Saturday, 10 September 2011


Why is parenting so intimidating sometimes? This back-to-school season has brought out many comments, blog entries, and conversations about the emotions surrounding sending your kids out of the house for 6+ hours a day. Mostly the people I hear from are those who wistfully vow that they wish their kids never had to leave their sides. The mothers shed more tears their kids, and sometimes the mothers even opt out of kindergarten altogether, keeping their darling children home for an extra two years.

I always feel guilty at this time of year, because I don't feel that way. I love my kids, love them more than anything, but I relish the rest I get during school hours. I need the break from the shrill yells when the kids are egging each other on. I need some time when three little voices aren't clamouring for me to get them something or crying over another injustice. I need touch-free time, when there aren't any little hands patting me, hitting me, tugging me. I need 20 minutes to clean the toilet or vacuum the carpet and maybe, just maybe, mop the floor (I can't get any cleaning done when the kids are around.)

And yet so many mothers have looked down at me and told me to treasure this time, because it is fleeting, and I will look back on these days miss them, wish them back. Okay, there are many, many moments that I love, but I get plenty of those moments in the 8 hours a day I have my kids when they are not in school.

I also think that this age is maybe not my thing. Transformer battles and Star Wars imaginary play...not my thing. Honestly, it bores me to tears. In a few years I know I'll be right in there, camping, hiking, playing sports, teaching small skills I know, reading books, and having in depth conversations. This line of thinking is what often leads to my guilty conscious setting in. Why don't I absolutely love this stage? Why do I have no qualms about sending my kids to school? Why do I look forward to "me" time?

Sometimes I bring this up, and mothers will jump in and say that they couldn't wait until their maternity leave was up and they could head back to work. They love daycare, when someone else can deal with their child's demands all day. And yet I didn't find myself in this camp, either.

That's why it was so reassuring to speak with a friend the other day who felt similar to me. She echoed all my sentiments, and confirmed that indeed, in a few years (the stage she is at now with her kids) I will totally hit my stride. It was then that I finally became okay with how I feel as a mother. I think that too often we affirm our own positions too emphatically, verging on aggressive (guilty!) We are looking for validation, or even more, someone who feels the same way. I know I have looked (and judged) other's for their decisions, and justified the judgment by saying that "that's not just a difference of opinion, that's just wrong."

I have had some experiences lately that have exposed me to people not like me. That is unusual given the town I live in, and the people I am generally surrounded with. And it's been eye opening. I have seen how one small event can change your life dramatically, and suddenly you are in a place that you could never have imagined. Sometimes the event is a choice, often it is not. But I think I am finding a confidence I never had before, a belief in the resiliency of the human spirit to find courage and survive in the most unimaginable circumstances.

Okay, that was a bit of a tangent. I think what all these thoughts can be summed up to, is that the only way to truly succeed in life is to be who you really are in all its facets, at the same time being open to change so that a new beauty can continually emerge.

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