I love them, I adore them, I know that being their Mom is the best place in the world for me. But my goodness if I don't sometimes just want to get in the van and drive so very far away from the fighting, the messes, and the NOISE!
This afternoon, I sat on the steps of city hall listening to the symphony orchestra during a ceremony to celebrate the arrival of the Olympic torch with my busy little family. Wiggly baby Olivia was getting tired and fussy and the kids and I were just cooling off from a huge fight ("No, Lily, for the fifteenth time you CANNOT be a part of the Olympics no matter how many times you ask and Nick I swear to God that if you poke me in the face one more time with that inflated noisemaker I'm going to cram it into the nearest garbage can!"). It was, you know, one of those times.
As we listened to the glorious music rising up from the group of beautiful musicians, I started watching this one violinist. She swayed, she glowed, she was the music personified. And I was so suddenly jealous. I instantly had a vision of her elegant and artistic life. The spotless sweeping studio apartment with gleaming counter tops and gigantic stainless steel appliances. The small gray cat who greets her with purrs and ankle-rubbings every night when she comes home. The hours upon hours she spends laboring luxuriously over her violin.
And there I was with my 30 lb diaper bag, my squirmy children, and my frizzy hair, not knowing the last time I'd read two consecutive pages in a book without being interrupted by scrabbly baby fingers or rowdy children, and functioning on far too little sleep.
I want gleaming counter tops! I want hours to spend following my artistic passions! I want a home that welcomes me with its silent refuge at the end of the day! I want to just step away from my life for a couple of weeks, to put the dirty dishes and the piles of laundry on pause while I slip out the back door and float in a pool somewhere with a strong drink and a thick book. I want that life, that peace, that I can imagine others have all attained but which I know isn't really anyone's reality all the time.
Part of me feels terrible for my moments of resentment. My children are good kids, needing and wanting from me nothing out of the ordinary. They are here, with me, when there are parents whose children are not within arms reach and may never be home again. They are blessings in my life, invited into the world by my choice, and they are utterly amazing little people.
Which, I guess, points out the obvious: this has everything to do with me and nothing really to do with them. I'm the adult, the one in charge of taking care of me. It's not their fault that the dishwasher is on the fritz (again) or that my choice to homeschool them has created a large amount of work for me. It's my own responsibility to make sure I get enough sleep at night and time alone, enough mental stimulation and room for exploring my passions.
This, I think, is the crux of motherhood guilt. Well, for me anyhow. I feel like I should give my kids my all, pour every last ounce of my energy and enthusiasm into creating an enriching and inspiring home environment. But I can't. Because I need some of that for me, so I can grow and be fully myself as well.
Because shouldn't I be living the lessons I want my kids to learn in life? Hhmm...