Sunday, January 13, 2008

a work-in-progress

The complexity of my role as mother often confounds me. The most recent post by Los Angelista got me to thinking about this when she mentioned how difficult it is to spend money on herself, yet she has no problem spending on others. This too, is a huge challenge for me. I know about the old adage, “on payday, pay yourself first,” but when it comes to spending money, my brain runs a constant tally of all the bills we have due, what the kids may or may not need/want, and finally, I’m constantly on the look-out for that huge life-altering catastrophe lurking right around the corner. Not only is this ridiculous, but it flies in the face of fancying myself (and Loverman) smart and resourceful.

My fears are unsubstantiated and illogical. I don’t remember being like this before I married and had the kids. But, in spite of my reticence when it comes to spending money on myself, I have absolutely no problem with heading out to a bookstore or Target to spend money on the kids. I don’t think twice about it. Come hell or high water, we make sure the kids have exactly what we think they need and this includes not only material things, but also those intangible things, like squirreling away money for camp or music lessons. For me, it’s not a big deal because this is how my mom was (is) with me and so it’s what I know.

Now, with all this altruistic spending on the kids, it would seem like I’m a pretty unselfish type of mother, but I’m not. There are aspects of my role as mother where I’m totally selfish and self-absorbed. One is in the kitchen. I’m not a big cook. In fact, Loverman cooks most of our meals. He’s an incredible cook. But, I do love to bake and on most weekends, you can find me in the kitchen whipping up a cake, pie, cupcakes or cookies. Baking for me is relaxing, and if something’s troubling me, baking three-dozen vanilla citrus cupcakes from scratch usually helps me sort it out. The problem is I like to do this BY MYSELF, with absolutely no intrusions. This is very hard for the kids to understand. Often, they want to help, but I don’t want to be bothered. I know baking offers ample opportunities to teach kids all sorts of things, like how to follow directions and fractions, but for me, baking is cathartic and I want to enjoy the experience by myself. My mom chides me and asks how are they supposed to learn, if not by joining me in the kitchen, but I often think, damn, can’t I have just one thing to myself?

I guess acknowledging the duality we often face as parents is important, because too often we’re hard on ourselves and we feel that what we do is never enough (or good enough), but in actuality, just as our kids are works-in-progress, so are we.

1 comment:

the prisoner's wife said...

i have the same issue. i've been wearing the same shoes since FOREVER because i can't seem to part with $75 for a new pair, but have bought my son & beloved so much stuff my head hurts. i finally broke down & bought some the other day on they arrived today & i felt like was christmas! lol

i guess, as mothers, we need to realize that it's OK to take care of self first.