Being a mom is a tough job! I would be so bold as to say that being a mom is THE toughest job in the world. I’ve been thinking a lot these days about parenting and about idealisms vs. reality and how I can get so hard on myself for not doing everything the way I would like to, or how I plan and picture things should be. I have been waking up earlier than the kids lately so that I get some “me” time to do what I need to do to set myself up for the day and the task ahead of mothering these amazing beings that are in my care (quite a tremendous responsibility).
When I wake up in the morning, I generally have all of these ideas of how I want the day to go. I imagine and plan out what we are going to do, like read certain books, maybe take a walk, go outside and have a picnic or go to the park, do some crafts, teach them some schooling, have home cooked meals, do recipes, get some quiet time. In my ideal world, the kids are all happy and cooperate with me and go along with my plans smoothly. We all eat our meals together and no one is picky or fussy or whiny. The house stays clean and organized. Life is oh, so, good.
Then the day actually starts.
To my dismay, the day is not at all like I had planned and pictured it to be when the kids wake up. In fact, it generally starts out the exact opposite of peaceful, usually with a toddler crying upon waking up to a really dirty diaper. I am still not awake and ready to deal with everything the day has planned for me (the tests of patience and goodness, the learning to let go, etc.) as I am trying to calm the toddler, rinse out the diaper and also wake up two sleepy girls. Then it is time for breakfast. Even breakfast isn’t all simple and successful. Everyone wants something different. Autumn wants cereal, Kesa wants toast with peanut butter. Serafina won’t eat anything I put in front of her (she even throws her food on the floor), because she is still upset from the upset she felt upon waking and I myself am starving. The stress of the day has already come upon me and I am realizing how far from the idealism my reality is.
This is not everyday of course, but this is an example of how a day can be. Most days are good and things do go swiftly and peacefully. My point in writing this today is that life is life. Everybody, everybody’s life and every day in each of our lives is different. I know a lot of mom’s compare themselves, their children and their lives to each other and it SUCKS! Why do we do that to ourselves? Why do we set these high standards for our parenting, our children and our lives? It is sooo easy to do too, with all of the parenting advice and different mom blogs on homeschooling, mothering, food and recipes, etc. It is hard for anyone to know who they are and what their reality is.
I realized about a year ago how hard I was making life for myself by trying to live up to these ideals and follow certain parenting or homeschooling methods. I wanted to have the life portrayed by others on their blogs or internet sites. I was driving myself crazy trying to do it all, (breastfeeding, co-sleeping, homeschooling, spending time with the kids, cooking and baking everything vegan and organic, trying to keep in shape, finding time with my husband, finding time for myself, keeping a clean home) until I realized I can never do it all perfectly. If I want to keep in shape or do my hair or make-up, I will have to sacrifice time spent with the kids or cleaning. If I want to spend time with the girls, I will have less time for cooking or cleaning or for myself. If I want to have home cooked meals, I will have to sacrifice the house staying clean or time spent teaching or getting outside. If I want to sit and write a blog post, that again takes time in my day and other things get put in hold. These are examples of the sacrifices we have to make, if we really want to focus on one area of our life and how we will have to learn to really prioritize our time if we do want to make it all work in a day.
The reality is that nobody’s life is picture perfect. People with blogs are not portraying their complete reality. They show one side, like the homeschooling part and it looks all glorious and peaceful and perfect, but maybe their homes are a mess or healthy, organic foods and home cooked meals are not a priority to them. Maybe other family’s make meals and family time a priority and they don’t spend much time on themselves or their appearance. The point is that nothing can all be perfectly perfect. Something has got to give.
From my blog, you probably have an idea of the way that our life is and it may be far from the reality. I don’t do everything perfectly, but I have been learning ways that I can make what matters to me work in some form of balanced way. I do love a clean home, healthy organic, vegan meals are important to me and my husband, I want to make sure the girls are using their minds and being creative, even if we aren’t exactly doing homeschool “properly” or to the standards of other blogs or certain methods.
The number one thing I find is so important for my sanity is to not look too much at other people’s blogs or take on different ideas and opinions from parenting books or websites and compare myself to others because my life is my life. My values are my values, my beliefs are my beliefs and I find that when I do start looking at those things, I tend to forget about our family’s priorities and uniqueness and our living reality and somehow fall into the trap once again of trying to fit a certain mould or do things the way I saw or read vs. what I feel is right or how the moment is actually presenting itself in life.
Maybe the kids are just fine making up their own imaginative games, but I feel like I need to do a craft that I saw somewhere. Usually when this happens, they immediately are not interested and it is as though I am forcing them to comply with what we are doing and trying so hard to make it fun and interesting. Meanwhile, in reality they were doing fine until the idealism snuck in on me and I started to try and change the already perfect situation because I felt that I had to make it better than it already was.
