For a long time, I was really into being mommy - the whole package: homemade bread and pancake breakfasts, nursing, co-sleeping, play time, reading aloud, homeschooling. But then life changed and my kids are older. My dd is 15, quite independent and is actually applying to boarding high schools and working incredibly hard on prepping for the entrance tests and keeping the grades up. My son, however, is still just 10 and he really still needs me. He still gets books read aloud (finishing the Narnia series), homework help,etc. Although he seems to suddenly be becoming more independent as well: last night he suddenly decided he needed to make some brownies and he did so with minimal help from me.
Problem is that I am just sick of being mom - I would rather study than play a game; I would rather write than make dinner; I would rather train at the gym than do kid crafts; I prefer attending a intellectually stimulating conference than a vacation. I prefer my downtime to be active - moving, studying, practicing the violin. My kids are a little bit the same, they each have two instruments and they enjoy school. I coach them academically when they want it; I cheer on their achievements; I think I am a pretty good mom.
However, I want more to my life. I finished a masters degree but I want another one, a more challenging one in international economics or something. I want a career that is very intellectually sustaining but that career would take me away from them: longer hours, maybe a move, maybe travel - even international travel. I had a tentative offer for an overseas fellowship. How do I leave my kids? Their Dad took over the daily stuff when we separated and I went back to school and then a full time job. I feel guilty about it but sooooo relieved! And I absolutely love my weekends when they are with him and I am alone. I get so much accomplished! I will miss them but I am also really looking forward to having more freedom when they are away at school and yes, that could start for them as early as 9th grade. (For the record - they are on major financial aid as I live well below median income levels at this time; we don't actually have any money!)
I have always struggled with regular mom things like birthday parties and play dates and decorating cupcakes and stuff like that. I do enjoy my kids friends, though, they are so smart and aware. My kids are happy and looking forward and planning their futures but we are really, really far from mainstream. Luckily they go to a private school where I am not so much of an anomaly; however, we live in a very working class community where I definitely am an anomaly.
I was going to ask for advice because I have been feeling kind of guilty. However, reading back over this I realize that the more out of the mainstream mommy thing I go, the happier and more successful my kids are. The more I reject the values I grew up with, the more fulfilling our lives become. And the more I step outside of my box, the more my kids do the same.
Maybe I just answered my own question!
Try not to feel guilty! Though I am only at the beginning of my mothering journey, I can fully understand a desire to be doing something totally different. I think it's perfectly normal. The trick is finding a good compromise. You shouldn't have to give up on your dreams. Instead, just accept that it may take a little longer to realize them!
It's exhausting and incredibly frustrating. I feel like I will never have time for me. :/
Amethyst (May 2002)
Asheby "Bear" (November 2006)
Abbott (January 2011)
Atlas (March 2013)
We had kind of a related discussion in my DDC recently when someone asked if they were depressed because they didn't feel all glowy and excited about being pregnant.
You don't have to enjoy every moment of everything about being a mom. I love being a mom but I have days/weeks, etc, when I am burnt out. I feel guilty in those times that I am not 'performing' at the top of my game but it just isn't going to happen all the time. Your kids sound amazing and I don't think you should feel guilty. I have a 2.5 year old and a 6 month old and am newly pregnant and I have been having some pretty burnt out feelings. Especially with the weather change, we are having drizzly/snowy/windy weather, and being sick we just haven't been going anywhere. And it's hard to be super happy at times like this. I am longing for post infant/pregnancy/diaper/lactating days when I can do more independent and my kids are more independent and want to talk to me about things other than Toy Story and her imaginary game of "Happy Birthday" that she is playing with the dog for the 4 millionth time. :-) Of course I wouldn't change these days for anything but that doesn't mean I don't look forward to the future too.
Guilt is a tricky emotion. When I feel guilty about something I thoroughly investigate why I am feeling this way. I have nearly completely eradicated my guilt inducing childhood, (but it still happens once in a while) through therapy and self introspection, and I rarely really feel guilty about something. But, when I do, there is usually a good reason.
My life may be different than yours, but I find that for me, about 90% of the time my guilt is warranted, and about 10% of the time it's simply a ghost of how I was raised. So I dismiss it the guilt that is only a shadow of being raised to feel guilty and then I deal with and change the things that are causing me to feel guilty with good reason. How do I know the difference? The "ghost" guilt, when I dismiss it goes away quickly. The helpful guilt that is often telling me I need to make changes in how I am doing things or how I am treating people doesn't go away if I try to get rid of it, even if I sublimate it, it finds a way to my consciousness and I realize then I need to deal with the problem that is causing the guilt. This method has never failed me.
I feel that often guilt is a very helpful emotion, not always to be dismissed. It can be a powerful impetus for change! I have found myself changing things I may have wanted but realized later they were not always good for the rest of the people in my life and often not even good for me in the long run. I found I have to balance my needs with my childrens' and my husband's needs, as do they. That's simply part of living with other people and maintaining mature relationships.
But, that is only me. Your life and your emotional life may be very different. I do feel that in order for myself to feel fulfilled and emotionally healthy, I DO need to investigate when I feel guilt because it could be my Inner Voice telling me something I simply don't want to hear. Like I said, I've dealt with inappropriate guilt in therapy and through introspection, so when I feel it it often has a reason. And I found that attempting to suppress of ignore the appropriate guilt was rarely healthy or successful.
Our society has given us the idea that all guilt is "bad." It isn't. Sometimes it's helpful. But, it takes time, work and courage to look deep enough into ourselves to find out what is healthy, progressive guilt and what is just a ghost of perhaps being raised with too much guilt.