Most days, most of the time, there are three humans in the house, so I have three people's worth of needs to consider. So far, that's one more set of needs than I can address at any given moment. Someone always ends up getting shortchanged. Some of the time, it's inevitable. (As in, Westley's preschool day ends at a certain time, which means I have to drive to school at a certain time, which means Ivy has to be in her car seat—caterwauling because she wants to eat RIGHT NOW!) And then there are the moments that I seem to purposefully draw the short straw.
This morning, instead of enjoying my oatmeal while it was hot, I made a yarn ball for Westley. I was hungry, my breakfast looked and smelled delicious, and instead of eating it, I carefully wound some yellow acrylic yarn into a sphere the size of a tennis ball. Because Westley asked me to. It never occurred to me to say no. It wasn't until I was out in the freezing garage in my bare feet looking for a yarn needle—so I could tuck the end of the yarn ball in securely—that I started to wonder what the hell I was doing!
Raising a family involves making sacrifices to one degree or another. I knew that going in, especially the second time around. I don't, however, buy into the message of complete self-denial as the path to successful motherhood. I don't believe that to be a good parent I must empty myself of all desires, put my needs on the back-burner, ignore my interests entirely. On the contrary. Happy, fulfilled individuals seem to be the happiest, most relaxed parents. And yet, somehow, it keeps happening that I lose. I push myself so hard to give my children the loving, timely, individualized care they deserve, that I disappear. It doesn't matter that I'm hungry and the food is hot, because Ivy needs soothing, or the laundry has to be moved to the dryer so Rob will have something to wear to work, or Westley...wants a yarn ball.
When I did finally sit down to eat, and reflected on the situation, I realized that my bizarre moment of self-denial was partially related to guilt. I've been feeling awful about not being as present for Westley as I used to be. I owe him big time for cutting back on our fun so drastically by going and having this needy baby. So if I can pay back some of that debt by whipping up a silly, spur-of-the-moment toy? Awesome. But Westley's whim trumping my meal happened so abruptly and without any real thought from me. Whether or not I believe in putting my needs last, I realized that I've been developing self-denial as a reflex over the past ten weeks as a mother of two!
Raising a family involves making sacrifices to one degree or another. I knew that going in, especially the second time around. There will be compromise. Someone will always have to wait. Someone will be last. And the truth is, I really don't mind being last, as long as I'm not last every time, by default.
Tomorrow, I'm eating my breakfast while it's hot.
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The title of this post comes from the following quote, which I'm sure you've seen pop up around Mother's Day:
"A mother is a person who seeing there are only four pieces of pie for five people, promptly announces she never did care for pie. — Tenneva Jordan"
While this certainly sounds like several of the mothers I know personally, I'm not sure how I'm supposed to feel about this as a mother. Thoughts?