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Ever feel guilty that you don't enjoy motherhood as much as you should? - Page 2

post #21 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by siobhang View Post
I suspect part of the problem is the shift of thinking about parenthood from a responsibility/ obligation that most people will have to that of a personal choice.

This shifts the attitude quite significantly - if parenthood is a choice, then:

* no one else should be asked to accomodate that choice

* the only people who should be parents are those who are going to be close to perfect ones

* no one gets to complain about aspects of parenting because "it was your choice!"

I find this way of thinking to be VERY dangerous. Sure, logistically, we as individuals have the choice to reproduce (even if there are moral objections, etc), but societally, someone MUST reproduce in order to have a next generation. In fact, MOST people must reproduce in order for our society to continue to exist.

And parenting is A LOT of work, especially nowadays when we don't use child labor to support the family, and we have to pay for childcare and university education and other expenses that used to never exist. Add onto that the decline in supporting services for parents (lack of family in close proximity, increasing number of women going back to work when children are small), and the increasing targeting of children by corporate advertisers, puts most of the responsibility for children squarely on the parents shoulders.

In addition, our parenting standards are MUCH higher than they have ever been before- did anyone else see the UMD study about how even working mothers spend more time with their children than sahms did in the 60s and 70s? Intensive parenting is the current approach throughout society (not just AP families).

So parenting is our individual choice, we are more isolated, there are higher standards for parenting we are meant to live up to , AND at the same time, we are supposed to be living in a maternal childrearing bliss????

That there is crazy thinking.
You've put your finger on it, absolutely. This is so smart, and so well-articulated. Thank you.
post #22 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by eli janine View Post
My god, I could have written this word for word, and I've only been back to work for two weeks. I feel like from the moment I wake till the moment I sleep I'm preparing and readying for the next day and the next--packing the lunches, washing the diapers and pump parts, picking up the toys. I wish I could just sit down and enjoy mothering my little guys.
There's a reason you can relate. We have a strange connection I just noticed...your two children's names are actually my son's first and middle names! (Avery Elliot)
post #23 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by siobhang View Post
I find there are aspects of being a mom that I love. And I do not regret for a moment being a mom.

But my days are not filled with unending joy at being a mom. Heck, my days are not filled with undending joy at anything - being a wife (even though I adore my dh with all my heart), owning my business, being a member of my church, living in my neighborhood, even though all these decisions were the absolutely the right ones for me/us. Everything has great elements and sucky elements.

I find I am better at some aspects of mothering than others. I really suck at maintenance work - be it housekeeping, business accounts, or childcaring (the whole routine of feeding, bedtime rituals, bathing, etc etc). They drive me up the wall.

I can wish I weren't or castigate myself for being this way, or I can accept it and do what i can to make it fun or at least efficient.

I suspect part of the problem is the shift of thinking about parenthood from a responsibility/ obligation that most people will have to that of a personal choice.

This shifts the attitude quite significantly - if parenthood is a choice, then:

* no one else should be asked to accomodate that choice

* the only people who should be parents are those who are going to be close to perfect ones

* no one gets to complain about aspects of parenting because "it was your choice!"

I find this way of thinking to be VERY dangerous. Sure, logistically, we as individuals have the choice to reproduce (even if there are moral objections, etc), but societally, someone MUST reproduce in order to have a next generation. In fact, MOST people must reproduce in order for our society to continue to exist.

And parenting is A LOT of work, especially nowadays when we don't use child labor to support the family, and we have to pay for childcare and university education and other expenses that used to never exist. Add onto that the decline in supporting services for parents (lack of family in close proximity, increasing number of women going back to work when children are small), and the increasing targeting of children by corporate advertisers, puts most of the responsibility for children squarely on the parents shoulders.

In addition, our parenting standards are MUCH higher than they have ever been before- did anyone else see the UMD study about how even working mothers spend more time with their children than sahms did in the 60s and 70s? Intensive parenting is the current approach throughout society (not just AP families).

