“We all know that the early years of our children’s lives are precious. It is when they are most teachable, impressionable and open to true and erroneous teaching. Our society in a rush to success encourages us as mothers to send our children from the home earlier and earlier, to involve them in more and more activities. Too often we forget that the most important preparation for success is in the home under the nurturing care of the mother. That preparation takes time, long stretches of time filled with the consistent, everyday activity of home life.
The time we have with our little ones is short and should be guarded carefully.”
(the entire article that quote was taken from ishere)
I had so many lovely emails after the quick post I wrote about sending Patrick to preschool and how torn I was, and how I struggled with this rush that has suddenly appeared for all of us to send our little ones away for this activity and that experience.
So many mothers talked about the pressure they felt to send their little ones to preschool, or a special learning program, baby classes, mom’s day out, you name it, because everyone else was doing it, or they felt that they their children might be missing something all these other children are getting. I know the pressure is real, and I know that as I have had more and more experience (and more and more children?) over the years, I have gained that confidence to say “No way!” quickly and comfortably when I felt it wasn’t right for us. I wish I would have learned that sooner.
I also have to say this: I know that being at home is sometimes lonely. Sometimes boring. Sometimes monotonous. There are so many things that can enrich our experiences and our child’s also-trips to the zoo, to a friend’s house, to the learning museum-and those are great things-but sometimes, and I see the discomfort with this so much more in this new generation of mothers-we just have to be a little lonely, a little bored, and find our way through these years.
It’s not so much all about us anymore, and what we want, and who we want to see. We live in a time when I think we have been fed this belief that we deserve to be totally happy and fulfilled constantly. Emotional entitlement, in a way. I read article and article about how we need to take care of ourselves, and find out what makes us happy. We deserve to be fulfilled, we are not our best for our children unless we are. That might be true in a way, but I also don’t think we have to be willing to sacrifice what is best for the loves of our lives, our children, before we subscribe to this belief that all this happiness, self-care, fulfillment is “out there” somewhere, with our children far away, and us gone from our homes when our children are tiny. We can find it in our homes, if we are willing to look! A quote hanging on my son’s desk says, “The best way out is always through.” I take that to mean stop looking for ways around it all, and just stick your head in it, stick your heart in it, and work through it. It’s the only way to real true accomplishment, whether that involves the completion of a math project, or emotional growth and maturation in the most important role of our lives, that as mother.
Children crave routine I think, and also need our one-on-one attention, or just lots of days where they are not going here, there and everywhere. When we allow ourselves to work through the long days, we found our way “around” these hurtles. We find good books, a project that we can work on at home that involves are brains, our talents. We sometimes find friendships right in our neighborhood.
I think one of the things I’ve noticed most lately, that makes me laugh, is remembering that when I just had little ones, the day would be so long. I would wake up and think, “What am I going to do all day?” And now, with older children, my days seem so speedy fast, and I crave those days when I “get to” not go anywhere, not do a thing. I wake up thinking, “Please, please let this be a day that goes slow and boring.”
And it also amazes me that when I look back at the journey from becoming a mother of one at 24, to being the mother of five by 38, something always fell into my lap to push me up and over the emotional speed bumps of being a mom-I was magically given the gift of growth to smooth out that speed bump-to find that happiness, fulfillment, challenge-whatever I was lamenting at the time. The opportunities-whether that was a new encouraging friendship, a challenging project that came out of the blue where I was asked to write a chapter of a book, a little relief in the way of an easy baby, or an exciting break in the same old routine when I found myself pregnant once again.
I also see so many times where I wasn’t “given” some sort of gift-I just worked through those feelings, and grew and settled and accepted that my life wouldn’t be smooth, perfect, easy. Now, looking back, I can see that if I didn’t have patience, if I had looked elsewhere for a quick panacea to my doubts and insecurities and discomfort, if I would have bought into the belief that I deserved something much more than just “being at home”, I would have missed out on so much of what I had been looking for in the first place. That is the gift of children in a nutshell-they give us back so much more than what we can ever give them, if we are willing to give the gift of every day.