Monday, May 29, 2006

Never ending questioning

Sometimes I look at my children and I am filled with enormous amounts of amazement and wonder. I think about their endless opportunities. I envision their delights in future discoveries and the anticipation of countless adventures. Their laughter and the heartbreaks. The gigantic emotions. I think about the pride in every accomplishment, the triumph of success and the butterflies of first romance.

In these moments, I am often appalled when it brings about feelings that the best of my life is over. I know that I shouldn't relate their future to mine. I don't ever want to be to be jealous of their youth. The answer to my self-loathing is that I need to start living again. And not just through them.

Is this a common mistake for mothers? Do we sacrifice our own passions for that of our children? Do others feel that the only thing that they have to look forward to is the incredible journey that time will bring about for their offspring? I hope this is just a stage that I am going through because I'm so lost. It is like I don't know who I am or what I want for myself. I am trying to learn how to be a good mom. I am sure that a huge part of that lesson is to be a happy well rounded individual. Once again I am struggling to find a way to have it all. Why do some people make it look so easy? Why am I filled with guilt? Have I done something wrong?


I love my children and I want the best for them just like everyone else. I am filled to the brim with excitement for them. I need to find an ounce of enthusiasm for myself but I don't know how, what or where. Like most things it may be hiding in the cushions of my couch.

24 Singing the blues:

Pattie the Domesticator said...

Jana,
After the birth of my third child, I felt like you did now. I felt guilty for having thoughts like that. I think it is easy for us moms to give so much of ourselves to others, that we forget about ourselves. Like somehow doing anything for yourself feels guilty. Or you just plain don't have time to think about what you even want never mind finding the time to do it. It is easy to forget what your passions are..the things you used to really enjoy before you had kids. You have not done anything wrong...you are not crazy. You are human, feeling normal feelings. The only advice I have for you is try to take some time to think about what it is that you want outside of your family...losing yourself to others can be damaging. It causes pain and resentment. Take it from someone who was there...

cameo said...

where you are right now is normal - struggling - wondering -wandering. and it's all for the best! REALLY! i think that we, as GOOD mothers, have the tendency to believe when we bring our babies into the world, all things as we knew them must stop. and in some respects, that's true. but, i don't know whay we do this. the thing i remember is feeling guilt for wanting something - parts of my old self back. i felt that i had already had my time, and now it was my job to be there completely for my children. one day, i heard somebody say, about parenting, "it's like when you're getting ready for a flight and the attendants are demonstrating what to do in an emergency - they tell you to secure your oxygen mask BEFORE assisting your child with theirs." AHA!!! the light went off! you can't truly offer your children anything if you're struggling to breath! remember who you are/were/want to be. honor that completely! go out and play. be reckless. have fun. stimulate your spirit and then you will be the kind of mama you want to be. HAPPY!!!!! it's okay to be flawed and unsure - life is messy and that's what makes it beautiful! and just one more thing my conscious friend - you're a great mom, because you are present in your life. you realize something is missing. you will do you babies the greatest service by getting through this with honesty. you're good people. hang in there. and breath!

mama_tulip said...

This topic has come up for me several times recently. I went out with some old friends of mine from high school and three of the four of us have kids. We were all talking about how nice it was to be able to be out with each other without the kids. We've gotten together several times with our kids but never just us, and we were all saying that while we are Mommy's, it's not *all* that we are.

The last time I got my hair cut I was talking to my stylist about this. He commented that he loves the fact that I just walk in and tell him to go nuts on my hair -- and while I have always been very casual with my haircut, I think I'm even more casual with it now that I'm a mom because there is so much structure and routine in my life, and not much room for error. My hair is one thing that I can kind of let loose on, and I told him that, and I told him that I still want to be "me" -- funky and fun and kinda crazy.

It's hard to find that balance, but I try to do it in different ways, and I try to really make time for myself. Sometimes it's easier said than done, but it is important.

Sunshine Scribe said...

How did you get inside of my head?!? Seriously. Your words are the ones I have been grasping for some time now. I understand completely.

It is often difficult to imagine that now the best of our opportunities are over in favour of those for our children. That we can't be both a mom and a completely fulfilled woman. That selfless and selfish cannot coexist. The guilt is too much sometimes.

