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I Have Commitment Issues

Right at this moment, I should be writing about three different articles that I have floating in my head.  Really, there’s nothing to stop me.  It’s 9:10pm and the rest of my family is in bed… asleep…probably. And therein lies the problem.

Before kids I loved commitment.  If anything, I was over committed.  At work, I took on duties that were not part of my job description.  If I thought of something that would help my coworkers or the organization I worked for, I took it on and made sure it got done.  In my free time, I was committed to training for sprint distance triathalons. And of course, I was committed completely and without competition in my love for my husband.

Now, “after” kids, I have a hard time with commitment.   For small-scale commitments, I often find myself paralyzed by my fear of starting a task or project.  The primary basis of this fear is interruption.  I can’t stand to leave something undone. Being the owner of two toddlers means that life is lived in 15 minute segments.  Anything that cannot be accomplished in that amount of time is a dangerous escapade of recklessness, most often resulting in wailing children, teed-off mommy, or both.  Even within these 15 minute segments, I do not have control at least 50% of the time.  I’m outnumbered. They know it.  I know it. They know I know it and they rub it in by alternating who pushes my buttons in each 15 minute time segment.  Tasks that are nearly un-accomplishable during daylight hours include washing dishes (hence my hatred for the task and the name of this blog), mopping floors, folding laundry, talking on the phone, showering, writing, and many more.

Now, certainly I do have occasions where I go an hour or more without being interrupted.  Nap time, evenings, and the theoretically huge but perceptively small four-hour blocks of time when the kids are at parents day out and I am not working.  The problem there is that my fear of interruption has become a bit irrational.  Sure the kids usually sleep from 8pm to 2am.  However, I still hesitate to start writing because someone might wake up, or my brain is not as sharp at the end of a long day as it should be for my best writing to come out, or if I do get a good draft written, how long will it be before I’ll be able to come back to it, and can I keep my train of thought?

My other commitment issues come from that time-honored scape-goat that all mommies are strapped to (willingly or un): guilt.  As I mentioned, before kids I had three large-scale commitments: hubby, work, and hobby.  Now, the kids, in all their innocent, dependent, defenseless glory, have taken that list and smashed it to bits.  I feel guilty about where this lands hubby on the list, but I love him with all my heart, and feel that raising our children well is one of the best gifts I can give him.  Work has nearly disappeared from the list, and the little amount of work I do makes me feel guilty for taking away from family time, although the extra cash helps a little as we’re currently paying two mortgages.  Anything I do that gets anywhere near hobby-ish (including writing and fitness) immediately gets soaked in guilt, what with all the other commitments I am already not satisfying.  On the other hand, I feel that I’ve earned the right to have some time to myself, and that truly, I need that time in order to be the best mom I can be.

So, I am struggling to strike a balance, to ascertain whether I have too many commitments on my list and what should be scribbled out.  I need to reprogram my brain to work without fear of interruption, to utilize my “me” time to the fullest extent, since “me” time is what gets scribbled off the list first. I love my children to bits, but I don’t want to be one of those moms who lose themselves to the process of mothering. I’m curious as to how other moms do it, and how long it takes to learn this skill.  I’ve been at it three years and counting.   Isn’t there a class I can take?

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8 Responses to "I Have Commitment Issues"

  1. Julie Hill says:

    Here’s my answer:

    First, and most importantly, this time does pass. Remember this. It passes. Really. In just a few short years, they will be in school for long stretches of hours, and though I know that you love them with all your heart, you will enjoy that time. Even before that, they will get older and become more helpful and less hindrance, at least part of the time.

    Second, is it possible to set aside a specific time when hubby is in charge and you are writing? It doesn’t have to be a long time – maybe just an hour or two a week to start. Don’t think of this as taking away from family time – think of it as giving the kids an opportunity to spend time alone with Dad. Also, it’s a good lesson to teach them that Mommy’s work is important too. You don’t want them to grow up thinking that only Daddy Work is important work, do you?

    Finally, “me” time isn’t just important, it’s critical. Look, my kid is turning out pretty good if I do say so myself. An ‘A’ student, athlete, good friend, helpful to our elderly neighbor, helps in the house (sometimes without being asked), grumbles slightly about church, but goes, etc. How did that happen? He only got my attention for a few hours a day since staying at home wasn’t an option. Your kids get you all day long. There is NO reason to feel guilty about needing short breaks from them so that you can recharge. They will be fine. More than fine, they will be excellent.

    I think the best thing you can do for your kids is take care of yourself. Not only does that allow you to be the best Mom you can be, it also gives them a good example.

