Friday, December 3, 2010

We are good mothers

What is it about us mothers? We are hard-wired to suck up guilt like a sponge.

I keep reading posts with a similar theme. Women writing about the push-pull of blogging and motherhood. On the one hand our every day is filled with the care of our children. We wash their clothes, pack their lunches, love them with abandon, clean up their vomit, cry at their school plays and extract for them another ounce of our soul. It is exhausting and satisfying and all-consuming. On the other had we have discovered in blogging something we love. We have written about our fears and passions and let our humor show and lo, others have responded wonderfully. They’ve laughed with us, and offered support and understanding. We’ve forged new friendships. It’s exhilarating and satisfying and fulfills a need for connection and self-expression we didn’t even realize we had.

At some point, these two worlds collide. If we’re spending more time blogging, we’re spending less time doing something else. Perhaps it’s watching TV, but it may also be housecleaning or making home-cooked meals or spending time with our family. Perhaps our spouse or kids are calling us out. Hence the guilt and post after post about needing to step back from blogging.

I get that. I struggle with the same thing. I’ve written before about the elusive quest for balance. This has become even more challenging since I've become a single mother, juggling too many responsibilities, and my posts have become less frequent as a result.  The other day my children were sick with the stomach flu and I missed two days of work.  The second day I was supposed to present our agency's 2011 budget to the board finance committee.  I ended up conferencing in by phone, explaining the budget as I sat in bed with my children lying on either side of me.  My initial reaction was to feel guilty for missing the meeting, and then to feel guilty for working while my children were sick.  But then I stopped myself and thought: no, I'm not going to do this to myself.

And I'm not going to feel guilty about blogging either because I know this. Writing my truth has brought me back to life and made me a stronger person. Blogging has forged relationships that have quite honestly saved me these past months when my world fell apart. I was able to pull my kids out of a dangerous situation in part because I drew strength and support from this community.

No, we are not superwomen, no we can't clone ourselves and be everything to everyone at all times. That is reality. But we need to feed our souls as well as care for our homes and our children, and by feeding our souls we are doing our families a great service, even if they don't always see it that way.

Should we seek balance? Of course, and each of us needs to determine what that means in our individual lives. But please, don't take on all that guilt. We are simply trying to fill our need for connection and self-expression, which is normal and healthy. And we are good mothers.


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45 comments:

  1. Each person is responsible for their own soul. No-one else can fill the voids in our being. If that means taking time to blog, shop, exercise, read or whatever, so be it.

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  2. Great post, Kristin. :) It was only this week that I have been trying to find a balance in mummy/blogging time. It's not fair on my family if my blogging is eating into family time but then it's not fair on *me* if I don't have the time to blog.

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  3. You have an amazing gift for cutting to the chase! It IS about balance, I agree. In fact, damnably, it's always about balance. I feel as if I stagger along a tightrope, one toe from disaster so much of the time. And the surest way to fall that I've discovered, is to let the self-doubts and guilt take hold.

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  4. Hmmmmmmmm, did you read my latest post before you wrote this? I swear, you are in my head sometimes (giving timely reminders and advice)! xxx

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  5. You're amazing, Kristin! You're absolutely right! Mother-guilt is a powerful force, but it true that by taking time for ourselves and through connecting with others, we actually enhance our mothering skills. I often am re-energized, filled with new ideas, and eager to spend time with my children, after I take some time to blog - both writing and reading posts are fulfilling, satisfying activities.

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  6. I think as mothers it is our nature to always put others first, and we are uncomfortable taking time off for ourselves, my children always knew as small children that reading was my time and they were not allowed to interrupt (unless of course the house was on fire, or some other emergency) now its when I blog, normally very early in the morning, in my time or late at night. Great blog

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  7. I wish I had been able to blog when my kids were little and I was a single mom with no family nearby and tons of guilt about everything. (but that was in the late 70s and early 80s; I didn't even know what a personal computer was back then!) What a wonderful outlet for todays Moms. Never feel guilty about taking some time for yourself.

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  8. You are right as usual. I've done the kids in bed work call/conferencing thing too and felt guilty. And then I think, no I not going to be guilty, becase I am AWESOME! And we are. Talk about multi-tasking, and I don't know too many men who juggle it quite so well as we do. And those who do are gold.

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  9. @ Eva, I wish I'd discovered blogging when I was a stay-at-home mom. I needed it then. It would have filled a gap.

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  10. @ Being Me - Just got back from reading your post and WOW, see, we all are writing about this! We have to be there for our children. We gave birth to them. They are our responsibility to nurture and protect and yes, close up our laptops and attend to. But we must also model for them what it means to care for ourselves. Such a tricky tightrope!

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  11. SO agree. I'm a much better and happier mum/person when I blog. So the house may not be as sparkling and the sheets but not ironed, but well I think the mums prefer a happy mum.

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  12. My reply made no sense! And, no, I haven't been drinking (I wish!), just very tired.

    I meant to say, I think the kids prefer a happy mum to a super clean house and ironed sheets.

