Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Fired Up

Over the past decade or so, I have often heard some variation of the following:

‘Enjoy ______ now, because you won’t get to do it when you have kids.’
‘Once you have kids, you’ll never get to do ______ anymore.’
‘When you’re pregnant, you’ll be too absent-minded to ______.’
‘You only like doing ______ because you don’t have kids yet.’

I have been told I will no longer have dates with my husband. I will not be able to go to school or take a class because ‘pregnancy makes you dumb’. I won’t enjoy cooking or baking anymore. If you add these comments together, it appears the person I am, and have always been, will cease to exist once this blessed event occurs.

One of the benefits of waiting so long to have children is the opportunity I’ve had to see so many different people venture into motherhood. I have observed new mothers who become completely different people when their children are born. I’m not talking about priorities changing. That goes without saying. For example, I spend less time with certain friends because they are busy being moms. I fully understand that. But some mothers become a different person entirely.

Suddenly, they are incapable of discussing anything beyond child rearing. They moan and complain and sometimes don’t even seem to like their children. Nothing happening in your life is as awful, happy, or important as the latest events in their own life. There is a difference between making your children the center of your world (which makes sense), and expecting them to be the center of everyone else’s (which is a lot to ask).

I also find it ironic that many of the moms who tell me all of these things have plenty of time to watch TV, play around on the computer, or take long naps daily. I find it insulting when someone tells me I’ll have to give up digi-scraping when I have kids because I won’t have the time, but can also tell me the latest goings-on with a number of current TV shows. Contradiction, anyone?

Although I have never experienced motherhood, I am observant enough to know that things will change immensely. Time will be precious, and some things I do now will either be eliminated or have lower priority. I know that my number one mission will be to care for my children. I look forward to that!

But to jump from that to assuming all of the parts that make me who I am will disappear upon entering motherhood is crazy. I see many moms out there who have not lost themselves. In fact, motherhood has helped them discover more about who they are.

I have a couple of friends who have taken up photography, because taking pictures of their children opened up a creative outlet they hadn’t acknowledged in the past. Practically all of the cooking and baking blogs I follow are written by moms. I have attended college classes with many pregnant women who were anything but ‘dumb’. And, I am pretty sure I have seen couples who have children out on dates. Less often? Oh, yes. But never? Not necessarily.

Growing up, I knew a million things about my mom and what she enjoyed. I knew her favorite type of exercise was to work-out in the pool. That was ‘her’ time and I got that. I also knew she loved making people feel beautiful and was creative with hair and make-up. I knew she loved watching mysteries and crime drama on TV. And guess what? She loved all these things before me, she loved them while I was young, and she continues to love them today. That is who she is. I wonder what she would have thought if someone had told her she would no longer enjoy doing these things while she was a mom, and what that same person would have thought if (several years later) they saw a little girl snuggled up to her mom watching The Rockford Files on TV, or sitting on a booster seat in the salon chair while her mom practiced hairstyles on her. Loose myself in motherhood? My mom sure didn’t!

I love those future kidlets of mine, and I want to give them every part of who I am. I want them to know the interests, passions, and creative outlets that make me ME. Maybe I’ll be digi-scraping late at night while they sleep, but I’ll still be doing it. Maybe I’ll trade in my experimental recipes for kid-friendly ones, but I’ll still love to bake. I want them to know how important their father is to me and if it means they’re spending a night at the Grandparents’ every once in a while, well, I can think of worse things than that!

When it comes down to it, I think it is a choice. It may take effort, but I’m pretty sure you can hang on to a scrap of who you are during motherhood, without becoming a neglectful parent. Why can’t you include your children in what you love and watch those talents grow? Couldn’t it be argued that you could be a healthier, happier mom if you hung on to some of those things you enjoy?

Maybe I am just a naïve wanna-be, but that’s what I believe.


Brock said...

I couldn't agree more! It is a choice.. in the same way that some couples get married and disappear and all they know how to do is hang out with each other at the exclusion of everyone else, so it is with motherhood. You can choose to trade in ALL of yourself, but the way I see it in 18 years when they move on with their own lives, what will you have left? I think it is even more crucial to know your passions when you are a mother... I think it is sad that some people don't.

Luke and Nat said...

This was a really insightful blog.

I had to stop and think about all the paragraphs and how they applied or did not apply to my own situation. I have so much to say about this, but most of it is the reflection I had of myself. One of the main things that I did think about:

As a parent of infants, I DO feel like I have lost myself a lot. If I were a scrapbooker or a hairdresser, I think that I would still be able to do those things because they are in the home. As I look back at what I did before kids (which hasn't been very long ago) everything was outdoors-hiking, biking, running, soccer, tennis, etc...There is nothing I look forward to more than to share these with my kids when they are older, but now isn't the time. Again, it might just be with 2 kids under 1 1/2...but I can't do these things without help (Luke)...either watching them or us trading off. I sure wish I could do these things more often. I love that quote @ there is a time and season for everything...I know that my life's interests and some of the joy in my life that I used to get from doing my own thing and being outdoors 24-7 is not for right now. That's the part I am working on...being selfless and thinking about my kids before myself..i.e. we end up going to the park for a milisecond until one of them needs to be hm again...and that's my outdoors for the day.

On the flip side, I was reminded that I do need to take time out for myself. Rarely, do we get out as a couple, ok, so we never do. And I rarely do ANYTHING on my own, ok, never...besides pee and even then I have visitors.

Anywho...I LOVED this blog. You really kicked my butt and made me evaluate all the aspects of my life that I don't want to face right now.

