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Where’s the Balance?

The fall semester started on Tuesday, and so started my crazy six days a week schedule.  It should be easy.  I mean, I’m taking less credits than I’ve ever taken.  12 credits, four classes should be nothing to me after 18 credit semesters.  Oh, wait, that’s right… It’s Capstone semester.  Capstone.  The word inspires awe, anxiety, fear, and panic attacks in Communications students at Keystone College.  The syllabus is twenty-nine pages long.  The ability to graduate rests on successfully completing this two-semester graduation project.  Nothing I’ve done so far matters, as long as Capstone looms over me. 

Truthfully, I’m less worried about Capstone than other students in my class.  I can do the work.  I can turn things in on time.  Anyone who knows me, knows that I am a dedicated student.  My problem is a bit more complicated, and yet, a bit more simple.  I’m an adult student.  Not only am I older than most of the kids I go to school with, but I also have a few more responsibilities.  Namely,  my three small children, ages six, five, and two.

There is nothing like writing a paper over the chorus of voices, “Mommy, she hit me,” Mommy, I want (name said want),” “Mommy, Sissy needs a diaper,” and my personal favorite, “Mommy?” (look up from paper, see smiling child who really wants nothing, but a bit of my attention).  My problem is finding a balance.  How much effort really needs to go into these papers, when I have real, living beings depending on me for everything?  How much time should be spent wrestling, snuggling, and reading Peter Rabbit, when I have a stack of Vonnegut novels on my desk to be finished for Advanced Lit, a paper to write for Comm Theory, a speech to write for Public Speaking, and a proposal to prepare for Capstone? 

It’s all about balance.  And my life is balanced much like a basketball on a finger.  Any breath of air, one missed day, one emergency with the kids, could send my world spiraling out of control.  Why not just give up school until the kids are older, you might ask.  I’ve asked myself the same question.  The resulting answer looks bleak to me.  I love my kids, and I miss them like crazy when I’m not with them.  I even feel guilty sometimes for leaving them.  But, if I give up my dream to graduate, then I will be a worse parent.  I will be a bitter parent.  There is no reason why I shouldn’t have my dream too.  This is the thing that every mom needs to be reminded of. 

Following your dreams makes you a better parent because it completes you as an individual first.  And the thing is, moms are real people too.  You had a name before you became mom.  This is something I’ve only discovered recently.  When I think back to my own mom, and how strained her relationship had been with her kids, I realized that she had dreams once.  I realized that she was a real person, with a real life.  She just never pursued them.  It was a hard discovery, to realize that I shouldn’t hate this woman for not being her everything, and to see her as an individual, not only my mom.  One of my biggest fears in life is to become my mother.  I love her, but she is a very frustrated,  misplaced human being.  I realize now that I won’t be like her because I am me.  I follow my dreams, focus on what matters to me, and the rest falls into place. 

I still suffer from the famous “mom-guilt,” but I refuse to let it get me down.  I think that it makes me a better student to have outside responsibilities, and I think it makes me a better mom to have school, which has always been my thing.  It’s a challenge, balancing these two lives.  It’s a struggle to sit in class with whining kids who didn’t get enough sleep last night.  It’s a hardship, leaving my baby girl when all I want to do is hold her on the couch and watch a movie.  It’s dangerous, racing home from a 3:15 class at 70 mph so I can grab the boys off of the bus to start their homework.  Some days, I don’t think I can do it anymore.  Then, I remember how strong I’ve been in the past, and I know that somehow, I’ll manage.

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Posted by on September 3, 2011 in Life

 

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Judge Your Momma

I find myself at loose ends these days.  The semester is over, the kids are winding down their school years, and I’m looking at a three-month break from the real world of interesting people, differing opinions, and daily challenges.  This should be appealing; after all, I’ve spent the last sixteen weeks drowning in papers, homework, permission slips, swimming days, and rides home.  I wished for some time to breathe.

Now I’ve got it.  I have twelve hours a day to write, read, relax, kick some butt at Mortal Kombat, and settle arguments between the four, and five-year-old.  As I think of the endless three-month stretch, I find myself wanting to run, far far away.  Does every mother have these thoughts?  Does every mother have these moments when the four-year-old puts gum in the baby’s hair, the dryer breaks, the five-year-old wants to walk to his best friend’s house, and the responsibilities become so crystal clear that you want to bang your head repeatedly off of the nearest hard object, tear at your hair, and scream along with the baby? 

Am I a horrible mother for not enjoying my kids twenty-four hours a day?  I don’t think I am, but hey, I’ve always been a little different than everyone else.  The odd one out.  A little off, a little crazy.  A tiny bit independent, and a large bit loud.  I’m not the soccer mom, but who can live up to their standards anyway?  I’m the mom with the popsicle-stained kids; the one that other moms look at with disapproving glares.  The one whose kid cursed at school, and someone else’s kid couldn’t wait to tell me about it. 

I have to wonder why the hell we have to judge each other, and ourselves, so harshly.  Is there a Bad Mommy’s Club?  Should I petition to be president?  Should I be ashamed that I dread the thought of summer break because I can no longer get away from the screaming, the fights, the boo-boos, and the super-glue baby?  I hardly think so.  So why am I so hard on myself?  Why am I ashamed to admit that the tiny paper flowers for Mother’s Day didn’t float my boat, but the spark plugs and wires for my Camaro did? 

I think it’s this “golden girl” image that the media portrays to us.  You know, the one where working moms leave high-powered jobs to go play patty cake with their brand new baby, or the celebrity mom who wears her baby for a walk in the park.  How the media praises these women, all while pretending it’s a choice.  It’s a choice all right.  It’s a choice that makes me want to puke when I hear how people revere it.  Then there are the reports that shove breastfeeding down our throats in order to keep women chained to their babies.  What happened to choice there?  Have you ever read a message board where other moms have the opinion that you don’t love your child if you don’t shove your tit down their throat every five minutes?  Have you ever heard such nonsense? 

I hardly think about these things when I’m buried ten inches deep in paper, working on a research project, while writing a response to some piece of literature, and listening to my son practice his reading.  But, when the projects are over, and I’ve got all of the time in the world to think, I get mad.  I don’t see fathers judging themselves, especially when they are playing weekend daddy, or diddling with their side projects on their days off from being out in the working world, where they are free to socialize without wiping noses, changing diapers, and settling arguments.  Most dads are way more relaxed.  I find this interesting, and wish most moms would take a leaf out of their books.  Quit judging others, and damn it, especially me!

 
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Posted by on May 14, 2011 in Life

 

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