Like it.

Oh, this is going to sound perilously depressive, but here we go anyway.

Last night, m* intimated that perhaps I am not happy being a mother. Or maybe she just suggested that she thought she was catching that vibe from me. I think she couched it in believing that I was very maternal before we had a kid, but now maybe I was feeling like it wasn’t for me. Although I took it terribly personally at the time (I know you are saying I am a horrible parent and that I hate doing it) I actually know that she didn’t mean it the way I took it. It was an innocent remark on how I’ve been feeling and behaving lately.

So, this morning, as I happily slept in until 10am, sat on the couch watching as m* played energetically with The Who, and planned what I would be doing for the evening, out by myself, I got to wondering. Am I happy being a mother? Is this the life I wanted? Is it everything I thought it would be? (The answer to that last one is most assuredly no because I am of the firm belief that you can never know what it is going to be like to raise a child before you do it.) But really, do I like it?

I remember when The Who was a little smaller, I was incredibly sleep-deprived, and it took way more physical energy to parent him (hauling the bucket car seat, bringing along lots of formula, washing bottles all the time, changing multiple blowout diapers, etc.) I used to wake up with him in the morning and start counting down the hours until nap. And when he started stirring from his nap, I’d immediately do the calculations on how long it was ’til bedtime. I don’t think I got much joy at all out of our time together, always waiting for my time alone. But then, miraculously and seemingly suddenly, that changed. I stopped thinking about his awake hours as Mama-jail and sometimes, nap time and bedtime actually snuck up on me. What? It’s 7:30 already? But we’re just getting started!

Today? Not so much. He is napping now and I dread his waking. I know that m* will be out running errands this afternoon and the care and entertainment will be solely up to me — at least until I get to go out on my own. 3 hours, 48 minutes. Not that I’m counting…

What am I doing here? Was m* right? (She usually is; she perceives things about me way before I do most of the time.) Do I hate being a parent? Am I not really maternal? I certainly don’t get joy out of playing with him the way she does. I love showing him new things. I love teaching him things. I love facilitating enriching experiences, but I don’t love playing. I like caretaking. Ninety-nine percent of the time, I don’t mind the menial labor tasks of parenting: bathing, dressing, combing hair. Diaper changes, making lunch, buckling in and out of the car seat. I like keeping him clean, safe, and fed. But that’s not all there is to it. I know that I would miss him insanely if he wasn’t around or if I took off on my own. I know that I’d long for a kid my whole life if I never had one. But do actually like it? Good question.

4 thoughts on “Like it.

  1. For me the thrill of parenting, of playing in particular, is in knowing that some part of what we do together in carefree abandon is creating an experience that means something later. Our play feeds the unconscious mind with happy feelings and happy connections that inform us later. Later we act kindly, or serve others, or create something the world needs, or simply spread goodwill. I believe these things come out of satisfied experiences in childhood. Play is good for the world.

  2. I have never enjoyed “playing” with my kids and I always felt guilty about it. I enjoyed the nurturing, reading, talking, cuddling etc.. but not the on the floor playing stuff. I don’t think that is necessarily important for every parent although I think it is good if ONE parent is the playful one.

    What I found ironic about your post is that whenever I read about the many ways you constantly order your life around Who and the ways you regularly enrich his life, sometimes I feel inadequate or “Gee I wish I had been more like THAT”. We all have our strengths and weaknesses. I found myself relating to much of what you described. I TOTALLY remember living for naps to get some “me time”. I still have a strong need for “me time” even though my kids are much older now and relatively less needy.

    What I like best about your blog is the raw openness. I guarantee you are owning and sharing feelings many other people don’t have the courage to share but can totally identify with.

    The thing that stands out to me most about your ‘motherness’ is how incredibly devoted you are.. what a GREAT mother you are… and how easy to relate to your writing is. Motherhood is messy and complicated and incredibly demanding and emotional. You have absolutely nothing to apologize for. I have seen NOTHING in anything you have written that indicates to me you are not maternal. Staying home with a kid/kids and being a primary caregiver is a demanding and generally thankless job. i did it for 10 years and I felt like you write about much of the time. And I know I am a good mother.

    Thank you for your voice.

  3. Did I write this? No, because I never could have expressed this half as eloquently and honestly as you. My husband has asked the same of me: Do I actually LIKE being a mother? Because I sure don’t seem to!
    No. Much of the time, I do not. I don’t like the often complete lack of me time. I don’t like being constantly needed. I don’t like that my husband expects me to be the full caretaker/problem solver/delegater/calender-keeper. Plus keep track of everyone’s crap. There’s a lot I don’t like about it. And then I don’t feel like playing when it’s time to play, because I just want some time by myself.
    Maybe it would be different if I were not the primary caretaker. I’m sure it would be. But it’s not, and I am, and this is what it is.
    I love my children so deeply. But I don’t really like being a mother.

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