Welcome to the October Carnival of Natural Parenting: Staying Centered, Finding Balance
This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama. This month our participants have shared how they stay centered and find balance. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.
Once upon a time I was fondly watching my wee daughter splashing around in the bath with a set of mommy and baby rubber ducks.
“Oh Mommy Ducky,” I overheard her baby duck say.
“Yes Baby Ducky?” she replied via the mommy duck.
“Oh Mommy Ducky, I just love you so so so so so much!”
Oh, how tender moments like these stir the wholesome soup that is a mama’s warm heart!
“I love you too, Baby Ducky,” she continued. “Now you stay here with Daddy. Mommy is going to the pub with her friends.”
My jaw dropped so far it hit me on the knees.
“No, Mommy Ducky! Don’t go! Don’t leave me!” cried the baby duck.
“I can’t hear you, I’m at the pub now!” replied the Mommy duck.
Lord love a duck! That’s how my baby sees me? Seriously?
I’m that Mommy?
But I only go to the pub, like, almost never! Like, seriously, a few times a year?
Clearly when I do go, though, it makes a big impression.
For weeks I replayed this incident in my head, dredging it through layers of mommy guilt. And then it occurred to me to just own it already.
Hell yeah, I’m that Mommy!
Mommy likes a pint now and again. Daddy is a perfectly wonderful caregiver and he deserves time alone with his dear daughter to prove it to himself, to me, and to her. And my friends miss me. And I miss me. And I enjoy conversations with people who can take care of their own toileting needs, so what?
Why would I want to raise a daughter who thinks it’s not okay for a Mommy to go out with her friends now and again? I wouldn’t.
But then again, I’m that Mommy. So I would think that.
Where the guilt comes from, I couldn’t tell you. I just try to look it in the eye and ask it to leave.
Usually, it replies with something along the lines of, “I can’t hear you, I’m at the pub with my friends now!”
You know that old slogan Bread and Roses?
“Yes, it is bread we fight for, but we fight for roses too!”
It’s from a poem by James Oppenheim that became a song that became a rallying cry for the worldwide labor movement in the early 1900s. The poem talks about how a life of toil and drudgery, without art and love and beauty, is a life of deprivation, insisting that, “Hearts starve as well as bodies; give us bread, but give us roses!”
Well, dur, right?
But when you’re caring for little people, it’s easy to forget about your bread never mind your freaking roses.
This year I had a new baby. And I had to leave that baby, when she was just four months old, with her daddy and with my mom for 48 hours while I went into the hospital to have a potentially life-saving surgery. One of the worst parts of the whole ordeal was the guilt of leaving that baby. Seriously. I was worried about how my baby would cry for her mommy, and I wouldn’t be there, and she wouldn’t understand why, and she’d only have her daddy, and her grandma, and her grandpa, and her other grandma, and a freezer full of expressed breast milk to comfort her, instead of me. Did I mention it was a potentially life-saving surgery? It was. So I had to keep reminding myself that my baby, if she were able to reason things out, would surely be more concerned about having me around for you know, the rest of her life, than for the next 48 hours.
Like I said, where the guilt comes from, I haven’t the foggiest. But it rolls in, it does. It gets all over the bread, never mind what it does to the roses.
So how does a Mommy get herself to the pub, or to a pilates class, or for a walk in the woods, or out for some retail therapy, or for a run, or to play poker with her buddies, or to a curry buffet with an old friend, or into the bath once a week, or to the computer to blog her bloggy little heart out?
Like her life depends on it.
Because, surely, it does.
I have three small children and the comment passers-by often lob at me is, “You sure have your hands full, don’t you?” It’s utterly true. I do. I have very little time that could be described as self-directed. So when I have a sitter for a few hours or just 10 minutes while my three children are oddly self-contented and not in the throes of any crises whatsoever, or I’ve effectively scared off my husband and my children have all followed him into the backyard, I very quickly and directly ask my heart – are you starving? Do you need roses? What are your roses today?
Sometimes it’s just to get outside, kids in tow. Sometimes it’s just to stop whatever drudgery I’m all wound up in and to connect through play or affection with my kids. Occasionally I really need to ditch a couple of my bundles of joy for one-on-one time with just one of my children. Sometimes I need to ignore everybody else in the world and create some art, or organize a drawer, or browse a magazine full of immaculate rooms and cooked meals. Sometimes I need to be alone.
I pretty much always could use a nap. I pretty much always could use an aggressive work out where I can move at my own pace, unencumbered by anyone else’s physical weight or non-linear fitness agendas. And sometimes I need to be as far away as possible from my children or from anything to do with children. And then of course, when I get there, I miss them. And when I come home, they come off smelling like roses again.
Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:
(This list will be updated October 12 with all the carnival links.)