I started off Friday morning listening to Motherhood and Feminism on the CBC’s The Current. The segment started off with quotes from Elisabeth Badinter’s new book The Conflict: How Modern Motherhood Undermines the Status of Women. Badinter believes that Attachment Parenting – particularly the obligation to breastfeed for years, to cosleep with our babies at night and to wear your baby in a sling – is all an unnecessary burden placed on women that needs to be rejected. A few guests then went on to debate the idea that Attachment Parenting is setting women’s rights back. (No word yet on how Attachment Parenting is setting back the rights of men, but I digress.)
At one point during the interview, Renee Martin of Womanist Musings said that “motherhood shouldn’t be solely about sacrificing everything that you are and have for your children”. Which is exactly what I had planned to write about that day. How appropriate.
I’ve decided to sacrifice my goals for my children. Sorry Renee.
This topic has actually been on my mind a lot for the last four months and especially in the last couple weeks. If you scroll back in my archives, you’ll read about my desire to become a lactation consultant. My family supported my decision and so I enthusiastically signed up for my first online class – biology.
Oh, it was a long four months.
The class didn’t go very well, mostly because I was just too busy to devote time or energy to it. I missed almost every online chat session. I fell way behind in the readings. I only passed thanks to Biology for Dummies – which I bought a week before my final out of desperation. The course weighed on my mind heavily every day – I felt stressed because I was behind and super guilty when I didn’t spend every spare moment with my nose in my text book.
Then during exam weeks, I was a bit of a mess. I was up late reading and a total bear to be around. I know that my family suffered for it. I had less patience with the girls and less energy to play. And the whole time, I really wondered why I was bothering. I’m a better mother when I’m not stressed by deadlines – and I’m a far happier person.
Take night time, for example. I’ve discovered that if I go to bed with my girls between 9:00 and 9:30, they fuss very little and we all fall asleep really fast. That’s right – the Princess is not up until midnight anymore! Hallelujah! I’m getting far more sleep too – and even though I’m still working out the details (I can’t figure out how to wake myself up early before the girls), I’m pretty happy with this new arrangement.
But when I’m distracted by work, then I tend to mess up the bedtime routine and the girls are harder to settle down. I then wait tensely for them to fall asleep – and of course they toss and turn for what feels like hours. Then I become so flipping frustrated because they don’t seem to get that I have important work to do! And then I feel guilty because who gets mad at a kid because they can’t fall asleep? And then The Princess will stare at me with a concerned look and say “Mommy, you should smile more” and then I’m just a blubbery mess.
Finally she nods off and I stay up super late and then I am even more tired the next day. The kitchen gets messy, and the laundry takes on a life of its own. We eat a ton of takeout and I just feel defeated. And for what?
Contrast that to a day with no pressing deadlines, when I’ve gotten a great night’s sleep. I wake up refreshed. I have energy to take my girls to the park to play. I can act out The Shoemaker and the Elves for the 57th time. I’m happier, and my whole family is happier.
Mommy + goals + the total support of the family = everyone is miserable.
Mommy – goals = everyone is happy and peaceful. Added bonus =Mommy even might get the chance to write in her blog from time to time.
I understand that goals involve sacrifice, but I also understand that some things can be accomplished later on when the timing is better and the sacrifice isn’t so great.
So I’m probably not going to take another course for awhile. I’m also scaling back on other commitments I’ve made. Right now, I’m trying to focus more on my family.
Am I setting back women’s rights by choosing my family’s happiness over my own goals? Even if it makes me happier too? Maybe my goals are just shifting rather than being sacrificed – I’d like to be a strong women with an interesting life, deep friendships, a successful business, and a thriving family, and that’s a good enough goal for now.
Renee, I hope you can understand.