Have you ever realized days later that you never answered one of your kid’s questions? Or, maybe you realized that you never truly finished a conversation with your child that was important, but you were busy cooking dinner, or making a call. Maybe you said, “Just a minute” and just forgot to get back to it? I do it all the time.
I’ll be going to bed and realize, “Crap! Avery wanted to know about such and such and I never answered”. It is one of the parts of parenting that I feel immense amounts of guilt for. I try hard to be the less guilt mama, but it’s hard. Because our time is so divided every single day.
In fact, my head is swirling right now with the fact that we made on offer on a house last week, and it was accepted. This means lots of changes coming up for our family in the next few months, and my thoughts are consumed with everything there is to do. Packing, moving, changing schools, summer activities, end of the year activities, etc. etc. I’m feeling overwhelmed.
And, the truth is, motherhood is the one job where everyone expects you to “do it all” and frankly, you just can’t. I don’t believe that women can “have it all”. It’s not to say that the working mom isn’t a good mom. She is. In fact, she is the best mom she can be. She tries her best, and at the end of the day, has to accept that. But, even the stay at home mom can’t “do it all”. She can try her best too, but still have days where she feels like she is failing and has to accept that too. I can’t constantly have a clean house, kids fed, happy husband, no fighting, maintain my patience, and stay on top of school activities, crafts, church responsibilities, etc. It’s enough to make your head spin, and it’s physically impossible to be that “perfect” mom.
Yet, sometimes I look at my kids in this stage that they are in and worry. I worry that I’m not giving them the attention that they need, even though I am with them practically 24/7. I worry that sometimes they feel forgotten or invisible when I forget to answer a question because I’m busy talking to someone on the phone, or cooking dinner, or doing one of my mundane chores like cleaning the bathroom. I worry they feel invisible. I don’t want them to feel that. I want them to feel seen and heard. Because we all want a little validation.
My Mom sent me this book called The invisible woman. And, while a lot of this woman’s feelings resonates with me as a mom, I also started thinking that maybe my kids feel like invisible kids. Her book talks a lot about how she started to feel invisible in her family like she was just the cook, the taxi driver, the woman who would find things, the housekeeper, etc. You get the idea. And while I see a lot of that in my own life, I couldn’t help but think, am I doing this to my kids too?
Do, I look at my kids as just little mouths to feed, bodies to wash, and little mess makers? Do, I see them as the one that needs to be taken to ballet and do her homework, and get ready for school faster, or the one that needs the most attention, or the baby that needs everything? Sure, I do.
I blog a lot about the parts of motherhood I find challenging. There is definitely a loss of self when you are constantly the one sacrificing for the sake of another. Yet, do I do the same thing to them? Do I make them feel like they are someone that needs to find something to do until I have time for them? Until I get off the phone, or finish putting the dishes away, or finish with the more “important things”? Probably sometimes, I do.
As kids get older, their personalities come out more and they seem more like little people. Not just burping, sleeping, eating, pooping little beings. They seem like real people. And, even though my kids are still young, and much of their personalities are still waiting to be seen, they are still people. They are people today. Even at 6, 4, and 1. They still want to feel needed, acknowledged, and heard. Not, “in a minute” but, right now.
But, before we get all depressed at not watching every little twirl our kids make, or hear every cute story they want to tell us for the millionth time, let’s get a reality check. It’s IMPOSSIBLE to be perfect at always giving undivided attention. In fact, if I gave my undivided attention to my children every time they asked for it, my life would be sad. And, dirty, and gross. Because when they are little, they demand it every waking hour.
So, in theory, I guess I could skip showering, eating, and cleaning the house. But, I guess that would also mean that I had to skip cooking because that takes me away from them too? Oh, and I couldn’t pay the bills, because that is also time consuming. And, forget doing anything for the husband. Because the kids “need to be heard”.
I just said last night to my husband how just feeding my youngest right now puts me in a VERY bad mood. He screams at me throughout the whole ordeal, only eats a fourth of what I put in front of him, and never, ever can give me any indication of what he really wants because he hardly talks at all! It is sometimes the most draining part of my day. Yet, the poor kid just wants to eat. I mean, he has to stay alive right?
While this one act puts me in a bad mood, I’m still working hard at doing it. And, while I don’t necessarily love the chore of feeding my kids, it is part of this job. And, it may not seem like it is that rewarding, but in truth, it is part of the bigger picture. Because I feed that cute little screaming face, he grows. He learns. He starts to become that little person that I can see on the outside that is trapped inside that little body that just wants food all the time.
Those small acts that seem mundane like feeding our kids, cleaning up their rooms, and bathing them, clothing them, and keeping them entertained day in and day out, are all acts that lead to something bigger.
They may not get my attention in the way they want it all the time, but by the small and simple things, I’m giving them that attention almost all the time. Because I want them to be fed, have a safe home, live in a good neighborhood, learn, be good people, etc. I have to do the small and simple things right now like feed them, clean the house, pay the bills, and teach them to be patient while mommy is on the phone. It all leads to something more.
Reminding ourselves of that in the moment is the hard part.
So, next time I forget to finish a conversation, I’m going to try not to feel guilt about it. But instead, pat myself on the back for doing something else that still leads to their well-being. (Unless I was blogging or on FB, of course) And, I will promise myself that I will bring up the conversation the next day and this time…..finish it.