Wednesday, July 05, 2006

A Difference of Opinion

Even though my blog is titled "The Life of a Wife, Mother, and Aspiring Author" I haven't spent much time talking about my home life. I think most people would find it pretty darn boring, but I'm struggling with something I can imagine most mothers face at some point in their lives so I figured I would toss it out for you to dissect.

I've been a stay-at-home mom for almost three years now. It had always been my dream to be at home with my kids and I've been one of the lucky few who is able to do so. But somewhere I feel I still need to carve out a life for myself, separate from motherhood. Creating the time to do that, is always the problem.

There have been two different schools of thought thrown at me and I would love to hear anyone's opinion on the matter. The first is that it is important for a mother to make time for herself; to get involved with something that she does just for her. My doctor has stressed it's importance and so have members of my family. On the opposite side are those who believe my children should be my entire life and that I should wait until they are both in school before becoming involved in anything else.

It hadn't been too much of an issue until I launched my writing career. Often times when the in-laws come over in the afternoons I escape to my laptop - which is in the same room as the children usually are in - and try to check and respond to emails so that I can spend the time after the girls go to bed writing. Afternoons also seem to be happy hour around here most of the time and it is believed that my use of the computer is the problem. Heck it could be true, but to be honest after hours of breaking up silly little fights over the older child taking the younger one's toys or some other such nonsense, I plain old need a break.

So herein lies my dilemma. I could put my writing career on hold and hire a housekeeper to take care of our home so that I can spend every waking moment with the children, or I can continue to try and squeeze in my writing time and other miscellaneous stuff in between refereeing preschool battles. Both have their advantages, but I can't seem to see one as being better than the other. Maybe you can shed some light on it for me.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

WEll I am your part of that family that says yes you need an identity besides your children. I have done both and if you make a short time every day or every other day just for yourself then you really become a much better parent and your children will learn to be more independent. Your days wil get easier with one entering kidnergarten in the fall. Just hang in there. your sister

7:17 AM  
Anonymous Holly said...

Well, from one multi-tasker to another, I understand completely!

I have homeschooled my children since they were ready for schooling and this September, they will be attending an actual public school. The reason I have done this is because I need to get my life back. It has always been me and the girls and it was great. From spending so much time with them we have bonded for life and they are quite different from other children. Even though we will be apart for school days, it doesn't change a thing, I will still try to be the best Mom I can be for them. I will still love them, nurture them, and teach them.

I just need be Me for at least a few hours a day, do something I want to do. Whether it be a career, volunteer work, going to the gym, meeting up with friends, whatever, I want something that is just for me. And that is extremely important.

So, to sum it up, I truly believe that women will always struggle with this issue. The only thing that we can do is make the best of it. You can still be a domestic goddess and career woman if you choose; just remember to take some time away, even just a few hours a day to do something just for you. It doesn't seem like much, but its a start. Remember, husbands, family, and friends can be a big help. Often times I have had a family member or a friend take my children for a few hours while I did something for me.

Holly (your Diva friend)

11:37 AM  
Anonymous Lynn said...

I was lucky enogh to be a full time mother for awhile. I wouldn't trade that time for anything. Maybe you could write while your children are in pre school and when they nap so you could do both

12:02 PM  
Blogger Cheryl said...

Thanks for the feedback ladies. I do my best to schedule all my writing time after the kids are in bed and to keep other computer time down to a minimum, but I'm looking at the clock right now and it says 1:24AM and I know my behind will be dragging tomorrow, so I have to make some kind of change to my schedule; I just don't know what yet.

Thanks again.


1:29 AM  
Anonymous Terry said...

You know already how I feel but I wanted to respond to your blog entry. To feel sustained as a woman I believe you need to nurish yourself. Finding the balance between your family and time for yourself is never easy, especially when the kids are young. Perhaps a better balance could be found if you made an appointment for yourself - only a few times a week and not when your in-laws are over. So if Wednesday night is your night your husband could take over and you could slip away to the library.

I also believe that simply devoting every moment of your time with your family does not automatically equates to it being quality time with your family. If you lose yourself how can you possibly be a good parent, wife, etc.

I think by spending some one on one time with each of the girls and making it special can help them when you do have Mommy time. They'll know that their special time is coming up. I think some evenings can be good family time - going to the park, taking a long walk, etc. And then don't forget your hubby, date night every once in a while.

Just my two cents.


