Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Since Problem Child brough up the issue of parenting, I think I'll wade into the fray.

Recently, on a difficult morning when I was trying to leave for my monthly RWA meeting, I found myself in the firm clutches of my beautiful 5-year-old daughter. Her beseeching eyes begged me not to leave. "I don't want you to go," she said.

Mother guilt reared its ugly head. But luckily my husband was watching out for me. Taking my daughter into his lap, he looked her in the eyes and said, "She's going. Mommy is allowed to have a life outside of us."

Inside, I jumped up and down at my husband's words of support. I've worked hard to find a balance between nurturing my children and teaching them independence. After all, one day they'll grow up and leave. What' the point of making them completely dependent on me for everything?

Don't get me wrong. I grew up in a very traditional family. My mother was a stay at home mom, as I am though I recently started my own resume writing business. Our church encouraged conservative ideas, including non-working mothers, cloth diapers, and home schooling. As a teenager, I baby-sat for numerous women who didn't do anything except be mothers. No jobs, not even hobbies. I dont' condemn that mentality. I just learned early on that it wasn't for me.

Writing is a part of who I am, just as daydreaming was as a child and teenager. I couldn't stop even if I wanted to. My writing friends have become my support, a source of understanding and a dose of reality in this crazy business. Does having this dream make me less of a mother? I don't think so. In fact, I hope it is teaching my children something of value.

I hope my daughter learns that she has more value than just having babies, especially if she has infertility problems like I did. I hope she suffers less guilt when her interests fall outside the home. I hope she realizes she is capable of doing anything she sets her mind to. I hope my son learns to support his future wife's endeavors just as his father does mine. And that he, too, learns to reach for the stars. Anything is possible with hard work and love.

And I hope that one day, when I sell my first book and my second and third, that my family will join me in a group hug, then jump up and down in shared excitement. Because that's the kind of family I have.


1 comment:

Playground Monitor said...

I had to chuckle at the comment about Mommy having a life outside of us. When my older son got married, they had a marvelous band at the reception. My husband and I have always loved to dance, so naturally we hopped up and danced along with the others. Our younger son was sitting at a table with my mother and sister. He pointed and remarked "Look! The old folks know how to dance." My mom quickly replied "Believe it or not, before you and your brother were born, they had a life." And my sister chimed in with "And now that you're both grown, they have a life again."

Not only is it important that you have your interests separate from your family, it's important for THEM. When my younger son was almost 16, we left him at home alone for a week so we could take an anniversary trip to the Smoky Mountains. I left food in the freezer for him. The neighbors were all on alert and a friend checked in regularly. A track team buddy of his came by each morning to take him to school and brought him home again each afternoon after track practice.

He did great and the house was pretty clean when we returned. Someone asked me if that didn't make me sad -- knowing that he could get along without me. That he didn't need me anymore.

I quickly told her that it didn't make me sad; it made me deliriously happy because isn't the goal of parenthood to raise a child who can look after him or herself? And I also explained that he still needed me but in different ways.

Both my boys went off to college and never had a bit of trouble adjusting to life away from home. Sure, they ate a lot of ramen noodles, mac & cheese and hot dogs, and usually their rooms looked like a tornado had swept through. But emotionally they were on very solid ground.

You're doing a great job with your children. Just keep on doing what you're doing and you'll all be fine.

I'll step down off my high horse now. **gg** The saddle is beginning to chafe a little anyway.