Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Mapping, part 2

I'm starting to think about setting myself up with some substantial time for writing. That would probably mean arranging child care for a couple of days each week. Doesn't that sound lovely? It sounds amazing. It sounds like a schedule I could live with for a long time, with plenty of space to breathe and find out again about being me apart from people who depend on me. I picture it, and I can already see myself waking up on no-child-care days and feeling happy to be with my kids.

I also feel miserably unhappy and guilty every time I think of doing this. This is not what I planned! I expected to put professional work & writing on hold until our youngest goes to school. When we became parents, I imagined that I had the personality and interest to take the stay-at-home route.

And here's a strange little gem I found wedged in the base of my brain: "If I were a good mom, I would set aside my needs and make parenting decisions based only on what seems to be best for the children."

I know that's unwise and I can argue against every point.
  • "If I were". I don't apply this guideline to anyone else I know. If a friend described this scenario to me, I'd tell her it's a completely unreasonable expectation.
  • "a good mom". There is not one m.o. for "good mom." Good moms/dads approach parenting many different ways.
  • "I would set aside my needs". It's not helpful to my kids to grow up thinking Mom is a robot. Surely it contributes to becoming compassionate when kids learn to accommodate their parents as equally important members of the family.
  • "and make parenting decisions". This isn't just a parenting decision, it's a family decision, a who-am-I? decision. It affects everyone in the house.
  • "based only on what seems to be best for the children". There are many facets of what's good for children, and surely having parents who are not depressed (even reasonably content?) would be one.

Deconstructing a misguided notion is helpful, but this one is very firmly rooted. It's clearly been there for a long time and I've never even seen it before. Actually digging it out so I can think of arranging child care without sobbing might take a while.

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Thanks for using this space to share your encouraging words.