and not a hundred or a thousand instead of a million count half a dozen,
and keep your accounts on your thumb-nail.
~Henry David Thoreau
I've asked myself all these questions over the course of my 16 years of parenting, and I still continue asking. What if? I have the power to change so much about our lives! I can give myself a lot of excuses, but more than at any other time in the history of the world, I know I have the power of choice.
What if you gave up your obligations to school, to church, to just about anything else, especially when they just made you feel stressed and frantic?
What if you cut to the core everything but just the bare essentials of time commitments? What if you woke up in the morning to see an almost blank calendar staring at you in the face everyday? What if you were able to fill that calendar only with what you felt was best for your family?
What if you never felt torn in a million directions, but could "keep your accounts on your thumb-nail"?
What if you felt calm almost all the time? What if you said no to playgroups, no to toddler activities, no to endless play dates, no to so much running around?
What if you refused to feel pressured, guilty, or weird for living a life that looked quite the opposite of the way everyone at the time was living theirs?
What if you could say 'no' without following it with an apology or an excuse?
What if you were able to stand strong with constant endurance against the daily onslaught of the frantic pace of society and find a different quiet, child-friendly path of mothering?
What if, in spite of what society is telling you, you decided that the role of mother is enough work to warrant all of your time, attention and talents and never needed to be shared with less important man-made things?
How will my children remember me when they're grown? What kind of mother do I want to be described as one day? I know, it's a question that sends a little fear into my heart. Will they say I was too stressed, too busy, impatient and angry? Will they say I seemed to spend time on everything else but them? Will they say, "I needed you then, but you were never really listening?"
Of course, I know I am human, learning as I go, making plenty of mistakes on the way. I'd like to live though, with a little bit of contentment in my heart, that I gave this mothering thing the best shot I had. Asking and answering those hard questions reminds me of that contentment I wish for.
As I get older I've gotten braver...sometimes in great bursts of choices to say no as I wiped my calendar cleaned and vowed to keep it that way, sometimes with the regret of learning the hard way with stressful years as I split my time among too many obligations, or wishing time would move faster instead of slower ("as soon as spring is over, things will slow down and I can enjoy more..."). I have been inspired to be courageous by studying others whom I admire, who exude a peace and contentment in their mothering spirit. I have been falsely misled by my own self, quick to buy into the "how does she do it all so well?" comparison, only to find out once again, it's an illusion. (Because it is every time! Doing it all and doing the important things well does NOT exist, please know..and the price is almost always paid by the little ones that don't have a voice.) I have been way too quick to jump on a bandwagon, only to fall off and hit the ground hard, with a few bruises but a little relief in my heart.
I think it's so important in this day and age to remind myself that right now my plate it full of mothering and that's ok. It's enough for me to be a mother. Just a mother. It's a darn big job that takes an incredible amount of energy, endurance, spiritual and physical strength and I am in the thick of it almost every minute, and if I do have a moment to come up for breathe, I should be recharging my batteries with a quiet moment so I can jump right back in. My children deserve a mother who is unstressed, happy, content, and PRESENT.