I've been thinking about the whole "Just a Mom" statement and truthfully some Moms are "just a mom". There are kids out there who go to school without breakfast, come home to an unstable/unsafe home, who have no one that cares about there where abouts, there has basically been no thought put into what they have created and how these children will exist in this world. Then you get the moms that are striving to be supermoms and never feel like they have done enough, their plate is always full, they are running from one appointment to the next, they attempt to keep up with the visual of what social media tries to make people believe is "normal" to achieve for the average human being on this planet. Where truthfully it's the most unrealistic goals/ideas out there.
So onto myself as a mother, I've been trying to revamp and re- evaluate myself. I know sometimes I get a heck of a lot more credit then I think I deserve solely because Alistair is my son. But I've had some not so proud moments. I've had times I've struggled immensely with the reality of being a mom and not just because Alistair is who he is but the massive curve my life took once I had children. I was a free spirited, jump on the next 747 to where ever and whenever the heck I liked, and I grew up sailing the open ocean for 4.5 years never knowing what the next port would provide for exciting stimulation. I grew up a free spirited gal. After high school I spent 2.5 years back packing around Europe by myself and working with sheep shearing gangs and absorbing the culture around me. Jason and I met on my return home and life continued to be easy going, relaxed with a lot of exciting unknowns. I love change. Then I become mom. No its not a negative thing at all but holy heck its a huge change from the wandering women with no ties and excitement for change. Then to top it off, to have a son that you couldn't tuck under your arm and continue to live this ever changing life took a hit. Yet at the same time I think my pre-kids life also helped as there was no normal continuum with Alistair either. Lots of appointments, communicating with all sorts of people that I have never met (which I love to do), and coping with endless change. I had thought if I just dig my heals in and put all my energy in to my little man that I could make things "right". I didn't think he'd be where he is today but no one else did, specialist or not. So that's where things started to teeter for me. I'm not a homebody type and for three years I was pretty darn housebound. I believed if I could put in as much effort as I could in those first three years I'd make some magical changes and impact Alistair to a greater extent then it did. I know he benefited hugely. I don't think I could've done more. But damn it was hard on the brain.
So what did I do? I decided not to re-write a book that was already written (which I find a lot of people do in a wide variety of situations). So I started to look and listen to those that had lived it. One thing that I remember my father saying is that one can always learn something from anyone even if its a path, decision, or idea you don't agree with. A typical sentence that always caught my attention was "I wish I had". When I started to see a common theme among parents I decided they couldn't all be wrong and used that information to help myself find some balance and contentment in life. What are some of the themes I came up with?
- #1- ACCESS RESPITE ASAP. "it'll be the best thing you ever did for you and your family", "you will wonder why you didn't do it sooner", "you will be a better mom", "Alistair will enjoy going".....Now that Alistair does go to respite on a monthly basis I can say all these statements are true although I still have major pains of guilt and sadness that I have to even consider respite.....but I'm still glad he "goes for a sleep over"
- #2 DON'T OVER SCHEDULE THE FAMILY. It seems to be a huge theme/trend these days that if your kids are not programed up the wazooo you haven't got them in enough stuff. "If you think its crazy now you just wait until your kids are older" "You'll be running from one appointment to the next and have zero time for yourself so enjoy it while they are young" I feel that parents are stressed and catering to their kids at a ridiculous level. It seems like the kids are running everyones lives and the parents then say "I can't wait until my kids are old enough to move out" Well no kidding! You'll finally have some bloomin down time! These parents are not only exhausted but financially strapped. "you just wait. my kid loves being in all of these things. How can I not put sign him up next year?" Of course they do! I'd love it if someone catered to me left right and center with all these fun and stimulating things too on an endless basis! I'm not against putting my kids in stuff but people are doing it 24/7!
- #3 TAKE CARE OF YOUR BODY. A lot of parents in my situation with a non weight bearing child are physically taking a huge toll. They are dealing with compressed discs in their back, tendonitis, hip pain, neck pain, lack of energy, physical exhaustion and the list goes on...So with passing the good ol' #40 I've been attempting to get to the gym, make better eating choice, and focus on feeling strong rather than squeezing into the right (or wrong) pant size.
- #4 MENTAL PAIN. Wow when one gets talking to people there is a ton of individuals out there struggling mentaly with life. But the whole mental thing is still so hush hush when reality is why wouldn't the brain struggle....every other body part does when its not taken care of! The guilt that goes hand in hand with having a handsome boy like Alistair is never ending. One can always do more. Plus these little people can't do for themselves. Therefore when you see such a positive and joyful reaction when you do interact and stimulate them its heart breaking to see them lying and staring at the ceiling awaiting your return. Little ones like Francis and Luella can happily entertain themselves for blocks of time. But then their is the guilt of not balancing the attention over to the typical kids. Plus the mental stress of having to be involved with specialists, schools, healthcare etc...advocating is exhausting and its very common to not be considered a credible resource or strong advisor. Its a balancing act getting respect from those that work with Alistair yet pushing/advocating for him enough that they keep motivated for his needs. The mental one is a biggy. Its never ending and at some point one has to find balance or you get bitter, angry, and irritable. Life's too short for my life to encompass that.
- #5 BALANCE - There are so many areas that need balance. Its easy to get over involved or consumed by Alistair and his needs but then the rest of the family takes a toll. They need mama and wife as well and its unfair to them and Alistair if I don't find a way to balance my life throughout all of them.
- #6 CONTENTMENT - I strive to be content in life. I envy those that are. My life was pretty stimulating as a child. Sailing from country to country. Being totally immersed in a wide variety of cultures, geography, and experiences. Now my life is very scheduled and consistent. It's a huge change and finding a way to be content and at peace with this has been a challenge for me. Its coming though.
Anyhow, lately my biggest revelation/focus is that my kids and husband could care less about the state of the house. I do. But they don't. They all want TIME and would rather have TIME than clean walls or a clean fridge. So needless to say the house is taking a bit of a hit. Don't get me wrong I've never been no fabulous house keeper but when things do start to appear chaotic around here my spine does start to crawl and I have to do some superficial cleaning so at least my eyes see order.
So basically I've been doing a lot of pondering as well as attempting to take action following my mini assessments in order to continue to enjoy this world and life I am so privileged to call my own.