In addition to the many writing blogs I follow, I check in regularly with several motherhood blogs. I try not to do this too frequently because, though they can be uplifting, I find they often tend to foster deep feelings of inadequacy. If you’ve read some, you’ll know what I’m talking about: glowing posts about amazing holiday craft projects, details of outings to educational locales, photos of family bike treks through the national parks of America.
I love my children, and as an at-home mom I have oodles of time to dedicate to them. But where others seem to pack their days with activities straight off the pages of Family Fun magazine, my days tend to be loaded with things like grocery shopping, scrubbing toilets and doing endless loads of laundry thanks to the repeated failed attempts at potty training my three-year-old. (Which, by the way, I have not managed to tackle with the loads of positive energy advised by the complimentary potty-training DVD I received in a package of disposable training pants.)
Am I a bad mother because I don't scrapbook or take the kids to the museum regularly? Am I failing at my job because I snap at my kid when I have to change his wet bedding for the second time that day? Am I scarring my daughter because I don't sit with her at the table to color with her, but instead glance over periodically as I dry the dishes or make dinner?
I hope not. Because when a morning like yesterday comes along, with two rosy-cheeked little kids crawling into my bed with gifts, cards, hugs, and giggles, it reminds me of what really matters, and that there's nothing I'd rather be doing, even with all the daily trials and challenges.
I’m not alone, as a friend reminded me today. She passed on this link to a 2005 article from Newsweek written by Anna Quindlen about the overly high bar set for mothers today, and how we should all keep in perspective what is truly important. Cheers, Anna!
How does this relate to writing? Because writing is one of the activities that “steals” time from my kids. In the afternoons, from lunchtime until about four in the afternoon, when I could be crafting castles out of popsicle sticks with my daughter or drilling my son on alphabet flashcards, I write. I put my son for a nap and instruct my daughter to find some way to amuse herself and stay out of my hair. Mean mommy? Maybe. But, honestly, like Anna Quindlen, I can remember only rare occasions when my mom sat down to play with us, and those occasions usually happened over a board game after homework and dinner. In the afternoons, we were on our own – outside, if the weather at all permitted.
So no, not a mean mommy. In fact, in many ways, a better mommy, because I could never be a happy mommy if I felt I was sacrificing my dreams.
Luckily, my daughter understands. Many days she spends her quiet time making up stories, too.