Another example is that maybe everyone is just fine with eating simple things and different things on a given day. One person wants cereal, another is OK with a sandwich, Craig is cool with leftovers, I am OK with oatmeal, but I feel like we should be having a “proper meal” and all sit together and eat at the same times and be that picture perfect happy family around the table. This never really happens to my ideal though because my husband’s shifts change every two weeks and we are up at different times, we are not hungry at the same times or for the same things. Here I try and control the whole meal situation as I see it portrayed in other people’s lives or on blogs or magazines, but for us it is just not always a picture perfect reality.
Here is how I have learned to prioritize better. My priorities, in order are:
- Organic, vegan foods are important. Meals together are best, but if it is just sandwiches, cereal, or oatmeal (still made with organic, vegan foods), then I am OK with that. Rhythm to our meals is important too. We eat 5 times, 5 small meals a day.
- Homeschooling the girls one on one, reading together to learn the lesson and taking the time to explain and illustrate the points to them is most important to me. If I don’t have time for that in the day and they end up just “doing work”, playing, coming up with their own crafts, or spending a lot of time outside, I am OK with that. For us, it is about allowing our children to be children and to provide a way of educating them without force, dogma or standardized testing. We have a more spiritual view of the world and each individual child vs. a material/scientific viewpoint.
- Getting up earlier than the rest of the family to do prayer, meditation and journaling helps me to start my day off right and with a more relaxed and peaceful attitude. I am better able to deal with the little stresses of the day when I begin my day contemplating the bigger picture. If I can’t do that, I at least have to do yoga at some point in my day (morning is best) or get outside for a walk to keep my sanity.
- Keeping up with the housework throughout the day is important to me. I like my home to be clean. It makes me feel better. Sweeping after each meal and doing the dishes after each meal, cleaning as I cook are all important to me. If I can’t find the time to clean as I go or throughout the day, I at least clean up before bedtime so that in the morning my home is clean when we wake up.
- Spending time with my husband everyday is important to me.
- Spending time all together to go for a walk is great when we can find the time.
Some sacrifices I make to meet my priorities are:
- I stay home with the kids to be able to homeschool, make our vegan, organic meals and keep a clean, peaceful home. We live off of one income. We do not buy more than we need. We walk everywhere and do not use our vehicle, unless we need to (mainly to get groceries every two weeks). We do not own a home. We use cloth diapers. We buy second-hand. We are OK with living with less.
- I do not take time for make-up, hair or dressing up in the day. I stay in comfortable clothes and keep my face natural and wear my hair in a ponytail. I exercise and eat healthy, but do not focus a great amount of time and energy on the outer physical appearance. I care more about holistic health than aesthetics.
- I go to bed early. I go to bed as soon as I can so that I can get up early and do prayer and meditation. This takes from the time that I could maybe do other things, like be with my husband, since he is always up late, but he is understanding.
- In order to maintain a spiritual outlook, we have chosen to live a more conscious and cautious lifestyle. We don’t watch T.V. or movies or follow the latest trends or “news”. There aren’t too many people in our lives who are on the same wavelength as us, because we are vegan and chose to homeschool and live more consciously. People don’t get us, so it can be lonely, but we have each other.
So those are some examples of what I do to try and keep a balance in our life, while still maintaining my priorities and keeping our ideals and values. I think it is great to get ideas from others and be inspired by them. I also understand that other people maybe just want to just blog the good in their lives too or share what works for them, but it is also easy to lose ourselves in taking in too much external conditioning, information, opinions and dogma.
Blogging is also something that I often struggle with. I love to write, but I sometimes wonder who I am writing to? Is it for me or for others, or both? Should I keep it public or make it private? Should I focus on one topic? Should I be less personal when I post publicly? I wonder these things all the time. I hope those of you who do visit my space often enjoy reading what I have to say or the more personal thoughts,or the random mix that is my life. And I hope that you do so while maintaining your own identity and feel inspired not to be like me, but to be yourself and live your life. I hope that you can feel in my writing that yearning for finding myself and my individuality and feel inspired to do that in your own life too. I have always loved to write and so even though my blog is not all about any one thing, I believe that my writings are real and reflect my life honestly. When I write, I try and not write as though people are going to read it, but write it for myself and if it helps others, then I am grateful. Writing and putting pictures together in a scrapbook-type format is very helpful to me to put my mind in the right perspective and to reflect upon the good and beautiful things in life.
It is always nice to receive your comments and emails! It makes my morning to hear that someone out there can relate to some things I write or are enjoying my recipes. I mean that in a truly heartfelt way. I know I have tried in the past to connect with other bloggers that I felt inspired by, only to be completely ignored and outcast. The blogging community can be pretty harsh! I never could fit in with other bloggers and do the following, visiting and frequent commenting thing. So please know that I recognize each one of you as human and real and I feel connected to you. If you take the time to comment here or email me, I will always appreciate it and reply back to you. I never want people to think I am higher than them or do not have the time. I am human too, just the same, even if I have a blog or wrote a book.
Stay sane. Stay you. Enjoy your reality.