Wednesday, April 9, 2008

pensive


so this is a picture of my daughter, taken yesterday at busch gardens. while aedan ran around like a crazy person in this amazing huge playground, gillian hung out with me and rhys and sat quietly in this little tunnel by some water.

and this is what i've been feeling like lately: very pensive. sometimes quiet thoughts, and sometimes raging ones.

here are several thoughts i've wanted to share with you lately; i'm not going to develop them fully here but i'd love to hear your input if you want to risk being vulnerable with me.

one

i had coffee with a very wise friend last week, who was listening to me talk about about how hard it is to be a working mother. i feel like i neglect my kids by working from home. i know this sounds strange, but i sometimes wonder if it would be better if i worked outside the home so i could have more clear boundaries. when the kids want me to play with them, and i'm working, i have to tell them no, but i feel so guilty about it. i read stories in magazines about stay-at-home moms having elaborate tea parties with their little girls, or doing amazing crafts with their children or taking them on picnics and to the beach.

so my friend reminded me that for thousands of years, children have had to entertain themselves. it's only been recently that the culture in which we live has encouraged us to be our children's funhouse, feeling pressure to play with them constantly, be at their beck and call, be their playmate. but we are not their playmate--we are their parents, and there are times (maybe even lots of times) when we don't have time to play; we have to work, or cook, or clean, or whatever else is going on. so it's okay to tell them to entertain themselves. i don't have to be a supermom!

two

in the midst of my struggles (and lots of feeling sorry for myself), i have come to the realization that pretty much everyone else i know around me (and my friends far away as well) is going through some sort of struggle too. it could be financial, or family related, or marital, or job related...but let's face it: this planet is full of people who are all struggling to catch our breath, breathing heavily with pain at one time or another, just hoping to make it to the end of each day.

the hope for me is that we are all in this together. yesterday i was made aware of a buddhist saying that "life is struggle." and i fully believe this. i also think that i am working toward finding the redemption and the revival in the midst of the struggle. i think for me it means feeling connected to my community of friends and family who love me, whether they are near or far. it means supporting each other, holding each other up when we can't do it on our own.

three

i have been having trouble even knowing how to pray, because i have felt for a long time like asking for something produces the opposite result: if i ask for my child to be well, he gets sicker. if i ask to be paid for an invoice on time so we can pay a bill, the invoice doesn't show up. and i know this is the wrong thinking, anyway: religion, spirituality--it's not here to serve me and my needs. at least not that way. this is something i've grown more and more aware of in the last 4 years. i'm not promised electricity and a nice 1920s bungalow style house and new clothes. some people don't have these comforts, but somehow i have to believe that God still loves them too.

so in talking to that same wise friend over coffee last week, my friend encouraged me to try to pray that i would have the wisdom to know how to handle the situation i'm in--not to pray that something magical would happen to make it all better. (wouldn't that be nice though?!) i had been feeling torn about praying for God to "meet my needs" because (as i have blogged about recently) i feel like it's unfair for him to sort of "grant" me certain things when other families, just like us, in other countries don't even have enough to eat. so my friend told me that a mother in haiti might have different struggles--she might be worried about being able to feed her children, or that her house might blow away in a hurricane (although that could be one of my worries as well!), but we are both saying the same prayer: "please help me know how to handle the situation i find myself in."

somehow, ever since my friend shared this with me, i have felt a lot more balance. and i have found myself actually praying this after a very, very, very, very long dry spell of not praying at all.

3 comments:

Pixie said...

I completely agree that working away from your children is much, much easier than trying to work and parent at the same time. I have an amazing boss who let me bring my son into the office after my maternity leave until I was ready to send him to daycare full-time. I was "ready" at 4 months. I count the time with him in the office as an amazing blessing. It was hard sending him to "the other woman" of whom I am at times insanely jealous. At the same time, I immediately had a significant decrease in stress levels when he started daycare. When Preston was at the office, I felt like I wasn't being a good mother because I had my back to him facing a computer screen. He laughed, screamed, or babbled & my inner-monologue was "how can I get him quiet so I can get some work done?" That made me feel like a bad mother. At the same time, when he was colicy and I took hour long walks through the park & along the river in addition to breaks every 2 hours to breastfeed, I felt like I was taking advantage of my employer because I wasn't getting paid to be a mother. I also felt like I was shirking work while the employees I managed were picking up my slack. Basically, I felt like I wasn't doing either job (mother/practice manager) well. Had I not had that time with him at work, I know that sending him to daycare full-time would have been much more difficult because I would not have seen it's benefits. All that to say - yeah, you're right.....what you're doing is much, much harder. Kudos for making it work & I am sure that you are doing much better at both jobs than you think even though your internal monologue says differently.

Amelia Plum said...

sounds like a very good friend that you had coffee with. I relate to all that you wrote about and especially the first part, soo much is expected of moms in this day and age and there is so much judgement and competition between us too. I read about a book 'Perfect Madness' that I'm curious to pick up, it talks about the maternal malaise among contemporary American mothers. Don't feel bad creating boundaries when you're working from home, it will be hard initially but in the long run it will be best for all of you. And those mom's having tea parties or doing elaborate crafts while working from home, I suspect a closet meth addiction or else they're like the 21st century version of a stepford wife.

Julie Bryant said...

Here is a quote I read recently that your post reminded me of:
******************************

"Our realities, our attachments, our relationship stuckness are all oppurtunities knocking. As time passes, changes inevitably occur. Yet, we find ourselves locked in again and again by our paleolithic tapes and our relationship attachment patterns. We overlook the flow of our stream. We look to the banks for rescue and hope that if we cry out, things will change. We mistake rage for courage and search for the safety of old patterns - of home.

But there is no home out there. There are no enemies, either. There is only your growing awareness of the lesson process. The closest you can get to finding home is to search within. Your home exists in the consistent process of knowing yourself."

~Charles Parker
"Deep Recovery"