Being an attentive mom has involved sacrifices. Instead of playing on the computer, I need to fix my kids breakfast and spend time with them at the table. Instead of traveling this way and that to promote my book, I need to be present at the kids’ parent-teacher conferences, fun fairs, and homeroom parties.
To some moms, being attentive isn’t a sacrifice at all. It’s what they do naturally and consistently. For me, it can sometimes be a struggle. I love and appreciate my children. I want to be with them at the breakfast table, take them to school, pick them up and pray with them at bedtime. My favorite moments in life are spent with my children.
But there is also this restless energy inside me that asks me to do more. More writing. More speaking. More book promotion. More social media networking. More of making a mark outside of my home.
So I struggle with fulfilling the responsibilities of an attentive mom with the pent-up energy of creative pursuits. How do I finish writing my novel without sacrificing an important moment with my kids? How do I travel to speaking and writing events without neglecting one of their school activities?
Right now, I am in limbo with how to move forward. Should I jump in full-force as a mom and put creative interests on hold? Should I carve out time to do both, forgiving myself for not giving one-hundred percent to either one?
I love my children, and I love being creative outside of the mother realm. What kind of mom should I be?
What kind of mom would you be?
Well, in answer to your second question first – it would be pretty tough for me to be any kind of mom at all. The answer to your first question however, is simple.
The Lipreading kind.
(Keep up the great work.)
THANK YOU, David.
Well. I can’t answer that last question since I am not a mom (j/k). I have always struggled with that same question, “how can I do both at same times?”. We the answer is one can’t do both be at one event and take care of kids. But, I do believe it’s important to have a little bit of you time.
Wordofsilence – Thank you for the valuable perspective.
I believe a child does best when given loving attention to his needs and interests. Who loves him? Isn’t that the same person that gives him the attention?
Cem4881 – That’s a great point and beautifully written. Thank you for the important reminder.
Be what makes you happy! Your children will learn and respect you for being you! We want the best for them and when you do the best thing for you, you are able to give more of ourselves to them in all sorts of ways!
CTrue – Thank you so much for commenting.
Here’s my thought, as one who is in the exact same position as you. I don’t believe it’s an all or nothing deal. I don’t believe there is one pie that needs carved up. For example, my sons need me, but not 24/7. They need me at different times and for different things. My writing and career need me, again at different times and for different things. So I can give 100% to my children and play Wii for an hour then ask them to have quiet time while I work for an hour.
Had a pediatrician share some wisdom with me. She was, like me, a young mother with a career (at the time I worked 60+ hours a week). She said in a family everyone makes compromises. Some things are non-negotiable, others are. It’s the conversations and agreements we make with one another that count. It isn’t the hours or the activities or anything else. It’s the relationships, the heart and the Spirit which matter most.
With you as you figure it out. I know you will, as will I.
JC Servant – Thank you for taking the time to comment…and share your wisdom.
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A dear friend recently said, “when you say ‘YES’ to something you are saying ‘NO’ to something else”. So to answer your question with a question, “what are you saying yes to and no to?” I believe that if mama is not happy, no one can be happy. But sometimes the answer is “not now”. Your children will fast reach the point they will not want your influence or time. Taking advantage of now, means some of your dreams may need to wait until later -OR- to happen in a different way. I really believe God will bless you for it.
Beautifully said Denise, “Your children will fast reach the point they will not want your influence or time.” I am sure many cases of alcoholism and drug addiction could have been prevented by recognizing the unique learning abilities of children and helping them to develop their unique, self-defined interests. I think the first five to seven years of a child’s life are the most important in developing their independence and capabilities for pursuing fulfilling lives.
Denise – I always love to read your comments. Thank you for beautifully stating what I couldn’t effectively articulate in my post. Our kids are a gift from God.
I think you have to make time for both…creativity and children. If you stifle your creativity, you cannot be the best person you want to be, and that will affect your mothering. Besides, there should be plenty of time for the kids to be creative themselves, therefore allowing you the time to do your own thing.
5kidswithdisabilities – You bring up a wonderful point—the need to foster creativity in ourselves *and* in our children. Thank you for commenting.
I appreciate your putting into words how I feel exactly. I love being a hands-on mom, and being home when they are. But sometimes, I daydream about the day they are all in college and I can do all the things I am squirming to do now. Of course, when they are in college, I will yearn for the days when they were little at home. 🙂 I don’t know the answers, only that I am praying each step of the way, and that any mistakes I make aren’t irreparable.
All that being said, I know you are a wonderful, godly mother!
Kimberly – You are an *amazing* mom, and I’m so honored to know you and your awesome children.
It is important to be a balanced mom. When you are using your gifts, you are happier and you can share that happiness with your children. Plus, children sometimes need a break from mom so that they can learn to enjoy being with themselves. The difficult choice comes in setting the boundaries and being flexible each day. I have an adult son, but I still love to spend some time each day with him, and I think he respects me enough to let me write when it’s time to write.
RJ – Spoken from a truly wise woman…you. Thank you.
