Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Hum Drum Days

I’m struggling lately. I know it has to do with being in a place that still doesn’t feel like home. It has to do with trying to meet other moms and having the opportunity to see how other moms parent their children. It has to do with loads of laundry. It has to do with planning the meals. It has to do with questioning my choices, spending maybe too much time on myself, doing the dishes, vacuuming the floor, worrying about Sam’s development, worrying about Sam’s education, worrying about Sam getting sunburned, wondering if I should go to another playgroup, if we should spend more money to buy more organic food or if we really don’t have that money, if I do enough during the day to keep Sam intellectually stimulated, if we are doing the right thing for his sleep problems, if we are dealing with his new screaming fits the right way, if he will scream on the plane ride on Thursday when it is just the two of us, if I am too late on so many things we already made decisions about in Sam’s first year, and if I will always wish I had made another choice, a better choice, a more informed choice, a more proactive choice…wondering already, if it is too late. It has to do with being a mom.

I never, ever saw myself as a stay at home mom. Frankly, for all of my life up until about one year before getting pregnant with Sam I never saw myself as any type of mom. But once I got the mommy bug, I wanted that baby immediately. I remember holding my friend’s one year old daughter thinking to myself as I rubbed her back, “I want this baby IN me…now!” I probably squeezed her too hard at that point. And now, here I am, a mom. And doing what I never could have predicted: staying at home. All day, every day, we are staying at home. And all day, every day, I wonder if Sam is getting everything he deserves. Lately I am immersed in the frenzy of trying to read parenting books, education books, baby food books, all books that will make me feel that I am doing a good job, doing the right things, making the right choices. And just as often I am immersed in the pool of tepid, stand still nothingness called Boredom. The routine. Dear God, The Day In, Day Out Routine! The dishes, the cooking while a child screams at you only to be screamed at once the food is prepared, the picking said food up off the floor, the laundry, the nap preparation, the diapers, the trash, the cat litter, the grocery shopping…the routine. How do we do this?

How do we deal with these challenges? How do we spice it up, make it interesting, keep ourselves motivated? I know that Sam is my motivation in the bigger sense, but I mean practically speaking. How do we keep on keepin’ on and how do we do it effectively, happily, in a way that sets an example, that makes us feel proud of what we do, every day?

And on the flip side, how do we not go crazy with trying to do what’s best at all times, forcing us to constantly try to figure out what best is? I sit in the living room with Sam playing by my side. He’s got a puzzle and a car that he’s banging around that I’ve just been driving around all over his back and his head. Now, do I keep playing with him? Do I try and read a chapter in any one of the 5 parenting books recently borrowed from the library which will potentially make me much more useful the next time I play with him? Which one? The one about emotional intelligence, the one about developmental stages, the one about age appropriate games, or the one about how to make “Super Porridge,” the most important of the Super Baby Foods? Or do I go and try to make the stupid brown porridge so that he has no time to start flailing around at lunchtime, resulting in me getting more food down his little gullet. Do I read a few blog posts and perk myself up mentally and emotionally because a happy mommy is a better mommy? Do I pack us up and get us out of the house for yet another trip to an empty park so that Sam’s world is as big as possible? Run an errand? Do I fold the clothes? Eat some breakfast? Close my eyes for 2 minutes? Too many choices, the same choices that are faced every 15 minutes or so of every single day. It’s enough to make ya wanna sit there and do nothin’.

How do you do it? And I’m not saying I’m unhappy with this set up; this is exactly what I want to be doing. I just mean what I said: how do we do the repetition of the day in, day out in a way that sets an example, makes us feel that we are good mothers, makes us feel like we are making the right choices, from what we do for the next fifteen minutes to how we parent our babies. I guess I just feel like I’m flailing around a bit. I look up and see a lot of question marks, not nearly enough periods.


Blogger scraphappymama said...

Welcome to motherhood. I can totally relate to everything you said, and at times find myself feeling like I am back at square one. Unfortunately, in this game, there is never a "right" answer, because it varies from day to day, from child to child . . . in the end you do your best and pray your kids will forgive you for the occassional screw-up.
BTW: I think Sam is a lucky kid to have a mommy so concerned about him. You are doing a great job!!!

12:17 AM  
Blogger Adventures In Babywearing said...

You've clearly said it here: "I just feel like I’m flailing around a bit. I look up and see a lot of question marks, not nearly enough periods."

Our job ends at the periods.

