I was planning on doing a Five Minute Friday link up today but my brain is a little fried.
Just when I feel like I’m getting my head around being the mother I’m made to be, not feeling like I should be doing/ planning/ being certain things which society or others see as being necessary to be the ‘perfect mother’, life throws an afternoon like this afternoon at me. Simeon wouldn’t nap, bedtime was a battle, a massive one, and it’s at times like that that I feel like I just don’t know what I’m doing. I hope (in a good way), that I’m not the only one to have felt like this. In parenting, or life in general. Generally speaking, and toddler naptime issues aside, I feel like our days are reaching a good rhythm where Phoebe and Simeon, and I are all happy that we know what we’re doing, and I’m not feeling particularly guilty about what I feel we should be doing instead.
I’m learning, or rather remembering the very obvious fact, that we are all different. Not just as individual people, but in the roles we inhabit. God made me the way I am, to be different from you, the way you are. And that includes as a mother- not everyone has to parent, or mother the same way, obviously. That’s impossible. Yet I’ve felt this unknown pressure over the past few months, that if we’re not always out of the house, every day, doing something fun and/or educational, that I’m somehow letting my children down. But I know that’s not the truth. The truth is that I am the mother that they need me to be. ( See Sarah’s post for a great read on a similar topic). They need me to be myself, not trying to emulate someone else, or emulate society’s view of an ideal mother, or an ideal stay-at-home mother, either.
In this season, specifically in this time where Simeon needs to nap quite a bit (he usually has two longer naps), we can’t be out of the house for the whole day, every day. At least three mornings a week we have a toddler group of some kind on, so we are often out and socialising. Some days we are out for the whole day, and that’s great- but Simeon usually struggles to nap and has to go to bed early, often resulting in a bad night. In this winter season, with the nights drawing in so early, it’s hard for us to get out of the house in the afternoon, especially when Phoebe naps so late. I’m learning to be ok with that. Would I like to be able to jam pack every day with exciting activities? Maybe, but then I would deprive my son of the sleep he needs, and my daughter of that quiet playing time that she really loves and relishes at home. I probably say this over and over but she is really so good at playing, and occupying herself. That’s half of the issue at naptime- ‘just want play bit more’- she doesn’t want to concentrate on something as dull as sleep. The sleep battles can make you feel really alone, like you’re the only parent who has ever had to face this and been unable to stay patient and calm. The only one to lose their temper and feel like throwing in the towel.
In general I try to avoid comparisons between myself and other mothers- I try to only follow people who are encouraging to me in my life where it is right now on social media- There is a fine line between sharing life and encouraging one another that we are not alone in this, and (often unintentionally) making comparisons with someone else’s life. The fault is definitely at my door, when I compare myself with someone else, who isn’t trying to tell me that their life is better than mine. I know that some families get to run about outdoors all day. Some families the children are at nursery while parents work. Some families home-school and have younger children at home all day too. We each do our own thing according to the people and families we are. I think as Phoebe has got older, and has been learning to talk, and learning things like colours and numbers, the pressure to step it up has crept in from somewhere. Even now I feel some kind of desire to justify the way I parent, as I write this. To tell you that we do do interesting and educational things. But that’s not what I need to do- I need to embrace this season where we are and make it work for us, right here and now. To have confidence in my ability to be the mother they need and to know that even if they cry or throw tantrums that doesn’t mean that I am not the best mother for them, or that I am not equipped for this.
Phoebe is made a certain way, Simeon is made a certain way, and I am. Together as a family we have to figure out our own rhythm of living and working together that means we are all able to be ourselves, to all be able to learn, and rest, and play and have fun. It seems stupidly obvious, but I am remembering we’re all different in order to let go of that guilt which has somehow been niggling at me. And my patience when bedtime just goes all wrong? I’m working on that.