1:16 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Cheryl, I have to agree with the rest of the girls here. Even though I don't have children myself I feel I can give some insight on this matter. With your children or even just your husband, a woman needs some time to herself. That doesn't make you a bad mother or wife, it allows you to have some down time from the everyday hussle of the family unit. It will then allow you to use better judgement in making future decissions because you had a break from it. Those of us that have a 9 to 5 job get our breaks when we punch out at the end of the day. Unfortunately a mother cannot do this, but she can try and free up some time during her day to just take a break from her mommy duties. On our jobs if we work more than the 8 hours shift, you can tend to get a little sloppy and start making errors. The same holds true for motherhood, you need your break too or without it your family unit will also suffer. So my friend, make and take the time for yourself.

Your buddy Lorrie (Diva)

3:48 PM  
Blogger Cheryl said...

Thanks Tee and Lorrie. I guess I just feel caught in between a rock and a hard place. No one except me seems to realize how tough it is being with the girls every day and getting no break.

The hubby says he gets no breaks either because he goes right from work to home, but I know when I went out to work or to a meeting I felt better when I came home because being at work is a different environment and not demanding in the same way being home with the girls is. It refreshed me because of the change of pace.

I wouldn't trade my time with the girls for anything, but I wish I had support for needing time for myself too.

Thanks for your feedback. I really appreciate it.


4:50 PM  
Blogger Sadie said...

Hi, Cheryl. It's SadieCass from the DQ boards.

I, like you, am a SAHM. I have 3 children myself. My 8yo son, and my irish twins, Molly and Kennedy (15 and 3 months respectively). After years of being a single mom that HAD to work...this past year that I've officially been a SAHM has been my dream fulfilled. It isn't all champagne and roses, though, and I know what you're talking about. I, also, am trying to start writing something that isn't fan-related. I spend hours on the computer every night writing, and, as the girls are still young, have nap times to write during the day. My husband for a long time also had issues with my computer time. HE's threatened to throw out the computer completely. But, we've compromised...and now that he's spent a week seeing what I deal with day in and day out, he undertands better.

I am most definitely of the belief that you HAVE to have you time. My husband is of the same belief too (he just isn't sure the comp counts as that). I joined a playgroup in my area not only for the girls...but for ME. My hubby has pushed me out the door to go have time away from the children. You need that. They can be your focus 95% of the time...but they can't be 100% of the time. You'd go insane! Even my mother, who was SAHM, did stuff for her. It's only fair to you. Don't let others tell you what's right for your heart. You know what you need to do and how loved your kids are. Just because you write and/or check email a few times a day when you actually have a break doesn't make you a bad mom. It makes you HUMAN...which after the children are grown is all you have :D Don't let others make you feel guilty...look to your heart, and your kids to know you're doing right. Ignore everyone else. *huggles*

12:56 AM  
Blogger Sadie said...

Oh, and P.S. My hubby says the same thing about working all day and not being able to take care of the kids after that (that's why I no longer work in the evenings like I did). BUT, he also agrees with me that being with them 24/7 is too much...that's why he encourages "me" long as it isn't too long *LOL* He can only manage 3 kids for so long before he starts feeling insane ;) Which is also good, because then he gets very appreciative of me for a few days *giggle*

12:59 AM  
Blogger Cheryl said...

Thanks for chiming in her Sadie. I was a single mom for 11 years so like you I was thrilled at the chance to stay home with my girls.

I knew it would be a difficult transition because I had worked since I was 16, but no one could ever have prepared me for how hard it would be. There are days when I feel I am the worst mother in existence. Not that I beat them or anything, but I feel like I get angry too often, so I know I need to figure out what I can do to even things out so I don't feel overwhelmed.

My hubby has a hard time handling the girls for more than an hour by himself, especially if it's on a day that he has worked.

I'm going to try to keep plugging away with my writing at night, but I need to get to bed earlier so that I'm not tired the next morning when the girls are ready to play. Easier said than done since the end of the book is very close.

Thanks again for your words of wisdom. I appreciate that you took the time to post here.


5:23 PM  
Blogger MML said...

Cheryl - I wish that I had something profound to tell you. But if its any consolation, I come home from work and still find myself trying to escape my kids. I don't care what you do all day, EVERYONE needs time to be alone with his/her own thoughts. Chasing preschoolers is exhausting (remember I have a 6 year old and a 3 year old) and you've got to have a break.

Don't ever forgot that there are many of us who feel exactly like you. You are not alone! Mary

1:05 AM  
Blogger Cheryl said...

Thanks Mary. I guess it would be easier if I had some support for my alone time, but there isn't any.

This week the four-year-old is in summer camp at her old preschool. Yesterday morning, the girls and I played on the floor with a puzzle before I left, and her teacher said, "You're such a good mom."

It was just the boost I needed, because there are many days when I feel like the evil step-mother from Cinderella.

Thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts.


9:59 AM  

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