How sad for the ones that just assume they've got it right already and won't even consider changing or adapting for their child.

I find the parenting books & magazines to be helpful in SOME parts, but going with your mothering instincts is the best route, and you're less likely to feel overwhelmed.

NO MOM is perfect. Some are really good at making it APPEAR that way, but usually they are even more screwed up inside than US!

8:58 AM  
Blogger kate said...

a friend once said to me that it there is a lot of freedom in being a "good enough mom." you can't be perfect everyday (whatever that is) and somedays it's about being good ENOUGH, you know.

parenting books are great, but they can also make you feel like you aren't doing the "right" things. and there are no right things.

my biggest successes with my boy have been when i involve him in "grown up" things and when we do projects together. that's why i go to the kitchen. he can do more than i thought and younger than i thought. i have taught him to sweep, to scoop flour into a bowl and mix it, he "helps" fold laundry. i do everything with him. he then feels a sense of purpose.

if i've learned one thing it's that boredom is the worst thing for a toddler. and for me. when he's bored it's SO much harder. so, i have to get creative. setting up some big project is easier than dealing with boredom.

i don't know if i'm being helpful at all, but i know how it feels. monotonous. boring. and so hard to know sometimes what's "right."

keep looking for playgroups. it'll probably help to find some other moms to bounce ideas off of.

12:54 PM  
Blogger Mama D said...

I think everything you are saying and feeling is normal. At least I hope so because I'm right there with you.

I keep telling myself it's going to get easier. That things will become more clear to me. But I'm not sure if they will. And not in a bad way, just in a 'everything is constantly changing' way.

I know one thing, books often confuse me if I obsess over them too much. You can find books that total contradict themselves. So take from them what you like and let the confusing stuff dribble out your ears.

I think you are doing just fine. Doing the best you can.

4:36 PM  
Blogger Nikkie said...

I have feel the same way you too. I often worry all the time about the same things. I don't like to read the parenting books, they often annoy or confuse me, or just flat out don't fit my lifestyle.

I wish I could come up with something helpful to say. So, I'll just say that you are not alone.

4:45 PM  
Blogger Alli said...

Don't be so hard on yourself. It sounds like you are doing a great job! I read the books, too, but somewhere along the way in the last 3.5 years I learned that I have an instinct about how I want things to be for my kids, the kind of people I want my kids to be and the kind of life I want for us while I still have them. Once I started following that instinct instead of what the books say or what other moms are doing, I got so much happier. I know what I want for my kids...I have that vision. That was the easy part. The hard part is going from point A to point B. But I feel that if I just keep sight of that vision, I'll get there. I still read the books. Somehow I think that will help me get from point A to point B, but I take what I like and throw out the rest.

You know what's right for your son...cut yourself some slack. No mom's perfect. But if you go with what's best for your family you'll all be happier for it.

7:56 PM  
Anonymous katie said...

I wrote a very long comment to this and then it got deleted somehow, doh! To sum it up, you aren't alone. It's minute to minute, hour to hour, day to day over here too. We are all doing are best (and I felt a huge amount of relief when I finally figured out that Jack can play in his room by himself while I am sewing/reading/having a cup of tea and I shouldn't feel guilty about not playing with him every minute!)

12:30 AM  
Blogger Stephanie said...

Seriously, your little boy is so lucky to have a mom that loves him enough to be so concerned about him.

Somewhere around the second birthday of my oldest, I had the thought that reiterated what Kate said. I am a good enough mom, not a perfect mom, because that lady doesn't exist. My daughter was much happier once I realized that. I started to focus on me again too. I needed to figure out for myself that I wasn't capable of taking care of another human being until my needs were taken care of. I took some classes and started some hobbies and it refreshed me to the point that I looked forward to being with my family again.

So my advice to you is this. Put all of those parenting books in a box (at least for a week) and find a really good book that you WANT to read, let him play with his blocks and cars--because independant play promotes imagination and creativity. Heck, if you entertain him ALL of the time, he will expect that when he is older and it is really sad to see a five-year-old that can't handle playing on their own. Spend some time getting to know you again.

Motherhood can be monotonous, boring, trying and can make you feel like you are suffocating. We have all been there, we all still get that way. Give yourself a reward to congratulate yourself for making it this far. I find a pedicure works wonders, and I have pretty tootsies to remember it by. You are normal to feel this way. I am more worried about the moms that DON'T feel this way.

(((HUGS))) during this trying time in your life.

