Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Mom-Actualization

I just came across this blog post from The Happiest Mom called Mother's Hierarchy of Needs. It reminded me of a friend who told me the story of her first day back at work after her oldest child was born. She was in her office sobbing, and a co-worker asked if she was sorry to be leaving her new baby. No, my friend replied, she was crying because she wasn't the kind of mom who wanted to stay home full-time with her kids.

Financially, my friend does not need to work. But her need to work is real, if not as compelling as the need of a woman who struggles to put food on her table to find paid employment. She is comfortably able to meet her family's physical and security needs and is therefore able to tend to her own higher needs.

Personally, I also struggle with the fact that I don't want to be at home with my kids all the time. I feel guilty that I envy (and I don't think envy is too strong a word) my husband every time he puts on clothes that are free of wrinkles and stains and walks out the door to spend time alone in the car, followed by stimulating adult conversation and more time alone in the car to listen to something that isn't Music Together on the radio.

I have my finger in a lot of projects, and I am often asked how I manage to do it all. This is a humbling and baffling question for me because I feel that I don't do much of it particularly well, and I feel that I may be not be offering my kids enough mommy time, especially when I have a lot of things all coming to a head all at the same time. I joke that it is ADHD and caffeine that keeps me going, but the truth is that I need to do what I do for my own sanity. If I don't get a chance to have time for contemplation and reading, to explore thoughts and have interesting conversations, I am miserable. And a miserable Mommy is...well, not a very good Mommy.

Am I depriving my children of something important? Maybe. I'll never know, but I also think I am giving them a gift. I am providing an example of curiosity, and motivation, and open-mindedness and commitment that maybe they will follow someday.

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