Friday, April 25, 2008

Some Thoughts

I am currently in the middle of several projects, so I don't have much crafting to share. I do have some personal thoughts to share on a couple of subjects, though, and I hope that no one takes offense.

First, where does mother-guilt come from? Has it always occured or is it especially prevalent in our society? Is it a feeling that is timeless and universal? I know that I need to "trust my instincts," but sometimes that is difficult when so much contradicting information is out there, especially in the news. My son always nurses to sleep, so I feel good about not letting him "cry it out," but then I feel guilty that he doesn't know how to put himself to sleep. We have chosen to have him vaccinated, but then I read reports urging caution about doing so. I am thankful to be at home, yet sometimes long for "something more." Do I feel guilty about having such feelings? Yes. Should I? I'm not sure. Many other mothers I know have similar feelings. The thing that's odd to me, however, is that it seems like the working mothers I know don't have as much guilt as the stay-at-home mothers I know. What a contradiction! Could it be that the working mothers just aren't sharing their feelings? Or maybe the stay-at-home moms are so entrenched in their children's lives that they have difficulty separating?

I believe that it's so important to have your own passions, hopes and dreams, which brings me to crafting. I love to knit, crochet and sew. It helps me be creative in ways that i haven't in the past. Sometimes I even feel like I'm neglecting my son because I want to knit just one more row or sew just a couple more stitches. My housework definitely takes the back seat. Then I feel guilty that Matthew's precious nap time was spent sewing instead of cleaning the bathroom or puting the dishes away (I also feel guilty about being excited for Matthew's naptime).

Then there are blogs such as Angry Chicken and Soule do those two women do it all?! Plus, they both have three children each. I know that I shouldn't compare myselves to either of them and their accomplishments, but really, how do they do it?

I have many more concerns with what I've read about/watched on TV lately, such as products made in China, toxin levels and greed, but I will save all that for later. I don't like to get political, but I think that these concerns cross party lines.

One last question today: is it more important to watch the news and read current event articles to stay informed, or should I just turn it all off so as not to be frightened and paranoid?


Julia & Aaron said...

I just wanted to thank you for the email yesterday. I eventually took my "vent post" down. I felt bad about putting something so personal and negative out for anyone to see. Your email made me feel a lot better.

Also we have tried the time out thing with Eldon, but I don't think he really takes it seriously. He sits out his two minutes on the bed and then says, "sorry, lulu," and then is off running again. It doesn't seem like a big deal to him.

And I think that your knitting and sewing is a GOOD thing, even if cleaning gets neglected. It keeps you sane and grounded and THAT is really important.

I could definitely see how working moms might not feel as guilty. I agree, I think it helps to have something else in your life. It seems as if everything I do surrounds the kids: taking care of them, the blog, etc... I think it is really healthy to have an interest outside that arena.

bkd said...

It's so wonderful to have you put into words what I'm thinking all the time, Katie. I sometimes reduce it to a general "Is ignorance really bliss?" question. The problem is, the answer is yes and no. I don't know what's going on in the world because I don't stay informed, and it's blissful to not worry. But I also feel immensely guilty and spend time thinking about how I should be doing more...

Also, several of the working moms I know do have intense guilt: they worry constantly about the fact that they're not parenting as well as they could if they had more undivided time with their kids. Or, perhaps some have been conditioned to think that because they're spending as much money as they can afford on childcare and sundries, they are being a good parent. Or, perhaps we stay-at-homes are conditioned to think no one can raise our children as well as we can so we're not able to let go... it goes on and on...

Daniel said...

These are six tips for improving happiness from one of my psychology professors. Especially relevant may be the "allowing yourself to be human" point. When he explained this, I remember him talking about the tremendous guilt he felt when his newborn son (whom he loves very much) caused him to feel jealousy, anger, and even hatred. Having mixed emotions is human, and it is important to allow yourself to have such feelings or they will only get worse. Hope this helps a little!

Six Tips for Happiness

Advice from Tal Ben-Shahar.

1. Give yourself permission to be human. When we accept emotions -- such as fear, sadness, or anxiety -- as natural, we are more likely to overcome them. Rejecting our emotions, positive or negative, leads to frustration and unhappiness.

2. Happiness lies at the intersection between pleasure and meaning. Whether at work or at home, the goal is to engage in activities that are both personally significant and enjoyable. When this is not feasible, make sure you have happiness boosters, moments throughout the week that provide you with both pleasure and meaning.

3. Keep in mind that happiness is mostly dependent on our state of mind, not on our status or the state of our bank account. Barring extreme circumstances, our level of well being is determined by what we choose to focus on (the full or the empty part of the glass) and by our interpretation of external events. For example, do we view failure as catastrophic, or do we see it as a learning opportunity?

4. Simplify! We are, generally, too busy, trying to squeeze in more and more activities into less and less time. Quantity influences quality, and we compromise on our happiness by trying to do too much.

5. Remember the mind-body connection. What we do -- or don't do -- with our bodies influences our mind. Regular exercise, adequate sleep, and healthy eating habits lead to both physical and mental health.

6. Express gratitude, whenever possible. We too often take our lives for granted. Learn to appreciate and savor the wonderful things in life, from people to food, from nature to a smile.

elliebelle said...

Hi again Katie - I'm leaving comments on all of your posts today! haha! But I wanted to say thanks for expressing these concerns. It's good to hear other people say things that you, yourself are feeling. I'm not a mother yet - but I have friends who are and they too express these thoughts. I think the best thing we can all do is to feel content with ourselves for the moment. It's great to have goals - but we all need to live in the moment more - that's what I tell myself anyway! I am so with you on the news thing - I have started to block more of it out because I know I can't handle all the bad - it just makes me sad. For a while I felt very ignorant - but I know for me it is the best thing to do. And in reference to Amy and Amanda - I bet we don't hear the whole story on their blogs - everything is very romantic with them. But so far from what I see you are a very good mother too! You should feel proud!
Ok, enough of me rambling on....

Heidi said...

lot's of great questions Katie...
First....I think that the information out there can often be misleading and very confusing to a first time mom so really taking the advice to follow your instincts is really the best way to navigate through it all after a while you will relax a bit once you are more confident in what you believe about raising children.

you need to let go of the mommy guilt.. I think that is connected to perfectionism, and I know I have struggled with it myself, but I got to the point where I realized that I am not perfect, that I am flawed and just because I am not like every other Mom does not make me a bad mom... and the fact that you look forward to nap time should not bring guilt either because nap time=mommy time and mommy time can be such a rare commodity when you have a toddler... just enjoy it guilt free!

and last... turn off the news, and read it online it takes a lot less time