This is shame post. Not other Mommy-shaming but self-shaming.
Today, I had a moment where I couldn’t remember anything precious about my child. And she heard her mother stand up and scream into the Abyss of Frustration (which was hovering on the dining room ceiling above my desk): “Mommy needs to play by HERSELF right now! HER-SELF!”
Dramatically waving arms included.
So much of being a mom, that I struggle with (maybe more because I married later in life, after having all of my time for myself), is the part where we just lay our lives down for our families. And it is such a tiring and thankless (though overall rewarding) job. And in the midst of it, like today, I can lose sight of the end-game and find myself completely devoid of focus.
You know those days? When your 2-year-old has been underfoot since breakfast, and you just want to steal away for a minute and check something online but your child has radar that would make NASA envious, and is on to you the moment you sit down?
Oh? No? Can’t relate? OK, well stop reading then, this isn’t for you 🙂
But for the rest of us, who can relate: Sometimes I just want to be SELFISH!
(Let me clarify what “selfish” looks like to a mother of a toddler.)
I selfishly want to get on my computer:
WITHOUT my desk drawers being emptied (and re-stuffed with important papers).
WITHOUT a hijacking of the mouse and keyboard (especially when I’m stalking the social media account of someone who may not know I exist).
WITHOUT demands about what someone else wants to watch on the ‘puter (while my desktop is gouged with a letter opener).
WITHOUT saliva on my face and computer screen. (What? You don’t have a pretend puppy that pants and licks everything? Oh, well bummer for you.)
WITHOUT 30-something pounds bouncing on my femur bone and a the top of someone’s head clipping me in the chin.
WITHOUT bribery (think: “Hamster Dance 10 Hours” playing endlessly in the background) as a prerequisite for switching screens to peek at my checking account and pay a bill!
Is that enough complaining for ya?
But here’s the really sad part…
After I let Muffin (and probably all the neighbors – I said this was a shame post) know that I wanted to “play by myself”, her little shoulders heaved and her lips quivered. And my sweet precious baby girl looked at me and said the saddest thing, “OK! I go play by myself; It OK, Aunt Wachel! It OK!”
…and I realized I really didn’t want all that time to myself after all.
I’ve been mindful lately of not raising my voice at my child. (I know! She’s just two, for crying out loud!) And I realize, from talking to so many of you mamas, that I’m not alone in this.
Sometimes it’s just too much, life is just too much, and we vent at all the wrong times, in all the wrong places, and worst of all to our poor little ones.
And we wonder how we got here…
When Muffin was still small enough to carry around in a Baby Bjorn, I spent the afternoon with someone who seemed to growl, bark, correct, hush, scold and even yell at her child so much that it was uncomfortable and unbearable for me!
Her child seemed oblivious, at least it didn’t stop her behavior, and I inwardly judged that mom like nobody’s business, deciding on the spot that I would never be that way with my daughter.
But I realize now, this mom was probably so frustrated that she didn’t even see it. And looking back over my recent past, and how my husband will say, “Honey? Don’t talk to her like that?!” I have just become oblivious to how I interact with Muffin.
And I think I’ve focused so much on what not to do and who I don’t want to be like, that I’ve brought on my own failure in this.
But what I’ve also realized is, Mommy really does need to play by herself…. I need breaks and time away from the house. I need the help of my mom and sisters and friends who are willing to trade babysitting. I need community, time with other moms, and perspective. And I need more discipline, systems in place, and a schedule so that my little girl knows when it’s mommy time and can look forward to it instead of clinging to me throughout the day and following me around because she’s bored.
And I need to stop letting my child walk all over me (I know you were thinking that so I went ahead and said it for ya)!
I need to focus on being a good mom and loving my little exuberant and clingy toddler, more than I love myself….and doing this 24/7 and not so much on who not to be like and what not to do. And stop being ashamed and spending the rest of the day guilt-ridden and catering to the every whim of my toddler.
This just fosters the vicious cycle.
But in the meantime, while I’m still working on getting systems and schedules in place (and maybe lining up a few babysitters so my creative brain doesn’t explode) there may be one or two more times when I selfishly declare that Mommy needs to play by herself!
And then I’ll just shrug my shoulders at the next play date when Muffin emphatically declares the same thing to her play date… I’ll be all like, “I have no idea where she comes up with this stuff!”