So parenting is our individual choice, we are more isolated, there are higher standards for parenting we are meant to live up to , AND at the same time, we are supposed to be living in a maternal childrearing bliss????

That there is crazy thinking.
I think I love you!

I love my son more than I can express with words, but parenting is HARD for me. He is very spirited and never stops. My parents have 5 children and my mother was an early childhood educator for 20 years and they look at DS in wonder and say things like, "I never knew a kid could have that much energy!" or "He never stops, does he?" : Oy.
post #24 of 42
Well put!

Today was not my best day. I realized at one point I had zoned out for 10 minutes, calculating how many weeks I have to endure until DS starts kindergarten. He is at a very difficult age for me to handle, and I don't enjoy playing with him, listening to him whine or trying to manage his emotional outbursts.
post #25 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rivka5 View Post
You've put your finger on it, absolutely. This is so smart, and so well-articulated. Thank you.
Thanks!! I am kind of on a rant about this subject right now...

a friend of mine, in a weird "having kids is a choice that I shouldn't support" debate with a rabid anti-child guy we know, put it most bluntly - "if no one has kids, who is going to wipe your ass when you are living in the nursing home?"



Siobhan
post #26 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by siobhang View Post
"if no one has kids, who is going to wipe your ass when you are living in the nursing home?"
I'd be curious to know what his response to that was?!

I guess I'm a bit stuck on the wording of the question. I mean, how much should I enjoy motherhood? I think, like any other intimate relationship, there will be days when I simply don't enjoy my children. Just as there are days when I don't enjoy my husband

As for feeling guity, I don't. I accept that motherhood evokes ambivalence; and when negative feelings come up, I understand that they are normal, and I don't dwell on them.
post #27 of 42
I'm so glad I saw this post! I thought I was the only mom out there that really does not enjoy the "joys of motherhood". I'm bored, I'm frumpy, and the only things I'm good at talking about are all things baby and toddler related.
post #28 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by siobhang View Post
"if no one has kids, who is going to wipe your ass when you are living in the nursing home?"



Siobhan
Too funny! I needed a laugh today, thanks.
post #29 of 42
I really really really enjoy mothering about 95% of the time. I also had a really great mother to model myself after.

But, there's that 5%, maybe not quite that much even, that I long for the days that I didn't have any children and could come and go as I pleased. Mostly those days are when some or all of the kids are sick or I haven't gotten enough sleep or whatever.

Sometimes I *do* look forward to the day when all of the kids are in school. That way, I can get all the stuff done that I need to do--stuff that I'm always trying to squeeze in here or there--stuff that leaves me frustrated because I can never ever get it quite finished--and then when they come home from school, I can enjoy them wholeheartedly.

(((hugs))) to everyone!
post #30 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by lolalola View Post
As for feeling guity, I don't. I accept that motherhood evokes ambivalence; and when negative feelings come up, I understand that they are normal, and I don't dwell on them.
Well said

I think we put too much presssure on ourselves as mothers and that society perpetuates the verb of mothering. We feel the need to be 'on' and perfect at all times, which is never going to happen and it leaves us feeling like we've failed.

Parenthood...the days go so slowly, and the years fly by....
post #31 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by jaxinsmom View Post
Parenthood...the days go so slowly, and the years fly by....
Ain't that the truth...
post #32 of 42
I feel guilty. Mostly for not having enough time to work on myself so I can learn to enjoy my kids more. I resent them for taking up so much of my life sometimes. I feel like I'm never going to make any real personal progress because they always need something. I know it will change as they get older, but I worry that I won't even get there unless I get away from them NOW. Being a SAHM is NOT for me. And that's where I am right now. So yeah to all those people who think AP=SAHM and vice versa, HAHA yeah it isn't what you think it is. I would probably excel MORE at AP if I wasn't with my kids 24/7.
post #33 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by lolalola View Post
I'd be curious to know what his response to that was?!
unfortunately, he never responded... ; )
post #34 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mama Poot View Post
. So yeah to all those people who think AP=SAHM and vice versa, HAHA yeah it isn't what you think it is. I would probably excel MORE at AP if I wasn't with my kids 24/7.
This is exactly how I am. If I were a SAHM, I would go nuts. I do best when I have a mix of different things in my life; work, kids, family, social, etc. The reality of being a SAHM would make me resentful and not a very nice person to be around.

