom that brings in all the neighbor kids for snacks and crafts and a slip-n-slide going down the stairs. I just won't. That isn't even what I want. I just want to move toward the middle a bit. (Ah-ha.... I knew if I sat here writing long enough it would come to me. Here I am at an extreme again. I used to be an uninhibited no-fear person, then I had kids, and another and another....and now I'm at the other extreme. Hmmmmm... I love blogging!)

So, I'm off. What will it be today? Rec center or Res today??? Probably the padded play area at the mall. But I'll at least make it a point to engage them, not one of the 13 books I'm trying to get through.


Angie said...

Wait... did I write this?

I was just feeling this way. Exactly this way... right down to the debate of if we'd go to the Rec or take a walk around the lake. So instead I turned on cartoons for them, came to the computer and read blogs. Seriously! That solves nothing and makes me feel even worse.

And now I'm commenting instead of calling you so we can do this mom thing together. Brother.

(I'm calling you now.)

Jeff said...

As usual - well written and very insightful. And even transcends more than just parenting -

I have these feelings...

It's this feeling of "I'd rather not be alive if this is it", or "this isn't what I signed up for"

Fortunately - God finds that "uninhibited joy in his children" (as do you - more so than you give yourself credit for - don't be so hard on yourself)

and that keeps me going :-)