After the youngest of my children was in school, I had to go back to work again for financial reasons. I wrote in spurts and jerks in the wee small hours of the morning – after I determined that permanent press was the wave of the future and no longer had to do the ironing at 2:00 am. The majority of my creative juices were pent up until the children were grown and gone and I was old enough to partially retire.
Presently I work 25 hours a week at a job I absolutely love — and there are still not enough hours in the day for the creative juices to flow. I do not, however, begrudge the postponement of the creative things. I do regret never having enough time with the children.
Judith – Thank you for sharing about your life as a working mom. God bless you for doing so much for your family.
Looking back at my own life as a mom, (yes, I made countless regrettable mistakes) I think balancing the scales is the key to giving your children the attention they need vs attention they don’t need like 150% of your time. One example is to really, really listen to them and pray, pray, pray for wisdom to meet their needs. One good advice I heard recently is to teach your children to do as much for themselves as possible given their age level and development. This fosters a sense of accomplishment for them and you. Sometimes we do too much for them thinking that we are helping such as cleaning up behind them when they can very well do it themselves. Reminding them of their tasks on a consistent basis using a loving, but firm voice work well. After a period of time, you will see that you’ll have to remind them less and less. The end result is more time for you and happier, independent children. 🙂
Donna – Thank you! Yes, our kids need to be taught how to do things for themselves through loving, consistent, and firm teaching. What a tremendous responsibility we have…and a blessing.
I apologize for the length…
This is such an easy question to answer. This is such a hard question to answer. :o)
I’ve raised four beautiful children. I watched them grow through every stage of life into the adults they are now. I was one of those moms who kind/sorta of gave up too much of herself to be a mom… that was due in part to having four kids in a little over 6 years, but it was also done as a happy diversion. I had a mom who didn’t give up much of anything for me (not entirely her fault), and I wanted to be one of those moms I so longed for — the kind that were always at school volunteering and giving their kids their attention.
I was that mom, but I do wish I could have been more balanced. I’ve never regretted the mom I was or how focused I was on my kids, assuring they had everything that I didn’t have that I thought was important, but I think it would have been better for my kids, and for me, if I had put my personal needs into the equation more. Not doing so caused me to be way too sensitive during those middle school and teenage years when a mother’s job can sometimes be a thankless one. :o) My kids lack of appreciation during those years made me angry, and that was my fault, not theirs.
You ask “What Kind of Mom Should I Be? The answer: Be the kind of mom that is there for your kids when it really matters. Taking the time to do all those things that feed you as an individual will not make you a bad mom, only a better person, and in turn, a better mother. You’ll be better equipped to deal with each stage of your children’s growth, with a better frame of mind, and your kids will be better equipped to deal with life, because we all have disappointments in life.
We’ve all seen those parents who literally live their life through their kids (I don’t think I did that), and once the kids are grown they are ill-equipped to deal with others (everyone else who isn’t their parents) who aren’t as fixated on them as their parents were. :o)
Also, when my kids got older and didn’t need so much of my time, all those things that being a mom diverted me from thinking about were waiting for me to deal with, so that backfired a bit. :o) I realize not everyone has a difficult childhood to get over, but when you do it’s not good to put off dealing with it even when the ways in which you avoided dealing with it were as wonderful as mothering. :o)
Write, speak, promote, network via social media, and make your mark outside of your home. You have to be you, because you are more than just a mother.
The bottom line, listen to your heart. When it tells you that you must be there for your child, then be there. But, don’t make the mistake of thinking every little disappointment, when you can’t be there, will damage your child. Kids need to learn that you’re whole purpose in life is not to make their life wonderful. Yes, a big part of being a good mother is making your kids’ lives as wonderful as they can be, but not at the expense of anything else. You simply have to learn to walk that fine line, but the good news is that most women have the intuition to know when and where to apply themselves.
Living a balanced life will serve you and your children best. You were a person first, then a mother. When your kids learn they can depend on you when it really counts, but there will be times when you aren’t able to physically be there for them, they learn a lot about life in general.
And think about it… we mothers are giving and loving and we want to be there for our kids out of that sense of nurturing, but when we think our kids will suffer at even the smallest of disappointments, it’s a bit arrogant of us, isn’t it?. My kids learned I couldn’t always be there, because the plain and simple fact was that it wasn’t physically possible with four kids… there was just too much going on — four soccer games on the weekend for two seasons a year and travel teams when they got older, plus indoor soccer in winter, four basketball games, volleyball, marching band and orchestra, piano lessons and recitals, Drama, Cub Scouts, 4-H, clubs and activities… I used to beat myself up over this, but realized how silly that was. Even with a husband who was as invested in the kids as I was, sometimes neither of us could be there.
Relax, and be the mom you know how to be. Let your kids know they can count on you, but that counting on you doesn’t mean you’ll be able to be present for every moment in their lives. That’s being a healthy mom. :o)
Michele – Thank you for the words of reflection and encouragement from your own experience. They mean the world.
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