You are one awesome mom and that is abundantly clear. But you know whatelse is clear ... you are an awesome woman too.

The crazy journey of figuring out what we want for ourselves is important because it is that part of you that you will also pass along to your beautiful girls. You'll figure it out. I hope I'll figure it out too. And soon.

Thanks for writing this honest, poignant, post Jana.

kittenpie said...

You know, I think this is common for far too many women who formerly had lives. I think it is of course important to see your child as primary in your life. But it is also important not to lose yourself. For you and for your relationship with your husband, both. What cameo said above is so spot on.

It's tricky, of course, because there is just so much to do to keep on top of daily stuff and it never ends. But keeping interested, having things you want to do, even if you can't devote much to them, means that you are keeping something else for you. I'm talking here about friends, hobbies, plans for the future. Things that are just for you and make you feel like your old self again for an hour or two.

Mega Mom said...

Apparently, we are all here. I keep thinking that if I'd known out of college, what I know now, that I'd have found a line of work that I could do (at least casually) when I had kids. I have my real estate license (but in NY, not IL where I live now) and I enjoy it, but is my chance to have a neat job over? Is the only cool stuff on my iPod (that I don't own yet) going to come from my kids? Am I going to be able to run a marathon? Sometimes it takes a new hobby to get us going again, or a new friend. Here's to hoping we all find one!

chelle said...

It is a constant struggle for me too. What will I be doing in my life, while helping my child through hers.

It is hard not to give all of yourself to your children. I work really hard to have a balance so my daughter can be proud of me and see me as a woman and a mother.

I know it will get harder with more children, but I believe it is important to stay true to yourself too.

Mom101 said...

I would guess that everyone sacrifices for their children. That's inevitable. The real issue is whether you feel you've sacrificed for them. That's where the guilt trips come in.

Life, as my mother always said, is a series of choices. You've traded some things for other things. When you feel you've lost yourself, however, is when it's time to make some changes.

Good luck with all of it.

ninepounddictator said...

It took me two years to finally understand my role in the world, once my daughter was born - TWO YEARS!!

Yes, they are your babies so you do have to sacrifice many many things for them (after all, they are babies, they need you!)

I think I got over most of my depression that my old life was gone, when I really started to enjoy my daughter. And the older she gets (she's now 2 and a half)

We went for a really long walk together tonight, and she can talk now too - so, you know what? I'll take my daughter over most other things now.

I'm not sure if I've grown up (Scary I know) I do know you can have it all - i really believe this. You can have your own life, a career, and a happy family. But you do have to work at it.

I really think this is a phase. Don't be lost. Even when my daughter drives me mad, as she did, last week one evening, when I finally put her to bed, I missed her so much, and went to sleep wiht her...

It's an amazing kind of love, isn't it? And that's what's the most scary.

Mommy off the Record said...

I'm still really new to motherhood so I haven't had these feelings in relation to my children...yet...but I can see how a lot of mothers probably do have these feelings. I know my own mother did and has even told me what she missed out on because she had us. It kinda hurt to hear that, but it is true that mothers make lots of sacrifices for their children. I think that wherever possible there should be a balance so that we, as mothers, continue to grow and aren't stunted by our need to care for our children. It sounds like you are working on find a way to bring more passion into your life. I wish you all the luck with that!

Mama C-ta said...

I thing I'm too new of a mom to feel this yet however I have plenty of other guilty feelings floating around. I did want to say that I think this is such a common issue for mothers. It seems so hard to keep yourself when you are giving so much at the same time. I remember when I was a teen looking down on my mom b/c to me she had no life. No interests, no social life, etc and now that I'm a mom I know why. She gave up so much for her 4 daughters. I can see me following in her footsteps so hopefully I figure out this balance before Cricket looks down on me for the same reason. But I can find comfort knowing that if it does happen he'll probably understand why once he has kids!

I'm sorry you are feeling this way...

Nicole said...

I, too, feel lost in my children. My husband and I totally focus on them and often forget about ourselves and our marriage. It is very difficult and when I think of how hard that is, I feel terribly guilty.

Sometimes I think about when they'll leave and my husband and I will get our lives back. That makes me feel terribly guilty, too. Plus, at this point, I don't know what that life will be.

