Thursday, May 29, 2008

On Being A Full Time Mom

Being a full time mother is an amazing occupation. If you have the privilege of being one, give thanks now! Not everyone is so blessed. I am extremely grateful that I was able to stay home with my children and am even more grateful that all of my daughters and my daughter-in-law are also full time moms. But that doesn’t mean I don’t remember or know that like every other career mothering has a down side. There are definitely frustrations, mundane and even tedious aspects to mothering, but one of the things I realize more and more is that as mothers we often make the job more mundane and tedious than it needs to be.
For one thing, too often we define what it means to be a mother by what our mother did or by what the mothers around us do. We think we have to replicate their methods. But as a mother you are in charge and should run your home like a good business executive runs a business. And how is that? You run it according to your strengths.
My mother was very disciplined and loved a spotlessly clean house. She, in large part, defined her role as a mother as that of a housekeeper. That served us kids well in many ways. For example, I was never ashamed to bring friends home. I knew the house would always be clean and inviting. As a matter of fact, our home was always the gathering place for friends (besides being a great housekeeper, Mom was a social person who enjoyed having people around).
When I first had children, I thought I had to keep house like Mom did which meant doing what most people do for Spring cleaning on a monthly basis. Again and again I tried to keep the discipline and schedule that mother maintained, but I hate house work. It didn’t give me the pleasure it gave Mom to see myself reflected in all the kitchen appliances. For years I felt depressed and like a total failure as a mother because my house wasn’t as clean as hers. What I wasn’t taking into account is that I was doing things she hadn’t. When I finally accepted that a certain level of cleanliness is essential and that I could maintain that level but didn’t have to maintain Mother’s level I gained an enormous amount of peace and it allowed me to concentrate on things like taking my children to the library and playing the piano while they sang–things my mother never did.
What I realize now, is that the best mothers are the ones who recognize their strengths, build their family lives around those strengths and enjoy what they are doing without worrying about the mother next door who is putting every tiny thing the children bring home into a scrapbook. If you like scrap booking-fine. If you don’t–then don’t scrap book. You don’t have to. Identify your own strengths and nurture your children through those strengths. That’s all you have to do!


connie said...

I love that my daughter allows her children to express their individuality! She said that she guessed she would never have Strasburg, Baby Gap etc. children but they were happy and that mattered more to her. This was after a trip to Target with her youngest wearing two left shoes, one red, one white.(Anna is two and a very independent self dresser!)I realized that I was the type of Mom who woke up on Saturday and said, "Let's go on an adventure with no plan in mind whatsoever and struggled with that for years. I thought it was a bad thing!

Heidi said...

Jenny sent me a link to your blog a while ago, but it has been just recently that I have taken the time to read it. I love your insight on things. I was I loved being one of your young women and being able to learn from you each week.
I am now a stay at home mom to a little girl and really needed your comments. I struggle with keeping my house as clean as possible but it was so exhausting. I would be so exhausted that when my baby was awake I had less patience and was less fun. One day I decided that I needed to to take a break during the day while she was taking one of her naps, and then during her other nap I would do as much cleaning as I could and be at peace with that. Life is much better. Sometimes my husband comes home and he sometimes looks at me like "did you get anything done today?" but he usually tries to find something positive to say instead.
It is such a great blessing to be a mom and especially a stay at home mom.
Thanks again for the insights.
And tell Patrea Hi. I am so excited to hear that her family is growing. I am sure she is an amazing mom.
Heidi (Paget) Ward

Wendi said...

Thank you, thank you, thank you!! :)