2:55 AM  
Blogger ksl said...

I have heard that the definition of motherhood is wearing your heart on your sleeve and always second guessing yourself. You are the best mom Sam will ever have and you are doing a great job. No other person on earth cares about him like you do and if you took him to a daycare I bet the thought of Super Porridge or keeping him intellectually stimulated would be very far down on the to do list for the day.

I read a recent post at on http://partners-in-parenting.typepad.com that was really intresting. Hope that helps.

10:00 AM  
Blogger Eli's Mom said...

I feel like I could have written your blog! I NEVER wanted kids, but once I told my husband "NOW", i wanted taht baby immediatly also. ANd here I am, independant goal-oriented overachiever, staying at home, emptying the dishwasher 3 times a day and saying "babababababa" to Eli anytime he wants to engage in conversation...
My point is, I can totally relate. I make as many 'errands' as I can for us during the week, including as much time with other babies and moms as possible. Even though I never seem to connect with any of the other moms, at least it gets me a 10 minute conversation here and there.

Go back to the stroller strides....that's a good outlet. Check out story time at your library, if they offer it.

Swim lessons at the Y. They do parent/child lessons for kids 6months-2 or 3years.

Check the local hospital for any type of mom-n-me meeting/connection group. Most offer them.

Good luck!!!

5:32 PM  
Blogger GranolaGirl12 said...

I'm glad to see you've gotten some great advice and empathy so far... Here's what helps me get out of bed and go through the "routine" again:
+swimming-- we took swim lessons and joined a pool
+Baby Bookworms at the library (free! air conditioned!)
+teaching E sign language (I like learning a new skill)
+it was a huge blessing to meet moms in the neighborhood that I can walk down the street and hang out with.
Good luck! and don't forget-- you'll always have your online "play group" when you need it. You're a great mom and Sam loves/needs/adores you.

9:52 AM  
Blogger american girl said...

I just wanted to say that you're not alone...when I moved to Ontario, Canada two years ago, I was just about the loneliest, saddest person you'd ever hope (not) to meet. I prayed every day for a real friend. The loneliness was made worse by the fact that I had just left graduate school where I had some of the best, closest relationships of my life. And to top it off, my dear husband is an introvert and not much help at all!

However, once I began getting out in the community by volunteering (I didn't have a child yet), I met two women in particular that are my lifesavers, and they came at exactly the right time, when I was newly pregnant (one was also pregnant). The timing couldn't have been better (although, 7 months is a loooong time when you're lonely). I truly believe your time will come.

Also, I've learned, as the mother of a 6 month old, that your instincts are better than all the parenting books in the world!

10:26 AM  
Blogger janice said...

oh girl - i know what you are saying!! I just read all the comments to see what the other ladies said too. some great encouragement and advice there.

I get bored SO QUICKLY when I am doing the at home days. It drives me crazy. I am so blessed to have my twin nearby. Also, my twin lives in a townhouse complex and has gotten to know two other moms with young babies, so they all keep each other from going nuts with the baby boredom and the loneliness.

Just remember that you are an awesome mom and you need to give yourself a BREAK!! listen to the other ladies and put away those books and try to stop analyzing everything so much. (I am a worrier and an overanalyzer myself, so i know that is far eaier said than done.) Everything will turn out fine and soon you will be so busy driving him to and from activities and school and you will be meeting tons of other moms.

6:48 PM  
Blogger Shannon said...

You took the words right from my mouth.

I never thought I was going to be a mom, so pushed it aside and started my other baby (my business). And now I have twin girls.

I don't want to let go of my first baby so trying to balance it all is nervewracking at times.

Yup, I screw up, but nothing major. And I am sure you are the same.

I think Sam is so fortunate to have a great mom.

8:44 AM  
Blogger txmommy said...

yep, welcome to the club!
You'll do great, you have the most important part down already: you care!

9:04 AM  
Blogger Amber said...

Ahh my dear, this is something I have struggled with and will continue to struggle with. I had a great career that I loved and never intended to stay at home. Until I got married and really had a vision for how important it is to be at home.

Honestly, once things start connecting for you in Philedelphia, life will be so much easier. I was so blessed to get into a mom's hiking group (my passion) shortly after Haddie was born and it has been my sanity. Keep plugging away and you will find women in your same situation who share your same hobbies.

Isolation and motherhood do NOT go together and I totally relate to what you're going through. You are doing a great job; your love and concern is evident!

5:10 PM  

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