Last weekend, I attended an amazing conference for bloggers sponsored by Collective Bias, a network that helps influencers just like little ol’ me work with big name brands on fun campaigns. I went to the conference in Atlanta last year, and it was such a good experience I couldn’t wait to go again. You may remember that I entered a contest a little while back, which I won (thank you Collective Bias!), and thus, my trip to Chicago was born. I thoroughly loved every second of my trip. From boarding the cramped express jet (apparently I don’t get out much as even small planes excite me) to running through the airport to catch my shuttle in time to sleeping in a hotel room solo, it was all glorious. The trip timing couldn’t have been better for me, personally, because my parents had offered to keep my kids for a week this summer, and it just so happened to work out that they could keep them the week before and the weekend of my Chicago trip.
“Oh aren’t you lucky!”
“What are you going to do with all of that free time?”
I’ve heard these two phrases a lot lately. This past week I heard them because I was without my girls for 6 nights, and over the course of this summer I’ve heard them because they will both be in school this fall. I try very hard not to take offense to these comments, but sometimes it’s all I can do to smile and nod when someone makes a snap judgement about all this “free time” I’ve had or will soon have. Maybe it’s because I’m with them 24/7 (no pre-school or mom’s day out programs for us) or maybe it’s because I’m a bad mom, but whenever someone offers to keep them (even if it’s just a few hours) I jump at the chance. I usually feel like other moms understand this desire and don’t bat an eye, but then there are times, like this past week, when I haven’t had to break up a single fight or make an extra meal for my picky eater or trip over shoes in the hall for the millionth time, that make me feel like a bad mom for enjoying the solace of their absence.
I love my children. I never truly knew the meaning of unconditional love until I had children. But I am not just their mother. I am also my husband’s wife. I am a friend. I am a reader. I am a writer. I am a binge-watcher. I am a baker. I am a dancing fool. I am a daughter. I am so many things, and motherhood is just part of my story. I read a funny meme on Facebook yesterday that said, “Parenting: I would step out in front of a car for you, but don’t ask me for another snack!” No truer words could have been written. [bctt tweet=”#Parenting: I would step out in front of a car for you, but don’t ask me for another snack!” username=”SarahInTheBurbs”]
I just want to be ok with the way I mommy my girls. I know we are not supposed to care what others think and that we should just ascribe to the “you do you” notion of parenting, but I feel such incredible guilt when I don’t shed a single tear if my kids are out of my presence for over 24 hours. I know there are women out there, even friends of mine, who have struggled to conceive, who want to adopt, who want to have as many kids as they can cram in their home, and so on, and I feel such a sense of shame at the ease with which I say, “See ya, kids!” whenever they leave. My girls are forever a part of my life, and I chose this life. No one forced me into parenthood. In fact, I always aspired to the lofty goal of having children when I was young and naive (newsflash: parenting is nothing like babysitting, so prepare your teenagers now), so I know this is part of the path I’m supposed to take in this life. I guess I’m just in the weird space between being that parent whose presence suffocates their children and the parent who is never present for anything. I’m trying to be somewhere in the middle, and the judgement from both sides can be painful to experience.
If nothing else, becoming a mom has made me realize there is no “one size fits all” method of parenting. No one is doing a better job than me with my own kids, and I’m not doing a better job with anyone else’s kids (my hands are full enough with mine, thank you). I was just so certain I would never want to spend one single moment apart from my kids until they both came screaming into my world and turned it upside down.If you made it all the way through this post, thanks for sticking with me. I’ve had a lot on my mind these last few days, and I just needed a place to say it all. In a world that wants to tear us down for not attaining some ridiculous level of perfect parenting, know that I’ve got your back. I’m not perfect either.[bctt tweet=”Keep doing your thing, mama. You are amazing, and your kids love you. Don’t give up.” username=”SarahInTheBurbs”]