We can want to be away from and with our children at the same time!
I originally wrote this piece about motherhood in March of 2014 when my daughter was 4 and my son was 1. While they are now 11 and nearly 8 and some things have changed, the feelings of the push and pull of motherhood remain.
Not that long ago while my daughter was trying to prolong going to sleep by keeping me in her room, she stopped me as I got to the door and said, “But, I’ll miss you while I’m asleep.” I’m a sucker for her. I went back for yet another hug and told her I’d miss her, too.
At the time, it was the end of the day and I was tired. I’m not a night person. And by the time we manage to make it until bedtime, I’m usually quite ready and happy for the kiddos to go down so I can have an hour or two of downtime before I hit the hay, too. I wouldn’t necessarily say that I miss the kids at that point in my day. (I know. What a horrible mother I am!)
But, I’ve realized that in the mornings (now that they are both sleeping through the night more often than not), I really have missed them. When my daughter comes out of her room and comes to find me, I’m mostly happy to see her. (Full disclosure: sometimes I take a couple of minutes to feel this joy when my quiet morning time comes to a close.)
And I love morning snuggles. When my son wakes up and I get him out of his crib, we snuggle for just a moment before I change his diaper. Is he always on board? No. At 13 months, sometimes he’s squirming around in the snuggle to try and get a peek at his sister or dog, but that’s OK. I still live for these morning snuggles.
I feel like this is so much the truth of motherhood. So many times I long for a break from my kids. Like every night at bedtime, I’m happy to see them go to sleep so I can have just a minute to sit down and breathe. But then 12 hours later, I’m happy to see them and feel like I really have missed them somehow.
I love my quiet and alone times. I’m an introvert. These are the times that feed my soul. I wouldn’t be anywhere near a happy mom without some downtime, but I really am finding that I do (gasp!) enjoy my kids!
Motherhood is this constant pushing and pulling. We think about it from the beginning with kids trying to pull away when they can and gain independence, but I think it’s true for us moms, too. We sometimes want to push our kids away to get a break and then just as quickly, we want to pull them right back for a hug. It’s an odd dichotomy. And it happens often.
Earlier this week, I had to wheel the trash can to the curb for pick-up. My husband usually does that job, but he’s been sick for a week, so I did it after dinner. I had made dinner, fed the kids, made an alternative to the alternative for the toddler who threw most everything I gave him on the floor, cleaned the kitchen, fielded a barrage of questions and comments from the preschooler, sorted through some things in the freezer and bagged up the trash. I was tired.
As I was about to head out the door, I smelled the dirty diaper on my son. I sighed and continued. It might have been the slowest walk to take out the trash anyone has ever done. The weather was nice and it was blissfully quiet outside. I wasn’t sure how much I wanted to go back inside at that moment. I knew what was waiting for me.
So, I took a deep breath and went back in. That minute break was needed. It wasn’t long enough. And then I told my son he needed a new diaper. His latest trick is that when we tell him this then he walks to his changing table. This time, he reached up to grab my hand before he started off to the changing table. My heart melted. I found myself refreshed in the midst of a long evening. Just one minute earlier, I’d been ready to just be alone for a while. But with one little hand reaching up for me, that melted away.
That’s motherhood. We long for breaks; we need breaks. However, we long for our children; we need our children. It’s a constant back and forth.
Now, you’ll have to excuse me while I go. While I’ve been writing this, my daughter has finished her breakfast and come over for a snuggle on the couch in our PJs. I’m not about to miss out on that!