I have heard it and said it. ‘Mother’s get no time to themselves.” and “A mother’s work is never done.” And yes, it is fact.
I, personally, feel like I am ‘On-Duty” from 6am most mornings to 12pm at night. And sometimes overnight as well. Now, my children are not up those long hours. They sleep until 7am and sometimes will actually be asleep by 9pm. But I am up. And I am not sitting on the couch watching the coolest show on TV.
I am folding laundry, picking up toys, paying bills, working and even laying out my children’s clothes for the next day and prepping their lunches.
So, though the children are not up and asking for something 15 times in a row, I am still mothering and not getting time for myself.
But despite the frustrated posts on Facebook, the funny jokes I come across and agree with – many having to do with the fact that none of us ever get to pee alone – there is freedom in motherhood. You just have to really pay attention to see it.
To me, anyway, freedom in motherhood comes from being able to help a child move from one stage of life to another.
I remember the infant days. And I loved them but often wonder if I could do them again. I remember having these sweet babies attached to me most of the day. Either nursing or snuggling or being carried here and everywhere. And though I LOVED it – oh how I loved it – I recall wishing they would walk faster so that I could just put them down.
The day that they could hold their heads up gave me the freedom to trust other people to hold them – you moms know what I mean on that one – and watching their little bodies roll over for the first time marked the freedom from helping them do just that. Sitting up was freedom from sitting on the floor holding them so they did not faceplant.
Crawling was freedom from carrying them all day and walking, well – at first walking is so not freedom – but, eventually, it was. And as sad as it was to see them growing up so fast, is was a mark of motherhood freedom to not have to hover over them. I could let them walk and play and explore and enjoy the phase of discovery.
As my children have grown, so have my freedoms. Now, don’t get me wrong, I still have them in my sites every moment that they are with me. And I am an attentive – most of the time – loving mom all day and all night with very little time to just sit. I even still have an issue taking a shower with them up lest something happens while I am belting out ‘Gangham Style’ in my perfect shower voice. But as they have learned to fend a little more for themselves, my freedom from the responsibilities of teaching them those skills has gone away too.
I shed tears when my last little one learned to walk and I cheered heartily when my middle daughter learned to swing on her own.
I cried when my oldest graduated from preschool and I rejoiced when she took the training wheels off of her bike.
I was also relieved when my middle daughter stopped twisting her hair into knots and when my oldest one stopped eating her toe nails. Those annoying phases and habits could not end fast enough!
Every step they make toward the dreaded day when they leave my home is a mix of sadness and regret that I did not savor it more and a beam of pride that I got them to that point. I can’t wait to see what they are like as teenagers and grown women but I also want to squish them back to the earlier days when playing with mommy was better than any friend they had.
One day, I will wake up and have real freedom. My house will be empty of all but precious memories. Photos of their childhood decorating every spare space on my walls, monogrammed baby blankets still hanging on the end of their beds, reminders of when they were small enough to fit in them.
My lone feet will replace the pitter patter engrained in my memory and I will wish daily for “Mommy” to be screamed at me 20 times in a row.
But until then, I will continue to be mom 24/7, happily complaining that everything I do in my life is for my children. Anxiously, I will watch for the next achievement, the next phase and the next sign of growth.
And I will drink it all in as if their accomplishments are mine. Freely loving that I have this time and that it is precious.
For me, at least, That is the only kind of freedom I need.
Find more Motherhood Posts at My Recent Writings