Being a mother is hard. It has joy, definitely, and is the best thing in the world, and maybe that’s why it’s a never ending project. Children keep growing; needs keep changing; personal circumstances keep evolving, and with each change, the intensity continues.
I had a small mothering shift a couple of weeks ago. I don’t remember what precipitated it – some reminder of how fortunate I am, some reflection on how much better I could do, the realization that I was, in some ways, falling horribly short of my mothering expectations. I’m currently in a state of appreciation of time/nowness with my girl, and patience with process. Whereas prior to the shift I might experience sudden rage at some of my daughter’s actions (sweeping her food onto the floor; refusing to brush her teeth), now I have some perspective (she’s young, this isn’t forever, it may be developmental) and also some new approaches (clearer on boundaries and moving on from activities she’s not doing well; moving onto the next thing myself and getting her to do the necessary before she joins; not asking questions or giving options, just telling her what we’re doing). Life feels richer and more enjoyable now, and I’m grateful for that.
I think it makes a difference for her, too. Clearly, having a mother who is happier and not upset when things don’t go her way is healthy. I think there’s a security in being given more clear guidance, too, and not being left to make choices as a child. It may connect with another habit of hers I’ve noticed – for months, when I ask her questions about things she knows, she’ll say, “I don’t know,” often adding, “You tell me.” I wonder if, truly, that is what children need (don’t ask them questions! Just tell and show) and my asking her to answer questions inspires existential angst (who is this “mama” who doesn’t know this??). So I’ve started telling her more things instead of asking. I think she likes it that way.
I’m also trying to come to terms with socializing. She doesn’t get many opportunities to be with other kids. And I continue to fall short on making this happen. With work busyness, husband working lots, a messy place and not many friends with kids, I just can’t seem to make it happen more than rarely. I wonder how much of her hesitancy around strangers is innate, and how much is a lack of exposure. I worry about it and I honestly don’t know what to do since my attempts to make friends or take her places consistently just don’t pan out. I have a couple friends I visit, and that is great – it’s just not enough for her. And yet, she often doesn’t want to go anywhere.
SIGH. And alongside all my worries … she is so totally awesome. So extremely funny (talking about her new pinwheel from nana: “I thought it was pizza”). So bright (she is attentive to details in speech, often correcting me: when I ask her to pick up my toothbrush, she says, “that isn’t your toothbrush … that is a piece of your toothbrush.” In fact, it is just 1 part of my electric toothbrush). So loving. So thoughtful. So open to sharing (in some circumstances :)). So empathetic. Loves having fun, dancing, embracing new activities. Such a beautiful person! I really just want her to be happy, and think others deserve the chance to know her, too.