A recent convo with my sister-in-law got me thinking. We were discussing having kids and getting a life, two things that don’t always coincide peacefully. We are both SAHMs and she is prego with her second child. Her oldest is going to be 5 in June. We were talking about how each kid means 5 years out of rotation. I got lucky with mine being so close I only have 5 years with probation for good behavior coming very soon (school age) but due to her kid’s gap she has added another 5 years to her sentence (provided all goes well with her husband and his job or she’ll have to hightail it back to the drive thru). Anyway, we were discussing what you do after they get to school and whether a 3rd child is needed. I mentioned how having my bachelor’s degree makes me feel as if I have accomplished something for myself with all I have given up for my little dudes. I told her I felt it was important to achieve something outside of your kids (which she hasn’t done yet) at which point the discussion went south. We don’t argue but we can get very defensive and passively aggressive during any discussion. She began informing me that she doesn’t need “paperwork” (evidently that was a name for my degree) to feel good, her kids are her accomplishment. I really like my sister in law and she is a good mom but I can’t believe she doesn’t understand what that will do later to her and her kids if they are all she does in this life. I asked her what she will do when they are 16 and want to have nothing to do with anything about her except her wallet. She said she didn’t know, have fun. I am not one to tell people what to do but I think this move toward 50’s motherhood is unhealthy. I personally think it is unreasonable to expect that your children will be that fulfilling. I love mine and want nothing more than to raise them to be decent un-imprisoned citizens but I can’t imagine that being ALL I do. I have given up a lot for them so far. My career, my freedom, my sleep. I don’t mind the arrangement (no matter how bitter I occasionally come off) but I have to know that is a temporary condition and in some mothering circles this feeling is frowned upon. As my sister in law said, I am just not as maternal as most (I am very maternal, hence the word being in my blog title). I don’t define “maternal” as the complete surrender of everything that is me. I define maternal as the fact I know what my kids need without words being spoken. Or how when they get hurt a hug and kiss from me seems to heal it immediately. I guess I got going on this because I am seeing it throughout the mommy culture. Working moms are judged for not being completely about their kids and SAHMs are expected to want nothing more than to take care of their kids. It’s okay to want something for yourself. I feel that my drive to do more while caring for my boys makes me a better mother. In making myself happy when they need me less I will be creating a happy environment for my whole family. I won’t be following my kids everywhere afraid to let them fail because their failure equals my failure. I will also be showing them that you don’t choose just one destiny in life; you choose different ones based on the needs of the moment. My conversation with my sister in law ended with me saying I didn’t mean we all need to go to school, a hobby or outside interest is more than enough which she agreed with so we found common ground. Sure, I was disturbed by the maternal comment but I know she didn’t mean it as an insult, she felt attacked by my degree and that is normal. I think that as moms we should all just agree to disagree the way my sister in law and I happily do from time to time. Then we are welcome to go on messing up our own children in our own special way. It may be said that it takes a village to raise a child but I am officially telling the village to suck it (unless of course my child is drowning or in some other form of danger then please, everyone, dive right in).
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