Ha! My last post was my 800th post and I missed that, being in such a rush as I was. So this is 801.
That's pretty par for the course for me right now---catching it just one too late. I feel it from most angles, this sense of, "You're a day late and dollar short."
Despite taking the kids to the Zoo Zoobilee bash last night---earning me the "For my kids' sakes I would walk 500 miles...in the godawful heat...at the ZOO...with crowds of melting people and animals hiding in whatever shade they could find" badge---and ensuring that each day contains at least one fun thing such as a trip to the pool, the kids and I have not launched summer off well. We could call it a bang because there has been much slamming of doors and yelling.
The kids are not used to being together this much and sharing this house and its space and the toys and things (moms) within for so many consecutive hours. This has caused a Sibling Rivalry Flare-Up for the record books.
The kids are also not used to having to think and do so much on their own, masters of their own time. The broadened boundaries have bewildered and unsettled them. Actually, I had just gotten the little one settled in when the entire apple cart was upset by the big one coming home.
On the side, in the Julie Life, instead of the Mom of Patience and Persistence life, many and much excitement is happening with all the political goings-on. I feel myself stirring to life again.
And the kids hate it. Hate. It.
They know Mommy has a new Interest and they are jealous of it like a third grade best friend who doesn't want her buddy to like anyone else. They can't quite direct their anger to a concept so they unleash it on me with Attitude and then turn viciously on their father when he walks in the door, in case he is somehow related to the Competition.
If I had a dime for every time I explained that feeling mad/tired/upset/frustrated isn't an okay reason to act mean, so let's try X instead...my trips to BlogHer (or NetRoots, it's in AUSTIN, with HOWARD DEAN...what can I SAY! I'm torn and confused suddenly.) and the DNCC in Denver would be covered, first class.
When motherhood is a huge challenge (and yes, I know it usually is, but you moms know what I mean, when there are Special Times and Special Challenges) and you see very little payoff for your mad hard extreme efforts, it's easy to want to plug in harder and more often to the things that do positively reward and give good feedback.
In fact, if you are a bit introverted like I am, you need and crave more alone time, and in the summer, full-time home with kids and other obligations plus the work thing, that's in short supply.
It's easy to hit burn out. That leads to pondering and reflection.
How much do I owe myself? How much do I owe my kids? How much choice do I get to make for me, when I chose to be a mom and have kids?
I don't quickly and easily buy into the idea that a happy me is best for the kids. I grew up in the 70s, my friends, and saw that philosophy in action. I, and probably loads of other Gen Xers, thought it was utter BS. Kids want what they want and that is often in contradiction to what a parent wants. I also don't easily buy into the notion that I know best and ultimately it will work out and those kids will see this is all for the best.
I do buy into the idea that more than any other relationship, parenting is one of the ultimate struggles of conflicting wants.
As my kids get older, it's both clearer and more complicated that this is much deeper than just balancing. This is about compromise and sacrifice, on both sides, and nobody comes terribly easily to that. I hope my children see and learn, though, during this and coming times, that it is necessary to set yourself aside sometimes---even as a child.
The key is to balance the giving and taking, and ultimately not ask too much or anything too big of the children if I don't have to. Unfortunately, there aren't any large tags on situations that clearly state: This Is The One (too many, too big).
My kids don't like seeing me busy with things to do this summer, things other than Mom. This time is usually invisible to them while they are at school. Plus, it is a bit more than usual.
I struggle every day with where and to whom I am best served...serving. I struggle with my children's trouble with me serving myself, and so, I find myself cutting back on my usual me time since work time is taking more of me and my time. I struggle with what I want and my dreams, which don't fit what I think the kids want or what I decided was best for the kids. I struggle with the unexpected conflict between Julie and Mom.
It's one thing, with little kids, babies, when you are so dedicated to these dependent creatures, to adjust to being a mom in addition to all else you are and have done.
It's another thing, as the children grow independent and begin to move more into their own lives, to begin backfilling that space with a little more of you.
It's one thing, to juggle the demands of little ones on yourself. I know my friends and I all spoke meaningfully about needing and craving some space, so me-time, so sense of self beyond Mom. Some looked at us as if we were insane, because Mom was enough. Everyone had a theory. All moms talk about the juggle and struggle between self- and momhood.
But this...this is new and different. This is a bigger struggle than before. The demands and need for me for the kids at this age---as they grow away---is even greater, and right when I have begun doing more of my own thing.
I admit, it's taken me by surprise, especially the resistance. I didn't expect, really, that anyone would mind or notice too much that I was dashing off to my own thing a bit. But I think everyone in this family does.
It's both gratifying and frustrating.
In the end, for me, I want it all. I want the work and the kids, the in the house and the out of the house, and apparently I want it equally on both sides, because when I dig down deep: it is equal, equally weighted. So when I look for the deciding factor, it tends to come down to what's more important, who is more important, what matters most.
The clear answer to that is the kids, isn't it?
Except it's not. Sometimes it is and sometimes...it gets to be me.
Slowly but surely we are all growing to trust that what we want will all come to the top in good turn.
I owe you a few things.
1. Visits, replies, comments, and emails. Yes. I will. Soon. Promise. Just don't show me your disappointment. Please. I have that piled on me in droves just now.
2. A winner from last week's Hump Day Hmm. This is Gillian, from Pocket Lint. Congrats Gillian! Drop me an email and let me know if you prefer Morgan Spurlock's Super Size Me, Don't Eat This Book, or Season 1 of 30 Days, and also let me know shipping details.
3. Next week's Hump Day Hmm topic: this is "How far would you go for your kids/family/loved one/self?" I vary the who it is because really, that's up to you, as is the interpretation of the question. Maybe it's 500 miles through a hot and crowded zoo. Maybe it's a move to another country. Maybe it's setting aside something you do. Maybe it's a life change, such as getting sober.
4. Next post...the story from my point of view of meeting David Axelrod, Senator Barack Obama's Chief Strategist. Report right now at MOMocrats with photo.
Copyright 2008 Julie Pippert
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