I've been thinking a lot recently about the ways in which motherhood changes the way we view ourselves. I wrote about being more than a mother. I wrote about clinging to remnants of my life before I was a mother. And I've been encouraged to hear from so many of you struggling with the same issues.
Becoming a mother involves a large amount of sacrifice and rightly so in my opinion. I subscribe to the Jacqueline Onasis school of parenting. She once famoulsy said, "If you bungle raising your children, I don't think whatever else you do matters very much." I completely agree. Parenting is not easy. In fact, if you are doing it well, it's probably stinking hard most of the time. But I feel pretty strongly that my children did not ask to be born. If there are sacrifices that need to be made in order for them to thrive, then I am willilng to make them.
What about putting yourself on the list? I've watched hours and hours of Oprah that beat once central lesson into my head—you cannot take care of others, if you are not taking care of yourself. I have no desire to give up everything for my children. First of all, my mother was not that type of parent and I think I turned out pretty well. Second of all, it's way too much pressure for a two year old (much less a nine month old) to be my reason for living.
Ok, so I should sacrifice for my children, while putting my needs first.
No wonder motherhood is such rich blog fodder! I have no idea how to make peace with these (seemingly) diametrically opposed concepts. Can I possibly do both at the same time? I know sometimes putting myself first lines up perfectly with doing what is best for my children. Making them happy, seeing them thrive is one of my greatest joys. But almost three years into this gig I also know that isn't always the case.
I recently went to a blogging conference in Nashville. It was incredibly energizing and enlightening and I enjoyed every second. However, I came home to a timid, doubtful toddler who did not trust me when I said I wasn't leaving again. It broke my heart.
How can I continue to grow as an individual when I'm responsible for the growth of two others? How do all of you handle the inevitable moments when what is best for you and what is best for your children may not be the same thing?
~ Sarah Stewart Holland