For as long as I can remember, I have wanted to be a stay-at-home mommy. What I didn’t realize (until after my dream came true) is that I am cursed. Not only have I been cursed with lackluster breasts (which I really don’t mind, except for that year or so when my kids—and my budget—could really use their help), but, more vitally, I am cursed with a need to achieve. That’s right, I am a goal-oriented person. This never struck me as being remotely problematic until I became a mother.
Picture this: You are a goal-oriented individual. You are a stay-at-home mom. Thus, your goal in life is to raise your children—ideally, you’d like them to be responsible, compassionate, respectful, productive citizens, among other things. Depending on your point of view, you will achieve your goal either when your kids move out on their own (which is getting later and later these days) or when you or your children die. Either way, there’s not much to encourage a goal-oriented person.
Break it down further, you say. Okay, we’ll work with just a single day. Your goal for the day is to survive the day, make sure your children survive the day, and (ideally) keep everyone fed, clothed, and more-or-less happy while maintaining a decently clean house. Evidence of achieving your goal? At the end of the day, you, your children, and your house are all still standing. Again, not very thrilling.
I have found this lack of measurable achievement to be intensely frustrating. Here I am, living my dream (though perhaps a bit different than my idealized vision as a child), and yet I feel unfulfilled. It makes me feel as if I’m failing my kids by not reveling in the time I spend sitting (not allowed to touch anything—otherwise it suddenly becomes more compelling than any other object in the room and must immediately be taken away by my children; or else whatever I am doing is wrong because it doesn’t fit with a toddler or preschooler’s suddenly-invented-and-constantly-changing rules for whatever game we’re playing) and watching their every move or participating in the 397th round of “Here-Mommy-Taste-This-Pretend-Cookie-I-Made”. If I’m not enjoying every moment of motherhood, am I a failure as a mother?
Here’s my solution to (hopefully) help myself feel more fulfilled and, thus, more competent as a mommy: more goals.
For starters, I’ve broken down my “clean house” goal into a daily task that I can check off my mental list. But that one little check mark hasn’t been enough. So I’ve added to the list. Here’s what I’ve got so far:
Over the summer, I’m going to ponder things I want my children to internalize, things like an understanding of their (well, so far my and my husband’s) faith, a good foundation in the Bible, an outward-focused perspective that notices and cares for the needs of others, an awareness of their context in the world, responsibility and good manners, an appreciation of the arts, a willingness to try new things and accept failure as progress…as well as exploring and learning such basics as their shapes, colors, numbers, and letters.
There are also some things I want to do for me. I want to continue to feed my passions for reading, writing, and creating. I want to make more of an effort to connect to others and build relationships. I want to maintain a healthy marriage and a healthy faith life and be the best mom I can be.
With so many desires, I could make an endless list of steps to achieve these. In the future, I’ll share some the ways I’ll be working toward the goals I have for my children and our family. As for me—I’ve begun to spend my evenings reading, writing, and (currently) sewing. I’ve joined a MOMS Club, and I’m making an effort to participate in as many activities as our schedule and our budget allow. My husband and I spend time talking together and doing devotions immediately after the kids are in bed and, with my mom’s help, we set aside time for a monthly date. I’ve also started this blog, another way for me to visually achieve something related to both my mothering and my love of writing. We shall see where all this plotting leads me…