Thumbprint

July 16, 2009

The most difficult thing, at least today, about being a parent is the caretaking. There is so much a young human needs done for them in a given day. When it’s more than one human, plus felines and a husband, the volume is overwhelming. And then there’s me. What about what I need? A few moments to myself; going to the bathroom without haste or someone banging on the door; eating a meal while sitting down; talking with my husband. Any number of these basic needs—not to mention less tangible needs—do not get met when I am with one of my kids all day, especially my youngest. My older boy is seven. During the school year, of course, he’s gone all day. But, even when he’s home—he’s self-sufficient and likes time alone—I still have to make the meals, remind him about toothbrushing or getting ready for this or that activity, cleaning his room, it’s endless. And don’t get me started on the four year old. OK, do get me started. It’s beyond endless. If there were any way to make the word “endless” carry even greater meaning than it does, which, linguistically seems unlikely, that would be what it’s like caring for a child. And yes, it’s wonderful . I love my children beyond any possible definition of the word “love.” However, I ‘m exhausted. It’s been seven years, eight counting pregnancy which I absolutely do, and I am tired.

We wonder why women lose themselves in mothering. This is why. Or this is one of the whys. There is so much to do and to take care of. There are places to drive, groceries to buy, meals to cook, and those are just logistics. The depth of love, caring, introspection, psychology and flat-out effort that goes in to being a good, present, responsible parent—one who teaches solid values, listens, loves, lets go, holds on to—is endless. And I mean endless in that new endless definition of the word.

A big challenge in parenting is allowing your child to be who they are rather than who you want them to be. This comes in all shapes and sizes, literally and figuratively. There are those who “shape” their daughters with comments about weight and beauty; influence their sons with comments about what makes a “strong” man. It’s all crap. Our children know who they are if we get out of their way. And that’s hard to do, especially when you have put in so much time and effort. Shouldn’t you have a say in the outcome? After all that, they decide they are introverted. What?! After all that, they don’t like chicken. Are you kidding me?! But, they know. Their bodies know, their minds know, their hearts know. Our job is to guide them with purpose and strength, but gently, to figure out who they are, and to appreciate them for who they are, not who we want or expect them to be. It’s not easy, but it’s the best we can do for our kids. And when we do, they reward us by becoming amazing people. All the caretaking is worth it to see them evolve in to people with humor, intelligence, grace and a thumbprint all their own. When the caretaking gets to be too much, I try to think about that. I take a break and try to find a way to care for myself. Sometimes the break is only ten minutes, sometimes I am lucky enough to get an entire day. And in so doing, I am teaching my kids again: the most important thing is to be true to yourself. And I watch as they grow into scientists, athletes, artists, friends, brothers, sons, and I am rewarded ten-fold for every load of laundry, every carpool, every tantrum, and every moment I give.

Comments

  1. Jenny Murray says:

    Unbelievably accurate for you, and for me! Plus add a daughter with the 2 boys, and your new definition of endless is my definition. Let’s have coffee one day without the kids. Take care.

    Like

  2. I love this and so appreciate your honesty. As a woman without my very own children, I’m always interested in hearing about how mothers feel about mothering since then it give me an idea of what I’m missing. And, I don’t want to be “messaged” about it; I want truth which seems hard to get on this issue. This reads as heartfelt and genuine – thank you!

    Like

  3. You nailed it JK. I love the title and I love the spoken truth in your words.

    Like

  4. polly Kanevsky says:

    I feel like reading this blog is a moment for myself… and I appreciate you getting me to take it! all love always xopk

    Like

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