I said I never wanted to be a supermom. You know, one of those crazy multi-tasking over-achieving parents who try to work full time, manage the kids and their crazy busy schedules and still cook, clean and entertain while having everything organized and running like clock work. I just wanted to be a mom. I wanted to stay home with my kids and raise them with the values I was raised with.
Let me tell you, it's a damn good thing because I suck at it.
I had a dream about 14 years ago. You know the one. Where I was a stay at home mom and raised my kids the 'right' way. We unschooled we did some unstructured home schooling. We had educational day trips, just my son and I. We played. A lot. We were crafty. We cooked together. We snuggled and read and giggled. We had lots of play dates. The world taught us much.
Then I had twins. Hello wake up call to prioritizing and truly being focused on mothering. I'm not entirely sure how, but I managed a 3 year old and newborn twins. We had to get out to get to pre-school and doctor's appointments and La Leche League meetings. I loved sharing my bed, my body and my soul with my children. We'd all pile up on the bed or sofa and read or watch a movie as they got older. We played. We went to Farmland. A lot! We sat on the deck all summer with the kiddie pool and crafts and all sorts of creative play. I dreamed of home schooling them and began to plan for the coming years. I worked very part time teaching and doula-ing and it was tremendously fulfilling. I began to write a book.
Fast forward a year or so. I lost one of the twins to a tragic accident. I now mothered an angel and two grieving boys. They were my world. The book was sidelined and never resumed. My husband and I separated and eventually divorced. It was the right thing to do for all of us, but not easy by any means and not something I took lightly. Eventually, I went back to work, first part time and then full time, once the kids were in school full day. It was hard. I thought it would get easier.
Now the boys are older. It's supposed to get easier, right? Wrong. They are more needy than ever. Emotionally, educationally, socially, even physically. They still need a lot of guidance, organizing, reminders (some would say nagging), positive reinforcement and discipline. They need homework help. They need rides. Everywhere. They play sports, all over the place. Every day. They need someone to take them, to watch their games and practices, to support and guide them in pursuit of their goals and dreams. They eat. A LOT! They grow, fast and furious and we're shopping more than I thought I ever would with and for the boys, who, incidentally, are pretty picky about their clothes!
It's hard. Quite possibly harder than three kids under 4! OK, maybe just different. But by no means has it gotten easier or less demanding of my time, energy or parental supervision. I dare say I slept more then!
Guess what. I gave up the dream. The stay at home mom one. I gave up the dream of un or home schooling. Of being the mom that keeps a clean house. That is a good cook. That isn't frazzled because of time management struggles. Who gets to have some 'me' time as well as good quality family time. Not because I wanted to, but because it was what I had to do at the time and unfortunately, still have to do. I gave up my dream job, at least temporarily, because the reality is it just doesn't pay the bills. I put the book(s) on the back burner. They will be written, when the time is right. I hope I live that long...
So my house is far from pristine. I don't cook often or well and I hate that we don't eat together or more healthfully more often. I am not put together and as organized as I'd like to be. I get up with the sun and do house related work until I must motivate them, then I go to work. I come home and throw food at them or we eat in the car on the way to soccer. We get home at or after sun set and I work some more. On average, I get about 5 hours of sleep before I do it all again.
Parenting is daunting at times. Overwhelming but infinitely rewarding. Our children are our greatest teachers. I stress about the house, the food, the pile of things to do on my desk and the fact I rarely get any down time. It's stressful to manage their schedules and activities. It's expensive financially and in time involved.
Yes, it's a choice. At the end of the day. If this were my last day on earth, I want it to be spent with my kids watching them grow, learn and be proud of who they are and what they've become. Perhaps it's a gift in disguise. If I sit at a soccer game or practice, I'm actually sitting. Watching them. With pride. Or talking to other grown ups! I'm not working (OK, usually), I'm not cleaning, I'm not cooking. I'm being mom.
So I have a new dream. The one where they look back in a few (hopefully very few) years and appreciate what I've done for them and why I chose to do it. I'm mothering. I'm there. For them. They know it. They watch. They ask. They quiz me to see if I was paying attention. It's important to them. It's like snuggling them when they were little. It's just a different kind of snuggle. Like the head butt I get now instead of a hug from the 13 year old. It still means I love you. Just, I'm too cool to say it. That's my story, and I'm sticking to it. It means love. And as they get older, they appreciate the self-sacrifice I make (because I do tell them on occasion) in order for them to participate in these things.
Time is love. Time is more important than material things. Time may be the thing they remember when they have their own kids. How much it meant for a parent to take the time to truly be with and support their child. They remember when you're not there for them,and it hurts them. They also remember when you are there for them, and they appreciate, cherish and need that.
So no, I'm not the best mom ever. I'm not a SAHM and I send my kids to public school. It wasn't the dream, but it's working out OK. They aren't so bad! They are learning and growing and they still talk to me, we still laugh and have fun. I can only hope with all my heart that they still turn out to be the well rounded, sweet, loving, fair and compassionate beings I intended for them to be. What more could any parent dream of or ask for?
So maybe I'm not supermom. Could I be a super mom just the same? Quick! Someone make me a cape! I need it. I need some super powers to get me through the next few years, hell, to get me through tomorrow! Or, maybe I could fashion it into a pillow or blanket.
This mom, super or not, is super tired.