Don't Lose Yourself Too Much, Mom
November 21st, 2018
By Susan Swindell Day
... It's OK to have a good cry now and then ...
Much as I love my big sister, she is forever telling me she’s worried about me because I’m such a busy mom — that I should take more time for myself. My sister doesn’t remember how overwhelmed she used to get when her girls were still living at home. Busy moms get lost and often downtrodden by the sheer burden of responsibilities child-rearing brings, and some mothers get more than lost.
When we recently shared a mother’s Facebook post about how she was overwhelmed and even resentful having to constantly manage three little kids, that it was often lonely, a lot of mothers commiserated with her. I’m not trying to simplify that mom’s anguish (or yours), but there will always be “days like that.” If the days turn into weeks or longer, there’s probably a deeper issue. Moms who lose themselves in the family shuffle, who cut off their unique interests altogether, risk unhappiness in life. You must keep your creative juices flowing, seek friendship from others, and should you get lost, you must find your way back to who you were before you allowed the kids to completely dominate your life. Don't lose yourself too much.
As an adolescent, trying to figure out who I was (whether I knew I was doing that or not), I observed my mother to find clues to me. I remember looking through her drawers and closet — just telling the truth here — and feeling dismayed that most of her things were worn and in a state of disarray; the bottom of her closet a horrid tumble of shoes I didn’t like; her jewelry box a tangle of trinkets. A stay-at-home mom who was also deeply involved in the community (teaching, performing, writing, volunteering), my mother was never only about the kids; she had lots more going on. Mom had endless interests and curiosities, so she was always up to something, and I loved that about her. She also had a very healthy sense of humor. But you’d better believe she got overwhelmed at times. Her chaotic personal belongings gave her away. She could go ballistic over the tiniest thing if she felt put upon. More than once I saw her sweep a pile of clutter from counter to floor in a swift swoop, but she always recovered quickly. I know she enjoyed unwinding and watching television with Dad most nights after we kids were in bed. I don’t think she drank wine at night, but early one Saturday morning before Mom and Dad were up, my sister and I found the “for company only” yellow glass ashtray in the TV room ... but we had no company the night before ... It held a smoked cigarette butt stained with Mom’s rosy lipstick!
The truth is, each mom is capable of handling different amounts of family life. As each child matures, child maintenance lessens. Once your children are teens, you may yearn for those “easier” days when they were more compliant. So when it gets tough and lonely, you have to look beyond your walls and not be so small about your life; think to the future and beyond your world, but also know it’s absolutely OK to have a good cry now and then ... preferably in a bubble bath.
And to encourage ...
Here’s a quote from American writer Edna Ferber (1885 - 1968) to help push child-rearing doldrums away:
“Hundreds of millions of people never once in their life reflect on the stupendous fact that they are alive. They merely live. They walk, talk, work, play, love, hate and die a little daily without marveling at these fascinating processes ... To be alive, to know consciously that you are alive, and to relish that knowledge — that is a kind of magic.”
More about: Susan Swindell Day
Susan Day is the editor in chief for this publication and the mom of four amazing kids.