I love to read. Over the last few years I have read almost every book on natural childbirth I could get my hands on. I read books on child rearing, folk tales, marriage, and all sorts of fiction surrounding various subjects.
You know what I realized? A part of me was looking for some magic answer to help me understand myself as a mother, and to understand the transitions that I have been going through. I never really found The Answer, though. It wasn't that people weren't trying to offer answers, but they just weren't really there. Partly, I realize that the problem is that we are a bit myopic when looking at ourselves. It's hard to understand what you're looking at when you can't really see the whole picture clearly.
I read another book this week. It's called "Bringing Up Bebe: One American Mother Discovers the Wisdom of French Parenting" by Pamela Druckerman. I'm not huge on French culture, but I had heard some buzz about this book a while back and put it on my reserves list at the library and it finally came in. Otherwise, I probably wouldn't have read it because I had forgotten about it.
I don't agree with everything the French do with their kids, and the picture they draw of American parents is a bit of a caricature, but the author had one particularly good chapter. It's title was, The Perfect Mother Doesn't Exist. I could summarize it for you, but the title does that well enough. Apparently, in France women simply don't wallow in their mother-guilt. It is unpleasant to do so, and the French attempt to avoid unpleasantries.
That sounds like a good idea to me.
A while back I wrote a post called All About the Guilt in which I suggested that a mother is always just going to feel guilty, and it's just something you have to accept and move through.
I was wrong. I was very wrong.
Am I going to screw up? Probably, but the perfect mother doesn't exist, and to believe that I am somehow bad for my children is ridiculous. I am only bad for my kids if I am not the best I can be, and the best me doesn't spend all her time feeling guilty, or feeling awful for cultivating myself in areas other than my motherliness. I love my children, and I want to be a good mother for them, but being a good mother means I have to be a good person, and guilt doesn't fit into that picture.
So, I'm going to try to stop. Feeling guilty is unpleasant, and feeling unpleasant makes me unpleasant. If I give my children a little frustration because I'm not perfect... well, it will build their character, right?
Just before I got pregnant with Caroline I ran my first 5K with my twin sister. I wasn't sure I could do it, even though I routinely ran 3 miles in about 45 minutes. Tara said she'd run with me, even though she hadn't really been running in a long time. I did it. I didn't feel bad about it- in fact, it made me feel really good. My time wasn't all that great, and I wasn't in the kind of shape I thought I was in, but I didn't quit, and when I was crossing the finish line I got a little emotional. I didn't spend a bunch of time thinking about how I wasn't very fast, or even really fast at all. I was so happy for myself because I did this thing that was hard and tiring, but good.
That's how I want to feel about being a Mom, because it's not all about being a Mom. It's about being me.