I like Abigail Adams a lot. Like probably more than I should. But in an age when role models really aren't modeling anything other than pantiless crotches for the paparazzi and values seem to have gone the way of the steam engine, I find it heartwarming to know that even if she did live over two hundred years ago, me and Abby had a lot in common. She endured long separations from her husband which only served to strengthen their marriage. She took care of their farm and children predominately by herself while still managing to read good books and write letters nearly every day. She struggled with deep bouts of loneliness and depression and yet had to remain strong for the sake of her family.
I would pay a horde of pennies for her thoughts
I am in no way as disciplined, brave, or influential as Mrs. Adams, but I do very much look up to her and aspire to emulate many of the habits she kept. I guess what I'm trying to say is that, once I stopped buying the gossip magazines, and stopped watching TV, and pretty much stopped listening to almost all pop music; I was no longer as aware of the "role models" our current society proudly sets before us like tiny china pieces, mere fragile things, on the edge of a high shelf. WE put them up so high, on the shaky pedestal of our affections, and we wait with baited breath for them to fall. And inevitably, they all do. Some of them getting back up, and some, sadly, never able to pick up the pieces and recover fully.
It is a game, and yet not, some of us taking them so seriously that we lose ourselves in the process of trying to become like someone else. I am guilty of it myself, the thoughts drift like low lying fog into my head...if only I were...I just need to...then I will be completely happy. It is a game, but a dangerous one. Perhaps it was the second daughter that came to me that caused me to finally brush away the last remnants of the pop culture house of cards in my life. They will watch you, you know, I said to Myself. I know, Myself replied. You will be the one who teaches them what it is to be a woman, don't let them repeat your mistakes. Time is precious and it is fleeting so you must take this very seriously. OK. I was, for once, in agreement with myself.
So with the education of my girls comes the education of myself, for despite what you may have heard, I do NOT know everything. And I say comes because it will be a life long process, a never ending process. We humans, we are living things, and just like our bodies continually change, so do our minds and I intend to keep stuffing and shaping mine until the day I am gone. Hopefully, at least it's the goal, I will stuff mine so full of good things, right things, important things, that it will overflow and not only affect my girls, but all of those around me. Foremost of these I hope will be kindness and love and respect, not only for others, but for self. It is a quality I find very little of in many young ladies I see today, and one that I sorely lacked in my impressionable years.
This mothering, this is the hardest thing I have ever done. Sometimes I want to cry...and sometimes I do. I Sometimes when I'm laying on the floor with my children, a human throw pillow, I laugh a laugh that comes from a place so deep and content I feel as if this is what I was made to do. I feel the depth and the full scope of what it really is that I'm doing. I'm a long term investment banker. Investing into the hearts, minds, and souls of PEOPLE. Sometimes that great and precious responsibility can get lost under the heaping piles of dirty dishes and laundry. Sometimes I forget what it really is I'm here doing when the clean shirt I just put on gets spit up on in the first five minutes and the chocolate milk that was supposed to remain at the table somehow ends up in a puddle on the carpet in the living room.
Those details can overwhelm me, because underneath all the love and desire to be patient and kind is a nagging voice that only sees toys scattered across the floor, dishes in the sink, smudges on the glass, and says: You're a failure. You can't keep up, you're not doing it right, I bet everyone else can do it all, AND have time to workout AND put makeup on every day. But not you, because you're just not as good as them. Both my parents are perfectionists, so this nagging urge to be something that is not even realistic runs deep with me.
I have to stop, drop, and roll those thoughts right out of my head. Because comparison is also a very dangerous game to play. Just like my children, I am a work in progress and just as they are my students, I am also theirs. In teaching them to be kind, I learn patience as I repeat the same calm phrase over for what seems like the 500th time of the day. In teaching them the importance of values, I learn to be creative by thinking of stories to challenge and introduce new concepts into their minds. By teaching them to love and seeing their love demonstrated liberally and without conditions, I learn to love in kind.
Each new day presents itself like an obstacle course for me to maneuver, and as I turn and go this way and that, sometimes I hit a dead end, make a wrong turn, a bad choice. And in the times when I recognize those wrong turns, I say so, reassess my options, take a step back, and try a different direction. Some days I feel like all I do is make wrong turns, others, I don't even care about finding my way out. I just grab my girls, a blanket, and a picnic basket and have a little party for three right in the middle. Because after all, the sun will rise again tomorrow, but these small moments with these small people will be gone before I can even fully absorb them.
* Moms, I would like to hear from you. Do you struggle with these same issues, and if not, what are (were) your struggles as a parent? How do (did) you overcome the obstacles and the details?