Thursday, January 7, 2016

On motherhood.

Annnnnd, I shared a For Better or For Worse comic strip. I am my mom now.
I need to write more.

It's not that I don't have the inkling to write, I do. I just feel like I have nothing to say. Nothing that people will be interested in reading. Nothing that I can turn into a poignant lesson. Nothing that escapes my world of dirty diapers, sleep-training, constant requests for milk or snacks, temper tantrums, whining, burned dinners, stupid arguments with a three-year-old and a 39-year-old... Or, whatever else is forecasted into my day.

There are some days that the most exciting thing I have to brag about is the gigantic booger I picked out of my baby's nose, or some sale I found on something our family needs or regularly uses. I had intended to spend my year off getting back into shape, writing more, and doing freelance work-- even going back to part time work as a server, all while raising my baby.

So far I have accomplished none of this.

My life is chaotic most days, but it's the kind of chaos that isn't sexy or even particularly interesting. It's messy, busy, dirty, and exhausting. Frankly for most people it's also probably really boring. I can only imagine how quickly my friends grow tired of hearing stories about my baby and my step kids. I don't do much else right now, so I seldom have anything else to write (or post) about.

I waiver between whining about how hard being a mom and a step-mom is to marvelling at the wonders of it. -- This experience is rich in so many ways. I often have a house full of kids who say and do the funniest things. I get to watch all three of them grow and change, and I have a part in that. It's really neat.

I have a responsibility to all of them-- For the older two, I am their Shelley. I am not trying to be their mom, but I do play a mom role when they are with us. We have a special relationship, and I love them like they are my own. For the baby, I am her mom. At this stage of her life, I am her everything that she is learning to slowly venture away from, and grow her own wings so to speak.

I love the kids. I love our life. I love our blended family. But it's really, really hard sometimes.

It's hard, but not the way I thought it would be. I knew that becoming a parent and step-parent would mean that I would have to make sacrifices. I knew that the kids would always come first, but it didn't click just how much they would need me at times, and how much of myself I would lose.

There are some days that I seemingly spend every waking moment tending to the needs of someone else. The baby, she's in a really sucky phase right now. She's mobile and she's into everything. She is strong and often fearless. While she wants to explore her world, she usually wants to do it while I am right beside her. If I venture away, she begins to whine or cry. Most of the time she doesn't want to be held or comforted, she just wants me there, watching her.

The older two kids, who live with us half time and with their mom the other half, are self sufficient for the most part, though the requests for snacks, treats, to play with them, to put on a show, to wipe a bum, to break up an argument, for a drink of milk, to play outside, or to just look at them while they do something are plenty.

This is parenthood, and I strive to be good at it, but sometimes -- often times -- there is this sinking feeling that I am not doing enough with them because I am always doing something for them. And I don't mean doing something for them in that entitled, "I have to teach them to do things on their own, because they are spoilt" sort of way, I mean I'm always doing something for them because they are all young and they are still learning, and they need me to do things for them. They're kids.

I think that's the hardest part: Somebody always needs something, and even though I love them, it's hard to always give. Some days I feel like I have nothing left, and they are relentless in the things that they need or want.

But I digress, while I sometimes feel like I have nothing left of myself for myself, each of the kids give me something back in their own way.

Like, when I am tired, haggard, have pureed lentils all over my shirt and in my hair, the three-year-old will ask for "tuddles" (cuddles) and tell me "Shelley, you boot-e-ful." He is such a sweet boy.

The six-year-old is such a good big sister to both her little brother and the baby. She is so nurturing, and the two little ones adore her. I know she is only six, but she is so helpful it's a godsend. She has such compassion for the little ones, sometimes I will look up from whatever I am doing and I will see her teaching or encouraging one of the little ones to do something. She is a shy little girl, but she is a born leader.

And the baby, well she does this thing where she will look over and smile at me for no reason, and even when I feel like I have failed or that I am not enough, she will smile at me like I am the greatest person in the whole wide world. It makes me feel loved and like I am doing something right.

Parenting is hard. It's downright brutal sometimes. But, when you have kids time moves quickly and they are always changing. One day I will probably yearn for them to want and need me as much as they do right now.

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