Friday, April 22, 2011

Balancing Act

One of my high school classmates posted a blog link on Facebook from a frazzled mom trying to balance everything. I can understand that one. I started my family at a young age. I was inordinately fortunate that the guy who was unrelenting in his pursuit of me was raised right, and didn't shirk his responsibilities. This summer will mark 18 years ago that we met. Not everyone can say some or any of that about the person who is their child's other parent. It hasn't been all easy, but that's how life works. It took me a long time to learn how to do for myself. I long neglected the woman who was behind the roles of wife and mother, etc. It made things a big mess of resentment, frustration and unkindness. I don't ever want to find myself there again. There is value in a woman that takes care of herself in the same way she cares for her family. So, yes, I do keep my closet with clothes that make me look good and fit me well. And I can't bring myself to pay full retail for anything, so I look good on a budget too. My husband deserves to see his wife looking nice, and not looking like a schlub. It serves to remind him that he needs to tell me how much he's attracted to me and loves me. Which then reminds me that I need to pay attention to him individually, and not just collectively as if he were one of the children. It's also kind of nice to see the envious look my husband gets from his peers. You can read their faces and almost know what they're thinking. He is indeed a lucky Devildog. His wife still looks good after 4 babies escaped her person, and we're still together this long to boot.

A big part of my parenting philosophy is that I should put myself out of work as a mother. It will allow me to be other things to my children and their children later. I also can't fathom the thought of being a helicopter mommy. Some kids require that, but not mine. I wouldn't dream of being a lawnmower mommy, knocking down the obstacles in front of my children. Lord knows, I grew up having to be my own lawnmower, and that was difficult enough. I can't imagine doing either mowing or hovering for four kids. I'm tired as it is being a slacker mom, I'd be dead if I hovered or mowed. So, I have been teaching my kids those things I call life skills. They are learning to cook, tend house, handle money, and deal with other people. I get looks ranging from impressed amazement to having 12 heads on my shoulders when others hear that my kids do their own laundry from a certain age. I certainly don't want visits home from college to be spent with me doing 3 months' of their laundry. I also don't want to wear those blue gloves to do their laundry, because as teens, they are walking biohazards. So, basically, I equip them to do for themselves, and function independently of me. I don't live my life FOR my children. I live my life WITH them. I pursue my interests, and what makes me happy. Number one, they need to see my example of doing that. Number two, quite simply, I need the break from my kids. Number 3, and quite important - keeping my own self busy will prevent me from being that Mother-in-Law. You know, the meddling, needling, intrusive one that behaves in such a way that the kids move far away because I drive them nuts. In an attempt to get the kids closer, the cajoling, the backhandedness, the everything of a Mother-in-hell, it all backfires. I don't want my grandchildren to see their parents visibly sigh in relief that I left this earth, and them in peace from no longer dealing with my antics.

So, the juggle and struggle becomes worth it in the end, because eventually, I will have put myself out of work as their mother. I will then get the opportunity to learn how to be their friend, and watch what I taught them play out in their own lives. I just pray that my children find mates that are worthy, capable, and balance my children - much like my husband and I are for each other.


The Girl Next Door said...

This is insanely brilliant and yet so obvious. why don't people understand this? Kudos to you for the obviously great job you are doing!!

Feisty Irish Wench said...

I am not a stellar mom by any means, but I prefer to put common sense into practice. If I'm burnt out and frazzled, I am of zero use to my family, friends, and employer. Like I said, it took a LONG time, and other people to point it out to me, for me to realize I can't neglect myself.

I didn't have the best example of this growing up, because my grandmother was that manipulative, conniving kind who, prior to HIPPA laws, would call my mom's doctors to find out when mom's appointments were. She'd then call her own doctors and book her own appointments right over the top of my mom's, in a completely different side of town, forcing my mom to reschedule. I can't tell you how many phones rang funny after mom slammed them.

She was actually relieved when her mother died! That is NOT the reaction I want. I also want to be able to go do those things I missed doing because I had kids so young. That bucket list includes Ireland and Rome, among other places. I want my kids to see that they can find a way to balance responsibility with youth, and still enjoy their lives. And if I can manage to hit all 6 numbers in the lottery (instead of 3), I can fulfill a good portion of that bucket list.