Here's what I learned or was reminded about motherhood this summer.
1. Motherhood is a sacrifice, but I can only speak to the sacrifice of stay-at-home mothering. From my experience, I sacrifice my sanity and my intellectual mind. Kids who come from homes in which there is constant fighting between parents have emotional issues. The same can be said of mothers who stay at home with their kids and listen to children bicker and scream and make demands all day long. It is emotionally exhausting. M will holler, with his index finger pointing at my face, "You in bad mood!!!" when I fuss at him for something or ask him to do something he does not want to do. Most of the time I think to myself, "Yes, I am in a bad mood, and it stems a great deal from my children not cooperating with what I asking them to do then screaming at me that I am in a bad mood."
The intellectual sacrifice is that I am unable to read or write or have an uninterrupted adult conversation. I think in terms of potty and superheroes and Justice clothing.
Being a stay-at-home mom is worth that sacrifice. I wanted to make it eight years ago, and I still want to make it now.
But it is an absolutely exhausting role.
2. I've read things written by psychologists about how if a parent gives a child 5-10 minutes of their full attention a day it will often make the kid less demanding. This has NEVER happened in my house. Whenever I do things in which I am spending time with the kids and not being distracted by housework or email or whatever, I find that the kids just want (and expect) more and more and more of me.
AGE & GENDER DIFFERENCES:
3. There comes a point where it is nearly impossible to find something that all your children will enjoy, which is probably the MAIN REASON why summer is such a royal pain. OR if there is something they will all enjoy, there is an upper limit age-restriction.
At the local science museum, the children's play area is supposed to be for kids 7 and under. The problem is that I'm not going to allow N to walk around the rest of the museum while I am on the 1st floor with the boys (not that she would want to). Nor does she just want to sit next to me and do nothing. But she also really doesn't want to play in the little kiddie area.
At a local children's gym, they have preschool open gym....but N is too old to attend. On the weekends, they have it for older kids, but I worry that G and M would be run over by bigger kids.
At the pool this summer there were occasions in which N was at the 12 foot jumping off the diving board, G was in the 3-foot and M was in the kiddie pool. I was popping ibuprofen in anticipation of the whiplash I would have from my head being on a swivel the entire morning.
Even though N is BY FAR the easiest of the kids because she is 8 years old, having her go off to school means that the boys can play similar games, watch similar tv shows and do similar things without being bored to tears and whining. And I don't feel guilty that she is being bored to tears. She is learning and being stimulated and around children her own age.
YOU ARE WHAT YOU ARE
4. My kids popped out of my body with the personalities/temperament already laid in place. My personality---the curmudgeonly, loud and excitable person I am---is not going to change. For better or worse, they have this momma with whom to contend. I love them. I tell them what I like about them and that I love them. I sacrifice my career and money to be with them during their formative years. I try to share with them some of the things I love to do in life, in the hopes that they will find some pleasure in it too. I try to educate them, expose them to all sorts of adventures and experiences. But I fail them every day as well. That is life. That is motherhood.