Both my dh and I see a direct connection to how centered and happy we are with the quality of our parenting. It just isn't possible to be reasonable, rational, and open hearted when one is feeling angry and frustrated.

I also disagree with the implication I sometimes sense that somehow kids needs and parents needs are in conflict. They aren't. They are (most of the time) symbiotic. More than any particular parenting technique or approach, kids need parents who are confident, open hearted, thoughtful, and feeling pretty decent about life.

A friend of mine is struggling with depression - I can see its impact quite clearly on her relationship with her four year old daughter, even though she is working her ass off to make sure her daughter doesn't suffer. But right now, she has no joy in her eyes. She has no enthusiasm for life. She has limited ability to connect with her daughter right now, the way she used to be able to.

I really feel for my friend and her family - and know that they absolutely need to do whatever it takes to get her back.

It is very frightening seeing it from the outside - and for me is a stark reminder of how important it is for parents to take care of ourselves.

We are the leaders of our families - we are the rock our kids cling to. It is our DUTY to take care of ourselves so that our kids won't have to navigate these waters without our guidance and love.
post #35 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by lisac77 View Post
I love my son more than I can express with words, but parenting is HARD for me. He is very spirited and never stops


This describes me and DS so well. Parenting is very hard for me too. DS has a "spirited" temperament. When he wants something, he is relentless and can wear you down until you give in.

I give in to him alot.
post #36 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mama Poot View Post
So yeah to all those people who think AP=SAHM and vice versa, HAHA yeah it isn't what you think it is. I would probably excel MORE at AP if I wasn't with my kids 24/7.
Mama Poot, I've BTDT. I was able to get some breaks and that saved my sanity. Since ds#3 was born I've had a couple of part-time jobs, traded babysitting with a friend, had dh take over childcare when he was on sabbatical. All those helped. Plus sending the kids to preschool and school.

What about the idea that AP=homeschooling? I don't think it does but I think there may be some who do.

Sending my kids to school really saved me. I might not have made it otherwise. They also greatly benefitted from going to school. It has really enriched their lives. While outschooling is not always the perfect situation, for us I really believe it has been better than homeschooling.
post #37 of 42
This is the ridiculous assumption that western society puts on us as mothers. We think/feel about mothering as if it were a hobby (akin, I guess, to having a pet), something done solely to fulfill oneself. Like Siobhan said, the language of "choice" creates its own baggage and lets society off the hook when it comes to supporting families.

I most definitely do not always enjoy parenting. I am extremely fortunate, though, to be parenting cooperatively with many other people. Our eldest 3 children are from DH's and my first marriages, so we share parenting with our ex-spouses and our children's step-parents; my sister lives with us; and my parents live just 6 blocks away. So that takes tons of the pressure off. All my kids are in school (even the little one goes to preschool 5 mornings a week). Yes, sometimes I succumb to the guilt, wishing I were more like I imagine (imagine) other mothers are, spending tons of time with my kids, baking, doing projects, playing, etc.

Fact is, I'm an adult. I have no desire at all to immerse myself in a child's world for however many years it takes to raise these children. And it's not necessary. Honestly, when my big kids were younger, I used to rake myself over the coals about how I never played with my kids. I couldn't stand to sit down and push cars around or play dollies or build with blocks. Know what? They're 13 and 11 now, not grown by any means, but very well-adjusted, creative, happy people. They speak very fondly of the things we did together when they were little. Everytime DS4 gets out the book that was DS13's favorite, DS13 gets all misty and comes to sit with me, remembering the hours we spent cuddled on the couch reading.