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  13. The guilt is just there no matter what we do - we just can't turn it off. But we can manage it. We can ALLOW ourselves to feel guilty. We're never going to be brilliant at everything (ESPECIALLY this mothering malarky) but it's okay to aim for brilliance and it's okay to feel a bit guilty when we don't make it. The last thing I want is to start feeling guilty for feeling guilty. "ANOTHER thing I'm not managing," thinks me. No way. Bring it on, I will love it despite itself. x

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  14. If I didn't blog I would sure as hell find some other way of avoiding the housework. And blogging is much better for the soul and the braincells than watching daytime TV.

    My family get plenty from me, blogging is my time.

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  15. so so true! Ah mothers guilt, you know I've never heard a guy ONCE tell me about his guilt on work/life/kids balance??

    Kx (Shamozal)

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  16. Wife currently in hospital and I'm looking after the kids on my own, trying to make sure they're fed, watered and reassured, while trying to make a little time for myself... we're human beings, not angels. A little of that love we give out needs to be directed inwards at ourselves or it al breaks down.

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  17. Ummm, I just write when my kids are in bed!

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  18. Mothers are all good. Blogging is just another of the things they have learnt to do. A little space for your own self does not make anyone a bad person.

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  19. I love this post!!! Thank you for writing it.

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  20. @ Lulu, I'm glad you've found something that works for you. I don't think of this as a competition. We all have to find what works for us.

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  21. @ Steve, I hope you're wife is doing okay. Not easy juggling dinner plates on your own.

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  22. Just what I needed to hear, after taking my laptop (and phone) into my son's room so I could simultaneously put him to bed and meet a looming deadline... it was the one boundary I had in my head about work/life balance and in less than five weeks had broken it.
    Was guilting it up big-time and wondering what the future would hold if I let work interfere at such intimate levels... until I read your blog.
    thank you!

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  23. Damn straight baby. I refuse to subscribe to mum guilt.

    Our kids will be OK. The fact that we even think this much about their welfare proves it.

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  24. So timely for me. I struggle with this. A lot. In fact, constantly. Even though my kids are teens and I work flexible hours, I always manage to feel guilty. I never quite do enough of the right thing at the right time. I do believe though that the best gift we can give our kids is the belief that mums are people too, with vulnerabilities, frailties and hopes and dreams. We must always carve out that time to refill the spirit. For us writers, its blogging, writing, space, time, quiet meditation. xx

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  25. @ Vegemitevix, you said it so well! All so true. xx

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  26. So true. You've put exactly what I was thinking into words. I need to write and blog to "get me out of the house" when I'm stuck changing endless nappies etc etc. I'm a happier Mum for it and I think it's vital my girls have a happy Mum x

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  27. Hear, Hear! Guilt serves no purpose in our lives.

    I always think that if you are the kind of person worrying if you are doing enough for/ with the family - then damn sure you are!

    Mich x

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  28. Have finally had a chance to pop back in and comment on this post (hate trying to do it from my phone!)

    As a blogging newbie, I have already realised that it is almost impossible to spend the time that I want to both writing and reading other blogs - and get everything done that I need to do in my day! I'm yet to find a happy compromise - it would involve getting up before the children (which is completely unfathomable to me!!) or staying up until late at night - which is what I'm currently doing and struggling with !

    But I have realised that taking time out to do things just for me is not only important, but so very vital. As the daughter of a dear woman who was (and to a degree, still is!) completely self-sacrificing as a mother, I came into parenting believing that this was the only way to do it - and very nearly crashed and burned as a result (mother guilt is a bitch!!)

    So I am gradually discovering that the more I look after myself, the better mother I become - it's just about finding that balance.

    Thanks for another thought-provoking, lovely post x

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  29. great thoughts on motherhood and blogging. I just don't have time for the whole mother guilt thing and it is lovely to see that others don't either. naomi x

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  30. I think the word "mother" translates to "guilt" in EVERY language! We can't do it all, yet we feel guilty about it! I like the idea of you doing a video conference with your kids on either side of you on the bed! You go girl!

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  31. Man I needed that tonight! Thank you.

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  32. Being a new Mummy blogger this is a whole new guilt zone I have entered, but overall the benefits of blogging outweigh the guilt, we all need our time to replenish our souls.

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  33. Oh, you're so right! Thanks so much, this is just what I needed to hear. I just haven't been able to blog as much these days, and have felt dreadful about it. Then, I sit down to write, and see how much the kids miss me. So today, your words are like a salve to me:)

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  34. Hi I'm your newest follower I'd love a follow back :)

    Tania @ http://myadventures-in-mommyland.blogspot.com/

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  35. I'm your newest follower from the Friday Blog Hops! Come check out my blog at: http://adventuresofathriftymommy.blogspot.com/

    Have a great day!

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  36. That about says it all. Good job, Kris.

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  37. Great post. Us women look to find guilt in every corner of our lives. It is exhausting!

    M2M

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  38. Hey you, Tagged you over here - http://www.notestoselfplustwo.com/2011/01/i-%E2%99%A5-me-new-weekly-mclinky-blog-thing.html

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