Monday, November 5, 2012

It's not her, it's me

I've been saying for a while that I'm not good at playing with my kid, that I'm not good at crafts or projects or making busy bags or anything like that.  I always get the sweetest responses about how that stuff isn't necessary, about how it's okay to let her play by herself, about how I don't always have to have a project for her to do.

And what I have trouble explaining is, the problem is: well then what am I supposed to do?

Sometimes I feel guilty for not entertaining BG more, for not providing more meaningful educational experiences, for not encouraging her sensory and motor development (say what?), for letting her veg out in front of the TV.  Sometimes I see things that other people are doing and I wonder if I am doing her a disservice, wonder if somehow I am letting her down.

But mostly?  I'm bored.

I'm understimulated.  I'm frustrated.  I'm disappointed.  Two years in, and I still sometimes feel like I was sold a false promise of what being a mom was supposed to be.

Sometimes we play.  Sometimes we have lovely tea parties.  We do puzzles and I grit my teeth while she dumps the puzzle out after being 70% done.  (Why does this drive me crazy?  I have no idea.)   Once in a while I let her finger paint, and then 5 minutes later I spend 20 minutes cleaning up. 

Sometimes I do housework (shocker) and she follows me around making herself perfectly happy sitting on the sheet I'm trying to fold or pulling out all my Tupperware and stacking it.  And I'm okay with that.

But there's still something missing.  It's like, when I went to the English major table in college and asked them what I could do with an English major and they said "Whatever you want!" and I said "But what does that have to do with English?  I want to be an English major because I like books, not so that I can go to business school."

I became a SAHM because I wanted to be a mom.  And it doesn't seem like there's nearly as much momming to be done as I thought there would be.  I mean there're meals and diaper changes, and there are snuggles.  And we talk, although she needs to work a little more on filling up her end of the conversation. 

But it's all so tedious.  I feel like most of it is about just being a warm body.   And a lot of times I feel like that must mean I'm missing something, like there's part of my job description that people just forgot to tell me about and I haven't been doing it.  And some days (mostly the days when the sads start to overcome me) I wonder if she wouldn't be better off with someone else, someone who knows what to do with a toddler.

Except I don't think there really is anything in particular to do with a toddler.

And even though most days I don't want to be anywhere in the world except with her, I can't shake this feeling that it just isn't enough.


  1. ((hugs)) It is tedious and lonely and that is something THEY don't always tell you. I have been a pre-k teacher most of my adult life and I LOVE doing the fingerpainting, sensory tubs, cooking, role playing etc...and it was still VERY mind numbing to me at times. I think it's ok to admit that being a SAHM isn't what you thought it would be and it's ok to change your mind about it.

  2. I have to be honest with you . . . once my kidlets were no long newborns but before I had to go back to work, I was bored to tears being home with them. I made a lot of playdates! A lot! Perhaps you should look into a course that you could take that could fill in the time when you feel like you are just a warm body.

  3. Feed the intellectual needs that you have; don't feel like a bad mom for having them. Take a class, join a book club, do something that gets you away and challenges you intellectually; it will refresh you and allow you to embrace the parts you find more difficult to enjoy.
    And remember that this age is fleeting. Seriously. She'll get older, you'll move to a new stage and you'll both be learning from each other.
    Being a mom doesn't fill all your needs, and that's okay. It's not supposed to. Doesn't mean you don't love your kid or you're doing it wrong. Just means you need to change your approach so it feels better.

  4. You said this so, so well.

    "I still sometimes feel like I was sold a false promise of what being a mom was supposed to be." Yes, I wonder sometimes if I'm missing something. I know I'm home b/c it's what I feel is best for her, but there's a big part of me that is missing personal growth and stimulation. That sense of achievement that I had at school or work. That sense of challenge. So now I'm pushing myself to learn new things--photoshop, photography, cooking. I'm reading books again. It helps. But I hear you. I so do.

  5. A lot of it is "being a warm body." But you are a warm body that LOVES her unconditionally and CHOOSES to be around her, not because you're getting a pay check out of it.
    My focus was on art in high school and college, and you know what? I very rarely do projects with my kids.. I just don't have the patience for it. So instead of putting them through my hatred of it, we do other stuff. We act silly, we talk about things going on in the house, and we watch tv. WAY more than I ever thought we would. But we talk about it- where is the square?, did you see that cow?, oh my isn't that mouse being silly. I sit on the couch with them and pay bills, make grocery lists, research coupons/deals- and then sneak away every now and then to do other chores. I just "mom" in a way that feels right for me, not in comparison with anyone or anything else.
    To keep myself sane I blog, I watch the news every night, and try to enjoy these little kids as much as I can because the early pre school years only last for so long.

  6. I left a successful professional career over 6 years ago to be a SAHM, and I have 3 young children. I am one of those moms that people tend to call a "supermom" and it bugs the crap out of me, because it's just not true. Because, like you, I very rarely play with my children and find it really hard to do because it's frustrating and makes my brain explode. I interact with them constantly, but I play with them in their world rarely. My strategy, which wasn't an intentional strategy at first but is just how I've ended up rolling and clinging to a tiny shred of sanity, is that I have a lot of personal interests that fit into the SAHM life. I love to cook, bake, garden, and spend time outside. I invite my children into these pursuits with me, knowing that their participation will slow me down and make it messier. But these are compromises I can live with because I'd rather have the kids in the kitchen with me spilling flour than for me to be in the toy room with them playing with dolls. I switch back and forth between feeling guilty about this and feeling kind of proud of the fact that I have kids who know how to participate in more adult activities. I guess what I am saying is that if there are things YOU enjoy that you can do with your children around, it is okay to do them and invite her to join in if she wants to. The kid in the kitchen who is making a disaster at age 2 can actually be helpful by the time she's 6 (which will take about 5 minutes, just for the record) and it's a way you can spend time together for, well, the rest of your lives. You don't need to meet other people's definition of how to be a good mom...if you love her all the way, the rest will take care of itself.

  7. Thank you for this. I happened upon your blog accidentally and am encouraged by your discouragement, if that makes any sense. I am a new mum and have been struggling with some pretty substantial depression. It is so helpful to know that someone else is struggling too...that it's not inherently bad to struggle. It's human, and it's ok.

    1. Caitlin, I tried to email you but there isn't an email address in your blogger profile. If you want to talk more, click through mine in the top right and email me. You are so not alone.

  8. I have a two and a half year old son and feel exactly the same. Plus he just does not want to play by himself. So I have to be involved all the time.

    Now the "all the time" part got much better since he started going to daycare. He goes in 3 days a week and does all the messy projects there. He loves it. I love that he gets to do things I don't know how to do and frankly, don't care to do, because they are so messy. I know that they are kids and they need to be messy. It just works much better for me when he is messy elsewhere.

    Here is a wonderful article I came across recently. I hope you enjoy it!