    My two cents. It’s so long I probably need my own blog. 🙂

  2. Lisa Brennaman says:

    Oh Fawn! All I can say is “AMEN, sister! Amen!” I think that balancing the demands of motherhood is a constantly changing, ever challenging, frequently exhausting, perpetually unfinished task. And it definitely doesn’t mean that moms who “struggle with the juggle” don’t love their kids. In fact–I think it’s quite the opposite.
    Consider the “ideal mother” of our own mother’s generation. Mothering of the 1970’s was definitely focused more on providing physical needs–meals, clothing, ironing, housekeeping–than placing the emotional and spiritual needs of our children at the forefront. That’s not to say that our own mothers neglected our character development–but they simply weren’t bombarded by society and the media with the pressure that children are a direct result of the quality of our mothering–the feeling that we’re all one small unknowing step away from producing the next school-shooter. (Tongue in cheek–I’m not making light of mass murder. 🙂
    I appreciate your real-ness, your wisdom, your willingness to admit that we don’t have it all figured out all of the time. I’d like to think that the mother I am in five years, or ten years, will look back and know that I did the very best I could at that moment–and that over time I continued to grow, expand, mature.
    Your children may never tell you…but your commitment & dedication to the essence of mothering: laughter, unconditional love, acceptance, joy shine brighter than the moments of frustration. I congratulate you on tackling the hardest job on earth with all of your resources: wit, flexibility, intelligence, resilience. Just because you’re staying home, and the needs of two toddlers frequently supersede your own, doesn’t mean that you’re not still you. You haven’t lost “it.”
    So carve out the moments when you can to write, to breathe deeply, to have date nights with your husband–but most importantly give yourself plenty of credit. I think you are fabulous–and always have.

  3. Kim says:

    *big sigh* I understand where you’re coming from 100 million percent! I have been on your road for 10 years now, and I can tell you…yes, it does get easier…BUT, in the meantime, make SURE you make time for yourself. It is vital!

    I’m not going to give you advice on how b/c I failed at finding that balance for a long time. I’m just going to say you are right. It’s a slippery slope that you don’t want to be on.

    And, in my case, after 10 years of putting my kids first, a stranger came along this weekend and challenged my “mothering skills.” I “won”, but not without my spirit being completely crushed.

    Everyone will be happier and healthier if you protect your “me” time as fiercely as you protect your children.

  4. Fawn says:

    Thank you, ladies, for all of your sage words of insight, advice, and encouragement. It’s been great to hear from three different moms with three different backgrounds at three different stages of motherhood. Cheers to all of you!

    Julie, I think your idea about arranging a couple hours per week for Craig to be in charge of the kiddos is great – I’m definitely going to implement that! Congrats on raising such a great kid – in my mind’s eye he’s still about 6 years old, though.

    Lisa, I am thrilled and honored that you’ve taken the time to not only read but respond to this. I love your response – it not only made some wonderful points but also made me realize how much I miss your intelligence, wit, and friendship.

    Kim, I saw your blog post about the person that challenged you. I hope that you’ve fully recovered now. Why is it that motherhood is the one vocation that everyone in the world is qualified to pass judgement on?

  5. Sarah Nord says:

    As a working mom, I often dream of what it would be like to stay home with the kids, but your post makes me realize that it wouldn’t be the instant fix for my guilt issues about spending enough time with my boys. Whether I’m with them 24-7 or away for 9+ hours each day of career time, I’ll still have that nagging feeling that it’s never enough. I know in my head that the devoted time I give my kids IS enough. But my heart tells me otherwise more often than I’d like.

    I can’t tell you how much I admire you, Fawn, for being a 24-7 mom. Doing that job well–as you do–is an enormous challenge, and I wish I had half your patience, creativity and determination. My wish for you is that you can make the most of your “you” time and enjoy it with as little guilt as possible. We women like to cling to our guilt for whatever reason, but we all deserve so much better for ourselves. Wish we could figure out how to feel really GOOD about taking care of ourselves.

  6. Shannon says:

    Thank you…thank you…thank you…for your honesty and candidness. It is so refreshing to hear that I am not the only one 😉 In fact, while trying to read your post-I was interrupted 6 times–and to look away, re-read to find where I left off and begin again–only to be interrupted again. it is again, stop the incessant tapping on my shoulder and ‘Mommy..Mommy…Mommy…Mommy’ By the way, did I mention I love my kids??? I do..with every part of my heart (guilt).
    Have a good day and a wonderful Holiday!

  7. Lucy says:

    Thank you so much for articulating how I feel every day!! It makes me feel reassured to know that I’m not the only one feeling overwhelmed and guilty as I try to find balance. Go Fawn!

  8. Fawn says:

    Thanks Lucy! I think finding balance is the hardest part of having a family.

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