Tough Decisions

I’ve been having trouble writing this post. The words are gummy like pieces of chalk left out in the rain. Instead of making pictures, they just smear.

But I’ve been talking about difficult things lately, so I thought I would share another struggle.

I’m wanting to spend less time with my kids.

This may not seem revolutionary or crazy to you. In fact, as I write it, it doesn’t really seem that revolutionary.

Parents want different things.

But it’s been kind of a bone-rattler.

It’s not because I don’t love them. It’s more that I miss that adult part of myself, not the part that fills out loan modification paperwork, but the part that works on a project, turns a deliverable in, and gets a “thanks” or “good job” in response.

Praise that’s not related to being a parent.

When things are out-of-sync for me, I get emotional. I feel trapped against a wall, a wall that my thoughts slam against, breaking to pieces. When I’m with my kids 100% of the time, that wall gets built higher like a Tetris board with no rows filled in.

To clear the board I’m opening myself to more projects.

It’s been rattling my bones because in the back of my mind I have always seen myself as a full-time mom. My mom started staying home when I was twelve and it was a game-changer. Home turned into a sacred space, and loved it.

But now it’s my turn and I’m finding that my balance is different. I need time to write and edit at a coffee shop with a babysitter at home.

I’m happier for it. And I’m a better parent.

The hard part has been being open to what I need. It’s scary to shift the things that I always thought would be best for my family. And it’s scary to say that rather than spending more time with K-Pants during this transitional, emotional time for him, I’m going to spend less.

But I thought I would be honest and let you know, and not just pretend that each day over here is filled with another wild, sarcastic adventure.

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18 responses to “Tough Decisions

  1. Stellasmom2011

    Many moms are praising you for having the courage to say what they are thinking. You’re a tough, brave, honorable mama…I’m fortunate to know you! : )

  2. Hi fellow-teller-of-difficult-truths:
    Your post as usual resonates with me. When both Mary Elizabeth and I were working, we felt like we were much better parents from the time spent away from them. We were able to recharge, feel valued by somebody who wasn’t throwing food at you and going to the bathroom in odd places, and live out there among the People.
    When there was a long weekend, and we were with them 24/7 for 3 or 4 days straight, we definitely felt our parental resources and resiliency draining away like dirty bathwater. I’ll never forget the Sunday of Thanksgiving weekend when we were Worn Out by our kids who were 5, 3 and 3 at the time. We realized at 10pm that Charlotte was Star of the Week in her kindergarten class and we needed to come up with at least 15 photos showing her interests and hobbies (I mean really, how many interests does a 5-year old have anyway?).
    So I’m at the computer, wishing that I had organized our photos better, looking for pictures of Charlotte and my wife came in to help. After about 5 minutes, she left to check on Clark and Louisa in the next room and I heard an agonized shout. I ran in to find Mary Elizabeth starting at the following scene:
    Clark, with a pair of scissors in his hand, dancing a jig while his twin sister was flushing giant clumps of newly-shorn blond and brown hair down the toilet. We were devastated at the time (Christmas pictures had yest to be taken). Nobody was hurt, but sadly Punk Rock (and its haircuts) had gone out 20 years before, so Clark and Louisa had very avant garde hair for a while. Our friends told us we would laugh about it in a few years, but at the time, we were so annoyed and embarrassed at ourselves for being bad parents that it seemed impossible.
    And that’s my point really. Parents are human beings too. And human beings have needs which must be attended to, otherwise we will find ourselves exhibiting very un-human-like behavior.
    So be grateful that you can leave them for a while, and kiss them even harder when you get back, feeling confident that you’ve done the right thing for you!

  3. It is hard. It will be hard no matter what, I think. But the kids and D will still love you no matter what you do, and it’s important to find the space where you love yourself too. Hugs.

  4. I do praise you for your courage for saying what I think all the time. My daughter is 1 and there are days when I just don’t want to go home. I totally understand what you are saying and you say it in an eloquent way. Well done and thank you for putting a voice to a topic so few moms want to actually talk about!

  5. As someone who’s already taken the plunge and sent my daughter off to day care 5 days a week while I work, I can honestly say I’m happier for it. And I can say that my daughter is happier for it as well.

    Now I can feel like I’m accomplishing things with projects and work while my daughter gets to play ALL DAY with kids her age in an environment she loves. When we’re all done “working” and we get home together, it’s food and fun times.

    The trick is finding the right balance and I hope you find your zen soon!

  6. Stefanie Ebenal

    Oh Evelyn, Proud of you for being brave. You are in the thick of it and it takes a lot of courage to say the things you have. It’s okay that you feel this way. Honestly, it’s so hard to measure ourselves each and every day…. how much are we enjoying this being a mom stuff is immensely challenging! The point is, you’re doing a great job as a mom and an individual and it’s great that you’re honest with yourselves (and others!) about how you actually feel.

    Keep in mind, it just keeps changing. The ages and stages obviously impact how easy and hard things will be. I personally have days that I think I should’ve stayed single with no kids. Other days, I’m in heaven. It is what it is and everything will be just fine.

    Hugs, Stefanie

    • I think you hit on something important here, Stefanie–the day-to-day is such an emotional roller coaster. It’s hard to feel good at something, or enjoy it at all, when there’s so much volatility! This is the journey of trying to stay sane and grounded…

  7. I completely hear you! Actually, a couple of the reasons why my blog hasn’t had a post on it for awhile now is that a) my one child is taking a double hands-on job these days and b) I took a mom vacation to be coast – by myself. It. Was. Amazing. Totally what I needed to reconnect. Finding the balance is the hardest part (I think) of this parenting bit.
    So, acknowledge the guilt (because it makes it feel better), then tell it to go to hell because have you seen what I deal with every day?! Really, though, I applaud you for taking time for what you need, because your kids aren’t looking out for you – you are.

    Jill

    • Right on. And I find that even though my husband is really supportive, I’m still the one who has to drive what I need. Duh! But sometimes you forget that in the day-to-day chaos. Glad you got a coast retreat in!!

  8. Good for you! After our last in-person conversation about being stay at home moms I remember thinking about the women I know who have always been completely unapologetic about working outside of the home, insisting that they “need” that to keep them sane/allow them the space to be the kinds of moms they wish to be when they are with their kids. I’m so glad you’ve evaluated the situation & made this decision. I think you will not regret it!

  9. Being a mom is a raw experience. Taking care of yourself is probably the most important think you can do to help the kids. If momma ain’t happy ain’t nobody happy may be a cliche, but it’s also the damned truth. Hope you find an awesome freelance project to work on! Love!

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