Beyond providing all the basic needed care whether I wanted to or not (you know, clean diapers, good meals, etc.) I did with my children the things that I enjoyed doing with them. Yes, I'm one of those mothers who takes her children to the park, then sits in the shade and reads a book. I don't ignore them, of course. They're safety was/is always my first priority. But I don't want to swing and slide and build sand castles. I've asked them about those things recently (I was inspired to have that conversation with them by all these sorts of posts at MDC!) and they don't recall having ANY negative feelings about that. They remember many happy hours at the playground, digging, playing with other children, climbing, and coming to my blanket for a drink of water and a snack. They didn't need me for a playmate.

Not that I didn't do things with them, but I mostly involved them in what I was doing, not the other way around. IME, a 4 yo is just as happy to help fold laundry as to play blocks! I read to them a great deal because it's my favorite thing to do in the world, it's the best thing you can do for their developing brains, and they loved it. My kids are both now avid readers, even DS13 who has a learning disability that made it a huge challenge for him to learn how. He knew, though, how much value reading had as a way to entertain oneself and was extremely motivated. I don't take all the credit for that, but I'd like to think I had something to do with it.

Anyway, I'm getting off track. It helps now that I don't expect to get lots of pleasure and self-fulfillment out of parenting. It's part of my life; I love my children beyond my ability to express that love. They're not my everything, though. I'm me, and I need to live my life in a way that satisfies me spiritually, emotionally, mentally, and physically. I'm a much better mother when I put on my own oxygen mask first, so to speak.

And let's face it. Lots of parenting is tedium. Make another grilled cheese sandwich. Wipe her nose for the 46th time this morning. Get him buckled into the carseat while he screams. Try to get the housework done while she takes her ever-shortening nap. It's this huge cultural fallacy that this should be one endless bliss-fest! Cleaning puke out of a carseat is not fun. Neither is getting phone calls from my DS's English teacher, saying he won't stop drumming on his desk. Going to IEP meetings is not fun. Managing asthma. Breaking up the fights. Making a meal, and having my kids pick at it. Why should this all be so wonderful?

I guess I'm saying I enjoy it more after I let myself off the hook and stopped expecting myself to enjoy it so much! And it DOES get easier in some ways. Parenting my older kids is more challenging emotionally now than it was when they were little, but it's not so relentless, and not so physically draining. I can sleep in on Saturday mornings (or could, before we decided to add two puppies to the crew!), they take their own showers, tie their own shoes, etc. My youngest will be there soon. And when they're older, they can have real conversations. I can talk to my daughter over a hot drink at a coffee shop and it's pleasant and I get a taste of the relationship we'll have when she's an adult, the kind of relationship I value so highly with my own mom. And you know what? My mom never played with me, either!

I invite everyone to get down off the hook that we've hung ourselves on. Parenting is hugely important, deserving of our devotion and effort. But children are not fragile. We will not break them by not loving every instant we spend with them. We can, however, hurt them badly if we expect so much of ourselves that we begin to burn with resentment over our own unrealized potential. None of us were born to be mothers. We were born to be ourselves, and mothering is only one piece of that.
post #38 of 42
Loved your post, UptownZoo! I couldn't agree more.
post #39 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by RBinTEX View Post
Loved your post, UptownZoo! I couldn't agree more.
: I was coming to post this exact sentiment.
post #40 of 42
Love these responses!

I have struggled with this issue, too . . .so then I take a step back and look at moms who DO love it as much as I think I should. The major difference is expectations. Moms who enjoy motherhood expect less, or maybe different things than I do. They do NOT feel guilty about not playing 24/7 if they don't want to. They do not EXPECT themselves to play or to even enjoy playing all the time.

As pps have said, if we can frame our expectations in a realistic light and free ourselves from "shoulds" then we free ourselves to truly enjoy parenting. Not all aspects, by any means, but the overall experience.
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