Having kids is an awesome responsibility and we'll navigate through somehow, because we love them so much. I guess we have to remember that loving them does not have to mean denying ouselves of a life outside of them. When they're older, they won't want our lives to revolve around them, right?

Hang in there and you'll figure it out (eventually!)

bubandpie said...

This is EXACTLY what I've been feeling lately! Part of it for me is turning 35 - the whole halfway to 70 thing. And it doesn't necessarily have to do with working vs. not-working - it's more that when I look back, I see those awful years of high school, and then all the fun and excitement of dating and pairing off and getting married and getting divorced ... And then I see all the babies arriving, my babies and my friends' babies... None of the milestones in my past really have to do with my career - not the milestones I care about, anyway. But when I look ahead, what I see are all those phases the second time around: my children going to school, my children having relationships, getting married, having children - and where am I in that picture? I look forward to those things - so much - but I feel as if I've moved off of center stage, that my role now is to wait in the wings, throwing out the occasional prompt, ready with lots of applause.

Marcie said...

I think these feelings are so normal. When they are little you have to do everything for them and be watching them every second. It's kind of intense mothering. When they get a little older the pressure comes off somewhat. That you are thinking about these things is a good sign that you're not gonna lose yourself.

Amy (binkytown) said...

You need to know that you are not alone. It's so bloody hard to reclaim yourself when you spend almost every waking moment tending to the kids and possibly your mate. They give us a lot but require so much as well. Sounds like you need to recharge your batteries, can you try some baby steps? Get out on your own for an hour or two a week? Sometimes that all it takes to get over this hump..

Andrea said...

I echo the sentiments of most of the comments and don't want to just be a repeater. I hope you are able to find a way out of this train of thought and find a way to fulfill yourself beyond motherhood. I think you're a good writer, and that's a different facet that doesn't require motherhood to qualify.

Mrs. Chicky said...

How can you not give up a piece of yourself for your kids? It doesn't mean you have to give everything up but I think you have to sacrifice a bit of yourself for them. But the good part is, and I'm guessing here, that you find new passions together, help your children cultivate these new loves, and then send them on there way.

Btw, no one has it all. NO ONE.

Domestic Chicky said...

I can only echo what everyone else has said. We all go thru it, and you need to find something that's just yours, even for just a little bit, each day or week.

HeatherJ said...

I am fighting with these same feelings. My way of dealing with it is to carve out some time just for me. That time means no hubby, no kids, no dog, no other job, just me time. Time to do something that allows me to reconnect to who I am and realize that although I am a mom now and you always give up something of yourself when that happens you do not have to become a completely different person.

Amy The Black said...

I keep telling my 5-year-old that I can't wait to kick him out of the house when he's 18 so that I can go crazy again. But I have a feeling that he'll just join me in the fun. My 1-year-old too. She's already pretty cool. I just have to steal some time (escape is more like it) and do something I like.

Good luck!

lildb said...

Damn! I hadn't thought to check the couch. (That's always where the keys are, though, so why wouldn't my motivation fall in, as well?)

Girly-pie, hang in. You're just going through the rough patch of post-sickies no-sleep, and it's always hard to get back on track after that.

Smooches for you, and a big hug. :)

lildb said...

um, allow me to add that I may have displaced *my* issues onto what I perceived as your issues. This may be a much bigger thing that you're experiencing, and I'm possibly trying to shelve my own massive denial about facing those same things by attempting to attribute them to simple post-illness exhaustion. I sorry. :(

Mostly, though, I want to still send the hug. You're gonna get through all this, and your daughters/partner are going to benefit from your personal soul-searching, just as you will. Trust yourself, dude. You've obviously got a lotta brains and heart. Give yourself a chance to catch up to the earth-moving shake-up that is parenting.

xoxoxoxox

petite gourmand said...

this sounds all too familiar.
the hub and I were just discussing this yesterday.
I think it's totally normal to feel this way.
It's okay to lose yourself in your kids, especially when they are so young and dependant on you.
eventually we all find ourselves again, and I'm guessing as time goes by, we learn to love ourselves just a little bit more than we did before we become mothers in the first place.

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