Sometimes I’m too tired. To be a good mom. To be a good wife. To be a good daughter, sister, niece, friend… Still, I lay awake in this overwhelming tiredness and I can’t sleep. There are lists of thoughts ( things to do, worries, hopes, and the guilt) that spin so quickly they push forward and corrupt a dream-filled night. It is the guilt though that pushes through the most. The constant belief that I’m not good enough to be the above honorable titles. Most painstakingly, I worry that I am not enough to be mom or wife. I’m not giving enough of myself (even though some days I feel like I’ve given every sliver I have leaving none for myself) to nurture and love my beloveds.
The voices from media and the mommy wars would indicate that I am mostly not enough for my kids no matter what choices I make. If I work , I’m a wicked Cowbird. If I stay home to raise them I’ll become jaded in my mommy martyrhood. But here is the thing–I’ve done both and both situations are exhausting. I think we as women (and parents) have done ourselves a disservice. We are trying to do it all and we can’t–and so we become exhausted with worry over being enough to all.
Picture it–a warm summer decades ago on an afternoon in a middle income neighborhood. The Jones didn’t live here, just Joe and his everyday friends. Lawn chairs are stretched out on a shaded driveway. Kids run haphazardly through lawns and mothers (all who work in either their homes or industry) share in neighborhood gossip and watch each other’s children. They are relaxed and happy. So are their kids. These moms may have been tired–life always has hard seasons–but I never questioned if these women were enough for their kids. The fact that one of my buddies or enemies (depending on the childhood rivalry of the day) called one of these persons mom meant they were surely a special person. I never as a child questioned if my mom was enough. She was my mom, simply that was enough.
Today, this worry exhausts me. Is my child flourishing or am I limiting her potential by not enrolling in x,y,z program? Am I emotionally present for my children or am I damaging them by being involved in my own personal pursuits? Am I giving them enough nourishing foods? Enough free play? Enough stimulating learning activities? Am I doing a good enough job at this job of Mommy CEO to create productive and happy adults in the future? I have to stop myself and say what the hell is happening here?! My mom made sure I got a bandaid when I needed one and a drink of water when I was thirsty from play, but she didn’t micromanage my time and the few mothers in the community who did were considered odd. Today it is quite the reverse, but why?
Has the world become that competitive so we must get them started by reciting Shakespeare’s sonnets in the womb? Are we worried that our children will get left behind in this age of intrastate and international economics? Are we worried about how are children will hate us if we don’t find and cultivate their talents? Will other parents judge us as failures? I believe fear is the strongest catalyst in the mommy wars and in my own fear that I am not enough.
No wonder I’m tired. Under this new parental dogma nobody could be enough. I would need six of me to succeed in being this organic farmer, chef, chauffeur, classical educator, child psychologist, and of course housekeeper. Why has raising a prominent, prepared child become the status symbol of keeping up with the joneses? Does everybody need to be Ivey league to matter?
So I’m playing the worst case in my head… What if my kids sought and cultivated their own talents, made their own play, developed their own relationships with peers, ate junk food (once in awhile), learned how to do their own laundry, and even sought out travel experiences or community college instead of Ivey league. Wouldn’t then the natural process of growth and development that occurred within my kids be the best case scenario? My exhaustion is self-induced and that has got to change. Things must be delegated and dropped. I’m going to allow my kids time to be, and I will be there when the growing pains occur, but I can’t prevent the growing pains by being a micromanaging mom. Time will allow growth to take its course, and I need to be a spectator as often as I’m a participator. So it’s time for this mama to let go just a little bit, to take a breath, and rest a bit because while I will be there I can’t do it all for them. They must do for themselves and that is enough.