M, I really, really hear ya. Esp. about the people telling you what you can and cannot do and when. There's just not enough room to explain my situation and all that is going on right now...I wish you were around to give me a good kick in the pants and to give me some good feedback. I am not telling you this, rather it is a statement of my own reflections...this is a lot harder than I thought it would be and I think the hardest part is admitting that whenever I am frustrated or ready to give up with this thing called parenthood I so desperately desired for 6 yrs...it's because I am being selfish. Hmmmm...

Thanks, girl! I really did enjoy this post...you always have amazing insight!

Savannah said...

Perfectly said! I especially like the part about where they stay caught up on the latest TV dramas.

Becoming a mother will just add to our personalities. We may loose ourselves in motherhood from time to time, but we will never loose out true identity. It's not like we're living some fake life until kids come along!

Anonymous said...

I know that at times I look at my friends who do not have kids and feel extremly jealous, they still are able to "do" many things that take me hours of careful planning and in the end I'm not sure it is even worth it. Things change when you have kids, and even though it is a choice you are now tied to someone elses schedual, money is tighter, nerves are more raw. When a mom complains she is trying to find someone who listens to her, an adult who cares. Just remember to be kinder than necessary because every one is fighting some kind of battle!

RMCarter said...

I have a feeling you may not know me personally, because I listen compassionately to my friends who are mothers ALL THE TIME. Mothers can band together and vent together. Who listens to me? Who understands? Infertility is a lonely, lonely world. Why else would I have to express my feelings to a computer screen?

Thanks for stating the other side. I know that the 'grass is always greener', but I have given blood, sweat, and tears (literally) to try to be where you are. I need a little compassion sometimes too.

Soon enough, your kids will be grown and you'll have all the time you want. And your life will be so much richer because you were able to be a mom. I'd trade that over 'free time' any day.

Brock said...

Michelle, I think you are right. To anonymous, I think you should find a support group for moms, it is tough and draining and exhausting, so I think those of us that are moms need to seek out other moms when we need to vent or complain. It is inappropriate to complain to someone who would kill for those "problems". We would never complain about our hair to a cancer victim..etc.. This is a good chance for us to rise to a new level of understanding, I am pretty sure Michelle is already there.

Kristie said...

Dear Anonymous,
Once upon a time, a person left an anonymous comment on my blog that was very similar to yours. It was ignorant and inappropriate. Perhaps you should consider starting your own blog where you can voice your complaints more appropriately. Michelle doesn't go onto moms' blogs and tell them they shouldn't complain about their children. Don't come on her blog and tell her to be "kinder than necessary" to moms who complain. You are correct - we are all fighting some kind of battle - so don't minimize Michelle's battle right on her very own blog.

You should also consider that if you are about to say something that you would only say "anonymously", perhaps you should not be saying it at all.

Amy Nielson said...

I am probably guilty of making some of those remarks that you mentioned at the beginning. Thank you for this post. It made me evaluate myself and my own attitude. :) I always need much improvement.

Amanda said...

Michelle, I often read your blogs and have been inspired and touched by what you have said in the past and this time was no different. While I cannot fully relate with you and your struggle with infertility I can completely agree with what you have to say. I am a Mom and it puts a smile on my face everyday to wake up and face whatever challenges the day may bring. I have not lost myself, I have found myself and am excited to share what I have learned with my children. Michelle, I am not a really open person but I just couldn't help but comment. You are brave in all that you face and graceful in the way in which you deal with your challenges. Thank you for sharing your thoughts through your beautiful writing.

Brittany said...


Loved the blog. I know I don't comment very often, but I like it when you get fired up! As a mom, I feel the same way. Women lose themselves and then judge other moms who choose not to. I have no doubt you will only be enhanced by motherhood. Every talent and passion you have now will so greatly benefit your future children, they are already so lucky.

Savannah said...

Anonymous - I have to agree with the others. If you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all. And if you feel the need to remain anonymous, it's probably not a nice thing to say.
Be kinder than necessary, don't just say it. Please put it into action. Find a support group for busy moms. I think there is one called cafe mom that I've seen advertised. I'm not a mom yet, so I don't know of any, but I have joined support groups for my own struggles and it has helped to be surrounded by friends who fight the same battle I do. Enjoy your children and the struggle they come with, at least you have children. Michelle was complaining about moms she was making a stand for them to continue to be themselves after becoming moms. It wasn't an assault against you, it was a compliment to moms that work hard to raise families and continue to be themselves in the process.

Anonymous said...

Dear Kristie,
First of all I would like to preface my comment by saying I am not "annonymous" however, I would like to show my support of her comment. I too suffer with infertility. My husband and I went through years of treatments and "scheduled sex" and ten years later we now have a beautiful daughter....through adoption. Which in and of itself is a miracle! However, your comments to "annonymus" made my blood boil. She/he was not rude or as you say "ignorant and innappropriate". She/he kindly stated the other side of the fence. Having been on both sides each side deserves love and kindness. comments like yours only hurt and show a lack of understanding. Please note that I too am leaving this comment annonymusly because I am fearfull of the negitive comments someone like you might send to me on my blog. Michelle I follow your blog and want you to know that infertility is extremly difficult but you are not alone. Please know that I keep you in my prayers. I know that you are struggling and I do have a good idea of what you are feeling/ facing but motherhood as wonderful as it is has it's own share of challanges. Many things that I thought I would keep up with in my own life have had to change since having my daughter. Perspectives are a funny thing. Best of luck!

motherof5boys1girl said...

this is late in coming, but i agree with you! when i first started having kids, i made the mistake of giving up all of my interests since i was a mother and all..several miserable years followed until i realized that i have to have my own hobbies, interests, and things that i enjoy to be happy and in turn be a better mom. i know a lot of ladies who almost seem to relish the martyr role they have put themselves in and its really tedious.