Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Owning My Choice

I looked over at Brandon and said, I think I know what your mom and my mom meant.
Brandon: What?
Me: Your mom and my mom. They both told me that they thought it might be a little too soon to be having another baby at this point; it might be too overwhelming.
Brandon: Yeah?
Me: And I think I know what they meant now. I don't doubt he was supposed to be born; I know we were supposed to have him, but I am feeling overwhelmed. I get it now.

The delicate balance I've been towing thus far in my motherhood existence is starting to strain, dear reader. I'm finding myself overwhelmed beyond what I thought I was capable of doing before. Simple tasks (like laundry? Dishes? Grocery shopping? Making a phone call?) are now interrupted with six separate human beings (and one feline) demanding my attention. Each human has specific needs (the husband needs clothes laundered; the 6 year-old needs to read to me; the 2 year-old has a stinky diaper; the baby needs to nurse), and each one needs/wants my attention immediately.
But! In order to combat the stress of this, I have to throw in some of my own "me" needs to be met. Things like book club, lunch dates, online-time, etc.
But! I have outside responsibilities. Such as piano lessons, my callings, my job (Avenia Bridal). To name a few.
See, I've already given up a bunch of stuff to try and stop the stress from eating me alive. I've already cut back on the stuff I like, too. I even sigh and move on when the house isn't as clean as I would like, and I will even slack a bit when it comes to my job(s). But it's not working, you know. Not really.

And then something else is starting to bug me: Where is the line when it comes to my relationship with my children? Should I focus more on their independence? Their need to learn how to clean/cook/do homework/be successful/one-day-move-away-from-home-and-not-need-mommy-to-take-care-of-them? Or should I be working on my personal relationship with each one? Should I be worried more about their ability to trust me? To come to me for help? And even worse: How can I do both? Teach independence, righteous living, and create an environment where they feel loved, trusted, and give back love and trust in return?

I had a fabulous talk today with my visiting teaching companion. She is at the opposite end of my life (well, the middle end, I guess). Her oldest is 20 and her youngest is 10. She lived my life, and so I love to hear about her experiences. She told me that with her kids, she erred on the side of leniency in order to build and establish a close relationship. She admitted that she's not sure whether or not that was the right way to go, but so far, it's working out okay. One of her kids is having a really tough time, but it's obvious that he loves his mom --to me, it's obvious, anyway.

I guess I'm not sure what I'm even trying to say, but my kids have been on my mind so much lately. Having #5 has shown me that making this choice to have a big(ger) family is something that I have to own. I can't pretend it's easy, and I can't pretend it will get easier (especially since we want a sixth!), but I do know having these kids was the right choice for me (and, I daresay, their father). It's a challenge I signed up for willingly, so I'm okay with trying to figure it all out. Even if I make a million mistakes.
Hey, I've already made at least 1/2 a million, so I've got plenty more to make!


Cardalls said...

Wowzer...5 kids..sounds like SO many more than 4. My parents were quite focused on teaching us independence etc and honestly I wish I felt closer to them relationship wise. They are great and wonderful people but I wish my Mom was my best friend. There has to be a balance where you can do both right? Let me know if you figure it out...preferable before May when I have my 5th..okay? :)

Gio, Judi and Boys said...

5 kids...I can barely do 2. I'm not a great mom but I'm a good mom. One thing I have come to realize this past year with Robert is that I am so thankful that we are friends. He comes to me with everything an we talk, and now he finally listens too.
My mother was all about independence, responsibility, learn to do it all and stand on your own two feet. I am thankful for that, however..it took my mother becoming ill then death for us to have the relationship that I have with Robert now.
There will always be laundry, dishes, etc to do. That will never go away, and we need to teach our children how to stand on their own. We have that responsibility...however now that Robert is leaving on his mission I think it is so much more importatn for him to know that his mother (and father) are there for him and are his "best friends".
I am sure that he isn't as prepared for "other" things in life, but he'll figure it all...everyone does.
Either way Cheryl, you and Brandon are great parents! Your children are amazing and you can tell that there is love in your home! That is what counts the most!!!

Mother of the Wild Boys said...

Just remember they don't need perfection from you, they have a God already. :)

Julie P said...

Loves. And I have other things to say, but the pain meds are clouding my brain cells, so...later, alligator.

nweames said...

All these questions. Isn't this the crux of motherhood. This is the one thing I am going crazy with. I am constantly asking these questions and, so far, I don't have a good answers. Enlighten me if you figure one out. The closest I have come is that my kids are only with me a little while (in 10 years my oldest is gone -- aaahhh!) so I better make the best of the time I have. I think I am good at saying "I Love You" but not as good of showing them in ways they understand. So, for me, my New Year's Resolution is to focus on taking time with them doing things they like (Playing the wii, reading stories, making jewelry, baking cookies, holding my baby more, etc.). At the same time, I am also trying to get them to help with the "responsible" things in the hopes they can understand, the sooner I get my work done, the sooner we all can play and in the process, they will learn to be responsible.

It is such a challenge. That said, your life is in such flux lately, go easy on yourself, grab your kids, cuddle up on the couch and watch a fun movie with popcorn. Lately, I have been ending the day just holding my baby, and amazingly, my days are better.

FoxyJ said...

These are questions I've also been struggling with lately, especially because I only have 2 (almost 3) kids and they're spaced pretty widely. In theory I can do a lot for them, but in practice I want them to be competent adults. What I realized that I'm striving for is that I want them to be physically independent but emotionally secure. We're still trying to figure out how to do that; my husband and I were talking the other day about how we both became independent rather quickly, but mostly because we didn't feel like anyone had our back. We don't want our kids to feel that way. Anyways, now that we've figured out our parents' mistakes we'll just get to make new ones, right? LOL.

Mel said...

It's a never ending question. But one thing I have found that really does lighten the load, is the more time I spend with them, the cleaner the house stays. If I'm there they don't move from one thing to the next as quickly. One advantage I have is only have three, and therefore a smaller age gap so they are still at least somewhat interested in the same things. But whenever I spend the day with them, there is less housework to do the next day. Granted, there is no way I can spend all-day, every-day with them. But when I do take the time. We grow closer, they are happier, I'm happier, and the house is slightly cleaner.

m&m said...

FWIW, questions exist when you can't have the more kids that you want to have, just of a different sort. I am not sure we ever stop questioning and wondering how to do it 'right' with where we are.

Grandma Rozla said...

Hang in there Cheryl. Growing pains hurt but when they are over and we look back on them we are so grateful for the lessons learned and the tender mercies received. Well, I am anyway. Trust the Savior :) You are a great person and a great mom. Your children are blessed to have you!

Stephanie said...

I have a good friend with four, almost five kids. The thing is that the oldest twins are not yet three. Then her second set of twins is just 18 months. Then she's 8 weeks pregnant and puking A LOT.
She couldn't have a baby for a lot of years, then she gets two (after a lot of prayers, stress, and medical intervention), and counts herself blessed. Then, there's a slip up (I don't know the whole story, just that the pregnancy was UNPLANNED) and she counts herself blessed, but has the craziest year I can possibly imagine with four kids under 15 months. 2010 was going to be her year to be herself again, but there is now ANOTHER unplanned pregnancy. I always think of her when I'm overwhelmed.